Tuesday , August 22 2017

Samsung launches the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in Barcelona

Galaxy-S6-Launch-Header

Samsung has launched its vision of “what’s next” at Mobile World Congress, setting the tech world buzzing once again. The latest evolution of the Galaxy S line, the Galaxy S6, will arrive in April in two variants – the Galaxy S6 itself, and a dual edge-display variant, the Galaxy S6 Edge.

The company has made a number of significant changes to the construction of the phone, including a metal frame, glass back and sealed-in battery, matching rumours we’ve heard over the last few months. The Galaxy S6 Edge is just 7mm thick, and the Galaxy S6 is even thinner still.

The result is a couple of handsets that, while still bearing the distinctive “Samsung phone” design, look great in their own right with smooth surfaces and simple curves hiding the advanced technology within. The look and feel screams “premium”, and that can only be a good thing when it comes to putting phones in consumers’ hands.

Samsung has five colours coming out so far: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald, and it’s the last two that you really want to pay attention to. Besides calling to mind the way Android 5.0 Lollipop embraces vibrant colours, Samsung says they want to evoke “shimmering colours, with a mystical quality”. When they popped up on screen, I certainly sat up and took notice – I don’t really go for black or white phones any more, and gold seems a bit tacky to me. Topaz Blue’s where it’s at for me.

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Camera

Samsung has clearly paid special attention to the S6’s cameras. With the realisation that practically everyone is using their phone as their camera now, Samsung’s moved the needle significantly in camera performance and says the S6’s camera works great in all lighting conditions rather than just low light – but nailing low light performance still makes for great product demos, especially when it’s at the expense of competitors’ phones.

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Firstly, both the front and rear cameras now feature f/1.9 lenses to capture more light, faster. The front camera shoots 5MP, while the rear camera hits 16MP with Optical Image Stabilisation. It’s a similar unit to the one seen in 2014’s Galaxy Note 4, but with the f/1.9 lens it should be capable of some amazing things. Hopefully they’ve allowed a wider field of view on it.

Some of the demos, shot in crowded bars and some of Barcelona’s night scenery were pretty striking, and if the camera can live up to these promises then I’ll be happy to walk down the street with an S6 in my pocket.

There’s also a quick launch feature – double clicking the home button now launches the camera, so you should be able to get to the camera from anywhere, and be ready to shoot in under 1 second.

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Display

In what could be an acknowledgement that phone screen sizes don’t need to get any bigger, the S6’s screen remains at 5.1 inches.

Unsurprisingly, Samsung’s proud of its Super AMOLED quality and it’ll also feature on the Galaxy S6. The S5 had one of the best screens around on on mobile devices, and the display has been bumped to QHD for the S6, matching the Note 4’s resolution.

The S6 Edge’s screen is a “dual curve” edge display extending down both sides of the screen, a step up over 2014’s Galaxy Note Edge which only featured the edge display on the right edge. The Edge display has some neat software tricks in the offing, too.

Processor, RAM and Storage

As smartphone specs begin to plateau, it’s not too surprising to see little attention given to the technology that powers them. Samsung’s using a 64-bit octa-core CPU in the S6, with quad-core 2.1 Ghz and quad-core 1.5 Ghz parts, but they’ve been cagey about naming the manufacturer, naming neither Qualcomm nor their own Exynos series.

That said, it does seem likely we’ll see Qualcomm CPUs in Australia again and Exynos CPUs in some overseas markets but these details will emerge closer to launch.

Samsung’s pushing RAM and storage technology forward in the S6 as well, with LPDDR4 RAM and Universal Flash Storage 2.0 in use to boost system and storage performance.

The result? Samsung’s promising a lag-free experience. “Insanely responsive” was the actual quote.

There’s another change to the storage that will upset a number of users – the Micro SD slot is gone.

Battery

The biggest change with the battery is that they’re now sealed into the phones, instead of Samsung’s traditional removable, replaceable batteries. Samsung says they didn’t want to do this until they could get power consumption and charging capabilities correct.

Samsung’s main focus in battery was on the quick charge capabilities, which they say are faster than anyone else around – you can get 4 hours of use out of 10 minutes of charging, great for times when you’re hopping between places that might have a power socket here and there.

In terms of actual capacity, the batteries in the two phones differ by 50mAh – 2,550 mAh for the S6 and 2,600 for the Edge.

The other main news is that both phones can be charged wirelessly, putting an end to the need to find the right pad for your phone and ensuring its compatible with your case.

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Software

In contrast to presentations in years past, Samsung spent little time in the presentation on the software. In fact, the whole presentation was over pretty quickly.

The company says they’ve taken into account UI changes suggested by customers and by their “friends on the Internet” (they might be talking about us?).

While moving up to Lollipop and embracing Material Design for their core apps, Samsung says they’ve also tried to make the UI more intuitive, and simpler to use. They say they’ve simplified the logical structure and reduced depth, removing things that got in the way of you using the phone like unnecessary notifications.

Hopefully this means the messy Settings systems we’ve seen on Samsung devices in the last 12 months are gone, but that’s also something they’d get simply by moving the platform up to Lollipop. We’ll have to wait until we get some hands-on time to see how this change pans out for end users.

Throughout the core apps, Samsung’s made conscious design choices around things like colours, so you can visually associate apps that deal with the same features like contacts, video and more.

The colour association extends to the edge displays on the S6 Edge. You can assign colours to contacts, and when the phone is face down the edge display will glow with the relevant colour when an incoming call or text comes in. Another neat trick is the use of the heart rate monitor to send an automatic reply when you can’t answer a call while in a meeting.

Some particular attention was paid to the camera interface – a particularly sore point in the company’s 2014 models (for me at least). Samsung says they’ve made it easier to recognise what icons do by adding labels to them so you can spot and identify them faster — but that does somewhat miss the point of design iconography (it should be obvious what your icon is for by its design, and it shouldn’t require a label).

Icon design and labelling aside, the newest updates to the camera UI seem to make for a much cleaner and more intuitive experience more by placement of icons and functions rather than labelling, and that’s a-okay with me.

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Samsung Pay

Less relevant for Australia at the moment as it’s launching only in Korea and the US – that we know of, anyway – is Samsung Pay, Samsung’s mobile payments solution. It uses both NFC and MST (magnetic secure transmission) technology to allow it to work even where a merchant can’t accept NFC payments, giving it a leg up on compatibility and making it “card issuer agnostic”.

Samsung says that Samsung Pay will be accepted by more merchants than any other mobile payment offering at launch – it’s a bold statement, but bridging the gap by including MST will definitely help with acceptability. But, that seems pretty focused on the USA. We’ll see how things evolve when Samsung rolls out Samsung Pay here … at some point.

Security

Samsung’s beefed up their Knox security suite for the S6. They’re ready for immediate enterprise adoption and work with all major device management systems.

Launch information

The Galaxy S6 will roll out in 32, 64 and 128GB flavours in 20 countries on 10 April. We’re assuming Australia will be in the first 20.

Following the announcements live at MWC 2015, Samsung Australia’s Vice President IT & Mobile, Prasad Gokhale says:

I’m very excited to confirm that the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge will be arriving in Australia shortly. The new devices integrate some of Samsung’s newest cutting edge technology to help make the lives of Australians more efficient every day. I look forward to sharing more information closer to the launch date.

As we receive advice on availability in Australia from Samsung, and from Australia’s mobile carriers, we’ll keep you updated.

Note: Press images of the phones weren’t supplied, and Samsung’s PR site is having issues at the moment. We’ll add official images of the phones when they become available to us.

 

Jason Murray   Deputy Editor

Before discovering the Nexus One, Jason thought he didn't need a smartphone. Now he can't bear to be without his Android phone. Jason hails from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane depending on his mood and how detailed a history you'd like. A web developer by day with an interest in consumer gadgets and electronics, he also enjoys reading comics and has a worryingly large collection of Transformers figures. He'd like to think he's a gamer, but his Wii has been in a box since he moved to Sydney, and his PlayStation Vita collection is quite lacking. Most mornings you'll find him tilting at various windmills on Twitter - follow @JM77 and say hi!

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21 Comments on "Samsung launches the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in Barcelona"

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shahrukh
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shahrukh

03363788281

Carl
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Carl

Had Samsung since the S2 This phone is better than anything out there, if you actually do your research you will find out, like the 3gb ddr4 ram its processor is a worlds first and made by samsung. The samung pay can be used anywhere, not just at macdonalds. Anyway my background is in electronics and this device is the best 2015 wll see.

Member

Seems Samsung have listened to a fair bit of feedback and made some useful changes to last year’s phone. I’m actually considering an S6, pending the review.

yellek
Valued Guest
yellek

What happened to one of the best features from the S5: water resistance (ip67?)?

vijay alapati
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vijay alapati

gone along with microsd, removable battery. Being a nexus user till now, not a deal breaker for me though….. Happy to get the edge

yellek
Valued Guest
yellek

A shame. That is one differentiating feature that would sway me one way or the other when I upgrade.

vijay alapati
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vijay alapati

As per wsj the new touchid works like iPhone

vijay alapati
Valued Guest
vijay alapati

‘the S6’s screen is slightly smaller than the S5 (5.1 instead of 5.2 )’ …..wtf…..thought s5 was 5.1″

Jason Murray
Valued Guest
Jason Murray

You are quite right. I blame the 5am haze and a quick Google that returned a wrong result. 🙂

Pumpino
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Pumpino

Thanks for the review. No confirmation on the CPU, RAM or more solid launch date in Aus? It sounds like HTC’s presentation was a lot more informative.

JeniSkunk
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JeniSkunk

Samsung S6 series, no microSD, no sale.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Valued Guest
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

You wouldn’t have bought it anyway. It’s going to be priced around $800+. Most of the phones you said you’ve bought are sub $200 phones.

Fred
Valued Guest
Fred

I see another S5 in samsung’s future.

The lack of microSD, the lack of removable battery – no matter that it now has Qi, etc. people will say “its not better than my …. no sale”.

The only hope is if they cut that overpricing. Rather than $800 they need to be targeting <$500. That's where the sweet spot is.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Valued Guest
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Not really. People will spend $800 on it. I know I would if I was going to purchase it. $500 is bordering on mid range/flagship.

JeniSkunk
Valued Guest
JeniSkunk
Only two of the six phones I’ve bought were sub $200 at the time of purchase, Sean. $335, 2011 late Feb, LG P500 Optimus One. Retired from use. $149, 2011 mid Sept, Telstra T-Touch Tab (Huawei Smarkit S7-104). Retired to bedside table clock duty. $249, 2013 mid June, Aldi Bauhn WL-101GQC. Current in use. $229, 2013 mid June, Optus LG P713go Optimus L7 II. Not properly usable, no root so no data restore. Optus refused refund. $139, 2014 , Huawei Y320. Current in use. $634, 2014 Dec, LG G3. Never actually got to use it. Found that HN did not… Read more »
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Valued Guest
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Regardless, you’ve never purchased an $800+ flagship smart phone and you probably never will. I don’t understand your need to purchase several cheaper smart phones when you could have saved money and just purchased a single high end phone. We know you’re not going to purchase an expensive phone because you’re never satisfied. You have to make compromises.

Member

Why would you even consider it? I’ve read innumerous comments from you about how much you hate OEM skins, and Samsung’s is one of the most invasive of them all!

JeniSkunk
Valued Guest
JeniSkunk

I wasn’t talking about TouchWiz.
I was referring to another point which Jason made mention of in his review.
For my use, no microSD slot is a no sale, irrespective of brand.

chris
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chris

Was never going to happen anyway. His points are right though, add that to no water proof rating and you are stepping backwards. I don’t like the buttons on Samsung, it should all be on the screen.

Jamie Saltmarsh
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Jamie Saltmarsh

Are you ever going to buy a new phone Jeni?

JeniSkunk
Valued Guest
JeniSkunk

Depending on what’s cheaper in price on March 20, HTC Desire 820, or LG G3, either bought outright at Optus.
Only thing which would change that plan is if Moto get off their butts and launch the 4G Moto G (2014) and have it on Optus.

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