Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge announced
It’s gone official folks – Samsung will sell two versions of its next flagship phone, one of which has a screen that curves round its sides.
Although the announcement of the Galaxy S6 will be important to most I dare say that the introduction of the Galaxy S6 Edge will be the one creating most of the noise.
Samsung actually lost market share to Apple and others with the S5 sales being less than its predecessor in many countries so these new handsets have their work cut out for them over the next few months.
Samsung Galaxy S6 rethink
The replacements to the plastic-bodied S5 were unveiled in Barcelona, ahead of the start of Mobile World Congress. They go on sale on 10 April in 20 countries, including the UK.
Samsung says that the two phones feature a 64-bit processor it designed to be both more powerful and energy efficient than before.
The South Korean firm said it had set out to address past “missteps”, and had codenamed the devices “project zero” to reflect the need for a rethink.
Changes include making the TouchWiz user interface simpler to use by cutting the number of pop-up messages. Samsung also acknowledged the need for premium materials and have now given the mobiles a metal frame and glass back instead of the plastic styling of earlier models.
The redesign has, however, meant some features have had to be dropped: the phones are no longer water-resistant, they do not have a microSD slot for extra storage and their backs cannot be removed to change their batteries.
The S6 Edge brings the curved screen edges to both sides of the smartphone. The device uses the feature to provide a quick way to stay in touch with select contacts, and to alert owners to important information.
The S6 Edge will take the super-premium slot and will be sold for a higher price than the standard S6, even though they share the same specifications.
The S6 Edge uses its novel curves to provide a couple of services.
The first is called People Edge, which provides a quick way to bring up calls, texts and other messages from five acquaintances of the owner’s choosing. Each person is assigned a different colour, which the phone’s edge flashes when it rings, providing a hint of the caller’s identity even if the device is face down.
The second is Information Stream, which displays the time, weather and selected notifications on the curved part.
It appears Samsung has deliberately kept the functionality more basic than on its Galaxy Note Edge – a larger handset whose screen curves only around one of its sides. The older phone uses the extra space to both run apps of its its own and to add controls to other apps.
The S6 phone’s front camera has been upgraded to five megapixels, while the rear one stays at 16MP.
Samsung has also taken steps to make the camera quicker to use, saying it now takes less than a second to double tap the home key and snap a shot.
Faster wireless charging
Samsung’s two Galaxy S6 models feature wireless charging support which is quite nifty. The firm is claiming a “world first” by embedding support for both the PMA and WPC’s Qi wireless charging standards.
The Android-powered handsets are also faster to recharge, and should return to 50% battery strength within half an hour of being plugged in. Samsung bragged that this was half the time it would take to charge an iPhone 6.
The S6 betters the S5 with increased screen resolution – now 577 pixels per inch – and the ability to go 20% brighter. The new smartphone also gets a new 14 nanometre processor designed by Samsung, rather than bought from Qualcomm. This should be more energy efficient and have a positive effect on battery life.
You also now get the addition of Samsung Pay (depending where in the world you are), a smart wallet service that allows the handsets to act as a credit or debit card when tapped against a shop’s NFC chip reader or used to transmit magnetic stripe data. It will initially be limited to the US and South Korea.
New Samsung Gear VR
The firm also revealed it had developed a new version of its Gear VR virtual reality kit that uses the S6 models as a screen.
In terms of price, it’s going to be the same as before, according to the rumours – although it could be a little more expensive given the improved materials used. We’re having to say rumours as Samsung hasn’t given us anything concrete to work with – but the below information from AndroidPit does hint at some eye-watering prices:
- Samsung Galaxy S6 32 GB: €749 (around £560)
- Samsung Galaxy S6 64 GB: €849 (around £635)
- Samsung Galaxy S6 128 GB: €949 (around £710)
In the UK this should translate into about £38 per month on contract if you want the phone for free.
Samsung certainly aren’t going to have it all their own way this year though.
With the likes of the HTC One M9 having already been launched whose revamp makes it possibly one of the most refined phones on the market – as well as having the might of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM and Dolby support under the hood it will certainly make it a worthy opponent to the Sammy S6 twins. That’s without mentioning HTC’s entry in to VR with the weighty presence of Valve.
It’s going to be an interesting year, that’s for sure.