Samsung has been under considerable pressure to produce something exceptional with its new Galaxy S6 and up-market S6 Edge.
The pressure is not only coming from Apple’s iPhone 6 at the top end, but also from a number of decent low-cost rivals from China in the form of Lenovo, Xiaomi and Huawei.
To compete with Apple and stay ahead of the hungry pack, Samsung has had to progressively develop its product and has now done so almost completely from scratch, replacing key members of its design team to make sure it created a standout phone.
To give you an idea of the size of the market world-wide, last year Samsung sold 10 million Galaxy S5s in 25 days, while Apple sold 9 million of two new iPhone models in one-eighth of the time.
Samsung is now claiming to have pre-orders of 20 million of the new Galaxy S6 after it was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress on March 1. The Korean Times newspaper has reported that fifteen million Galaxy S6 units and five million Galaxy S6 Edge units have been pre-ordered by mobile carriers across the world.
Samsung is also claiming that the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are “two of the most beautiful smartphones ever.”
The S6 design is bold and fresh. Gone is the usual plastic cover in favor of a stunning matte aluminum alloy frame with Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and back.
Both the S6 and S6 Edge come in a few colors – platinum gold, sapphire black and white pearl – with a couple of other new colors in topaz blue and emerald green in the Edge.
The rear surface is incredibly reflective, flashing color and throwing back light which Samsung says adds depth and warmth.
The front of the Galaxy S6 is dominated by a 5.1 inch screen and the overall feel is compact and elegant with rounded top and bottom.
Samsung has always had brilliant screen technology and the S6 goes a step further. The Super AMOLED display offers clear, crisp whites against pure blacks. The 5.1 inch display has more pixels than ever before, which means it’s the sharpest display in the market with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels and a density of 577 pixels per inch.
The power button and nano-SIM card slot are located on the right spine. A micro-USB charging port and headset jack are on the bottom of the device, and the left spine houses separate up and down buttons, just like the iPhone 6.
The central, metal-ringed home button is magic. Double-tap it and the camera is launched at any time. Samsung has also improved the fingerprint scanner, which you can use to securely unlock the phone. Instead of dragging your finger across the sensor, you now just rest it on the home button. The sensor is amazingly accurate and a light touch is all that is needed to open the phone.
On the back of the Galaxy S6 is the 16-megapixel camera, which juts out slightly from the camera. The camera includes optical image stabilization which should help smooth out shaky hand shots. You can also take selfies with this camera.
On the front, Samsung installs a 5-megapixel camera for wide-angle selfies. As with the Samsung Note 4 you can take a selfie by tapping the sensor on the back of the phone.
The Galaxy S6 feels fluid and thin, and the S6 Edge feels thinner again and is slightly lighter than the S6. Thinness has been achieved by having a battery that is sealed in the device, which is a big change for Samsung which has been a die-hard defendant of the removable battery, until now.
The beauty of the Galaxy S6 has also been brought inside with a user interface that is a decluttered take on Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the layout is simpler without shedding all the software that Samsung has built over the years.
The set-up process is much smoother, thanks to Lollipop, with tutorials to help you turn on features like S Voice and fingerprint scanning. As far as apps go, there are heaps of Google apps and services, and one for new partner Microsoft (this folder has Skype and One Drive for instance). As for pre-loaded apps a few Samsung programs remain, like Milk music and the popular S Health with a cleaner interface.
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge also feature the ability to fast-charge the battery. Samsung claims you can watch 2 hours of HD video from just 10 minutes of charging. As well, both smartphones have a built-in wireless capability, although you will need to buy the wireless charging pad separately.
Prospective buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will have the usual decisions to make which ultimately affect the final price – 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models. But for those that want a really unique-looking device that has been lauded as close to perfection by reviewers, check out the S6 Edge with its wrap-around screen.