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NEW YORK - Samsung gathered the technology press at Lincoln Center here in New York City today to unveil the phablet-sized Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy 6 Edge Plus smartphones, both featuring sharp, vibrant 5.7-inch OLED screens.
The new Note 5's screen is flat – the Samsung's curved-screen aesthetic is relegated to the Edge 6 Plus -- but the added a curved back to an enclosure this is slimmer than its predecessor. Highlights include a new BlackBerry-style keyboard cover that snaps onto the front of the screen and provides a physical keyboard for quickly composing emails. When not in use, the cover snaps onto the back.
Apart from generous on-screen real estate, both the Note 5 and Galaxy Edge 6 Plus offer another multitasking benefit: more RAM. "One or two gigs is not enough," said Justin Denison, vice president of product strategy and head of Mobile Products at Samsung Electronics America, during an on-stage demonstration of the Galaxy Note 5. Both handsets ship with 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, said Denison, eliciting applause from the crowd.
"It's the most amount of RAM we've ever included on our phones," he added, making it possible to run more apps simultaneously before the performance is affected.
In a bit of future-proofing, the phones not only support 4G LTE cellular networking, but the upcoming LTE Category 9 specification, announced Denison. "As these phones age they'll keep up with the changing times."
On the camera front, the smartphones support 4K recording with improved image stabilization for smoother, high-fidelity videos. The company's SideSync wireless content sharing technology supports both Windows and Mac on the new phones. As in the Galaxy 6 and 6 Edge, wireless charging is standard. Samsung is "betting on a cord-free future," said Denison.
The Galaxy Note 5 and 6 Edge Plus will be available for preorder today, the company said. They arrive on store shelves on U.S. and Canadian store shelves on Aug. 21.
The company's other major announcement today was Samsung Pay, a mobile payments service. A rival to Apple Pay, Samsung's implementation is secured by KNOX, the company's enterprise mobile device management platform.
Samsung Pay supports Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) and Near Field Communication (NFC) to ensure compatibility with a wide range of point-of-sale terminals. Samsung is also gathering support from payment networks and banks, including American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Bank of America.
"We are partnering with card networks, issuers and acquirers, and Samsung Pay will also be the first to support contactless payment for store-branded credit cards. The list of partners will only grow," said InJong Rhee, EVP of Samsung Electronics, global head of Samsung Pay, in a statement.
Owners of the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus and Note 5 can participate in a Samsung Pay beta on Aug. 25 ahead of its official Sept. 28 launch.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.