Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) unveiled its next-generation Galaxy S6 smartphone at an "Unpacked" event at Mobile World Congress, and I must say that the phone looks like a winner. It features an attractive industrial design that's far and away the best one I've seen from Samsung, and the feature set looks to be best-in-class among premium smartphones. I think Samsung has a winner on its hands.
Pretty amazing specifications
According to AnandTech, the Galaxy S6 features the Samsung Exynos 7420, which is built on Samsung's 14-nanometer LPE ("low power early") manufacturing technology -- putting it on the most advanced manufacturing technology in use in a smartphone processor today. It features four ARM Cortex A57 processors at 2.1GHz, and four Cortex A53 processors at 1.5GHz in big.LITTLE configuration, which should enable best-in-class single thread and multi-core performance.
It also features a 5.1-inch 2560-by-1440 Super AMOLED display, and given that Samsung displays tend to do very well in objective reviews, I expect this should be one of the best, if not the best, smartphone display available on the market. It also comes with 2-by-2 802.11ac connectivity as well as 3GB of LPDDR4 memory, which should also be class-leading.
Finally, the device features a touch area fingerprint sensor, similar to Touch ID on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, which should address the complaints many had about the fingerprint sensor on the prior Galaxy S5/Galaxy Note 4 phones.
This is the Android flagship to beat, but can it make a dent in iPhone sales?
I firmly believe this will be the flagship Android device to beat. It has best-in-class specifications, and the design looks attractive. Samsung hasn't announced pricing on these devices, but if they're in line with traditional Android flagship device pricing, then I think phones such as the newly announced HTC One M9 and the upcoming LG G4 will be tough sells.
The better and more interesting question is whether it can make a dent in Apple iPhone sales. I think that from a features perspective, Samsung pulls ahead of the iPhone in the traditional ways that Samsung flagships normally do (specs), but Samsung also neutralized the Touch ID and the build quality edge that iPhones have had for a while now.
The only real points of differentiation that I see for the iPhone 6/6 Plus at this point are iOS and the attendant software ecosystem. I would also cite Apple Pay as an advantage, but Samsung Pay seems to neutralize that advantage, too, with its combination of NFC-based payment as well as built-in LoopPay support.
We'll see over the next quarter or so how the S6 impacts Samsung's financials. If the S6 proves enough to stabilize/grow Samsung's premium smartphone business, that could be reason to be optimistic on the company's longer-term position in the smartphone market.
If, despite what looks like a strong offering, consumers aren't particularly receptive to the S6, then it's hard to see what Samsung will be able to do to reignite sales. An S6 commercial disappointment would point to issues that aren't product related, and thus are potentially out of the company's control.