It’s almost go time for Samsung. The Galaxy S6 flagship will be announced in just a few hours and with it Samsung will reveal the product strategy it hopes will put the brand back on top.
In 2014, Samsung saw significant drops in sales, driven in part by poor sales of the Galaxy S5 flagship, which sold 40 percent fewer units than the previous Galaxy S4 smartphone. Consumers and pundits alike said the Galaxy S5 was too similar to the Galaxy S4. In fact they said most of Samsung’s devices were too similar in design. Consumers began favoring cheaper devices like those by Xiaomi and newly revamped devices like those by Apple.
Not only has Samsung lost its lead in China to Xiaomi and its lead in India to Micromax, the Korean manufacturer has also lost its lead in the U.S. to Apple and is in danger of closing its global lead in smartphone shipments as well.
Samsung is in desperate need of a turnaround.
In 2015, Samsung said it will overhaul its product lines to recapture consumer interest. The Korean manufacturer has already begun experimenting with new designs, with devices including the Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5, but the Galaxy S6 is expected to launch with more upgrades than any other Galaxy smartphone. The rumor mill has been continuously churning out possible details about the Galaxy S6.
Here’s a rundown of what we know:
Samsung has been one of the few manufacturers able to market a plastic smartphone at a premium level, but the lackluster market response to the Galaxy S5 shows that consumers are no longer interested in polycarbonate. Smartphones with metal unibodies like the HTC One (M8) and the iPhone 6 are now most coveted and the Galaxy S6 design is could launch a similar style.
Samsung insists the Galaxy S6 will feature a never-before-seen design; however, recent leaks say otherwise. One leak shows two smartphones, which look very similar to the average Galaxy smartphone in design, except they have glass back panels instead of plastic (kind of like the Xiaomi Mi Note). One device -- presumably the Galaxy S6 Edge -- features a curved display on its right and left sides. It looks a lot like the device shown in Samsung’s official Galaxy S6 teaser released by U.S. carriers T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint.
â€” Android Community (@androids) February 26, 2015
Another leak of Sprint’s promotional material shows a front-facing view of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, touting Samsung’s latest catchphrase “six appeal.” This is some of the most damning evidence that Samsung will launch two models of the Galaxy S6: one with a flat display and one with a curved display.
â€” CNET (@CNET) February 28, 2015
However, other leaks have suggested the Galaxy S6 may adopt a design similar to the iPhone 6 with an all-metal body and rounded corners. This could also lead to Samsung moving from a removable back, which allows users to switch out batteries as well as boost internal storage capacities with MicroSD cards -- to making the Galaxy S6 battery nonremovable, much like an iPhone
â€” Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) February 25, 2015
Overall, rumors, 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.
The Galaxy S6 wouldn't be a Samsung phone without a great display. The device 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, 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.
The brand of chip to be included in the Samsung Galaxy S6 remains up in the air. Early reports suggested 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 7420. However, reports 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 a “large consumer’s flagship” won’t use the Snapdragon 810 chip but has not indicated which. Samsung has not confirmed whether it will be using a Qualcomm chip, an Exynos chip or both.
The Galaxy S6 should have 3GB of RAM and 32GB, 64GB and 128GB internal storage options, all of which would be upgrades from the Galaxy S5, which featured 2GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB storage options. The upgrades in internal storage are especially plausible if Samsung does opt for a non-removable back on the Galaxy S6. Without the option to expand memory via a MicroSD Card slot, users would require more storage on board the device.
Rumors suggest a 2,600mAh battery might power the Galaxy S6. Such a battery would be 200mAh less than the battery in the Galaxy S5 and the same power capacity of the battery in the Galaxy S4. However, Samsung could use its power-efficient Exynos 7420 chip to make up for the loss in capacity. Samsung claims the chip is 30 percent to 35 percent more power-efficient than other chips now standard on the market. If legitimate, Samsung might be switching from lithium-ion batteries to lithium-polymer batteries for the Galaxy S6. The latter often functions better at a lower power capacity, but is more suitable as a nonremovable battery.
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’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, enabling users to pick the ones they want.
A recent leak suggests Samsung may include only its S Voice personal assistant app and the S Heath fitness tracker app on the Galaxy S6. However, the device may also host vital applications from other manufactures, including Google apps, Microsoft’s One Drive storage app, One Note word processor app and the Skype messaging app as well as Facebook, WhatsApp social media apps and the Galaxy App store.
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 16 megapixels to 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.
â€” SamsungMobile (@SamsungMobile) February 13, 2015
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 a user to press a finger against the home key from any angle and have it read.
Samsung may also adopt a new sensor technology to implement an NFC-based payment system on the Galaxy S6, to rival Apple Pay, which it may call Samsung Pay. Apple 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 acquired the U.S. mobile wallet startup LoopPay in mid-February, solidifying the likelihood the Galaxy S6 will feature a payment system of its own. LoopPay’s technology works in conjunction with the magnetic-stripe card readers already at checkout counters. Apple Pay, however, worked with near field communication, and requires retailers to set up compatible NFC readers to function.
â€” SamsungMobile (@SamsungMobile) February 17, 2015
Other special features on the Galaxy S6 could include wireless charging. Samsung recently shared a teaser promotion featuring a lightning blot shaped icon, which many believe indicates a new charging feature. The manufacturer has also discussed its work with wireless charging on its blog in recent weeks.
Additionally, reports suggest 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. The 32GB model of the Galaxy S6 Edge could sell for €849/$963, while the 64GB model could be €949 $1,076 and the 128GB model €1,049/$1,189.
Typically, base model Galaxy S smartphones are priced from $199.99 to $249.99 with a two-year contract in the U.S. Off contract, Galaxy S smartphones may sell for $599.99 to $649.99.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 will be announced at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event March 1 in Barcelona, Spain, during the World Mobile Congress. Generally, Samsung phones are made available to the public a month after their unveiling.
Reports indicate Samsung has designated “black out dates,” during which employees cannot take paid time off March 22 to March 30 and then April 19 to April 27. Such blackout dates usually coincide with the launch of a device -- a time when manufacturers need all hands on deck to deal with an influx of sales.
Many say the Galaxy S6 could hit major markets from March 22 to March 30 while April 19 to April 27 might be either when the Galaxy S6 Edge releases or when smaller markets get the Galaxy S6. Keep in mind the leaked pre-order ad for Sprint featuring the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge indicates the promotion ends March 26, which could mean the devices will launch some time after. Reports have also said India will get the Galaxy S6 in mid-April.