Large-screen smartphones still hot as overall growth slows

Big phones are still a hot ticket, and Samsung's latest 5.7-inch flagships - the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ - are proof of the trend.

The hundreds who queued across Singapore during the Note 5's launch last Saturday also reinforces the allure of such phones.

One of them, general manager Devender Joshi, 44, traded his iPhone 6 Plus for the Note 5.

He had used the Samsung phones of his family members when his iPhone started having battery issues, and "enjoyed the experience so much", he decided to switch.

Mr Eugene Goh, vice-president of IT and mobile at Samsung Electronics Singapore, noted that while global smartphone growth has slowed due to increasing market saturation and maturity, Samsung is seeing "rising demand" for large-screen smartphones.

The launch of the latest Note 5 and S6 edge+ was announced in New York last Thursday.

The Note 5 features the Note family's signature S Pen handwriting stylus that allows users to make notes directly on the screen, take screen shots and annotate PDF files. The new S Pen is spring-loaded, more sensitive to writing pressure and can be used to take notes when the screen is on standby.

In a surprise move, Samsung started selling the Note 5 in Singapore and Taiwan only two days after the launch was announced, and ahead of the major US market. It will start selling in the US on Friday.

The S6 edge+ is a super-sized version of the S6 edge that came out in April. Like the S6 edge, the S6 edge+ has a curved dual edge display that offers a short cut for five apps, and access to the People Edge contacts menu.

The Galaxy S6 edge+ will go on sale here this Saturday, a day after the United States.

Previous Samsung smartphones went on sale several weeks after their global announcements. The quicker product launch this time could be a response to the heightened competition.

Most Android phone makers, especially those from China, have launched new phablet devices this year. The latest Xiaomi Mi Note has a 5.7-inch screen and the OnePlus 2 has a 5.5-inch display.

Previously, devices in the Galaxy Note series were announced in September and would start selling from October. Samsung's accelerated release of the two flagship devices is seen by industry watchers as a pre- emptive move against main competitor Apple, which has traditionally announced and launched new iPhones in the September period.

The competition was heightened last September, when Apple launched its first phablet, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, against the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 4 Edge, which came out only in October.

According to research company GfK Asia, Samsung has maintained above 40 per cent of the local smartphone market share since December 2011. Based on GfK data, which is based on point of sales figures for smartphones (excluding telco operator sales), Samsung has more than 60 per cent of Singapore's smartphone market share by value.

Mr Michael Chang, assistant vice- president of mobility at StarHub, said: "The Galaxy Note has a strong following and this launch is welcomed by Galaxy Note fans as well as customers looking to explore the exciting features offered by the new phablet."


This article was first published on Aug 19, 2015.
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