Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and the Note 5. Credit: Samsung
Wireless carriers immediately announced off-contract prices for the devices that start at $720, high enough to raise eyebrows from some analysts.
Both devices went on pre-order at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on various websites and will go on sale in stores in the U.S. and Canada on Aug. 21.
Sprint immediately announced off-contract prices of $792 for the 32GB Edge Plus and $888 for the 64GB version. For the Note 5, the off-contract price was $720 for the 32GB model and $816 for the 64GB.
AT&T's off-contract prices were somewhat higher, at $815 for the 32GB Edge Plus and $915 for the 64GB version, and $740 for the 32GB Note 5 and $840 for the 64GB model.
The features of the two devices are strikingly similar and don't greatly expand beyond the previous Note 4 or S6 Edge. Several analysts said the new products show mainly "incremental improvements."
Each device runs Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) with a Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa-core 64-bit processor. Both have a 3,000 mAh battery for 28 hours talk time, a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Both also have 4GB of RAM.
"Pricing will be key for these devices," noted Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel, who commented, "Wow!" to the early high prices announced by Sprint and AT&T.
Samsung needs to compete against the iPhone 6 Plus with the Note 5, which could mean consumers will pick the one with the lower price, she said. The higher cost of the curved display with the Edge Plus might not give Samsung "enough wiggle room on pricing," however, Milanesi added.
However, Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said the Note 5 and Edge Plus prices are intended to categorize the devices at the high end of all smartphones, which he called "halo" products.
"Samsung is going to appeal to the very high end of the market with those prices," Nguyen said. "Samsung's purpose in keeping them high end is to make them seem interesting and viable, but that doesn't bring a horde of consumers over to buy them."
Nguyen said Samsung is also on the right track with making the 5.7-in. Edge Plus bigger than its predecessor, which has a 5.1-in. display. "There's consumer sentiment towards larger screens and there's definitely opportunity there," he said.
Apple's decision to introduce larger screens on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have helped their sales, analysts said. In the second quarter, the iPhone 6 was the biggest selling phone in the U.S., while last year's Galaxy S5 was the second-best seller, followed in third place by the Galaxy S6, which first went on sale in April.
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