Samsung Introduces New Phones and Mobile Payments System
Heavy lies the crown for any leader in the smartphone market, and Samsung’s plan to stay in the lead is to introduce new phones alongside a new mobile payments system.
The South Korean manufacturer introduced two big-screen Galaxy phones on Thursday: the Note 5, which includes a digital pen, and the S6 Edge Plus, which has a curved screen that wraps around the sides of the phone and skips the pen.
The Note 5 is slightly thinner than its predecessor, the Note 4, and has some software twists. For one, you can jot down notes with the pen even when the screen is off. You can also scribble notes on digital documents before sending them.
The S6 Edge Plus can be customized so that the curved edges can quickly show your favorite apps or contacts by swiping from the sides.
Both phones have 5.7-inch screens and support wireless power charging. While the phones are now available for ordering online, pricing and official release dates have yet to be announced.
The new devices follow Samsung’s April release of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, which will soon get price cuts after the company reported earlier this month that its profit had declined for the seventh quarter in a row.
Analysts say that the introduction by Apple last year of big-screen phones, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as competition from Chinese handset makers like Xiaomi, are chipping into Samsung’s profit.
Samsung on Thursday also introduced its mobile wallet system, a rival to the Apple Pay system and Android Pay from Google. The new wallet, Samsung Pay, is similar to Apple and Google’s offerings, and will work with a handful of previously released Samsung devices.
Samsung Pay has a few advantages over competitors. The wallet uses a technology called magnetic secure transmission, or MST, to transmit a user’s credit card information to merchants at the register. It should work with many, if not most, existing credit card terminals by waving the phone over the card reader. Apple Pay uses Near Field Communication technology, which is slowly being adopted by retailers but is far from being widely accepted.
But Samsung Pay also requires a few extra steps compared with Apple Pay. And in the end, Samsung, Apple and others face challenges persuading consumers to change their behavior by using the mobile payments systems instead of their regular plastic credit cards.
To win over consumers, Samsung is promoting the security features of Samsung Pay. It uses a technology developed by credit card companies called tokenization, which does not require transmitting a person’s credit card numbers when paying for things. (Both Android Pay and Apple Pay use this technology as well.) The company is also promoting its integration with retailer loyalty programs that Apple and Google plan to offer in their payments systems, too.
Samsung unveiled the new phones and Samsung Pay ahead of the lucrative holiday shopping season — and, perhaps more important, before Apple is expected to release new iPhones. Apple has traditionally introduced new smartphones in September.
By:BRIAN X. CHEN