Samsung Fights Apple With New Smartphones, VR Headset & Super SmartWatch
Time is yet to tell just how reality distorting Apple’s impending iPhone 6 and iWatch launch will be in the very early AEST hours of September 10 (which is still Sept 9 in the US), but Samsung has sought to portray it has dramatically improved the state of the smartphone and wearable computing art no matter what Apple delivers.
The new devices were launched live in Berlin and simulcast in Beijing, New York and globally online during a pre-IFA consumer electronics trade show event and can be seen here or at the embedded video below.
While the audience didn’t have the electric fervour and palpable excitement you see at Apple launches, the crowd did seem suitably impressed at all the important moments given that many of Samsung’s innovations are genuine usability and interface improvements competitors aren’t offering on their devices.
After the introduction of the night’s hosts, two male Samsung executives and a British female TV presenter, was a speech by Mr DJ Lee, President and Head of Sales and Marketing in Samsung’s Electronics IT and Mobile Division, focusing on strategy and relatively briefly introducing each new product.
We reprint his speech below, which spoke glowingly of Samsung’s history of innovation in the mobile and smartphone space, citing recent examples of creating the phablet category with the original Note in 2011 and truly kicking off the modern smartwatch wars with last year’s first Gear smartwatch.
But first the new Galaxy Note 4, which seems like a better contender for the “Alpha” title than the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone which went unmentioned during this event.
It is absolutely loaded to the gills with top class features, including 4G LTE Cat 6 speeds of up to 300Mbps download and 50Mbps upload, the choice of either a octo-core or faster quad-core processor depending on the region you’re in or your desire to grey import the model of your choice, a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display (2560 x 1440) resolution, Android OS 4.4 Kitkat, 16 megapixel rear camera with smart OIS (optical image stabilisation), a 3.7 megapixel wide-angled panoramic wide-selfie capable front facing camera, 4K UHD video recording, and greatly improved S-Pen stylus with double the pressure sensitivity of last year’s model and mouse-like control of advanced copying, pasting, selecting and editing.
There’s also the Ultra Power Saving mode which debuted on the Galaxy S5, much faster battery charging and longer battery life despite going from a Full HD screen to a Quad HD Super AMOLED screen, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi a/b/c/g/n/ac, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage with microSD slot up to 64GB (rather than 128GB for some unexplained reason), IR remote LED, S-Health and a range of other apps, dramatically improved multitasking, the Download Booster that combines Wi-Fi and 4G simultaneously if connected to both for an even faster wireless connection, fingerprint scanner, UV sensor, heart rate monitor, gesture sensors and plenty more to make the Note 4 the best phablet on the market.
It can also recharge the removable battery level from 0pc to 50pc in 30 minutes or from 0pc to 100pc in 99 minutes which is 40 minutes faster than last year’s model.
It has a 3220mAh Li-ion battery and has dimensions of 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm weighing 176g.
It’s at this point that Samsung then unveils an even better smartphone, one you could almost call the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.5, but which Samsung called the Galaxy Note Edge.
It has almost identical features to the Note 4, but doesn’t offer an onto-core version but a 2.7GHz quad-core processor option instead, along with a 5.6-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen with (2560 x 1400 + 160 resolution), with everything else the same save for an addition full phone-length strip of screen that can hold music or camera controls, or display news updates, scrolling text, sports scores or plenty more, with a stack of companies on board to create apps to take advantage of the independent second side screen.
Whether the screen ends up being widely supported and truly useful or just a gimmick is yet to be seen, but it is a bold step forward into rethinking the plain slab of glass smartphone screen playbook so we’ll just have to wait and see how consumers and developers embrace it.
The dimensions are slightly different at 151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3mm weighing 174g with a fast charging 3,000mAh battery.
More information on both the Note 4 and Note Edge are available here.
Next up was the Samsung Gear S watch.
Coming with a 3G SIM card slot for voice and data running the Tizen OS, the Gear S appears far more powerful and capable than Android Wear watches, but without the Android Wear card-based info screen interface.
It has 4GB internal storage, a 2-inch curved screen to far better fit around your wrist, a “typical usage 2 day” battery life, effectively a smartphone UI and experience, an on-screen QWERTY keyboard so you can answer text messages and enter information into the watch without needing close-by access to your smartphone, various sensors, information services, and health/fitness sensors and apps, the ability to make and receive calls and the seeming ability to forward calls and text messages from one of 20+ Galaxy devices to your Gear S watch’s number and message library.
Last on the list was Samsung’s previously leaked new VR headset make in conjunction with Oculus, the VR company Facebook purchased for $2 Billion.
Oculus CTO John Carmack, the man behind classics such as Doom, Quake, Rage and plenty others was the man on stage explaining the attention to detail and the extremely low latency of the solution he had been able to overcome to make the VR headset experience truly immersive and non-jarring.
The short on-screen demo looked pretty amazing so it will be fascinating to see what it really looks like when we’re able to get our hands on one for review.
Putting one on, however, is likely best done in private, because as site editor David Richards wrote earlier today, the VR headset does make you look like a dork when wearing it, while completely cutting you off from the outside world until you take the headset off.
More information from Samsung on its VR headset here.
Samsung didn’t announce prices, just October timeframes, which we reported earlier as likely being so Samsung could see what the iPhone 6 was priced at before announcing its own RRPs.
Whether all of this obvious effort is enough to unseat Apple or at least stop customers defecting back to the finally soon-to-be available larger screened iPhone 6 is yet to be seen, but the Company is clearly trying very hard to keep customers and potential brand defectors happy and newly satisfied Samsung customers.
Samsung has again thrown every feature and benefit improvement in the book at its new range because history shows Apple has stellar sales in the Q4 period and sucks all the oxygen and media attention out of the room while doing so, meaning this new range really is make or break for the company as it seems to re-establish a firm grip on relevance, market share and profitability which took a hit when the Company announced in late July it had suffered a 31pc crash in profits as we covered here.
Most of Mr DJ Lee’s speech is reprinted below, with grammar errors reflecting the way Mr Lee spoke.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome and thank you all for coming.
“I am very happy to be here at IFA and I sincerely appreciate that you could join us today. I also would like to say thank you everyone who is enjoying outlive broadcast all around the globe. We are here today to talk about new technology of course.
“However this gathering is not just about exciting new product only. We also want to share our dreams, some interesting new ideas and our excitement for the future. The smartphone industry has been driven by technology innovation. Better quality screen, more powerful processor and higher resolution camera more and better features.
The growth of our industry has accelerated with addition of services and content this innovation have opened limitless new possibly in our life. Samsung has always ben at the forefront of mobile history and we continue to grow together with industry. We launched the first Galaxy S in 2010 in full collaboration with Google and since then we have introduced five S series models.
“We created note category in 2011. In order to help enhance your creatively, productivity and efficiency in your life. We pioneered the exciting new concept of smart wearable devices starting 2013, exploring new opportunity and building momentum.
“We aim to be the most active and the dynamic player in the industry. Our industry is now a the very important moment. Possibly the most revolutionary and the radical changes we have never seen happening right now. Our industry is about to jump to next dimension. The smartphone is not smartphone anymore.
“It will be your wallet and the gateway to financial security. It will be your personal television delivering immersive entertainment and info experience everywhere, and it become your computer for work, creating new freedom by allowing your productivity to move together with you and it is your health coach helping you perform at your best.
In the internet of things era, the smartphone will be hub of human interaction and it will go beyond your imagination. New innovation will create more benefit for more people around the world. Smartphone is becoming one of the most advanced tools that will fully integrate into our lives.
“Despite all the the change one thing remains constant. We at samsung continue to make sincere effort to bring forward new product and service that will improve peopls’s life. At samsung we have always focused accelerating the speed of innovation. I can promise you that we will never slow down.”
Mr Lee continues: “Thank you. we’re gonna be a trigger for new mobile culture. The new mobile culture that advances human potential and enhances what we value most in life. When we talking about bring fresh inspiration in the industry I cannot miss opportunity to talk about Galaxy Note.
“We created this category. The original note larger screen and the iconic S-Pen launched new standard in smartphone culture. Will that progress in mind ladies and gentlemen let me introduce the next galaxy note.
Galaxy Note 4 video plays showing design elements, large screen, new stylus, leather look back, looks very thin, in difference colours – brown, white pink black.
“This the Galaxy Note 4, again. pictures taken this new Note combineinf three key attributes. First the most perfect and refined spend and note experience and the second the latest and themes advanced galaxy technology and lastly all nicely presented through look and feel of a new design language.
“The galaxy note 4 will combine to set industry standards for how smartphone should help our lives become more ncriched, more enjoyable and more efficient but we did not stop there. please now meet new galaxy note edge.”
After this came a demo of a new secret note.
“Galaxy Note edge – ladies and gentlemen – this is Galaxy Note Edge. This Galaxy Note edge is the first smartphone to use one of a kind screen. this unique curved screen maximised note experience with samsung innovative display technology. It will lead our smartphone experience to whole new level. I am very confident that we have reached new level of note culture with the new note 4 and the note edge.
“In terms of wearables, we have already announced the newest mobile technology that will further change our lifestyle. This is all new samsung Gear S.
“This Gear S brings power of smartphone to your wrist, not only providing a truly connected smart wearable experience but also it becoming perfect health mate to stay fit. Samsung Gear S is the start of new lifestyle revolution. Now I would like to talk about totally new form factor of wearables.
“Can you guess can you imagine what it is. Ladies and gentlemen – here it is.
“Samsung Gear VR – Samsung Gear 4 together with Galaxy Note 4 offers the next-gen viewing experience. I believe a lot of developers and content providers will be very vermouth encourage to join this exciting moment with the Gear S and VR your mobile experience in our daily life will never be the same.
“Other surprise are next on our agenda. I am really honoured today to have this opportunity to present Samsung’s latest innovations, and I appreciate this opportunity to share few expeAtation of the future proof industry especially together with you. I really thank all of you for being part of this exigent moment of today. And finally I also really thank you for your very attentive listening of my speech. Thank you very much enjoy the rest of the presentation.” concluded Mr Lee.