Samsung unveils new Galaxy Note smartphones, Gear VR headset with wide carrier support

The IFA electronics trade show in Berlin kicked off with a bang, with Samsung Electronics announcing two new versions of its Galaxy Note phablet as well as the Gear VR virtual reality headset. Meanwhile, Sony also unveiled a slew of new devices in its Xperia line.

As expected, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 4, its latest large-screen phone, as well as the Note Edge, which has a curved screen. Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) will all launch the Galaxy Note 4 when it debuts in the U.S. in October. All four of the Tier 1 carriers will support the Note Edge as well when it comes out this fall, though U.S. Cellular has not indicated it will do so.

samsung galaxy note 4
Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Additionally, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint also confirmed they will support the Gear VR, which is powered by technology from Oculus, now owned by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). As The Verge notes, the Gear VR uses the Note 4 for all of its processing and display functionality, as the Note 4 snaps into the Gear VR in front of dual lenses that provide the 3D effect. The Gear VR seems especially designed for immersive gaming experiences.

Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset
Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset

Samsung did not reveal any pricing or exact availability for the devices.

The Galaxy Note 4 sports a 5.7-inch quad HD Super AMOLED display, 2.7 GHz quad-core processor, 16-megapixel rear camera and 3.7-megapixel front-facing camera, a Category 6 LTE modem capable of theoretical peak downlink speeds of 300 Mbps and 32 GB of memory. The Note 4 improves on many of the features of last year's Note 3 and sports upgrades to Samsung's S Pen stylus. The new S Pen has a more natural brush effect, according to Samsung, to more closely emulate natural writing, and can let users select different pieces of content from different origins to share.

The Note Edge has similar specifications to the Note 4 but its curved screen gives users quick access to launch frequently used apps, control music and get alerts, even when the cover is closed. Users can also receive notifications directly on the Edge Screen while watching videos.

Meanwhile, Sony announced a handful of new devices at IFA, including the Xperia Z3, its latest 5.2-inch flagship smartphone. The company also announced the Z3 Compact, a variant with slightly lower specs and a 4.6-inch display. The Z3 has a screen with 1080p resolution, a quad-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 801 processor, and a 20-megapixel camera with 12,800 ISO sensitivity--a first for a smartphone--to produce better details, even in low light, according to Sony.

Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3

T-Mobile US, a long-standing Sony partner, has confirmed it will sell the Z3 sometime this fall. There have also been rumors that SoftBank and Sprint will team up to sell the device, which would be the first Xperia smartphone for either carrier.

Sony also announced mid-range Xperia E3 smartphone and two new wearable devices. One is the Android Wear-powered SmartWatch 3, which will cost €230 ($302) in Europe. It's unclear if it will come to the U.S. The SmartWatch 3 is Sony's first gadget that runs Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) software for wearable devices, and it has 1.6-inch 320×320 transflective display. The other wearable is the Sony SmartBand Talk, which adds 1.4-inch E-Ink display to the previously announced SmartBand.

For more:
- see this Samsung release
- see this separate Samsung release
- see this The Verge article
- see this Sony release
- see this Re/code article
- see this GigaOM article
- see these two separate The Verge articles

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