Samsung Levels Up with New Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge

by JAMES S. KIM | james_s_kim

Samsung had a rough year in 2014. The Galaxy S5 smartphone garnered mediocre reviews, and the company lost a huge chunk of their market share to up-and-coming Chinese smartphone makers and, of course, their nemesis in Apple. These all contributed to Samsung’s first annual profit decline in 2011.

For a company that has always marketed its products as the “next big thing,” the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are going to have to come up big—now. Samsung debuted its new flagship models yesterday before the Mobile World Congress began this week. A first glance seems to immediately indicate that, at the very least, things will look a lot different.

Samsung went all-plastic and metal for this iteration, and there are no visible screws or seams anywhere. Both feature a 5.1-inch 1440p Quad HD Super AMOLED display, which, based on Samsung’s track record, should look amazing. The S6 Edge in particular, with its curved edges on both sides (compared to just one on the Note Edge) that give the phone hardly any side bezel.

But with this new “premium” look and feel, Samsung did trade away some functionality—and this may be a deal breaker for a number of people. With the all-glass and metal body, there’s no slot for a microSD card and no removable battery. The S6 also is not water-resistant, compared to its predecessor. The glass back of the phone could potentially mean less durability, as Apple found out with its iPhone 4 and 4s designs.

SM-G925F_026_Combination-1_White_PearlThe Pearl White Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. Image via Samsung Mobile Press

Under the hood, the phones are quite similar. Both have Exynos 7420 chips, after Samsung stepped away from using Snapdragon chips as they had done in previous Galaxy S smartphones. Both phones feature 64-bit Android Lollipop with a toned-down TouchWiz on top of 3 GB of RAM. Android Police describes the Exynos chip as “very, very fast,” compared to the numbers from the LG G3, Nexus 6, LG G Flex 2 and the new HTC One M9.

As for the batteries, they are actually smaller than the one in the S5. The S6 and Edge, however, come with wireless charging capabilities. Samsung also got rid of their problematic swipe fingerprint scanner on the S5, electing to follow Apple’s lead and switching to a one-touch fingerprint scanner. Samsung mobile payments is also coming in the second half of this year, too.

The camera includes the same Sony sensor in the Note 4, which has a spectacular camera to begin with. Samsung tinkered a little bit, adding Optical Image Stabilization to the main camera, which will shoot at 16 megapixels. The front-facing camera has also been bumped up to 5 megapixels.

SM-G920F_027_Combination-2_Black_SapphireThe Black Sapphire Samsung Galaxy S6. Image via Samsung Mobile Press

Samsung hasn’t revealed the price of either device, but there are three models for each smartphone, based on storage capacity: 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB. Expect the Edge to cost a bit more than the S6. Both models will have Pearl White, Black Sapphire and Gold Platinum colors, but the Blue Topaz will only be available for the S6, and the Emerald Green limited to the Edge.

At Samsung’s press conference on Sunday, Younghee Lee, a marketing executive for the mobile division, commented that the aluminum alloy used in the S6 and S6 Edge is “50 percent stronger” than competition and would not bend, to laughter and applause. Samsung has never been afraid to take shots at Apple—”Next Big Thing Is Already Here” ads come to mind. But all jokes aside, Samsung is now the one playing catch-up on the mobile front, and there’s never been a more pressing year for them to back up their talk.