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Samsung's New S6 Line Atones for S5's Plastic Sins

By Richard Adhikari
Mar 2, 2015 2:24 PM PT
samsung-galaxy-s6-and-s6-edge

Samsung on Monday announced its much-anticipated Galaxy S6 line at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

In the S6, the strongly disliked plastic body of the Galaxy S5 is replaced with a combination of aluminum and Gorilla Glass. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge both come in white, black and gold. Blue will be available only for the S6, while green will be available only for the S6 edge.

The S6 and S6 edge are 6.8mm and 7mm thick respectively, and they weigh 4.8 and 4.6 ounces, respectively.

Both have a 5.1-inch Quad HD 577 PPI Super AMOLED screen and run Android Lollipop.

Worldwide availability is set for April 10.

"Samsung has been criticized for being so incremental and so slow for its design updates in the S3, S4 and S5, all of which were ho-hum updates," said Wayne Lam, principal analyst for telecom electronics at IHS.

"With the S6, they're taking a leaf out of Apple's playbook and looking to leave the competition behind and do something absolutely different," Lam told TechNewsWorld. "You have to applaud them -- they're doing something pretty phenomenal."

Features and Functionality

Both S6 devices have a 5-MP camera in front and a 16-MP camera in the rear with F1.9 lenses, high-resolution sensors and advanced features.

The cases are sealed so users no longer can replace the battery themselves.

Both devices work with any wireless pad that supports WPC and PMA standards and provide about four hours of usage after 10 minutes of charging.

Samsung is using its own 14nm Exynos CPU rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragon that is pretty much the industry standard.

With the Exynos processor, Samsung "separated the apps processor from the modem, and the S6 demonstrates that Samsung doesn't have any dependency on the supply chain to source the apps processor," Lam pointed out.

Samsung also announced the Samsung Pay mobile payment service, to be implemented on S6 devices. This has support from MasterCard and Visa and will debut in the second half of the year.

Security is provided by the Samsung KNOX platform, and Samsung is teaming up with BlackBerry to protect business users.

The Good, Bad and Ugly

"These are beautiful phones, and the use of BlackBerry to help with security is inspired," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"Collectively, they are an impressive feature set, but folks will likely not see any of these advantages as groundbreaking," he told TechNewsWorld.

However, "using their own processor, particularly as their relationship with Google sours, could lead to compatibility problems at an OS level that users aren't prepared for -- and the jury is still out on the edge display, which appears to add little real value other than just looking different," Enderle said.

Further, Samsung Pay will have to compete with ApplePay and Google Pay, which won't be a snap, because Samsung "doesn't have the same reach that Apple and Google have," Enderle pointed out.

Keeping Customers Satisfied

Samsung "needed to first and foremost respond to customers who had concerns over the S5 -- the plastic cover and things like that," noted Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research.

"They've done that [with the S6 devices], and that's a really important milestone they needed to achieve," he told TechNewsWorld.

The S6 line also shows improvements in Samsung's manufacturing design.

"You can design the coolest widget in the world -- but if you can't make it in the volume that's required, and it can't be manufactured readily, and you introduce delays in how robots pick and place components," then that cool factor is of little value, Orr observed.

Samsung has not done very well in this area, especially against Apple, he said, but "with the S6 line, Samsung is showing it's addressing [these issues] in the high end."

Eventually, suggested Orr, there will be a trickle-down to lower-end devices.


Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.


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