Early launch for 2 Samsung devices

South Korean tech giant Samsung announced the introduction of two new phablets - smartphones with larger screen sizes of 5.5 inches (14cm) to 7 inches - yesterday in New York.

One of them will be available in Singapore tomorrow and the other, on Aug 22.

The devices are its flagship phablet, the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 5, and the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+.

The accelerated announcement and launch schedule of the Galaxy Note is a departure from past launches when a new model would be announced in September and made available in October.

Industry observers had calculated that Samsung was bringing forward its release date to have a head start on main competitor Apple, which launched its first phablet last September. Apple is expected to announce a new iPhone next month .

Last year marked the first time that Apple announced the introduction of a big-screen device, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, in September. It started selling the phone 10 days later, beating Samsung's October sale of the Galaxy Note 4 by several weeks.

Mr Eugene Goh, vice-president of IT and Mobile at Samsung Electronics Singapore, did not deny the market observations, but focused on the launch of two new premium phones within a week of each other.

He said: "It takes more than great minds. It requires persistence and relentless effort, day and night. "We are confident about our new products, and we set the time of announcement and place when we feel comfortable and fully ready to do it."

The key difference between the devices is that the Galaxy S6 edge+ will not bear the signature S Pen stylus that has become synonymous with the Galaxy Note series.

Both Android phones will be powered by the latest Samsung Exynos 7 octa-core processor, offer quick and wireless charging, and have updated syncing software to pair it with PCs, tablets and even Apple's computers, allowing for better notifications and seamless transfer of files.

Both phones will share the metal and glass body first introduced earlier this year in the Samsung Galaxy S6 phone.

Despite criticism that Samsung should have kept a microSD slot for expandable memory and a removable battery for the Galaxy S6, the new phones will not have these features.

There are reports of a slowdown in the smartphone industry, especially with the rise of cheaper handsets by China companies such as Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo.

However, Singapore consumers are still buying premium devices, priced at about $800 each, which has led to a 29 per cent rise in sales volume in the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, noted Mr Gerard Tan, account director for technology at research firm GfK Asia. He said: "Manufacturers have launched 42 per cent more models in 2015 than in 2014, which has intensified the premium market competition."

Despite having to lower the price of the four-month-old Galaxy S6 in some markets, Samsung is maintaining its premium pricing structure for both its new phones.

The 32GB Galaxy Note 5 is priced at $1,088, while the 32GB Galaxy S6 edge+ is priced at $1,188. Last year's 32GB Galaxy Note 4 was priced at $1,088.


This article was first published on August 14, 2015.
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