Samsung, Microsoft and Sony try to get some exposure before they're eclipsed by Apple


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The screen of the 5.6-inch Note Edge extends beyond the front of the phone, allowing users to read messages, news and stock tickers from an angle. The screen of the 5.6-inch Note Edge extends beyond the front of the phone, allowing users to read messages, news and stock tickers from an angle.


Before Apple's event on Tuesday sucks all the air out of tech coverage (and it's already getting difficult to breathe), several of the company's smartphone rivals this week did their best not to be forgotten amid the increasing iHoopla.
Among the announcements, which were made at IFA, the big consumer electronics show in Berlin:
Samsung Electronics, Apple's biggest competitor, unveiled the Note Edge, a smartphone with a display that curves down one side so users can read messages, news and stock tickers from an angle. If that feature is well-received by consumers, one analyst said Samsung could apply that screen technology to its new Galaxy phone next year.
Samsung also showed off the Note 4, which comes with a higher-definition screen, microphones that allow for cleaner recordings, and a feature that celebrities may want to be careful with: the ability to snap group selfies with a 120-degree view. The Note 4 goes on sale next month, while the Note Edge will be available later this year.
The Note line, with its larger screens, will be under pressure next week when Apple is expected to push into the "phablet" category.
The South Korean company also displayed a virtual-reality headset, developed with Facebook's Oculus unit, as well as a new 2-inch Gear S wristwatch with a curved display and built-in network connectivity for calls and text messages. Apple’s wearable device, often referred to as the iWatch, may not come out until next year, according to a report from Recode.
Microsoft announced the Lumia 830, its first high-end smartphone since it bought Nokia's devices unit in April. The device has a 5-inch display and a 10-megapixel camera, will cost about 330 euros ($427) and starts shipping this month. Microsoft also showed the Lumia 730 and Lumia 735, which will cost 199 euros ($258) and 219 euros ($283), respectively.
“We’re bringing those flagship experiences to a more affordable price segment,” Chris Weber, head of mobile device sales at Microsoft, said at IFA. “Apple can’t say that and Samsung can’t say that.”
That aside, Microsoft has made little headway in offering popular smartphones, and the purchase of Nokia "continues to be the black cloud over Microsoft," Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, told Bloomberg News.
Sony, seeking to better integrate its electronics and entertainment assets, showed off mobile devices that can also display PlayStation games. The Tokyo-based company unveiled the waterproof Xperia Z3 smartphone, the Z3 Compact smartphone with a 4.6-inch screen and the Z3 Tablet Compact with an 8-inch display. We'll see if Sony's latest offerings help it climb the charts — Xperia smartphones barely crack the top 10 in global shipments.
Huawei, trying to break out of what it calls "tier two" smartphone makers, promised to more than double its share of the global market in five years. If the Chinese company can pull off such a feat, that would make it level with Apple, assuming the iPhone maker's share is the same then as it is now. As part of its challenge to the Cupertino tech giant, Huawei presented the Ascend Mate 7, a smartphone with a 6-inch screen that's larger than the new and bigger iPhones expected at Apple's event.
We'll check back Tuesday to see if you can recall any of this.

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