Samsung Galaxy S6

Five things Samsung’s Galaxy S6 needs to get right

Samsung's Galaxy S6 as teased by T-Mobile. Image: Samsung

24 February 2015

Niall Kitson portraitSamsung reached the end of the Galaxy S’s honeymoon period last year with the Galaxy S5. While not a bad smartphone, the S5 represented but an incremental improvement on the previous year’s S4 which, in turn, was an improvement on the feature-packed S3.
Unfortunately for Samsung, after the S3 a law of diminishing returns set in. Despite positive reviews, the S5 was faulted for its thin casing and a lack of killer features failed. The result was a 40% shortfall in sales over the S4. Now with Mobile World Congress due next week, Samsung will have some big reveals and hasn’t been shy about teasing them. A pre-show clip released this week gave a glimpse of a redesigned Galaxy S6, but will it be enough to energise the market?

Better build quality
The S5 was slated for its build quality so it’s time for a change of approach. According to the S6 teaser we can expect a move towards aluminium over plastic and the latest Gorilla Glass 4 screen. More interesting we’re told that “metal will flow” against a background of curves and that “borders will disappear”. My guess is we’ll be seeing a curved unibody design.

Inductive charging as standard
The S5 had an optional cover that allowed for wireless charging on any Qi-compatible charging pads so turning the technology from an extra to a standard feature shouldn’t be a stretch. It will push up the unit cost but if premium is the goal then users won’t miss an extra €30. Should the S6 go unibody then inductive charging has to be part of the package.

Gear VR integration
So far the Galaxy Gear VR is only compatible with the Note 5 phablet – a fine device but not something you can have in your pocket. The S6 is Samsung’s chance to take the Gear VR into the mass market. Of course, there needs to be more to do on it before the headset becomes more than a curio for early adopters.

A vanilla Android install
One of the downsides of Android’s open source philosophy is that its open to getting a different flavour for each manufacturer that wants to use it. HTC has Sense and Samsung has Touchwiz – two distinct user interfaces that use the same software but different interfaces to give a different user experience and try to lock people in to their products. The problem with custom installs is that they sacrifice usability for corporate identity and come with bloatware and fussy, resource-hogging user interfaces. For example, TouchWiz on the S5 takes up about 8Gb making it quite the hog when you have only 16Gb of storage.
The release of a Galaxy S5 prime with only a basic Android install last year showed there was an appetite for something different and according to a report on TechRadar this week it looks like the end is coming for Samsung’s own-brand bloatware as the little-used S Voice, My Galaxy, ChatOn, Samsung Hub and Scrapbook will be replaced with suite of Microsoft apps including OneNote, OneDrive, Skype and Office Mobile.

One of Samsung’s big reveals at Mobile World Congress is a 5G network with data transfer speeds of 7.5Gb/s. We’re not going to get that kind of connectivity soon but having the capability to use a fifth-generation network would cement Samsung’s position as a forward-looking manufacturer.
Samsung has a history of beating Apple to market with features like 4G and NFC, is adding 5G such a big stretch?

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