Monday, March 2, 2015 - 03:29

Samsung's Galaxy S6. A first look opinion.

Samsung unveiled its new flagships today and it's a much bigger evolution than expected. In some ways it's a radical redefinition of their high end line. I expected some corrections but not to that extend.

That said Samsung is jumping on the bling-bling bandwagon where metal and glass are valuable materials in contrast to polycarbonates. In the real world this is a bad joke. A very bad one. But Samsung is finally giving in to what customers demand. And I can't blame them.

If customers are willingly paying significantly more for inferior and cheaper materials then inferior and cheaper for a higher price is what you should do. It's exactly what Apple is doing for ages. They sell less for more. It's why they are significantly more profitable. There's no black magic behind that trick. And since Apple already did the heavy PR lifting for this stunt you can just hop on.

Most of the radical changes are really just bling-bling with a bad side effect to many of them. I already mentioned the turning away from polycarbonates. There's also no more USB 3 in the S6. You only get USB 2. I'd guess that might have something to do with the fact that a USB 3 micro connector is significantly larger than it's USB 2 version and would cause a significant hole that is no longer protected by a cover. This is not necessary as the S6 is no longer IP67 certified. Which is rather surprising as it seems rather easy to achieve with the new design. But you'd need a cover for the USB and that would likely reduce the value of the entire phone. I'd bet that the feature reduction is solely based on design decisions to improve the perceived value aka Bling effect. Otherwise there would be no argument. USB 3 connectors are not just compatible with USB 2 devices; they are compatible with USB 2 cables. There's no fallout with a 3.0 connector whatsoever. It was one of the reasons why the connector looks the way it does.

The battery has 9% less juice and is hard-wired. An interesting fact because hard-wired batteries can usually pack more energy in the same space. But according to Samsung you can charge 4h of usage in 10 minutes. I believe it when I see it ;-)

Other than that the phone has the typical Samsung S evolution of specs. Better display (it's actually quite impressive), better camera (also impressive according to specs), more power, the fingerprint sensor no longer requires you to swipe and a special cover is no longer necessary for wireless charging. There's also Samsung Pay...analog to Apple Pay but on steroids plus some bling features. The S6 Edge glows. It seems to be a replacement or complementary effect for the LED. Quite slick looking actually.

Home is still a real button, the layout is still reversed and surprisingly the iconography was not updated to Android 5 standards.

The S6 comes in 2 flavors. The S6 and the S6 edge. The difference between the two models is the Edge feature known from the Galaxy Note Edge.

In my opinion the S6 is a retrograde in many aspects compared to the S5. It's faster and has more memory. But those aspects are mostly only relevant to gamers. Arguably not the most important feature on a phone if most high end phones pack a heavy punch already. Normal apps don't really profit that much. They will start a bit faster but other than that there's not much to gain from the raw power of this beast. It's primarily relevant to games. I doubt anyone will have a feature-orgasm just because facebook starts a tiny bit faster. It's not that you actually have to wait for it on the S5.

The price for the new design is heavy if you appreciate actual value. Cheaper and more delicate materials, no IP67 certification, no switchable battery and less juice, no USB 3,  and no SD cards. The latter probably had not just design decisions but also Google's rejection and limited support for SD cards in Android in general. They still make sense but they are somewhat limited. I don't think we'll see many new Android phones with SD cards anymore.

But as I already said. I totally understand this radical move and already expected it. Albeit not to that extend. If you get flak from the media and customers because of your inferior quality while the truth is really just the opposite then you have two options. Explain those stupid fucks why they are wrong or just go with it and sell less for more. You'd be extra-stupid to go with the first. If your customers demand inferior materials because they perceive them as more valuable what could be the argument here? Tell them to fuck off and buy iPhones?

JK Shin said it perfectly.

We listen to customers and we learn from missteps

Sadly that is not true for customers. With that in mind the S6 is the expected development path. Bling shit sells better and both the media and customers will likely love it. Apple will probably love it a lot less. If there ever was an iPhone competitor it's the S6. The S6 and S6 Edge are really beautiful phones.

As a side note. Shin wasn't lying when he said he's not the best public speaker. He really isn't. That said. He was not the worst speaker on stage.

As it might have already filtered through the S6 is not particularly my phone and it won't be. It seems I've to look elsewhere than Samsung for an heir to my S5 as I'm not susceptible to Bling. 

I value actual value and features. A phone is just a tool for me. I buy it, use it and give it away to someone who might want it when I replace it with something else. Considering a phone a status symbol is something I consider ridiculous.

But I know I'm not part of a relevant customer group. For those this phone probably is orgasmic. I've a feeling that Samsung - quite to my disappointment - made pretty much everything right with the S6.

The phone looks like Bling heaven. I'm pretty certain it will sell well. Just likely not to me. But that's somewhat of an acceptable loss.