Samsung’s new phones: Samsung Galaxy Unpacked
Published: August 13, 2015
Samsung’s new phones: Samsung Galaxy Unpacked, Samsung is throwing a party, and you’re invited. The consumer electronics giant is expected to unveil new handsets today, including the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus, during an event it calls “Unpacked? at Lincoln Center in New York City. But you can find out everything as it happens right here on our live blog.
Ahead of the event, observers expect the Galaxy Note 5 to get a major design overhaul, with new body made of glass and steel. The latest version of the S6 Edge takes is expected to add the “Plus” moniker to a new model that’s slightly bigger -a direct response to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. And who knows what else might happen: Samsung might even show off a new version of its Gear VR virtual reality headset, or new additions to the Galaxy Gear smartwatch line.
10:50 AM I’m in the Alice Tully Theater at Lincoln Center, and we’re waiting for the event to start. A large screen behind the stage alternates between slides that say #thenextgalaxy and which shows the illuminated bevel of one of Samsung’s Edge phones.
11:02 LED lights attached to each seat’s armrests flash distractingly, and the event begins with a video urging us to “question everything and think of the next big thing.” We’re told that “Next is Now” and Samsung Electronics president and CEO JK Shin takes the staqe.
11:07 Shin talks about how the company likes to bet big and create new categories of product like the Note, which has a giant screen, and the Edge phones, which have a flexible screen that wraps over the side of the handset. He says we all use our smartphones as multimedia consumers and as multitaskers, which seems to mean that we like to watch videos and do other stuff.
11:09 “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note5,” Shin says, and we go into a video showing off both phones.
11:10 Shin says they’ve got bigger screens but they’re smaller phones. And he says Samsung is also officially announcing Samsung Pay, a new mobile payment scheme.
11:11 Samsung VP Justin Denison takes the stage to talk about the Galaxy Note line, leading up to the new Note5. “We started by tackling what we call the paradox of size,” he says -that people want a big bulky display, but they don’t want a bulky phone. So the Note5 is thinner, smaller and lighter than before, made of metal and curved glass on the back.
11:15 The S Pen returns in the new model, and it’s redesigned to fit in your hand better and be more precise. It’s got a ballpoint-style clicker on the top to pop it out of the handset. You can write on the screen when it’s off, and take quick notes.
11:16 Screen capture is improved, and it will capture the entire height of a web page, not just what shows on the screen. And the new keyboard cover fitts over the bottom of the handset, where the virtual keyboard might appear, and gives you a physical, blackberry-style keyboard to type with.
11:18 Denison leaves and Alanna Cotton, VP of product marketing, takes the stage to talk about the S6 edge+. “This phone is elegant, understated and finely crafted, she promises.” It’s basically the S6 edge, with a bigger screen, slightly tweaked bezels and it’s available in new colors. The screen is bigger but the phone is smaller than a comparable iPhone, she brags.
11:23 The phone has a new feature called Live Broadcast that allows users to broadcast video live from their phone to YouTube. Samsung is taking a poke at Periscope here. There’s also a new “Apps Edge” feature – swipe on the edge and get pop up icons for frequent icons or contacts.
11:25 Denison takes the stage again. He says that both new phones have 4GB of RAM, the most Samsung has ever included in one of its models. They support the LTE Cat. 9 standard, so they’ll work on the fastest cellular networks.
11:28 The cameras on both phones support shooting 4k video, and have improved image stabilization software.
11:29 On to the batteries. Denison says both phones have built-in fast wireless charging -you can go from empty to full in two hours. He doesn’t mention that both phones have unremovable batteries, which will turn off some users.
11:32 “So there you have it, two new amazing phones.” Both phones will be available in stores in the US and Canada on August 21st. US pre-orders start today at 3pm.
11:33 Samsung EVP Injong Rhee takes the phone to talk about Samsung Pay “and the exciting future of mobile payment.” He says the current problem with mobile payment systems is that you never know if a store is going to support your system. So Samsung Pay focuses on universal availability, he says – it works with NFC readers just like ApplePay or Google Wallet does, but it also works on standard card-swiping systems; the phone emits a magnetic signal that replicates a card stripe. “Samsung Pay is accepted virtually anywhere”
11:38 Samsung’s partnered up with major credit card companies and retailers so you can get all your cards, store cards, and membership cards in the app. And it’s all protected by Samsung Knox, a fingerprint-secured and encrypted software system.
11:41 It goes live on August 20 in Korea, and will be available in the US on September 28, followed by China, Spain, UK, and other countries “in the near future.”
11:42 Cotton comes back on stage, and introduces a video showing the new Samsung Gear S2. It’s “coming soon,” and we’ll get more information on September 3rd. The annoying lights on our armrests flash green and red and blue, and the event is over!
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