Out with the old, in with the new. For Samsung the old was dreadful: lackluster Galaxy S5 sales and an even worse 2014, but the good news is the new has never been newer. The newly launched Galaxy S6 is Samsung’s most radical reinvention of its Galaxy S range to date. So is it enough?
My initial impressions are… maybe. The Galaxy S6 is a handset so determined to break from the past that it takes risks which may alienate the millions of owners still loyal to the range. On the flip side there are also so many positive changes that the S6 may do enough to attract a whole new audience.
Let’s break it down…[ad id=”1838″]Design – Practicality Vs Style
If there was one thing Samsung knew it had to change about the Galaxy S5 it was the design and stylistically the (admittedly much leaked) Galaxy S6 is a breath of fresh air. This is immediately apparent on the page:
Galaxy S6 – 143.3 x 70.8 x 6.9 mm (5.64 x 2.79 x 0.27 in) and 132 g (4.65 oz)
Galaxy S5 – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm (5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 in) and 145 g (5.11 oz)
While fractionally taller, the Galaxy S6 is noticeably narrower, thinner and lighter than the Galaxy S5 despite packing the same size 5.1-inch display (more later). That said the dimensions and weight are not really where the major interest lies.
The big talking point is the shift from the Galaxy S line’s much derided plastic finishes to premium materials of aluminium and glass. As such the Galaxy S6 has been brought into line with the likes of HTC’s One range and the iPhone 6.[lightbox thumb=”https://aypoupen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/samsung-galaxy-s6-vs-s5.jpg”]Yet it is not all plain sailing. The step up in build materials and to a unibody chassis bring two major compromises: the loss of expandable storage and removable batteries.
For many Galaxy users these were crucial differentiators and now LG’s G3 (and presumably the upcoming G4) will be their only premium options to provide both going forward. I find that a little sad.
I also have long term durability questions about the Galaxy S6’s move to a glass back. Apple never solved the problem of cracking which haunted both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and I’m not overly convinced it is a smart move of Samsung to revisit it, despite using the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 4.
This isn’t the end of the practical compromises either as another victim of Samsung’s focus on style is the loss of the Galaxy S5’s water resistance. The S5 was never fully waterproof, but it could be splashed, sprayed or even briefly submerged in water without a problem. It was a nice differentiator so I’m sad to see it go with the S6.
Consequently while I find the Galaxy S6 to be a significantly better looking phone than its predecessor, it also feels like a much less practical device.[lightbox thumb=”https://aypoupen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/samsung-galaxy-s6-vs-s5-back.jpg”] Displays – Extreme But Improved
I get a similar feeling from the Galaxy S6’s upgraded display:
Galaxy S6 – 5.1-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixels (577 ppi), Super AMOLED display
Galaxy S5 – 5.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels (432 ppi), Super AMOLED panel
Objectively the jump to 2k from 1080p will deliver an even sharper screen and the improved contrast ratio and colour accuracy is welcome. That said I still fail to see the practicality of 2k on such small screens considering the hit they deliver to performance and battery life.
I appreciate the counter argument that these displays can match or even be slightly more efficient than older 1080p panels, but I’d rather see even greater savings passed onto new 1080p panels. Apple claims the human eye can’t distinguish pixels beyond 326ppi and while I disagree, I think jumps beyond the Galaxy S5’s 432 ppi verge on pointless.
Consequently of far more interest to me are Samsung’s claims of enhanced colour accuracy and contrast ratios. The Galaxy S5 and Note 4 have arguably the best AMOLED displays on the market and it looks like that title will now pass to the Galaxy S6.