Samsung debuts Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+; teases next smartwatch

Both devices feature 5.7-inch screens, but there are also differences -- like the color options and the display that wraps around the sides of the Edge+.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
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The company's new smartphone features a screen that wraps around the sides of the device. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung on Thursday took the wraps off its latest jumbo-screen smartphones in a bid to win back customers who've defected to Apple and to other Android vendors. It also detailed plans to launch its mobile-payments service Samsung Pay and teased its next smartwatch.

The Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ go on sale in the US and Canada on August 21. Preorders in the US start today at 3 p.m. In the US, the Note 5 will cost $200 with a contract, and the S6 Edge+ will sell for $300 on contract.

Both phones include 5.7-inch screens, with the Edge's curving around the sides of the device. Both feature a sleek metal-and-glass design, a break from Samsung's previous plastic devices. The company moved to more premium materials earlier this year with its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.

"Bigger screens are great for moving between emails and important files and scrolling through photos and social media or watching a movie," said JK Shin, the CEO of Samsung's mobile business, at a presentation in New York. "We are still betting big."

Samsung's big, curvy Galaxy S6 Edge+ (pictures)

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The new devices are Samsung's latest attempt to regain its momentum in the smartphone market. The company has used phones with bigger screens to stand out from other Android vendors and Apple, but more and more companies are releasing phablets of their own. Apple's introduction of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in September caused Samsung's market share to tumble -- from controlling nearly a third of the smartphone market in 2012 and 2013, to sharing the title of No. 1 smartphone vendor with Apple in the fourth quarter of 2014. Both companies controlled about one-fifth of the market in that period, the first full quarter of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales, according to Gartner.

Samsung's two new phablets -- hybrids between smartphones and tablets -- come loaded with Android 5.1 Lollipop, 16MP rear-facing cameras and 5MP front-facing cameras. They also include Samsung's homemade Exynos 7420 eight-core processors built on the same advanced technology as the chips in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Both feature fast charging and fast wireless charging capabilities, as well as near-field communications chips that allow users to pay for items with Samsung Pay by holding their phones near retail sales terminals.

The S6 Edge+ comes in a slightly smaller package than the Note 5. Its dimensions are smaller, and it weighs 153 grams versus 171 grams in the Note 5. It's also available in black sapphire, gold platinum and -- a new color -- silver titanium. The Note 5 comes in black sapphire and white pearl. The Note also has a stylus, while the Edge+ lacks that tool.

Under installment plans, a 32 gigabyte Note 5 will set you back 20 payments of $33.42, and a 64GB Note 5 is 20 payments of $38.46. For the S6 Edge+, the 32GB phone is 20 payments of $38.40.

The company also showed off a Keyboard Cover case for the Note 5, which adds a physical keyboard on top of its touchscreen.

Samsung has reported declining profits for the past seven straight quarters, and it's cutting prices on its 3-month-old Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge devices to boost sales. Along with battling Apple at the high end of the market, Samsung has been fighting off low-cost Android smartphone makers such as China's Xiaomi and Huawei, along with India's Micromax. Many users in emerging markets -- the biggest areas of growth for the slowing smartphone market -- are opting for the cheaper devices instead of Samsung's pricey handsets or its less expensive but also lower quality devices.

Punch up the Galaxy Note 5 with this keyboard case (photos)

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Samsung traditionally unveils it latest marquee phablets at the September IFA electronics trade show in Berlin at the IFA electronics trade show. But this time around, it moved the date up by a couple of weeks and shifted its event to New York in what some believe is an attempt to get an even earlier jump on Apple's next iPhone introduction -- which likely will take place in early September.

On Thursday, Samsung also unveiled its plans to launch its mobile payment system, Samsung Pay, in Korea on August 20 and in the US on September 28. The company announced Samsung Pay in March.

"With the launches of these exciting new smartphones, we will open a new era of mobile payment," Shin said. "It is easy, safe, and most importantly, available virtually anywhere you can swipe a card."

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 goes luxe (photos)

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It marks the entrance of another major technology player into a game that has yet to gain popular appeal. For companies like Samsung, mobile payments -- a way to pay for goods and services by waving a smartphone near the register instead of swiping a credit card -- offer the prospect of building customer loyalty at a time when competition for smartphone buyers is fierce.

At the end of Thursday's presentation, Samsung played a video teaser of its next smartwatch, which has a round screen. The watch, which Samsung has teased before, will be called the Gear S2, and it is launching at the IFA show next month. It will be Samsung's seventh watch but its first in the past year.

Updates at 8:30 a.m. PT, 8:41 a.m. PT and 9 a.m. PT: With details from New York presentation.

Watch this: First peek at Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 design