If you've been browsing around, you'll probably have noticed a lot of negative feedback around Samsung's premium handsets. The Galaxy S5, for instance, was a great handset, but it fell short of expectations. In fact it was heavily criticized for its lackluster design and poor software implementation.
But this time around Samsung has finally found a reason to smile. The Galaxy S6 has been launched and it looks like Samsung's best attempt to convince users. As a critic, though, I'm partly convinced by the Galaxy S6.
Samsung's latest flagship is an improvement over its predecessor, but not a huge leap forward. We spent some time with the Galaxy S6 at the launch event in Barcelona. Here are our first impressions.
Samsung Galaxy S6 First Look: Form Factor, Design, Display and Operating System
For a change, there is no plastic. The frame surrounding the screen is made out of aluminum and the back has a shiny glass. The most visible difference between last the S5 and the Galaxy S6 however, is the range of colours in which it will be available.
In terms of design, the Galaxy S6 is mostly influenced by the Galaxy Alpha and the iPhone 6. The biggest disappointment of the Galaxy S6 is that you won't find plastic removable back cover, replaceable battery and microSD slot for storage expansion. There was also no mention of any kind of IP rating; it seems as if the S6 is not water and dust resistant as its predecessor. Unfortunately, it still doesn't feel quite premium as the likes of the HTC One M9.
As many predicted earlier, the Galaxy S6 has a 5-inch QHD display ( 2,560 x 1,440 pixels) Super AMOLED display with an impressive pixel density of 577 pixels per inch. Samsung claims the screen on the Galaxy S6 has 77% more pixels than the previous generation Galaxy S5.
The screen was bright and sharp, but it's hard to say whether the extra pixel density really makes a big difference to a common users. No doubt the Galaxy S6 has an impressive screen.
Samsung says they have worked hard to make the software experience on the Galaxy S6 as intuitive as possible. Basically Samsung has managed to come with a stripped-down version of its unpopular TouchWiz UI on the Galaxy S6.
The settings menu has been polished and all the core apps - e-mail and S Health - have been revamped to get a clearer look. As speculated, Microsoft's One Drive, One Note and Skype, now come pre-loaded on the Galaxy S6.
Despite making its best effort, Samsung's native software is certainly not as polished as the stock Android 5.0 Lollipop software on the Google Nexus 6.
Samsung Galaxy S6 First Look: Processor, RAM and Connectivity
The Galaxy S6 is powered by a custom designed octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset, to compete with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor. The company claims the Exynos is the world's first 14nm SoC (System on Chip). It even went to say that it's 20% faster and 35% more efficient than the 20nm chip in the Galaxy Note 4.
The high-end device is stuffed with a healthy 3GB DDR4 RAM which is 80% faster than DDR3. At least on paper, the fast memory will definitely improve responsiveness.
The Galaxy S6 comes in 34, 64, 128GB iterations. And for your information, there's no MicroSD card slot, like the Apple iPhone 6. In terms of connectivity, there are no surprises, with support for 4G, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4 and NFC. As an add-on, you will get wireless charging support.
Samsung Galaxy S6 First Look: Camera and Video
The Galaxy S6 features a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), which should improve the sharpness of shots in low light. On the front, meanwhile, there's a 5-megapixel f/1.9 camera. Samsung says both cameras are bound to work well in all lighting conditions.
The company has also added a real-time HDR mode and a low-light shot feature. It also boasts a new quick launch feature; all you need to double-click the home button and the camera app will launch in 0.7 seconds. The pictures clicked during the launch event were crisp and noise free. The same can be said about the Galaxy S6's video capturing capability. We still need some time to pass on our final verdict about the Galaxy S6's camera capabilities.
Samsung Galaxy S6 First Look: Battery, Samsung Pay and Early Verdict
The Galaxy S6 is stuffed with a 2,550mAh battery. Unfortunately, for the first time ever, Samsung has put a non-removable battery. Even though it comes with a smaller battery pack, the Galaxy S6 will last a day or so. Samsung claims that 10 minutes of charging should deliver enough battery for four hours of regular use, which sounds awesome.
Samsung Galaxy S6's battery also features wireless charging. It can charge wirelessly using the two main wireless charging standards.
At the launch event, Samsung also introduced Samsung Pay to challenge Apple Pay. The new mobile payment service will launch on the Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6. Samsung Pay will be available in both the US and Korea in the first half of 2015.
There's no doubt about Samsung's ambitions to reconquer the mobile handset market yet again. It's good to see that Samsung shifted away from cheap plastic designs, but somehow we're still not convinced with the Galaxy S6 design. Beyond its design, the Galaxy S6 is a capable phone, thanks to its improved imaging capabilities, the Samsung Pay payment solution and the high-end hardware internals.
Watch this space for detailed review in coming days to come.
With inputs from Akansha Srivastava