All The Big (Very Big) Things Samsung Announced Today

Photo: Courtesy Samsung.
If you've been watching videos on your phone and thinking, Wow, I wish this screen were bigger, you are so in luck. Today, Samsung unveiled two new 5.7-inch handsets, the Galaxy Note 5 and the S6 Edge Plus. But, size isn't everything: These phones also have some nifty hidden tricks.

Here's what you need to know about Samsung's shiny new phones and how they work.

Galaxy Note 5
The Note 5 is the latest in Samsung's line of stylus-toting "phablets" (a phone that verges on tablet-sized), but the improvements are less about the hardware and more about what you can do with it — more on that shortly.

On the front is a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, which means it has a pixel-packed 1440 by 2560 resolution. Instead of a faux-leather exterior, the Note 5 feels more like a Galaxy S 6 now: The front and back are flanked in resilient Gorilla Glass (the back comes in either black or gold), while the sides are smooth aluminum. On back, it's got a 16-megapixel camera for shooting photos and videos, and a 5-megapixel camera on the front for better-quality selfies.
Photo: Courtesy Samsung.

It comes with a trademark built-in stylus Samsung calls an "S-Pen." Now, when you pop the S-Pen out of its hidden slot while the phone is off, the phone will automatically launch a simple note-taking application so you can start jotting things down by hand. You can also use the pen in a screen-capture feature, letting you annotate webpages (or whatever else you snap an image of on your handset).

The Note 5 has another interesting feature, called Live Broadcast. Like Periscope or Meerkat, it lets you stream live video. But in this case, it works with YouTube livestreaming and is built right into the camera app — no third-party app download needed. You can keep streams private (like a FaceTime chat) or public (like a Periscope broadcast), and viewers can also comment on your video in real time.

Inside, the phone's guts should provide for a blazing-fast experience. It's got an eight-core processor (the better for multitasking, my dear) and 4 GB of memory (again, great for multitasking and loading apps quickly).

S6 Edge Plus
The S6 Edge Plus is a pumped-up version of the super-slim S6 Edge, which launched earlier this spring. Like the Note 5, it features a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, but on this phone, the screen doesn't stop at the edge; it wraps around slightly in a curve. The benefit of this is that you can see status information — like the time and date — quickly and access recently used apps or contacts with a swipe.

Other than that, the S6 Edge Plus is pretty much the same phone as the Note 5 (same 16-megapixel camera, same processor and memory specs). Both handsets can also be charged wirelessly — perfect to pair with that new desktop monitor Samsung announced last month (if you're tired of cables mussing up your desk space).

Samsung Pay
You've already got your phone out. Why dig through your purse to find your wallet, when you could pay at retail stores with what's already in your hand? Samsung Pay lets you pay for items at NFC terminals using your phone. Whether your phone is on or off, just swipe up from the bottom of the edge to begin a transaction; then, hold the phone near the terminal.

To keep your payments secure, the phone uses something called a "Magnetic Secure Transmission." Built into the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, and Note 5, the MST is the same type of magnetic code credit-card readers normally detect from your plastic credit card. Like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay also uses a technique called "tokenization" to keep your actual credit card information private during these transactions. That information is stored securely on the handset, locked away where other apps can't access it.

When Can I Get Them?
Pre-orders for both phones start today at 3 p.m. EST, and they'll be available in stores August 21st. While the prices haven't yet been announced, the Note 4 was $800 off-contract, so both handsets will likely be priced in that range.

Samsung Pay will go live in the U.S. on September 28.

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