Today was the day that all the talking finally stopped and Samsung took the covers off of the smartphone that it hopes will revive its flagging fortunes. Or should we say the two phones?
Announced during a press event at today’s opening of the Mobile World Congress show, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are now very real, bringing an end to months of speculation and leaks. Now that they are both here the guessing can finally come to an end.
With Samsung suffering at the hands of not just Apple but also new competition in the Android market, the two new high-end Galaxy S arrive with quite the weight of expectation. Laden with features and a design that will upset some, both have their positives and negatives.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Not the giant departure from the older Galaxy lineup that some may have hoped for, the Galaxy S6’s main difference when compared to its siblings is the move to a metal+glass construction which immediately gives it a premium look and feel that other Samsung phones have lacked. That comes at a price though, because the new S6 doesn’t come with a removable battery or expandable storage which will be a huge blow to many. If it stops the thing from creaking when we use it though, we’re willing to take it.
As a side note, Samsung claims that the metal used in its new handsets is 50% stronger than that used in other smartphones. That means, apparently, that it won’t bend. Shots fired in the direction of Apple? You bet.
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S6 with a 5.1-inch display that mimics the S5. Samsung’s Galaxy Note line of phones takes care of anyone wanting anything larger, so 5.1-inches seems to make plenty of sense there. A Super AMOLED offering, the new display has a resolution of 2560×1440.
Powering that screen is an Octa-core Exynos 64-bit chip with 3GB of RAM. Expect this thing to be fast, and early indications are that it out performs the already speedy Galaxy Note 4. So yeah, it’s no slouch.
The lack of expandable memory means owners will be left with whatever storage option they choose. Those options are a 32GB entry-level configuration, 64GB mid-tier choice or 128GB high-end option.
Photo buffs will have a 16-megapixel shooter with optical image stabilization to play with on the rear of the device and a 5-megapixel wide-angle camera on the front. The now customary fingerprint sensors and heart rate monitor are in use here, though there is no water resistance or proofing this time around, which is a shame. It’s worth mentioning that the updated fingerprint sensor now works more like Apple’s Touch ID where you will simply touch your finger to register your fingerprint as opposed to swipe in Galaxy S5.
Wireless charging is also supported, and a special charger is included that lets you charge the phone from 0 to 50% in 25 minutes.
On the software front you’ll get Android 5.0 with Samsung’s layer of TouchWiz slapped on top. That extra Samsung software is cleaned-up this time and now only includes apps made by Microsoft. There’s the additional bonus of some free OneDrive storage too, aping the offer that saw Galaxy S owners of yesteryear receiving free Dropbox space.
We can’t really go any further without addressing the elephant in the room. The Galaxy S6 looks like an iPhone in quite a few of the photos floating around. So much so that it’s actually quite embarrassing. It’s not the first time Samsung has drawn inspiration from Apple and it won’t be the last, so let’s try not to get too caught up in the similarities to the exclusion of everything else – like is the phone a good device regardless of its design heritage?
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
This is where things start to get interesting.
Building on the Galaxy Note Edge’s idea of using a curved screen to increase display options as well as provide somewhere to put buttons that don’t get in the way, the S6 Edge goes one step further by curving around both the left and right side of the screen. We have to say that this thing looks absolutely stunning, even if we find ourselves doubting the extra usefulness added to the stock S6 by the additional screen space. The resolution and screen size is identical to the Galaxy S6, so it’s not like you gain in those departments.
No matter which phone you plump for, you’ll be able to buy it on April 10th if you live in one of the twenty launch countries. No prices have been announced yet, so be sure to keep an eye on your carrier of choice over the coming week. There hasn’t been word on color availability across those twenty countries either, but the colors on show at Mobile World Congress include the usual white, black, gold and blue while more exciting colors like emerald green are also set to be available.
Yes, the name is a little too similar to Apple Pay, but are there really that many ways to name something like this? Whatever the name, it uses NFC and also works anywhere that accepts debit or credit cards so long as they use the standard MST magstripe readers. Both MasterCard and VISA are on board at launch, with other banks on the way. Apart from there there isn’t much to say other than the release date – this summer in the United States and South Korea. We don’t yet know when it will make it into the wild elsewhere.
Whether any of this will be enough to arrest Samsung’s steady decline remains to be seen.