Not all about Apple Watch; 3 hot smartphones went on sale Friday

Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Edge, and HTC's One M9 were on store shelves

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Samsung and HTC separately launched sales on Friday of three new smartphones that have garnered positive reviews and, by various accounts, some solid initial customer interest.

However, Friday's tech news was filled with reports of delays in shipments of new Apple Watches, overshadowing the launch of the three new Android smartphones, Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and the HTC One M9.

All three phones are seen as among the best ever in design and functionality for the Android platform and the strongest contenders against the popular iPhone.

It doesn’t appear that long lines formed outside of stores in the U.S. to buy the new Android phones, as they did for the Samsung devices in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, according to a report and pictures by SamMobile, a popular Website devoted to Samsung fans.

However, in the Washington and Virginia area, five store clerks reported healthy pre-sales and a busy morning with customers interested in the the Galaxy S6 and Edge. HTC also put its One M9 on sale at various retail stores nationwide on Friday after initially selling it direct for $649. The device is being sold at all the major U.S. carriers and as well as BestBuy, Costco and Target.

At a busy Best Buy store in Harrisonburg, Va., there was a steady stream of customers who were buying the Samsung phones, keeping clerks busy taking payments and activating the devices, a clerk said. “I hear a lot of people are trying to buy the Apple Watch and shipments are delayed into June, but we’ve been busy with the phones,” he said, pointing to a crowd near the checkout counters.

That Best Buy clerk, as well as two other clerks at nearby Verizon Wireless and AT&T stores, said the higher-priced Edge and the Galaxy S6 were both selling equally well. Each of the Verizon and AT&T stores in Harrisonburg reported dozens of pre-sales, and constant traffic throughout the morning.

Many analysts predicted the higher-priced Edge wouldn’t sell as well as its cousin, although the Edge has a stylish appeal with its front screen curved on either side; in nearly every other way, the two phones are identical.

Best Buy is offering an unlocked 32GB Edge at $849.99 in-store, fully $150 and 21% above the $700 price of the 32GB. (Best Buy uses the term “unactivated” to describe its unlocked version, meaning it can be purchased to use on other carriers.) Off-contract (but not necessarily unlocked) prices at the large U.S. carriers started as low as $600 for the 32 GB Galaxy S6 and $700, 17% more, for the 32 GB Edge at Verizon, and up to $685 for the 32 GB Galaxy S6 and $814 (19% more) for the 32 GB Edge at AT&T. With a two-year contract, the Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9 each cost about $200 and the Edge about $300 among U.S. carriers.

JR Raphael reviewed all three phones for Computerworld. In one report, he compared the HTC One M9 and the Galaxy S6. In a separate review, he called the pricier Edge impressive but also impractical because the subtly sloping edges make the phone harder to use.

All device makers try to manage customer expectations for their new products, and Samsung has been no exception. Samsung’s mobile chief J.K. Shin said Thursday that the company expects record shipments of the Galaxy S6, but said Samsung won’t be able to keep up with demand for the Edge because the curved screen is harder to make, according to Reuters.

Some analysts have predicted 50 million Galaxy S6’s to ship in 2015 — a period of about 2.5 quarters. By comparison, Apple said it sold nearly 75 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus phones in the fourth quarter of 2014, which averages out to 37.5 million for each device over 90 days.

Extrapolating to the 230 days that analysts believe it would take to ship the first 50 million Galaxy S6 phones, the iPhone 6 could sell 94 million units for the same period—assuming seasonal sales fluctuations and other factors remain equal. However, sales usually taper off dramatically in the last fews months of the first year of a smartphone's sales.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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