Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 is nearly here and we now know for certain that several major manufacturers are bringing big new flagship releases to the event (as we expected they would). One of these is Samsung, with a much anticipated revamp of its Galaxy S flagship; the Galaxy S6. One of Samsung's nearest rivals (literally, as its also based in South Korea) is LG. The company has for a long time lived in Samsung's shadow, but in recent years has really upped its game, winning a lot of fans with the LG G2 and LG G3.
LG has actually been pretty upfront about the fact that the LG G4 won't be coming to MWC, but it is expected to follow fairly soon, with LG expected to repeat its May launch of the LG G3 in 2014 again this year for the successor.
How do rumours and leaks of the two devices compare? Let's find out...
Design & Display
Samsung came under a fair bit of flak when it launched the Galaxy S5 as everyone was expecting a significant design overhaul which failed to materialise. More fool them, you might think, but in actual fact this line of thought was partially egged-on by statements made by Samsung executives about how different the new model would be...and it wasn’t...so we can’t help but feel a fair bit of blame rests on Samsung’s shoulders here.
The build-up scenario ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S6’s launch is sounding rather similar so far, we’ve seen a lot of leaks suggesting a substantial design shift, even a ground-up, back-to-the-drawing-board approach, and the implementation of much-craved premium materials. At the same time, Samsung execs have once again been saying that the Galaxy S6 will be a major overhaul in terms of design and build. However, it is looking a bit more likely that things will pan out this time round - importantly there are now devices in Samsung’s catalogue which do live up to this idea of premium design; notably Samsung’s Galaxy A-Series (Galaxy Alpha, A7, A3 and A5), which use metal chassis components and are generally some of the most sleek and refined we’ve seen from Sammy to date.
There’s been quite a range of information leaked about Samsung’s Galaxy S6 design, but as the launch approaches some consistent features have begun to fall into place. Overall it looks as though the design is similar to the Alpha series, with a metal surround and a thin profile. What’s not clear is the back panel material, which has been seen on camera looking like polycarbonate, but also rumoured as glass.
Some compelling evidence from leaks suggests the Galaxy S6 will sport a 5in display with a QHD resolution. As with previous Samsung Galaxy flagships we expect this to be a Super AMOLED display.
At the moment design is the area where we sadly know the least about the LG G4. We know the company has gone on record during an earnings call to say that it will differentiate itself from competitors - that would imply that the LG G4 won’t look like the LG G3, because that phone didn’t look so different to us. It was sharp, however, with a neat-looking industrial design. Last time LG went for a plastic build with a removable back and a faux brushed aluminium texture; there’s increasing pressure on phone makers to use more “premium” materials, so it’s possible we’ll see a switch with the LG G4. We expect the rear-mounted power and volume controls to continue too.
We’ve seen some interesting reports suggesting the LG G4’s display will actually shrink from what we saw aboard the LG G3. Apparently LG wants to leave the 5.5in territory for its LG G Flex 2 product, so we will instead see a still sizeable 5.2in touchscreen on the LG G4. The LG G3’s display had one of the narrowest bezels around and we’re hoping this will continue aboard the next iteration for a stylish looking front panel. As for the display specs? Well LG seems to consistently like to push for the highest resolution possible aboard its flagships, so we’re expecting a full QHD panel, hopefully this time round it’ll do away with the excessive sharpening though.
It’s pretty clear by now that, for whatever reason, Samsung is ditching Qualcomm chips, at least for the Galaxy S6, in any case. Yes, the Galaxy S6 will be Samsung’s first flagship sold everywhere with an Exynos chipset inside (as opposed to only being sold this way inside Asia, as with predecessor models). Specifically the handset will carry the company’s new Exynos 7420 octa-core 64-bit chip, which uses ARM’s big.LITTLE Heterogeneous processor architecture. However, while earlier reports indicated this could be at an advantage over Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 due to the use of 14 nanometre (nm) semiconductors instead of Qualcomm’s 20nm setup, some analysts believe that a combination of leaked benchmarking results and comments from Samsung executives about chip mass production, suggest the chip aboard the Galaxy S6 may in fact be a 64-bit adapted successor of the Exynos 5433 with LPDDR4 RAM support. This would mean it is still a 20nm chipset and although it would see improved performance (the benchmarks scored very high, but were not leaps and bounds ahead of the Exynos 5433) it may not be such a leap forward compared to what might be reasonably expected from 14nm.
So far we’ve only seen one snippet of information about the LG G4’s chip, and unsurprisingly it’s thought to be packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810; the very CPU LG has already used inside the LG G Flex 2. There’s a lot to like about the Snapdragon 810, you can see our hands-on feature from a recent trip to Qualcomm HQ in San Diego here. Suffice to say it’s got a lot of high-performance capability, including flash graphics from an Adreno 430 GPU, but it’s also been engineered to be battery friendly and to run relatively cool (below 45 degrees celsius). If what’s being said about Samsung’s Exynos using 20nm semiconductors is true, then there likely won’t be much difference in performance between these two devices.
Both phones are rumoured to carry 3GB of RAM.
We don’t know a great deal about the LG G4’s camera, but a few leaked details have shown it to be a 16MP wide-angle 16:9 sensor with a maximum resolution of 5312x2988 pixels, meaning it should be capable of impressive picture quality. On top of this, the use of a Snapdragon 810 chip means there are some nifty tricks LG can potentially take advantage of, like a 14-bit image signal processor and phase detect autofocus. For the LG G3, LG used optical image stabilisation (OIS), so may well implement it again for the successor model.
Samsung is rumoured to be preparing its long-anticipated 20MP ISOCELL sensors, the company’s own imaging technology. Previously we saw a 16MP ISOCELL inside Samsung hardware, but it announced quite a while ago that a 20MP variant was in the pipeline. It’s rumoured that for the Galaxy S6, Samsung will also add an OIS module. Samsung’s 16MP sensors provided great image quality so we’re expecting impressive stuff from the 20MP variant, while the addition of OIS should mean it’s even easier to get good results whether you’re a camera buff or not.