Samsung had a big day today, announcing a larger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge, an updated Galaxy Note, its own mobile payment option and even a hardware keyboard accessory.
The news mainly focused on Samsung’s new phones. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a 5.7-inch version of the standard S6 Edge, with the biggest difference (besides size) being the Edge+’s 4GB of RAM. The phone also comes with a slightly bigger battery and a new Apps Edge. The latter puts apps on the curved edge of the screen for quick access, much like the quick communication options with People Edge introduced on the S6 Edge in March.
The Galaxy Note5 also made its debut. The line that paved the way for phablets might seem like old news with the Edge+ now matching its screen size now, but Samsung brought the Note up to speed with the rest of its hardware with this release.
The S Pen is still here, and you can now start writing with it immediately after pulling it out, even before you turn on the screen. A curved back makes it easier to hold but decreases battery slightly from previous versions. It’s got almost the same internals as the Edge+, with an octacore Samsung Exynos processor and 4GB RAM.
Both phones are coming Aug. 21, with carriers setting prices individually. AT&T will be selling the 32GB Note5 for $739.99 and the 32GB Edge+ for $814.99, both unlocked.
Samsung Pay might have the biggest impact on the overall market. Coming to the U.S. on Sept. 28, the new tap-to-pay service will closely mimic both Apple Pay and Android Pay by using NFC readers to charge credit or debit cards.
However, Samsung is also adding technology to the phones released today that will allow Samsung Pay to work with traditional card readers. That means Samsung Pay will work in almost any store, so customers won’t have to wait for businesses to upgrade their systems.
The wireless technology imitates the magnetic stripe on plastic cards, tricking traditional card readers into thinking a card has been swiped. The new tech comes from Samsung’s $250 million purchase of LoopPay earlier this year.
On the other end of the innovation spectrum, Samsung will also start selling a hardware keyboard for the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5. The slide-on accessory puts a physical keyboard over the bottom portion of the phone’s screen, and the phone’s UI shifts to accommodate the smaller viewing area. The screen registers the keyboard presses, so no battery or plugin is needed. And when it’s not in use, users can switch the keyboard to the back of the phone for easy transport.
The event also included the introduction of Samsung’s live-streaming service. Built on the back of YouTube’s live streaming options, the service looks to compete with Periscope and Meerkat with the phones’ native camera apps. Users just have to sign into a verified YouTube account and they can start live-streaming straight to YouTube and their subscribers.
At the end of the show, Samsung teased its new Gear S2, a round smartwatch. No details were given, but it appears that the screen is completely round, unlike the Moto 360 which needed a small cutout to house connectors. More details on the smartwatch are coming at IFA on Sept. 3.
You can watch the full keynote on YouTube or below (jump to 33:50 for the start of the show).