It’s finally here! The most anticipated smartphone, whether you like it or not, has landed here at MWC 2015. Although the Galaxy S 6 and the Galaxy S 6 edge (note the spaces and the cases) have been almost leaked to death, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of all those bits and pieces. What we have here today is Samsung‘s attempt at a revival, at giving the world solid proof that it hasn’t lost its touch just yet. And guess what? It actually might have just accomplished that.
The rumored “Project Zero” was said to be Samsung’s way to reinvigorate its design by starting from scratch. We’re not sure how far it went back “from scratch”, because we’re still seeing some very familiar designs here, but that introspection has definitely yielded fruit. Taking the lessons that it learned from its Galaxy Alpha, Samsung has finally eschewed its plastic ways, but it hasn’t embraced full on metal either. The Galaxy S 6 and its edgy counterpart boast of prime materials. In practice this means two layers of the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 4 with a brushed metal frame in between. And to accentuate that premium look, both smartphones will be available in quite luxurious lusters of White Pearl, Black Sapphire, and Gold Platinum. The Galaxy S 6 will also come in Blue Topaz while the Galaxy S 6 edge will go with a totally new Green Emerald.
Deep inside, both smartphones are just as premium. They indeed do not come with a Snapdragon 810. Instead, they are powered by a still unspecified chip, most likely an Exynos, with four cores running at 2.1 GHz and four running at 1.5 GHz. The 3 GB RAM is no ordinary RAM, as it is the latest LPDDR4. And the internal storage, whatever the capacity, is of the newly announced UFS 2.0 type, promised to be faster than the fastest eMMC flash storage around. And who will be able to ignore the QHD resolution displays that come not in giant sizes but in barely manageable 5.1 inches, delivering a high pixel density of 577 ppi.
Although the 16 megapixel shooter might not impress in terms of megapixel count, we know that digital photography isn’t all about that. That sensor comes with optical image stabilization and automatic HDR so you will no longer have to debate whether to use HDR or not. That feature works even with the 5 megapixel front camera, giving selfie lovers some peace of mind. And to make using the camera even more a breeze, Samsung is introducing a quick way to launch the camera app by simply double pressing the home button, practically replacing the action that was once associated with S Voice.
An interesting new feature as well is the fingerprint scanner. It now works simply by putting your finger on the home button rather than swiping until you get frustrated.
What will most likely catch people’s curiosity here at MWC will be the curved sibling, the double edged Galaxy S 6 edge. Unlike the Galaxy Note Edge, this variant departs very little from the flagship. The two are almost similar except for the double curved edges, which also results in a slightly thicker build, 7 mm versus the Galaxy S 6’s 6.8 mm. That, however, also allows it to pack a larger 2,600 mAh battery than the 2,550 mAh one on the non-curved smartphone. Again, unlike the Galaxy Note Edge, the Galaxy S 6 edge is sleeker, classier, and less obnoxious, adhering to Samsung’s new-found design principles. What you can do with the edges are also less substantial and therefore less intimidating. Quick access to favorite contacts is favored and notifications are also front and center. Or on the side rather. One rather ingenious feature is using color-coded lights to notify you of incoming calls or messages from specific contacts even when the phone is face down on the table.
Sadly, Samsung had to make some concessions due to its new design, drawbacks that will surely ire some. The new unibody design means that there is no longer a replaceable battery inside, an advantage that Samsung fans used to lord over their iPhone rivals. Now they are on even ground. Samsung tries to make up for it by supporting both competing PMA and WPC wireless charging standards, though that may not matter much when you’re running low and you’re far far away from a socket. Samsung is also indirectly minimizing battery consumption by decrease the amount of its own bloatware, though some like S Health and S Voice still come pre-installed. Strangely, the Galaxy S 6 and Galaxy S 6 edge also don’t have any micro SD slots. Other smartphones with unibody designs still manage to include this feature, so it’s quite puzzling why Samsung decided to do away with it.
Then there’s the fact that many will deride the manufacturer for a design that so closely resembles that of its biggest rival. The soft rounded edges of the Galaxy S 6 will readily call to mind the iPhone 6. Even with the design of the bottom speaker grill there are already comparsions to be made. The home button is also larger, which might be mistaken for a circle in some angles. That said, the Galaxy S 6 still bears a unique flavor, not to mention glass on both top and bottom sides, that brings a distinct appeal to the smartphone.
With the Galaxy S 6, and perhaps especially with the Galaxy S 6 edge, Samsung has proven that it is not done yet. It’s can still change, and change it will if that is what it takes to get back to the top. The best hardware available and a design that finally shouts premium, plus a diet on software features that very few care about. That’s what the Galaxy S 6 generation is all about and we will see in the days to come if Samsung will be able to deliver.
The Galaxy S 6 and Galaxy S 6 edge will jump to retail worldwide starting April 10th. No pricing details have been disclosed yet. A new Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition will be made available that is compatible with both the Galaxy S 6 and the Galaxy S 6 edge. The two smartphones will also be the first to support the new Samsung Pay system, coming in the second half of 2015. While Samsung Pay does also support NFC-based transactions, its most popular feature will most likely be Magnetic Secure Transaction (MST) that can be used even with traditional magnetic swipe terminals.