Samsung has the first major smartphones of the fall and they’re coming soon.
They’re called the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5, and both devices pull from the premium designs and materials we first saw this spring with the Galaxy S6.
The phones launch on August 21 in the US. Preorders start August 13. However, Samsung has not announced pricing. Each carrier will offer various payment plans or on-contract deals.
Both phones have essentially the same specs and features (5.7-inch screen, 16 megapixel camera, the latest version of Android, etc.) except for a few obvious differences. Here’s what you need to know:
The Galaxy S6 Edge+
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ (what a mouthful!) is a jumbo-sized version of the Galaxy S6 Edge, which launched last spring. The screen curves over both sides, and you can customise a slide-over menu from one edge with your frequently used apps and contacts.
But other than that, the curved screen is mostly just there just to look pretty. And it truly is one of the best-looking Android phones out there.
The Galaxy Note 5
The Note 5 is the next generation of Samsung’s flagship series of phablets. The biggest change from last year’s model is the design. Instead of plastic, the Note 5 is made out of all metal and glass. There’s no removeable cover either, which means you can’t swap out the battery or add extra storage like you could with previous Galaxy Notes. That’s likely to upset some Samsung loyalists who loved those features.
The Note 5’s stylus has some improvements too. It’s now more sensitive and accurate. You can also start writing notes on the screen without activating the display, which saves you from unlocking the phone and launching Samsung’s note-taking app.
Both phones will also be the first to offer Samsung Pay, Samsung’s mobile payments system that’s a rival to Apple Pay. But Samsung Pay has a big advantage: The company says it will work with regular magnetic credit card readers
and special near-field communication (NFC) payment pads. Apple Pay only works with NFC payment terminals, which are relatively uncommon at US retailers. In theory, Samsung Pay will work just about anywhere credit cards are accepted.
Samsung Pay will launch in the US and South Korea in the fall. It will also work on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, but you’ll need a software update.
However, it’s unclear how useful Samsung Pay will be since the company has been pretty quiet about which credit card companies, banks, financial institutions, and retailers it will be working with. Samsung Pay was originally announced in March with the Samsung Galaxy S6, and only Visa and MasterCard had committed at the time. Samsung tells Tech Insider more partnerships will be announced as Samsung Pay gets closer to launch.
The only other major feature in the two phones worth talking about is called Live Broadcast. It’s a feature built into the camera app that lets you live stream video from your device to your YouTube account. You can share the video privately with a few friends or publicly with anyone in the world. If you’re familiar with apps like Twitter’s Periscope or Meerkat, it’s a very similar concept.
What does this mean for Samsung?
Samsung has had a rough 14 months or so. Its phones aren’t selling as well as they used to thanks to increased competition from the big-screen iPhone 6 and cheaper Android devices from companies like Xiaomi. Samsung tried to change things up this year with the Galaxy S6 by offering a premium design, but sales are still relatively sluggish.
The Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ are more of the same and unlikely to reverse Samsung’s fortunes. They don’t have any key differentiating features that you can’t get in other Android phones making them worth the extra cost.