Much has been written in the press about the Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy S6, particularly in response to a set of teaser trailers on the upcoming smartphone. While Samsung hasn't officially released a specification sheet with all of the Galaxy S6's features, the company's not-so-cryptic hints in the teaser videos have seemingly spilled the beans on this new flagship.
Indeed, these teasers, comments from Samsung executives, and information leaks seem to point to the following features for the Galaxy S6:
- Wireless charging
- Metal body
- Curved display (at least on the "Edge" variant)
- Anti-reflective screen coating
- 14-nanometer Exynos chip
A report out of South Korea (via BGR) even claims some carriers say the Galaxy S6's design will "beat" (as if this could be measured objectively) the iPhone 6's design.
While we'll only know what features the new Samsung phone sports when it is unveiled on March 1, it's worth exploring whether this device should make Apple investors uneasy.
The device should review very well
Like the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Note 4 before it, the Galaxy S6 should do very well in reviews. In particular, I expect it to offer class-leading results in the various performance tests to which it will be subjected. The camera should also do quite well, and I'd imagine reviewers will praise what is sure to be a much-improved industrial design over prior Samsung handsets.
I have very little doubt the Galaxy S6 will be the Android flagship to beat, and -- if priced and marketed appropriately -- should help stave off high-end Android competition from the likes of HTC, LG, and even Xiaomi.
The question, though, is whether the Galaxy S6 will nab high-end smartphone share from the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
This is a tricky question
A "naïve" view would suggest that because the S6 has a very real chance of being "superior" to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in a number of key objective metrics, this would pose a real risk to Apple's revenue and profit in the quarters following the launch of the Samsung device. I must admit the risk of a "Samsung comeback" with the S6 seemed significant enough that I decided not to purchase Apple shares at current levels.
That being said, Apple's iPhone 5s was "inferior" to the Galaxy S5 in almost every key feature and metric, and yet the iPhone 5s helped drive Apple to record revenue last year while Samsung's 2014 mobile revenue and profit imploded. Indeed, fellow Fool Andrés Cardenal argued that Apple sells "experiences" and simply uses products such as the iPhone to deliver those (seemingly superior) experiences.
My gut feeling, as a happy Apple customer, is that Andrés is absolutely right. However, as a potential investor I still want to see if the Galaxy S6 can take back share from the iPhone 6 models. If it can, then perhaps all Samsung needed to do was to provide a more "premium" design, in the same way that all Apple had to do was provide a larger screen with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to win back lost share.
If not, then Apple's moat is truly as wide and as deep as many Apple investors believe. In that case, as long as Apple continues to deliver best-in-class experiences, it should keep delivering strong financial, and ultimately share price, performance to its investors. I'll be watching both Apple's and Samsung's financials very closely over the next few quarters to see how this all pans out.