Samsung unveils Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+ smartphones

TORONTO – Samsung has officially taken the wraps off its next generation of smartphones – and, according to the tech giant, bigger is still better.

The company unveiled the Galaxy Note phablet and the larger version of its curved-screen Galaxy S6 smartphone Thursday during its Unpacked 2015 event in New York City.

The Galaxy Note 5 is being described as a cross between its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 4, and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 line. It features a 5.7-inch screen, built-in wireless charging, expandable storage and a fingerprint scanner for security.

The phablet-style phone will include Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, which has been upgraded with new features.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is essentially a larger version of the curved smartphone the company unveiled back in March. It too will feature a 5.7-inch screen – which is curved on both sides.

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Both of the new phones incorporate the improved camera technology found in this spring’s S6 phones; but they both add the ability to live streaming the video you capture, a practice made popular by Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope apps. The front cameras take sharper selfies, at 5 megapixels rather than 3.7.

When Samsung began sales of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones in April, there were expectations that the new flagship devices would lead a revival at Samsung’s handset business, which suffered a stunning decline last year. But sales weren’t as strong as expected.

READ MORE: Samsung forecasts profit fall as Galaxy S6 sales fall short of expectation

The company was hit by two problems with the series. The regular version of the phone, the Galaxy S6, wasn’t as popular as expected, while the S6 Edge model proved more difficult to produce and the company couldn’t keep up with demand.

Samsung appears to be catering to the demand for bigger smartphones with Thursday’s unveiling.

Usually, Note phones don’t come out until well after Apple’s new iPhone models in September.

But the timing reflects a changing smartphone landscape. IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said Samsung needed to beat Apple to the punch, or risk seeing its products drowned out by all the attention on the iPhone.

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“There’s an urgency to show that Samsung can still stand up to the challenge that is Apple and everybody else out there,” Llamas said. “For a while, Samsung was the ‘be all and end all’ of Android devices. Now, it’s a different market.”

Samsung Pay

The company also officially launched its mobile payments solution Samsung Pay during the event.

While Google and Apple’s mobile payment solution rely on Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors to work, Samsung Pay will use technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission that will allow Samsung Pay customers pay using the typical magnetic strip reader found in credit card terminals. However, Samsung Pay will also support NFC.

Samsung Pay will come preloaded on the new Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 and will be available as a free download on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Samsung says it won’t get any revenue from the transactions; but the company is pushing Samsung Pay as another way to set its phone apart.

The app launches in Korea on August 20 and in the U.S. on Sept. 28. Samsung is planning to roll out the feature to users in the UK and China eventually; however, it is not clear if a Canadian launch is in the works.

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With files from the Associated Press

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