Samsung Unpacked Coverage: All About the S6
Samsung’s Unpacked Event has now come and gone through Mobile World Congress 2015, and we’ve got a good look at what could be the most advanced phone of the year thus far. The event started shortly after its scheduled time at 12:30PM today and the only devices shown were the Galaxy S6 and its Edge variant, both of which pack an impressive amount of features, spectacular internals and an all-new beautiful design.
The show began with a quiet voice whispering to the audience: “what’s next inspires us to bring tomorrow into today: metals will flow, beauty will be powerful borders will disappear, reflections will be free, colors will live… the future will be the present”.
The room lit up and Head of Global Marketing for IT and Mobile Division Young-Hee Lee entered the stage in an interesting outfit. “Let me tell you, tonight is big” she told everyone as the anticipation intensified. She continued by saying that what we were about to see was “the most significant team effort in this company’s history”, and teased how it was something “entirely new”.
CEO JK Shin took over the event, told us about how exciting of a day it was, and joked about how it was one with “no more internet rumors”. He began explaining that Samsung’s success, and its position as the leading smartphone company, all came from the same simple philosophy which comes down to two words: “relentless innovation”. JK Shin’s self-proclaimed first language is engineering, and this is why he is confident that these will be new technologies and new ideas to make better products. They reminded us what innovations they brought to the mobile space with their AMOLED screens, LTE technology adoptions, the Galaxy Note and the Gear. While some companies have set themselves apart through design or practicality, Samsung claims to aim for both.
Samsung’s team worked from the ground-up to create their most beautiful phone in their own history, but also what they confidently label as “the most advanced in the world”, with capabilities no other phone can match. He then added that “it also looks really cool”. They focused on three key areas: the most beautiful display, the fastest processor, and the best camera. They also made security a priority, with a better KNOX platform that gives government and enterprise the safety they need with their smartphones. Samsung Pay is also looking to compete against alternatives, but in the world of mobile payments by providing flexibility, access and choice.
Samsung once again remains at the vanguard of connectivity, by offering the best LTE technology so that when carriers are ready to deploy their new, more advanced network services, users will be ready to access to them off the bat.
“We believe in design with a purpose“, Shin stated, “we set out to build something better than anything we’ve ever built before; next is now – next level of enterprise, new design, best performance”. Now it was time to explain these bold and ambitious claims further.
“The most advanced smartphone in the world, with a design to match” is the mission statement of the Next Galaxy. At the core of it all, Samsung claimed that the S6 and S6 Edge reflect their energy in designing purposefully. The Edge is the first dual curve smartphone in the world, and it took years of innovation to produce what they all thought was a thing of the future, and what they consider a level of craftsmanship only they can achieve. And while it looks better and has a more comfortable grip, Samsung seems to want the Apple audience to take a dive towards it, something that was clear when they stated that “the best part is that your friends will think it’s very cool”.
The Glass that surrounds the S6 has a micro-optical layer to give off the impression of added depth and richness. To make it durable, it is also coated with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which they claimed was the strongest and toughest in the market – a dubious claim given sapphire panels are a reality. They did reassure us, however, that “this thing will not bend”.
Hyun Yeul Lee took the stage as a UX Specialist, to share details about the new interface of the Galaxy S6. She stated that Samsung focused on the essentials, and with the help and feedback of reviewers and “their friends on the internet” they gathered information on what needed improvement in TouchWiz… and from what they have shown, they realised that it was a lot. The new interface has a better color consistency, and a much newer and richer set of animations. It looks a little flatter than Material Design, but good enough to make itself useful and attractive. They swapped out abstract icons, and replaced many of them with concise text. Many other nuances and annoyances were removed. She summarized it as “no more struggling with hard to use and hard to find features”.
They also made a big announcement of something that the public has been waiting for what feels like forever: there is no more lag, no more stutters. Samsung claims it is all gone for good, and even the smallest gesture is smooth and responsive. They also adopted a new coloring scheme that will be consistent from now on, with colors associated with apps and formats: green for phone, purple for video, yellow for text messages, etc. There is also a brilliant new camera interface that is direct, with no scrolling for easier access to the modes you want whenever you want them.
The new Galaxy S phones are designed with a purpose, and that carries onto the hardware. The experience begins with Samsung’s latest Exynos processor, with 64-bit support and built on 14nm FinFet processes – the world’s first in a smartphone. Not only is this chip more powerful, but it is also smaller and easier on the battery: the result is a 20% increase in speed and performance, and 35% more power efficiency, than what was seen in the Note 4’s chipsets. The phone features DDR4 RAM, which can deliver 80% faster memory processes. There’s also a revamped SSD & eMMC flash storage solution that is faster and uses less power.
Their display is reportedly outstanding, and while the S5’s and Note 4’s were some of the best we’ve seen, Samsung claimed this one will be “the best screen we’ve ever seen”, and that it raises the bar even higher with its 5.1 inch 1440p AMOLED panel, which results in a 577 pixels-per-inch screen density. That’s 77% more pixels than what was found in last year’s Galaxy S5, and with the Edge’s curves you’ll see the stunning panel wrap around the device seamlessly. The display will also do wonders for their new Gear VR that will have a 11% increase in image fidelity and the higher quality content will be wirelessly provided and supported, for what Samsung touts to be an “out of this world immersive experience”.
The battery life is also said to be excellent, with 12 hours on WiFi, 11 hours on LTE, 13 hours of video playback or 49 hours of music. But what Samsung considers most important is that you’ll be able to charge the S6 faster than any other phone in the industry – 10 minutes of charge will give you 4 hours of use. And it will go from 0 to 100 in half the charging time of an iPhone 6. The battery is built-in, which is sad news for every removable battery lover. However, they feel users will be “absolutely comfortable” with the battery life provided by this new phone, and the S6 will also have built-in wireless charging for both major solutions, ensuring that your odds of finding a charger wherever are as high as they can be. Samsung promised that this will keep you going until they invent that “never-ending battery” – quite the ambitious claim, but we love the drive.
All of the scenes that followed, and many of what we had already seen, were taken entirely with the S6’s camera. Samsung said that “as a camera, smartphones get the job done for the most part: key challenge is creating camera that excels in all camera conditions” – and they believe they have achieved that. Their new sensor offers a F1.9 lens with real time HDR, and also comes with a special low-light feature that combines multiple photos to create the best, most accurate one. It also can bring in 60% more like than previous modules… and this is the front 5MP camera.
The main one also features the same technology plus IOS on a 16MP sensor. They showed some picture and video comparison between the iPhone 6 Plus and the S6, and the clear winner was Samsung’s new phone. To make things better, the camera is constantly cached to launch as fast as possible by holding the home button; we really hope we can disable this, though. And finally, Samsung is also introducing object-tracking autofocus so that you can make the best out of your home-made media.
Samsung talked about the need for universal acceptance in mobile payments, and how NFC and circumventing solutions cut users out of 90% of U.S. retailers for payments. Samsung Pay, however, allows you to pay anywhere that accepts credit cards, debit cards or NFC. Their ecosystem is expanding to adopt more institutions, and those on board already include Visa, Master Card, Chase, Bank of America, Citi Bank, US Bank and more. Samsung made it clear that their service is accepted by far and away more merchants than any other offering, in their attempt to “get mobile payments right”.
When it comes to security, Gregory Wade of Samsung Electronics’ Security talked about how the KNOX platform makes for some of the most secure devices today, with defense-grade security built into Galaxy phones. Many consider it the best for business and consumers alike, as it grants great protection against malicious attacks and viruses. With the enhancements in security, the S6 is reportedly ready for enterprise, and it has received approval from government agencies from all around the world for its security standards.
Next is Now
The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will become available on April 10th in 20 countries, and the release will continue to expand all over the world. The device will come in various colors and in 32gb, 64gb and 128gb versions, with no expandable storage, alongside a vast array of Samsung accessories.
We are very excited for this device and cannot wait to see how it’ll unfold. Most importantly, we are eager to experience all the amazing things our developer community at XDA will bring to it. The Next Galaxy is here, and it looks better than ever.