The Galaxy S6: What you need to know

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S 6 smartphone today. And it may indeed be something special. After years of disappointing customers with premium priced phones made of cheap feeling plastic and loaded with crappy 1st party software, Samsung has made the very first steps to recovering from declining sales and profits: They made fundamental changes to their design philosophy, and they listened to their customers while doing it. 

The changes start with with construction.  As opposed to the all plastic Galaxy S5, the S6 is wrapped in a slim frame made of reinforced glass and aircraft-grade aluminum. Samsung has also split the new flagship S6 into two premium phones: The 5.1" Galaxy S6, and the S6 Edge, throwing in a curve to both sides of the front glass. Switching to a metal and glass design is a major shift for Samsung after the last 5 phones in just as many years constructed from 90% plastic. 

The major changes here happen under the hood, and they are more than a design change, they are a culture change at Samsung. Before I get to those, let me drop the whole spec sheet on you.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE NEW GALAXY S6* 

  • Quad Core 2.93 GHz Exynos 64bit Processor
  • 5.1 Inch QHD SUPER AMOLED Display (577ppi making it the highest resolution phone screen on the market)
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB, 64GB & 128GB of Storage
  • 16MP Rear Camera with OIS, 5MP Front Camera (f1.9 Low Light Sensitive Camera, Auto HDR)
  • Wireless Charging (BOTH Qi and PMA Wireless Charging)
  • Fingerprint Touch Authentication (in contrast to the S5's Swipe Sensor)
  • PayPal Certified, Samsung Pay (NFC or MFT LoopPay)
  • Fast USB Charging (1.5 Times faster than the S5 charging speed)
  • LTE Cat.6 High Speed
  • All Four Major US Carriers, AND US Cellular
  • AVAILABLE APRIL 10TH
    *US VERSION

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. The WSJ spoke with Young-hee Lee, Samsung's head of mobile marketing. In today's article they stated: "The curved variant will retail for about $100 more than the Galaxy S6, and will be “in the same price bracket” as the Galaxy S5, Ms. Lee said. The Galaxy S5 sold in the U.S. for about $200 with a two-year contract."

Under the hood, is where the Galaxy S6 get interesting. In a move to begin keeping more of the profit from the devices sold, Samsung is putting it's own Exynos 64Bit processor in the S6, instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. The S6 and S6 Edge both support Samsung’s new mobile payments program, called Samsung Pay. Utilizing the technology Samsung acquired when it purchased LoopPay, the S6 will let you make purchases at any retailer that has a standard credit card swipe machine. It also works with NFC tap-to-pay systems and is authenticated with the new touch based fingerprint sensor in the phone’s home button. Between the two systems, Samsung says it will be accepted at 90 percent of retailers. Samsung Pay will work with both MasterCard and Visa, as well as American Express, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and U.S. Bank. It’s very obviously Samsung’s answer to Apple Pay, but it won’t be available until later this summer, a few months after the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge hit store shelves. To address complaints that Samsung phones were bogged down with little-used software, the company removed many of its apps and streamlined the user interface. Samsung states that the Galaxy S6 has 40% less 1st party software than the S5. 

Those of you who have been reading through this have probably noticed at this point that the phone will be uni-body, with no Micro-SD slot or removable battery. While this revelation may cause concern, it's worth mentioning that since the Android Kit-Kat rollout, 3rd party apps cannot even use your external Micro-SD card anyway. Most people use streaming music services instead of storing thousands of songs on their phones, so moving to internal storage is actually a customer first philosophy.  

At this point, it is more than obvious that the Galaxy S6 is by far Samsung's most significant phone release ever. It is a shift of internal company culture, and design philosophy as well. Whether or not this phone can turn things around for Samsung remains to be seen.