Samsung has long been the focus of ridicule when it comes to its flagship devices, and while it sometimes wasn’t merited there have certainly been plenty of things to complain about over the years. Samsung showed today with the announcement of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge that it’s been listening to critical feedback and it’s making some serious changes to the newest pair of flagship devices.
First up is the most obvious part, the design. The Galaxy S6 is the most different looking Galaxy device since the Galaxy S III, taking queues from the rest of the industry as its continued to march toward more all-aluminum builds for premium devices. While this isn’t a completely all-aluminum phone in the way that the Galaxy A series is, the frame is all-aluminum and feels sturdier than any other Galaxy device before it, including the A series and Note 4 with its aluminum frame. The back is graced with Gorilla Glass 4 to resist cracks and scratches more than any other Gorilla Glass before it. All of this adds up to the most premium feeling Galaxy device ever.
Under the hood Samsung has cleaned up TouchWiz to such an extent that many were left with their jaws on the floor at the press event. Samsung has fully embraced Google’s Material Design guidelines in Android 5.0 Lollipop and have even trimmed down every aspect of their infamous Android skin. They’ve removed features that have been deemed extraneous and are providing them as an additional download for those that still want them. In addition to this Samsung is promising the era of stuttery, laggy TouchWiz is completely behind us. We’ll have to leave final judgement up for the full review but it’s looking pretty incredible from where we stand at this point.
Samsung’s new software initiative also includes the recent acquisition of LoopPay’s MST, or Magnetic Secure Transmission. Samsung has paired this with Google Wallet’s NFC payment technology and made its own payment system aptly called Samsung Pay. While this seems to be a direct clone of Apple Pay at first it’s much more than that, as MST technology allows the phone to automatically be compatible with over 90% of card readers at the retail level out of the box. This works by wirelessly transferring a stored card’s magnetic strip information to the reader itself, and when in locations where magnetic strips have been phased out the NFC wireless transfer is set to take over, all in one application without having to do anything else. Since it’s driven by the secure one-touch fingerprint reader in the home button it’s as painless as Apple Pay, making this the best mobile payment solution ever.
Samsung has long had a history of pushing mobile camera tech to the limit, and while the Galaxy S5 and Note 3 left a little to be desired in the camera department Samsung proved themselves capable yet again with the Galaxy Note 4. Taking notes from that phone Samsung used a tweaked version of that same Sony sensor, the Exmor IMX 240, and upped the ante with a brand new camera interface that’s tweaked for usability and ease. In addition to this Samsung has allegedly created some of the best low-light performance out of any smartphone sensor on the market, showing off low light video and shots at the press conference that would make the original HTC One blush. Pair this with a fantastic 16 megapixel resolution, truly instant full-quality HDR shots and we’ve seemingly got a winner on our hands.
Last but certainly not least is wireless charging, which isn’t anything new to the market but this is the first time Samsung has included it in a phone out of the box. There’s no additional backs or cases to buy here, which is good since the back on the Galaxy S6 isn’t removable. All you’ll need is a wireless charger using any wireless standard out there, whether it be WPC 1.1, PMA 1.0 or Qi. This means that Samsung has finally bridged the gap between these standards and has created a device worthy of being called a wireless charging phone. No more worrying if your phone is compatible with one charger or another, it just works with everything out there. Is this enough to sway you into Samsung’s camp or back into it, or have you never led astray of the Samsung faithful? Sound off in the comments or on your preferred social network!