Business / Technology

Samsung's iris-reading Note 7 keeps Apple at bay

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-04 07:48

Samsung's iris-reading Note 7 keeps Apple at bay

A Samsung employee shows an attendee a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone during a launch event in New York. Provided To China Daily

South Korean group draws attention to extra security the scanner provides

After extending its lead over Apple Inc in the global smartphone market with the Galaxy S7, Samsung Electronics Co is now trying to keep that spirit alive before a new iPhone arrives.

The South Korean company announced the latest version of its large-screen smartphone with the 5.7 inch Note 7 that can be unlocked with an iris-scanning camera. Sporting a display that curves down both sides, Samsung's successor to the Note 5 skipped a number to synchronize its name with the technology used for its top-selling Galaxy S7.

With consumers putting greater emphasis on multimedia when choosing devices, the Note 7 also supports so-called high-dynamic range video content and the company partnered with Inc to make such streaming content available in selected regions in time for the launch. HDR is seen as one of the next big advances in television and movie picture quality, alongside 4K Ultra HD and virtual reality.

Samsung drew attention to the extra security that an iris-scanner provides, because the human retina is virtually impossible to replicate. That may help security-conscious users warm to the new phone but, without wider acceptance of mobile payments and biometric verification, may not prove enough of a selling point to many would-be buyers.

"Adding an iris-reading sensor was a positive move. But to make a bigger splash, it needs to be backed up by more of the financial and payments industry," said Park Kang-ho, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co in Seoul.

"It isn't something that consumers would flock to. I don't think the phone will sharply outsell the previous Note 5 model."

The device's unveiling comes at least a month before Apple is expected to launch its revamped iPhones.

The Note 7 will go on sale starting Aug 19 and roll out gradually across the globe, Samsung said. The new product comes with Samsung Pay services and will be offered in four different colors, including gold, black, silver and blue. The South Korean company also unveiled an upgraded version of its Gear VR, a gadget that twins with a Samsung phone to display virtual reality images.

The iris-scanning technology, which relies on an infrared camera lens mounted on the front of the phone, can also be used to unlock a secure folder within the Android operating system. Users can store sensitive documents and apps in the directory, which remain encrypted even if the phone is unlocked. Iris-detection is fast, identifying a registered face and unlocking the device in less than a second during a demonstration in London.

Users will be able to authenticate Samsung Pay transactions via the new technology.

Other features of the phone include an improved stylus that can be used underwater or when the screen is wet. Waterproofing the pen makes it easier to use when it rains as liquid on the screen generally makes fingers less effective, while the new pen nub will work just the same. This will be particularly useful to people who work outside, like delivery drivers, Eric McCarty, vice-president of Samsung America mobile, told reporters in New York before the product announcement.


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