Samsung may unveil Galaxy Note 5 early to beat new iPhone

The new Note 5 smartphone from Samsung could be announced in August instead of September in an attempt to outshine Apple's next iPhone, says the Wall Street Journal.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Samsung may unveil the successor to the Galaxy Note 4 a bit early this year. CNET

Watch out Apple. Samsung may bump up the due date for its Galaxy Note 5 supersized smartphone.

The Korean company will move up the traditional September unveiling of its next Galaxy Note to mid-August, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday, citing "a person familiar with the matter." The Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3 both were announced in September, so this would mark a seemingly minor but significant change in Samsung's launch strategy.

Why August instead of September?

Up until last year, Samsung had typically been outscoring Apple with a bigger slice of the smartphone market. Consumers were gobbling up large-screened smartphones, triggering demand for Samsung's Galaxy lineup. But when Apple introduced its first big-screened phone with the iPhone 6 last year, the tide started to turn. Apple outscored Samsung in market share, at least for a short while. By introducing the Galaxy Note 5 in mid August, Samsung has the chance to woo buyers several weeks before Apple, which typically unveils each new iPhone around the start of September.

And timing can be everything. Apple unveiled the 4.7-inch screened iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch screened iPhone 6 Plus on September 9, 2014, and kicked off sales about a week and a half after that on September 19. Samsung unveiled the 5.7-inch screened Galaxy Note 4 on September 3, 2014, but the phone didn't actually go on sale until October 17 of that year, giving Apple several precious weeks to promote its new lineup and catch the interest of consumers.

No actual sales date for the Note 5 was revealed in the Journal's story. But with the announcement of the new phone reportedly set for August, Samsung may also bump up the date that it will start selling the Note 5 to consumers.

And Samsung needs a big boost in business. Competition from Apple as well as Chinese-based phone makers such as Xiaomi and Huawei have eaten away at Samsung's sales and market share. For the first quarter of 2015, Samsung sold 81.1 million smartphones, down by 4.4 million compared with the same period a year prior. Over the same time, the company's market share dropped to 24.2 percent from 30.4 percent. On Monday, Samsung revealed that its operating profit for the second quarter would likely fail to reach analysts' forecasts, while its revenues are also expected to fall short of estimates.

To regain lost ground, Samsung has said it would actually reduce the number of phones it sells in 2015 and focus more on its popular flagship models, including the Galaxy Note 5.

As usual, Apple is expected to announce and launch sales of its next iPhone this September. But this is one of those years in which the company will simply update last year's model rather than introduce a brand new one. The likely-named iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will bring with them the features of last year's lineup, including the bigger screens. But they'll certainly offer certain improvements, reportedly a faster processor, a better camera and possibly the Force Touch technology that responds differently based on the pressure of your touch.

Nothing definitive is known about the Galaxy Note 5 at this point. Rumors say the new phone will stick with its 5.7-inch screen but will adopt a new Samsung processor known as the Exynos 7422. Unlike current smartphones, which contain separate chips for different functions, the Exynos 7422 would be a first for Samsung as it would combine the central processing unit, the graphical processing unit, onboard memory, storage and cellular connectivity on a single chip.

Responding to a request for comment, Samsung told CNET: "We do not comment on any unannounced products."

Update, 7:00 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Samsung.