We’ve had the Samsung Galaxy S5 handset since the start of the year, making it old news in the smartphone world. All attention may now on the recently launched iPhone 6 but we shouldn’t ignore Samsung and what it has planned for its next handset, the Galaxy S6. Rumours are already starting to surface and we’re here to filter through all of the information to try and get some solid information on the new flagship handset. We’ll be updating this article regularly, so check back often to find out the latest information.
Samsung Galaxy S6 release date
The release date is something that should be fairly easy to predict, thanks to Samsung’s yearly release schedule. Following the launch of Galaxy S3 in May 2012, we had the S4 in April 2013 and the S5 in April 2014. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that April 2015 seems the most likely launch date of the Galaxy S6. The main question is when will the official unveiling of the phone be?
The press event is typically a few weeks before the phone’s official launch date. Last year Samsung decided to unveil the S5 at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in Barcelona. However, this was a little unusual, as the company had previously launched its new phones at its own events. This may have been because the Galaxy S5 wasn’t a major upgrade over the Galaxy S4, so the company decided it didn’t deserve it’s own dedicated event. Based on early rumours, the Galaxy S6 will have a brand-new design as well as improved internals, so it’s more likely it will get a separate launch. It’s still too early to tell exactly what the company has planned this time around, but if the company decides to go with an MWC launch, the show kicks off on 2nd March 2015; if it doesn’t, expect a dedicated Samsung event around the same time.
The Galaxy S6 may get an earlier reveal, however. Early reports have suggested a major drop in profits has forced Samsung to accelerate its plans, so we could be seeing a release much earlier than originally anticipated. Speaking to the New York Times, IM Investment and Securities analyst Lee Min-hee said “Samsung’s profits in the mobile division will continue to deteriorate during this period of changing their line of smartphones.”
Daishin Securities analyst Claire Kim voiced similar opinions when talking to Bloomberg. “We all know Samsung’s third-quarter earnings will be pretty ugly. The earlier release of its new phones could be reflected in its third-quarter earnings, it could give them a slight boost.”
Samsung Galaxy S6 design
The good thing about a company having a range of smartphones that it releases throughout the year is that each release gives you some insight into the upcoming products. We had the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, which is the company’s new premium-build handset constructed from a metal case, earlier in the year. What’s interesting to note is that this handset’s design is the direction that the company wants to take, rolling out the same build quality to the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Note 4. More recent leaks, purportedly showing the Galaxy Alpha A5 and A3 handsets, appear to show Samsung’s lower and mid-range models already taking design cues from the original Alpha.
Given that the Galaxy S range has always been Samsung’s flagship range, we’d be massively surprised if the company didn’t use a similar design for the S6. That will mean that we’ll finally get an all-metal frame, albeit with the familiar plastic back. This isn’t a problem, however, as it can still look classy and it will mean that rear is still removable for battery replacements. When we saw the Alpha, it was the first time that we picked up a Samsung phone and were genuinely impressed with the build quality and design. The same design rolled out to the S6 could dramatically boost and improve that handset’s image and make it appeal to new people.
It’s possible a change of material on the back could be used to set the S6 apart from its predecessors, despite it having a very similar outward appearance; even a metal effect removable cover would be an improvement in the eyes of many customers, who are sick of plastic handsets after six years. We can’t see Samsung ditching the removable back cover, unless it completely changes the design of the handset, but if it meant a more premium design we’d welcome it – even if it meant not being able to swap the battery.
Samsung would likely carry the 2.5D glass from the Note 4 over to the S6 too; it protrudes outwards slightly around the edges, giving the impression that the display panel is closer to the front of the glass than it actually is. Other features that look certain to make an appearance include a water resistant coating and rear-mounted heart rate sensor, as well as compatibility with Samsung’s Gear wearables range.
Samsung Galaxy S6 – otherwise known as Project Zero?
Samsung has traditionally referred to its flagship smartphones and phablets as Projects internally, with the Galaxy S5 known as Project K and the Galaxy Note 4 referred to as Project T. According to the latest leaks from Samsung’s HQ, the company is currently calling the Galaxy S6 Project 0 – the first time the company has used a number rather than a letter. That suggests it is planning a completely fresh approach, starting from the ground up rather than evolving an existing design or strategy.
It makes sense, as the Galaxy S5 has underperformed at retail; if the Galaxy S6 is to succeed, it needs to be geniunely different. Although that contradicts much of the information listed in the section above, we would certainly welcome it – the Galaxy S5 was a fairly restrained update that didn’t excite us as much as some of the competition.
Of couse, this could all be smoke and mirrors designed to drum up excitement for the handset, so it’s definitely worth waiting until we get more information before holding your breath.
Samsung Galaxy S6 specs
Expect the S6 to have a Super AMOLED screen at a higher resolution than the S5. Samsung’s home grown rival LG squeezed a 2,560×1,440 resolution display into its G3 smartphone, so the Galaxy S6 will almost certainly follow suit in order to match it. The company already makes a QHD AMOLED screen for the Galaxy Note 4, and has proved it can shrink the panels without compromising resolution with the Korean-exclusive Galaxy S5 LTE-A, which has the same 2,560×1,440 resolution. The S6 looks likely to match that, if not surpass it. Samsung has said that it wants to keep boosting screen resolutions and has claimed it will launch a 4K 3,840×2,160 smartphone in 2015.
Samsung has also been creeping up screen sizes other the years. The Galaxy S3 had a 4.8in screen, the S4 had a 5in screen and the S5 measured 5.1in. It would seem logical that Samsung would keep up this rate, giving the S6 a slight screen boost to 5.2in or 5.3in (these would still be smaller than the 5.5in LG G3). There’s certainly room at the top and sides of the Galaxy S5 to add a larger screen without increasing the physical size of the phone, but the fingerprint sensor built into the home button leaves less room to manoeuvre at the bottom. However, the company may decide that it’s gone far enough in terms of screen size, particularly as it has the large-screen Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung would surely want to maintain some differences between its two main product lines.
The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S6 could top 20 megapixels for the first time. Looking at what Samsung’s done before it seems likely. The S3 had an 8 megapixel snapper, the S4 upgraded to 13 and the S5 16 megapixels. With smartphone cameras such a huge selling point, Samsung is certain to once again upgrade the camera hardware and software. We’d expect at least 20 megapixels, possibly with optical image stabilisation to match the Galaxy Note 4. It will almost certainly be capable of 4K video recording, and will likely include several custom shooting modes and effects exclusive to the S6. There’s no escaping the importance of selfie shooting either, so we’re expecting a higher resolution front-facing camera too, possibly with the Note 4’s wide selfie mode thrown in for good measure.
Samsung Galaxy S6 operating system
It’s no secret Samsung has been working on its first Tizen phone, using an operating system it helped develop rather than rely on Google’s software. A work in progress for many years, Tizen has yet to make its debut here in the UK on a smartphone, and although that might change in 2015, it’s almost guaranteed that won’t be on the Galaxy S6. Yoon Han-kil, Samsung’s Senior VP of product strategy, said recently that Android “still needs to be out main business.”
That means the Galaxy S6 looks certain to launch with Google’s Android 5 Lollipop operating system. Samsung has already begun adapting its Touchwiz custom skin for Android Lollipop, with a leaked video running on a Galaxy S5 (seen below) revealing a new white theme, reskinned default apps, redesigned notifications pull-down and a new lockscreen with room for card-style notifications. The early build doesn’t have any in-app animations, as Samsung is reportedly waiting on a newer build of Android Lollipop to add Google’s Material Design animations. Even at this early stage though, it’s clear the Galaxy S6 will have a new but familiar look when it arrives.
With Android 5 bringing support for 64-bit processors the S6 will almost certainly run on one; The most likely candidates are currently the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 or 810, with the latter supporting 4K displays, but Samsung could also use one of its own Exynos CPUs. It quietly introduced the Exynos 7 Octa in October, which is actually a rebranded Exynos 5 chip with some minor performance improvements, but it is still fully 64-bit compatible. If the company follows a similar pattern to previous Galaxy handsets, we’ll likely get a Qualcomm-powered phone here in the UK while other territories will get an Exynos variant.
Samsung Galaxy S6 price
Again, Samsung is pretty reliable and we’d expect the Samsung Galaxy S6 to cost roughly the same as the S5. In the UK that means £549 SIM-free, direct from Samsung. There’s a chance it could be a little cheaper or a little more expensive, depending on the hardware and display, but Samsung has keenly stalked Apple’s pricing of the iPhone for some time so the S6 will likely do the same. The S6 will be a high-end handset, so expect it to have a high-end price to match.
Samsung Galaxy S6 – why no leaks?
It is still very early days for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and with attention focussed on the recently announced Note 4, Note Edge and soon-to-be announced iPhone 6 we’re unlikely to see many Galaxy S6 leaks until later in the year. As a result there are no leaked images, no dodgy looking shots taken in factories in the Far East and no alleged specs. All these details will start to appear over the coming months and we’ll be updating this article with the latest as it happens.