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Samsung Galaxy S6 rumor round-up: specs, features, price, release date and all we know so far

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Samsung Galaxy S6 rumor round-up: specs, features, price, release date and all we know so far

Project Zero is the internal codename of the Galaxy S6, the supposed next Samsung flagship. So far, Samsung has been quietly codenaming its flagships with letters from the alphabet - the S4 was Project J, the S5 -- Project K, but rather than the S6 being ‘Project L’ (which also coincides with Android 5.0 ‘L’ollipop), it decided it is time for a reset.

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 is 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

Expected specs

We've been criticizing Samsung a long time for its uninspiring, all-plastic, cheap-looking devices, and that chant reached a crescendo in the Galaxy S5, where the company ignored all hopes and pleas for a more refined style, and stubbornly released the S5 with the same plastic design.

With ailing financials, though, and a series of well-made, metal devices, Samsung might finally make a change and bring an entirely new style for the Galaxy S6. We've seen the leaked images that confirm a metal frame will indeed be present on the Galaxy S6, but the back seems to be made out of glass, with a protruding camera right in the center.

What's also interesting is that now we have seen multiple leaked schematics and all agree on the actual dimensions of the phone, so we know what the physical footprint of the Galaxy S6 will be like. Take a look right below to see how the Galaxy S6 size compares to that of last year's Galaxy S5, as well as its biggest rival, the Apple iPhone 6.

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

Display: 5.1-inch size, bump up to Quad HD resolution likely

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 Galaxy S6 is expected to come with a 5.1-inch display and while we have no firm confirmation about the resolution, as we have for the size, chances are that Samsung will bump it up to a Quad HD (1440 x 2560-pixel).

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.

Interface: TouchWiz on a strict diet

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.

Samsung parts ways with Qualcomm: Exynos in for the S6

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
Samsung Galaxy S6 rumor round-up: specs, features, price, release date and all we know so far
to finally know that we'll be in 64-bit territory with the Galaxy S6.

The S6 is expected to take a bold step by NOT USING the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 system chip, as Samsung is alleging some overheating issues and will instead push its own Samsung Exynos SoC.

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.

Camera: 20-megapixel camera likely

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. 

Since the Galaxy S6 is not a finished design yet, internal discussions are still considering either a 16-megapixel or 20-megapixel sensor. The latest rumors say that a 20-megapixel camera with a Samsung sensor is the most likely candidate for the Galaxy S6. 

Early Galaxy S6 prototypes featured the following option for image resolution: 
  • 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) 
The front-facing, selfie camera is said to be the same one as what’s used in the current Galaxy A series, which would mean a 5-megapixel shooter. 

The fact that the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are both expected to come running on the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop has allowed Samsung to update its camera app with a brand new ‘Pro’ mode. In the new ‘Pro’ camera mode on the Galaxy S6 users would be able to save images in RAW format as well as control shutter speed, both essential options for enthusiast smartphone photographers. The Gallery app on the Galaxy S6 is also said to get a refresh and become more user-friendly with easier controls over how you delete images for instance. The visual style is also said to now include text along with icons to help users figure out what to do easier. 

Storage: 32GB in the basic model?

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.

Connectivity: first with all sensors on one chip, in-house LTE modem

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.

Samsung Galaxy S6: release date, price, and carriers

Samsung Galaxy S6 rumor round-up: specs, features, price, release date and all we know so far

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 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 - EUR OPEN SM-G920F_EUR_XX
  • Zero US - T-MOBILE (US) SM-G925T_NA_TMB
  • Zero-F US - AT&T SM-G920A_NA_ATT
  • Zero-F US - T-MOBILE (US) SM-G920T_NA_TMB‏

Finally, big news is that just like it launched the Note Edge alongside its Note 4, Samsung might also reveal an 'edgy' version of the Galaxy S6 along the main star of the show. Samsung itself practically confirmed the existence of a new 'edge' device, and expectations are that it will be a phone with edges on both sides.

What Samsung has never surprised us with, though, is price, so we do expect the Galaxy S6 to sell for $199 on a two-year contract, and $649 when you buy at a full retail price. With all this in mind, how do you like the way the Samsung Galaxy S6 shapes up to be?

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