It’s all back to the basics. After a few prosperous and worry-free years of growth, Samsung has to go to the drawing board to re-think its ‘next big thing’, which no longer looks so big after sales tumbled and the Galaxy S5 sold slower than the S4.
And frankly, a lot of the fairy tale growth for Samsung thus far
One thing is certain: the Galaxy S6 will be a vastly different smartphoneis not least due to the fact that Apple was inexcusably late with its product cycle, taking years to make an adequate, large-sized iPhone. Now that there are two of them, and a mature market with a plethora of strong offerings from China, Samsung is starting to feel the heat and this time it’s serious.
One thing is certain: the Galaxy S6 will be a vastly different smartphone, aiming to show the best of Samsung in one device.
Design: metal frame
Are these the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge?
The Samsung Galaxy S5’s other big disappointment was the screen. The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel - despite being praised by Samsung loyalists - has one big shortcoming - its green tint that throws it off in terms of color accuracy, making it look unnatural. The recent advancements in the land of Samsung AMOLED displays that the company showed with Galaxy Note 4 make one thing clear: it can do a good-looking display, if it wants, so we have high hopes that the S6 will finally have a well-calibrated display.
The road towards higher-resolution screens has been a one-way street, and despite the little perceived difference of going from 1080p to Quad HD (1440 x 2560-pixel) displays, the Galaxy S6 is said to make that jump.
Samsung Galaxy S6 renders
The Samsung TouchWiz custom user interface on top of Android has been the source of controversy for many years. It’s an extremely feature-rich skin, but it has consistently fallen behind in terms of speed, and despite Samsung flagships boasting state-of-the-art processors, they still stutter and lag in certain moments.
Nonetheless, it will be extremely difficult for Samsung to make a turnaround quickly, which does not mean the company won't try. Latest whispers on the grapevine are that TouchWiz has gone on a very strict diet in the past couple of months and will reappear in a much leaner version in the Galaxy S6. Speculations even say that Samsung's goal is to achieve near-stock speeds and simplicity, so hopes do run high.
We've already seen the TouchWiz version re-imagined for Android 5.0 Lollipop on the Galaxy S5, and you can take a look at it below to get an idea about the direction Samsung is likely to go to when designing the Galaxy S6 interface.
The evolution of TouchWiz, from the Galaxy S (leftmost) to the Galaxy S5 (rightmost)
The Galaxy S6 will be the first truly mass-market flagship Android phone with a 64-bit chip. A year and a half after Apple kickstarted the transition to 64-bit in mobile with the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s, Android is catching up and that's good news.
It will still likely take a couple more years to get essential NDK apps updated to 64-bit and even then, we do expect it to run with some issues due to the multi-tasking on Android which will conflict older, 32-bit apps with 64-bit ones. It's a road we've all walked with Windows, but we don't expect it to be any less bumpy. Nonetheless, it’s great
Qualcomm has a reputation for making its own, custom CPU cores, but it has also been caught off-guard with Apple’s 64-bit announcement, and in order to fit into a more aggressive timeline, the Snapdragon 810 no longer ships with a custom Qualcomm core - instead it uses an ARM-based setup: four Cortex A53 cores and four Cortex A57 cores. Samsung's Exynos 7 series chip also uses ARM-based cores, so the difference should not be huge in that regard.
The Galaxy S5 features a 16-megapixel camera, which we praised for its daylight performance, but found a bit lacking in low light and night time. Samsung’s decision to go with such a large resolution came with the downside of smaller individual pixels, and this is one of the major reasons behind the less than inspiring low-light performance of the S5 main shooter. The company has improved its technology, though, and in the Note 4 we are seeing a much better performing 16-megapixel camera.
- 20MP (image resolution of 5952×3348)
- 15MP (image resolution of 4464×3348)
- 11MP (image resolution of 3344×3344)
- 8MP (image resolution of 3264×2448)
- 6MP (image resolution of 3264×1836)
- 2.4MP (image resolution of 2048×1152)
While processors and cameras have improved at a staggering pace in the last few years, an area that they both depend on has largely stagnated.
We’re talking about internal storage, of course. 16GB of internal storage has been the standard for flagships in the past 5 or so years, and luckily, Samsung is finally planning to pick up the pace and introduce the S6 with a 32GB base model. The handset should also be offered in a 64GB and 128GB storage tiers, all with support for expandable storage via microSD cards of up to 128 gigs.
4G LTE connectivity might still be a rarity in the majority of the world, but lucky customers in the U.S. and the Western world in general (let’s count Korea and Japan there as well) are enjoying astonishing download speeds.
4G LTE, however, has so far come with a taxing battery budget. With the Galaxy S6 this might be less so, as the phone is expected to arrive with a Samsung in-house LTE modem, the SS333, or Exynos Modem 333.
Moreover, with Broadcom’s new BCM4773 chip on board that combines GPS and all other sensors on a single die (a first in the industry), we should see some great improvements in battery longevity on the S6.
Finally, knowing all this about the Samsung Galaxy S6, you might be wondering: when can I get it? Samsung's first Unpacked 2015 event for the Galaxy S6 is set for March 1st at MWC 2015. The release date of the Galaxy S6 will likely be around a month after the official announcement, so it should arrive in retail stores around the end of March-early April 2015.
So far, we have seen the following codenames leak out, and they do reveal a lot about the S6’s carrier availability (yes, it will naturally be on all four major U.S. carriers, and many more).
Samsung Galaxy S6 codenames:
- Zero-F US - VERIZON SM-G920V_NA_VZW
- Zero US - AT&T SM-G925A_NA_ATT
- Zero EUR - OPEN SM-G925F_EUR_XX
- Zero-F CA (Canada) - BELL MOBILITY SM-G920W8_NA_BMC
- Zero-F US - SPRINT PCS SM-G920P_NA_SPR
- Zero CA - BELL MOBILITY SM-G925W8_NA_BMC
- Zero US - VERIZON SM-G925V_NA_VZW
- Zero-F - EUR OPEN SM-G920F_EUR_XX
- Zero US - T-MOBILE (US) SM-G925T_NA_TMB
- Zero US - SPRINT PCS SM-G925P_NA_SPR
- Zero US - US CELLULAR SM-G925R4_NA_USC
- Zero-F US - AT&T SM-G920A_NA_ATT
- Zero-F US - US CELLULAR SM-G920R4_NA_USC
- Zero-F US - T-MOBILE (US) SM-G920T_NA_TMB