Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) unveiled its new flagship phones, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday, showing off familiar devices with some potentially interesting changes.
The phones are Samsung's first since the company dropped Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) processors for its top-tier phones. Instead, the S6 line has "the world's first 14nm mobile processor with 64-bit platform, new LPDDR4 memory system and UFS 2.0 flash memory," providing higher performance and enhanced memory speed with lower power consumption, according to a Samsung press release.
Both devices feature a 5.1-inch quad-HD (2560×1440) screen, 16MP main and 5MP front-facing cameras, and come with 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage options. The smartphones are also built on an upgraded version of Samsung's KNOX secure mobile platform, "offering defence-grade features for real-time protection from potential malicious attacks."
The S6 and S6 Edge share the same specifications, except the Edge has a rounded display, giving it a look not found on any other flagship phone.
"It comes down to two words," JK Shin, CEO and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics, said at the product unveiling: "relentless innovation."
They can be wirelessly charged
It's a challenge to find ways to differentiate phones -- especially as once top-tier features become common even in lower-end phones -- but Samsung has built one into the S6 line. Both phones will be able to be charged wirelessly.
"With fully embedded WPC and PMA certified wireless charging technology, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are setting a new industry standard for universal wireless charging," the company said in its press release. "The devices work with any wireless pad available in the market that supports WPC and PMA standards."
While that could be seen as a gimmick, it's actually a practical innovation that solves a problem for customers. Samsung also said that the S6 phone will offer fast wired charging, "1.5 times faster than the Galaxy S5, providing about 4 hours of usage after only 10 minutes of charging."
"It's built right in," Shin said. "No more fumbling for power cords in the dark. That's design with a purpose. That's the future."
An answer to Apple Pay?
The S6 and S6 Edge will come pre-installed with Samsung Pay, the company's answer to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Apple Pay system. The technology uses both Near Field Communication and Magnetic Secure Transmission technology "to make it device, merchant and card issuer agnostic," according to the company.
"Samsung Pay will push the boundaries of mobile payment by dramatically increasing convenience and coverage for both merchants and consumers," Shin said.
Essentially, the difference between Samsung's system and Apple is that Samsung Pay works with the point of sale equipment already in place in most stores, while Apple Pay requires a dedicated reader.
They will have Microsoft apps pre-installed
While this may be bigger news for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and, in a way, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), than it is for Samsung, the S6 phones will come with Microsoft's Skype, OneDrive, and OneNote apps pre-installed in a special "Microsoft Apps" folder that is pinned on the home screen, The Verge reported.
The deal is not exclusive, as numerous Google apps are also installed, but having space on the home screen does remind users that Microsoft makes apps for Android. This is not quite as big for Microsoft as if its Office apps had been pre-installed, as had been rumored before the official unveil, but those were not installed on the phones shown in Barcelona.
However, this is a key move for Microsoft that shows the company's increasing willingness to think outside of its own ecosystem in order to grow use of its flagship software.
Apple is the target
There were thinly veiled jabs at Apple throughout the presentation, and Young-Hee Lee, the mobile division's marketing head, took another when she talked about the phones' use of Corning's Gorilla Glass 4 and "the special metal" used to make the phones. She claimed that the metal was "50% stronger" than the metal used in other high-end smartphones.
"My first language may not be engineering," she said, "but I do know that stuff will not bend."