Samsung Electronics unveils high-end phones in search of sales boost

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ phones on display at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event in New York on Aug 13, 2015.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ phones on display at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event in New York on Aug 13, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Samsung Electronics unveiled a new Galaxy Note phablet and a larger version of its curved-screen S6 edge smartphone on Thursday, marking a fresh bid by the South Korean company to revive momentum in its handset business.

Samsung is the world's top smartphone maker but its market share fell in the second quarter when the company released its critically acclaimed S6 models, squeezed by Apple's upscale iPhones and cheaper offerings from Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies.

The manufacturer responded with S6 price cuts and moving up the Note unveiling from its usual early September spot, ahead of the latest iPhone launch expected in September.

The event announcing the new gadgets was attended by more than 1,000 people, almost filling the Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Samsung has made several hardware changes for the new devices, including a faster processor for the Galaxy Note 5 and increasing the screen size of the S6 edge+ to 5.7 inches from 5.1 inches on the S6 edge.

Samsung has high hopes for the Note. "Each new version has been more popular than the last," said Justin Denison, vice-president of product strategy and marketing for Samsung Electronics America.

Both are powered by Samsung's Exynos chips, the company said.

The phones will go on sale on Aug 21 in the United States and Canada. They will be available on the four major carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.

One expert said he was not sure how well the phones would help Samsung's efforts in the competitive smartphone market.

The phones were not different enough, said Jonathan Roubini, editor-in-chief of Lab Reviews, "So that's why it's very hard for them to gain that market share from Apple."

Roubini said that they may frustrate Android users. "The phone looks very cool, but you cannot change the battery, and you cannot add memory to it."

Samsung shares closed at 1,140,000 won on Thursday, down 1.21 per cent.

Samsung also said its mobile payment service Samsung Pay will launch on Aug 20 in South Korea and Sept 28 in the United States.

Samsung Pay lets users make payments by having phones send signals to existing magnetic stripe card readers, offering greater store coverage than Apple's Apple Pay service which requires retailers to install compatible equipment.

The payments service will expand to Britain, Spain and China, the company said, without giving dates.