For how long have you heard a Samsung flagship device being dismissed simply because it was made out of plastic materials? This morning should be a hard one for all the Samsung smartphone critics out there or one to bask in the glory of last night’s announcements in Barcelona for the Samsung diehard fans. Yes, finally, the Galaxy S smartphone will arrive clad in a premium build. Not that it didn’t before, just that there’s a tendency to lean towards anything metallic. And for good reason: design. The Galaxy S6 is not lacking in any of that. Neither does the S6 Edge, its dual-curved sibling that packs similar specs with the display being the main differentiator. That is if you count the 50 mAh difference in battery capacity between the two and their obvious size differences as negligible.
The change in design language doesn’t mean that Samsung went for something revolutionary with the S6. No, it is the Samsung flagship you’ve always known with more refinements than ever before. The earphone jack moves to the bottom in a quick reminder of the pre-2011 days when that was the case with some Samsung devices. Some of us really loved the speaker’s placement at the bottom of the Galaxy Note 3 and were really irked by the decision to take a step backwards and place it on the back of the Galaxy Note 4. Thanks to the unibody design, it looks like there won’t be more steps taken backwards as the Galaxy S for the first time has that all-important grille at the bottom of the device making for a very crowded bottom since there’s a microUSB 2.0 charging port and a microphone alongside the speaker and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
We could not eat our cake and still have it. With the refinements comes compromises. Thanks to the metal unibody build of the device, it has a non-removable back meaning a non-removable battery and the SIM card tray migrating to the top of the device from where you can pop it up to slot your line. However, in an unexpected move, the Galaxy S6 will from now henceforth be known as the first Galaxy S smartphone without a microSD card slot. We are not sure if the decision to remove the expandable memory card slot was informed by the design of the device (other smartphones with unibody constructions have managed to retain it) or some other factors like the ones that make Google ditch them on its Nexus devices. It’ll be a while before Galaxy S fans get used to the idea of a device without a directly replaceable battery and a memory card slot.
However, to address those concerns, the Galaxy S6 and indeed the S6 Edge, will ship with three storage options: 32, 64 and 128 GB. The base model will be the 32 GB Galaxy S6/S6 Edge. Like HTC did with the One M9, there’s no more 16 GB version. Remember there was an 8 GB Galaxy smartphone 4 years ago? How things change! For the battery, Samsung claims that with fast charging tech, the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge will be able to squeeze up to 4 hours of use with just a 10 minute plug in on your nearest socket. That’s huge. We’ll however have to use it to believe it. Not that we don’t believe it, the company has done an amazing job with the Note 4’s fast charging already, but because it sounds too good. The Galaxy S6/S6 Edge will also be the very first of Samsung’s flagship devices to integrate wireless charging. So you see? They’ve taken with one hand and given you more (we think) with the other.
As expected, there’s a better processor in the S6. No Snapdragon. The display stays at the same size but gets upgraded to Quad HD with a stunning 577 ppi. The main camera also gets updated with a f1.9 lens and smart OIS. The Galaxy S5 in comparison had f2.2 and we had to wait till the Note 4’s debut at IFA to see OIS on a Samsung Galaxy device. Real-time HDR, one of the features we loved on the S5 lives on. Thankfully, no gimmicks were shown on stage as pertains to the camera. The selfie camera as expected gets bumped to 5 megapixels. The fingerprint scanner has been redone so that now you don’t have to clumsily swipe repeatedly before it works.
Have a quick look at the rest of the devices’ specifications below:
- Size and weight: 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm, 138g (GS6) & 142.1 x 70.1 x 7.0mm, 132g (GS6 Edge)
- Display: 5.1’’ Quad HD(2560×1440) 577ppi, Super AMOLED (GS6) & 5.1’’ Quad HD(2560×1440) 577ppi, Super AMOLED, Dual edge (GS6 Edge) protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4.
- Processor: Octa-core Exynos 7420 (2.1 GHz+1.5 GHz)
- Memory: 32/64 or 128 GB internal storage. Not expandable. 3 GB RAM
- Camera: 16MP OIS(rear), 5MP (front)
- OS: Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with TouchWiz
- Battery: 2550mAh (GS6) & 2600mAh (GS6 Edge)
- Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), HT80 MIMO(2×2) 620Mbps, Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, LE, apt-X, ANT+, USB 2.0, NFC, IR Remote
- Network: LTE Cat.6 (300/50Mbps)
- Wireless Charging: WPC1.1(4.6W Output) & PMA 1.0(4.2W) compatible
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Light, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Fingerprint, Hall, HRM
- Others: Proprietary Samsung software like Ultra Power saving Mode, S Health (v4.0), S Finder, the new Samsung Pay etc
On the software side, the two devices will benefit from Samsung’s collaboration with Microsoft, BlackBerry and other companies. Microsoft apps like OneDrive, Skype and OneNote are preloaded while add-ons like Fleksy keyboard and others will be available via the Galaxy Gifts scheme. These being flagship Samsung devices means one thing: you get to see more of KNOX. Samsung’s Knox has become quite popular with government agencies the world over and Samsung is banking on the Galaxy S models to continue being attractive to enterprise users by getting BlackBerry to bundle its WorkLife and SecuSUIT. The big announcement however is that while TouchWiz has not entirely been cleared of what many consider as bloat, it is now cleaner, slimmer and faster. Improvements to TouchWiz coupled with the overkill specs of the device like that 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7 processor and the 3 GB RAM should mean that lag is something of the past. We’ll wait till we’ve used the device before we can pass up any judgements.
The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will come in White Pearl, Black Sapphire, and Gold Platinum. Blue Topaz and Green Emerald Galaxy S6/S6 Edge will be exclusive and may not show up everywhere when the devices go on sale from April 10th in 20 countries and subsequently in every other corner of the globe. Remember that last year Samsung partnered with carriers in over 125 countries for the initial roll out so we expect the same this year.
We’ll bring you more in-depth updates about the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge (including more images of the same) and a complete review in due course.