What to expect from this week's Samsung Unpacked (Galaxy Note 5) event
We're only a few days away from Samsung's next Unpacked event. And while we never know exactly what events will hold, multiple leaks have combined to paint a pretty clear picture of what to expect at this one.
The centerpiece should, of course, be the Galaxy Note 5, the next version of Samsung's stylus-laden phablet. Every other Galaxy Note was announced at IFA in early September, but Samsung is bumping the launch up this year, reportedly to create some distance from the iPhone 6s launch (expected on or around September 9).
According to SamMobile, the Galaxy Note 5 will keep the same key display specs from the Note 4: 5.7-inches, Super AMOLED, with Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution. The Note 4 was already doing great in that department, so we shouldn't have any complaints there.
The new phablet will, however, get a new premium build that basically matches the Galaxy S6, including aluminum edges and glass back. The last two versions of the Note lineup had faux leather backs with either aluminum (Galaxy Note 4) or plastic (Note 3) frames, so this will make for a higher-end feel.
The Note 5's S Pen (stylus) will also reportedly be easier to yank out of the phone. Expect an auto-eject feature, where it pops (partially) out of the handset when you press against its top. One of the top items on our Note 5 wish list was a metallic S Pen, but we don't yet know whether the company will do that or stick with plastic.
Other alleged Note 5 specs include 4 GB of RAM, an entry-level 32 GB internal storage and a 64-bit octa-core Exynos processor. The handset will also reportedly have a 16 MP rear camera and 5 MP front sensor, along with wireless charging like in the GS6.
Samsung's second big announcement should be the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (try saying that ten times in a row). Unlike last year's Galaxy Note Edge, the new phablet reportedly won't have a stylus, instead settling for being a plus-sized Galaxy S6 edge. Or, if you prefer, a more direct rival to the iPhone 6 Plus.
Otherwise leaks point to the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus' specs lining up almost identically with the Note 5's, apart from 3 GB of RAM in place of the Note's 4 GB. Your choice should then come down to stylus and flat screen vs. no stylus and curved screen.
Samsung should have at least a couple of wearables arriving in 2015, but we aren't sure if we'll see those on Thursday. The company is working on a round-faced smartwatch (reportedly called the Gear A) that improves on the company's Tizen software, but the relatively few or significant leaks we've seen about it could point to a later-in-2015 announcement.
We also still expect the the first full consumer version of the Gear VR virtual reality headset sometime in 2015 (despite being sold in Best Buy stores, the previous versions were branded as "Innovator Editions" for developers and early adopters). We'd bet on this announcement also coming later in the year, but it's always possible we'll hear something this week.
Despite the positive critical reception to the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, Samsung's flagship sales this year haven't quite lived up to its (or investors') expectations. The Korean company is hoping its new phablets, and their extra time in the spotlight before the new iPhones steal their thunder, will buck that trend.
Gizmag will be on ground at Samsung Unpacked in New York City this Thursday, so be sure to check back for full coverage of (and likely hands-ons with) Samsung's product announcements.