The pressure is on for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The Korean manufacturer, once dominant in smartphones, lost its lead to Apple in China and to Micromax in India. China's Xiaomi Inc. is now making phones just as good as Samsung's at a fraction of the cost. Apple shipped more iOS devices than Android in the U.S., and the company could lose its global lead in smartphones, which it has enjoyed since 2011.
Now, despite its pledge to pare down the dizzying number of smartphones it sells around the globe, Samsung is set to unveil the Galaxy S6, less than a year after the introduction of the Galaxy S5 and only five months after its last big flagship phone launch, the Galaxy Note 4.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 was considered a flop on the market, selling 40 percent fewer devices than the previous Galaxy S4 flagship. With a new phone coming to the market, Samsung should expect the Galaxy S5 to drop off the radar entirely. With sales and profits in decline, Samsung needs another hit.
From the looks of it, Samsung Galaxy S6 will be unlike any other Galaxy smartphone. Below is a collection of what we know so far about the phone Samsung has code named “Project Zero,” signifying a fresh start.
The biggest X factor for the new phone is its industrial design. Samsung phones are known for great screens and specs but boring, plastic, cheap-looking cases, but that could all change with the Galaxy S6. Samsung sent invites for its launch event Monday, and the teaser shows the silhouette of a device with a unique curve. Many are expecting a device with a metal frame, following the slew of metal smartphones Samsung launched during the tail end of 2014, but no one can agree on a precise design for the Galaxy S6.
— Android Authority (@AndroidAuth) February 1, 2015
Earlier this week, a design showed up at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that showed a device with curved edges that wrap all the way around the device, giving it a cylindrical shape, as opposed to the curved edge and flat back seen on the Galaxy Note Edge. However, the device teased on Samsung’s launch event invite suggests a curve similar to the Galaxy Note Edge.
â€” AllAboutSamsung (@AllAboutSamsung) February 2, 2015
Many other rumors and leaked images and accessories suggest a flat design for the Galaxy S6, likely with a tall and flat frame. The Galaxy S6 may also be available in four colors: dark blue, blue-green, gold and white.
— Antonio Monaco (@Cinquetacche) January 31, 2015
It wouldn't be a Samsung phone without a great display. The Samsung Galaxy S6 may include a Quad HD (1440x2560) resolution display, which is a major upgrade from the Full HD (1920x1080) display featured on the Galaxy S5. The display may be around 5-inches in diagonal width, which is slightly smaller than the Galaxy S5; the device has a 5.1-inch display. Most rumors, however, suggest the Galaxy S6 could have a 5.2-inch display.
Leaked images of smartphone covers, supposedly for the Galaxy S6, surfaced last week, which indicate the device could be taller and thinner than the Galaxy S5. A taller frame could suggest a larger screen. Either way, an increase in the display resolution would mean that images on the Galaxy S6 will be sharper and colors truer.
Rumors have circulated that the Galaxy S6 could have a curved or flexible display. Others suggested two phones: a Galaxy S6 with a flat display and a second phone with a wraparound screen called the Galaxy S6 Edge, similar to the Galaxy Note Edge.
Currently, the brand of chip to be included in the Samsung Galaxy S6 is up in the air. Early reports suggested that Samsung might launch two models of the Galaxy S6, one with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip and one with a chip from its own Exynos brand, likely the Exynos 5433. Recent reports, however, say Samsung may not use the Qualcomm chip in its new device due to heating issues with the component. The manufacturer may instead adopt Exynos chips in all models of the Galaxy S6.
Qualcomm has since confirmed that a “large consumer’s flagship” won’t use the Snapdragon 810 chip but has not indicated which. Meanwhile, several smartphone makers, including Sony Corporation, LG Electronics and Motorola Mobility, have defended Qualcomm and the quality of the Snapdragon chip.
The upcoming device may also include the Broadcom BCM4773 chip, which is an integrated sensor chip intended to reduce battery drain. The chip powers GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other sensors and connectivity.
The Galaxy S6 may launch without an IP67 certification to make it water-resistant. The Galaxy S5 was Samsung’s first water-resistant flagship device.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is expected to run the Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system. Reports say that Samsung plans to purge its TouchWiz interface of unnecessary bloatware and make its system more similar to Google Inc.’s stock Android. Such a move should free up a considerable amount of storage space on the Galaxy S6, making it available to users. Samsung’s system using up to half the allotted storage space on a device has been a common complaint for its devices. More so, Samsung might make its special software features downloadable for users to pick which ones they’d like to add. There is no word, though, on which features will be removed from TouchWiz.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 may also feature the same Sony IMX240 camera sensor seen on the Galaxy Note 4. Its main lens is expected to be between 16 megapixels and 20 megapixels and should include optical image stabilization, a camera feature that makes it easier to capture clear images, unaffected by small movements that might occur when handling a camera. The Galaxy S6 front camera may be 5 megapixels, similar to many devices on the market now that are branded as selfie phones.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is expected to feature an updated fingerprint scanner, made with a technology similar to the Touch ID technology on Apple Inc.’s iPhones. The Galaxy S6 fingerprint scanner may feature a touch-based sensor, which allows users to press their finger against the home key from any angle and have their fingerprint read.
The fingerprint scanner on older Samsung devices -- namely, the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5 -- features swipe sensors, for which users must swipe their fingers along the bottom of a device’s screen and home button to have their fingerprint read. Some users have had trouble with the swipe-based sensor, having to swipe several times before a device unlocks.
Another reason Samsung may be adopting a new sensor technology is that it may be implementing an NFC-based payment system on the Galaxy S6, similar to Apple Pay, which it may call Samsung Pay. Apple's iPhone users must use the Touch ID sensor on their handsets to authorize the use of Apple Pay, which works without having to unlock the phone. But Samsung’s current swipe-based sensor requires users to unlock the phone before proceeding with any authorization functions. Samsung is reportedly working with Visa to have cards issued by the company automatically be compatible with Samsung Pay, and with McAfee to ensure the system is protected from spyware, spam and viruses.
Reports also suggest that the Galaxy S6 may be compatible with the Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset.
There are no official details on what the Samsung Galaxy S6 might cost, but rumored prices for the device in Europe have surfaced recently. A 32GB Galaxy S6 could cost 749 euros/$860, while a 64GB mode could cost 849 euros/$975 and a 128GB model could cost 949 euros/$1,090.
Typically, base model Galaxy S smartphones are priced between $199.99 and $249.99 with a two-year contract in the U.S. Off contract, Galaxy S smartphones may sell for between $599.99 and $649.99.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 will be announced at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event on March 1 in Barcelona during the World Mobile Congress. Generally, Samsung phones are made available to the public a month after their unveiling.