Since Samsung launched its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge flagships, users have bemoaned the company's decision to remove advance features like a memory card slot, removable battery and waterproofing.
In addition to the three features above that did not make the cut in the transition from last year's Galaxy S5 to this year's Galaxy S6, Samsung also dropped support for USB on-the-go (USB OTG) and MHL. The former feature allows business users to access USB flash drives and connect peripherals like keyboards and mice to their phones for enhanced productivity on the go, while the latter allows the phone to connect to an external display or projector.
Even though these features may be gone on the Galaxy S6, you can still regain expandable storage, add battery power, take the Galaxy S6 for a swim, project your display and expand your productivity with these simple solutions:
1. Reclaim your storage
Just because Samsung ditched the microSD card on the Galaxy S6, you don't need to buy the costly edition with 128GB of storage built-in.
A convenient way to access, store and save files is the cloud. With cloud solutions - such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and Box - users will always have access to their documents, photos and videos wherever they have access to the internet. If you like to document your workflow through photos, most of these services include automatic photo backup over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G.
For local storage solutions, wireless drives are a great option. You won't have to worry about the cloud being hacked, and even in the basement of your office building where no wireless signal can penetrate, you'll still be able to access your most important documents or treasured photos.
Essentially, a wireless drive creates an ad-hoc wireless network and transforms itself to a battery-powered, portable media streamer.
With the SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive, you even expand the built-in memory of the drive with an SD card. For high capacity, you can even use SanDisk's 200GB capacity microSD card, with adapter, to the media drive. That's more than six times the capacity of the 32GB Galaxy S6 on the memory card alone.
Best of all, you can add and swap multiple memory cards to grow your storage needs on a wireless media drive.
Using a wireless drive means you'll have to charge the battery on your Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge every night, and also the battery on your media streaming device. For the added effort, however, if you carry multiple devices, you'll be able to simultaneously share and access the contents on the wireless drive with a phone, tablet and laptop.
Road warriors can meet in a hotel conference room and they will all be able to access the files on the drive. Many of these drives can stream content to a maximum of ten devices simultaneously. This means I can listen to stored music, my colleagues can watch a video file, while an editor at TechRadar can view photos and other documents on the drive at the same time.
2. Refuel and reduce range anxiety
External battery packs and battery charging cases for smartphones have made the removable battery an obsolete requirement for long work days.
Although a removable battery, a battery pack and a battery charging case all serve the same purpose to charge your smartphone and reduce range anxiety when you're away from a power outlet, there are benefits to having external batteries.
Having a removable battery on the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5 are convenient, as I am able to slip a spare battery into my pocket and keep the form factor unaffected. However, when I need to swap batteries, my workflow is interrupted.
This means the phone powers off, my call is terminated and all my apps vanish.
With an external battery pack or a battery case, it's more like having hot-swappable batteries on laptops. Just before the internal battery is depleted, I can just plug in the external battery or switch on the battery on my charging case, and I can keep going - my calls won't terminate when the internal battery depletes and my apps won't vanish on me. I can continue to "hot swap" my batteries as well if I have multiple battery packs or charging cases.
Samsung's 3,100mAh battery pack, which provides more than a full charge to the Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge, costs $15 (£10, AU$20) on Amazon, and there are a range of third-party cases from a variety of different manufacturers in different capacities. Larger battery cases are less portable, but come with a higher mAh rating, which could deliver two, three, or even ten times the charge of a normal smartphone.
Mophie's Juice Pack typically runs around $100 (£70, AU$130), depending on capacity, and offers between 80% to 120% of the device's charge.
A Juice Pack not only offers extra battery life, but it also adds impact protection to the device. Similar to a hard case for a phone, battery cases like the Juice Pack can also shield the device from minor drops.
Amazon, eBay, and other resellers also carry Mophie alternatives - most are made in China, so quality will vary - that are more modestly priced, but lack Mophie's brand recognition. These start at around $30 (£20, AU$40).
Still, given the built-in wireless charging capabilities of the Galaxy S6, a third option is to carry a Qi-enabled battery. These are more expensive than battery packs, but they're convenient, as you don't need to also carry a charging cable for your phone.
About the size of a small, flat brick, Qi-enabled batteries have wireless charging built in so you can set your phone on top of the battery, and your Galaxy S6 will automatically begin charging.
Various after-market solutions are available on Amazon and start at $30 (£20, AU$40). The LUXA2 comes with Qi built-in and a 10,000mAh capacity battery for $70 (£45, AU$90). That's almost four times the 2,600mAh capacity of the battery in the Galaxy S6.
3. Conquer aquaphobia
Even though the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge do not have the water resistant rating of last year's Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S5 Active models, early consumer tests show that a splash or two won't hurt. If you're more accident-prone, then a waterproof case will be a great option to conquer your fear of water.
It might be easier to find a custom-fitted waterproof case for the Galaxy S6 than a Galaxy S6 Edge given the latter's dual curved screen edges. Lifeproof, which has been a popular option for iPhone users, will release a version of its waterproof case for the Galaxy S6.
The $80 (£55, AU$105) Lifeproof Fre for the Galaxy S6 offers a hard case for impact resistance in case the phone is dropped onto a hard surface and comes with internal rubber gaskets to seal the phone off from liquid environments.
I've used prior versions of Lifeproof's solution on older iPhone models, and they're great for the pools in summer, perfect for reading ebooks with my iPad in the bathtub, and excellent for those who have butterfingers, in case you want to rescue a fallen phone from the sink or toilet.
There are also less expensive third-party options on Amazon and eBay, but quality will vary.
The water resistant SUP case for the Galaxy S6, priced at $20 (£15, AU$25), seems to be getting high reviews on Amazon currently. Another place to search would be eBay.
A potential downside with many of these cases is that they come with a screen film, which could degrade the sensitivity of your touchscreen. Another issue is that they cover the ports, making them difficult to access, and the speaker may be covered so audio output may be muffled.
For the Galaxy S6 Edge, a waterproof pouch may be your only option. I've used these before for kayaking and rafting, and they do the job of keeping my gadgets dry, but lack the elegance of a form-fitted case.
Many of these pouches retail for under $20 (£15, AU$25) on Amazon, and you should do your research to find trusted sellers and brands. The most important thing is to test the pouches first before placing your phone in it and submerging your $600 (£400, AU$775) investment into water.
MHL and USB OTG alternatives
4. Project what you see
Even though Samsung ditches MHL on the Galaxy S6, connecting your smartphone to a larger display is still an easy task with the right accessories.
With a $30 (£20, AU$40) Chromecast, you can project your phone's display wirelessly, without the tangles of cords and adapters, to a larger screen. You'll be able to mirror your phone's screen to get a larger projector, large display, or TV.
The Chromecast dongle is highly portable and setup is a breeze. Many offices are now equipping their televisions with Chromecast, but if yours doesn't, you can slip one into your briefcase or bag for travel.
If you need a more permanent solution for your office or conference room, Android TV is a great option. As a set-top box, Android TV delivers more functionality than Chromecast, but is less mobile.
Devices like the Nexus Player ($99, £65, AU$130) and the Nvidia Shield ($199, £130, AU$255) to run apps, stream video and play games on your TV in addition to projecting the content on your phone to your TV.
Additionally, for HDTVs that come with wireless display support, Galaxy S6 users can also mirror their screens using Miracast technology without any dongles or boxes attached.
Ultimately, with your Galaxy S6 connected wirelessly to a display via Chromecast, and with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse attached, you have a mobile, pocket-sized workstation where you can create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and slides, edit photos and trim videos, reply to emails and manage your digital files.
5. Extend your productivity
On the Galaxy S5, a USB OTG dongle allowed me to plug in a USB keyboard, mouse or flash drive, essentially turning my smartphone into a mini computer. However, the feature has been removed on the Galaxy S6, but you can still find solutions that offer comparable functionality to accessing files on a USB flash drive or connecting PC peripherals.
One solution is to use a portable wireless media streamer. With this alternative, users can plug their flash drives into the media streamer. Once plugged in, you'll be able to connect your Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge over an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network to the streamer to access the contents of your USB flash drive.
If you have multiple devices, many media streamers can stream to multiple devices so you and your colleagues can collaborate and work off of the same files on the same flash drive with a single media streamer. It's like a portable personal hotspot to connect to your files, rather than the mobile internet.
Kingston's MobileLite G2 ($35, £40, AU$65) on Amazon is one example of a media streamer, allowing you to plug in either a USB flash drive or a memory card to share files.
The SanDisk Wireless Connect Flash Drive ($50, £40, AU$65) is more like a traditional USB flash drive, but comes with wireless capabilities built-in. It has a full-size USB tip so you can connect the drive to a PC or Mac to transfer or share files over a "wired" connection, and then you can share those files to your phones and tablets over a Wi-Fi signal.
With Bluetooth HID support on Android, users do not have to plug a wired USB keyboard mouse if they want a PC-like experience to type out documents or quickly respond to emails.
Even though it may seem that the Samsung Galaxy S6 seems to be "lacking" many prosumer features, the reality is that we're moving toward a world that is increasingly dependent on wireless technologies.
Wireless media drives are replacing USB OTG, Chromecast is leaving MHL in the past and wireless flash drives add utility to storage by making content sharable between local devices.
Connected wirelessly to a Chromecast on a large HDTV or projector, the Galaxy S6 becomes the ultimate mobile workstation when you add in a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, set it on top of a wireless battery charger and pair a wireless flash drive for expandable storage.
In this vein, the Galaxy S6 is doing for Android what the MacBook is for the notebook. Both represent a bold leap into the future of mobile computing by abandoning legacy support. Even though it may take an additional year or two to change mindsets, wireless is playing an increasingly important role for mobile storage, power and expansion.