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August 13, 2015

Samsung launches Pay and Galaxy smartphones

Goes head to head with Apple.

By Alexander Sword

Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note5 smartphones, as well as release dates and details for Samsung Pay.

The Korean tech giant said Samsung Pay would launch in Korea on 20 August and in the US on 28 September.

The mobile payments system allows users to pay by swiping and scanning their fingerprint. As well as the near-field communication technology used by Apple Pay, Samsung Pay includes magnetic secure transmission, enabling it to work in most places where a card can be used.

Selected S6 edge+ and Note5 devices will be preloaded with Samsung Pay, with a wider software update being rolled out later in the month to the S6 and S6 Edge as well as the latest handsets.

Dan Wagner, CEO of Powa Technologies, said: "The launch of Samsung Pay along with its latest devices represents a step forward for the international mobile payment scene. Samsung launching into competition with Apple Pay demonstrates how two of the largest tech leaders in the world are putting mobile payment as a major priority.

"Samsung’s inclusion of magnetic strip recognition alongside Near Field Communication (NFC) puts it ahead of Apple Pay, bringing more versatility for users and merchants alike – especially in markets where magnetic strip readers are still the main payment method."

Dennis Jones, CEO of Judo Payments hailed the magnetic strip as a "big step in the mobile payments revolution."

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"The pivotal advantage for Samsung Pay is that it doesn’t require vendors to upgrade their payments technology – as long as they take cards, Samsung users with eligible devices can enjoy a quicker, more secure and seamless payments experience."

Wagner, however, argued that both offerings are still lacking: "What shoppers and merchants alike really want is a cross-channel payment method that allows transactions to take place anywhere, at anytime, from a range of mediums. Until this level of freedom is achieved, mobile payments will remain more of an added bonus than the must-have feature the industry needs."

The new devices target the big screen smartphone, or ‘phablet’, market. Both offer 4GB RAM, Android 5.1, Octa core processors, and 16MP main and 5MP front-facing cameras.

Both sport 5.7 inch screen Quad HD Super AMOLED screens, although the S6 edge+ screen is dual edge. The Note5 is slightly larger than the edge+, with weights of 171g and 153g respectively.

The Galaxy Note5 includes productivity tools such as the SideSync, as well as S Pen capabilities. Both devices feature KNOX Active Protection out of the box.

With the inclusion of security features and the addition of Samsung Pay to its offerings, Samsung is moving away from simple hardware provision and into creating its own ecosystem akin to Apple and iOS.

"With Apple dominating the premium phone market and the Chinese vendors increasingly offering quality hardware at lower prices, it is through a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services unique to Samsung devices that Samsung can secure more loyalty and longer-term differentiation at the high end of the market," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

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