Samsung Phones Impress with New Apps Key

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Two new Galaxy Note smartphones from Samsung are about the same size as last year’s Note 3. What’s different: A side screen on one of them and sharper cameras on both. Samsung also unveiled new wearable devices, including a virtual-reality headset, as part of its holiday lineup. The devices won’t start selling until October or later, and prices for most haven’t been announced yet.

Based on about an hour with these new gadgets at a Samsung event in New York, I find them impressive. But whether that’s enough to win over potential iPhone customers will depend on what app developers do with these new features.

There’s speculation Apple will unveil the iPhone 6 in two sizes next week, with the larger one at 5.5 inches. If that’s the case, Samsung loses much of its size advantage and will have to make a compelling case for these other features.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones have always been too big for me, but I know some people prefer larger screens because text is easier to read and video is easier to watch.

The new Note 4 is a successor to last year’s Note 3 and retains its 5.7-inch screen. The Note Edge’s screen is 5.6 inches and extends over the right edge and curves toward the back, creating a second display on the side.

The side display is my favorite of the new phone features. It can show weather and time while the phone is laid on a table or nightstand. You can add icons for quick access to apps you use frequently, such as Gmail or Netflix. You also get a panel of tools such as the flashlight. This panel is something Apple’s iPhones have had for a year, and I’m glad to finally see it on an Android phone.

 

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