BARCELONA: Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S6 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Sunday, the latest device in its quest for smartphone market domination.
The Galaxy S6 is the sequel to last year's Galaxy S5, which didn't go down well with smartphone buyers and saw sales coming in 40 percent lower than Samsung had hoped.
Perhaps like a lovechild of the Xperia Z3 and iPhone 6, the Galaxy S6 is crafted from high-end metal encased in Gorilla Glass 4. The handset certainly feels premium and is a huge improvement on last year's cheap-feeling Galaxy S5. The glass case feels smooth and sturdy in the hand, despite its slim 6.8mm profile.
While it feels premium, the look of the Galaxy S6 is likely to divide opinion. On first impressions, the handset made us 'ooh' and 'aah', and its glossy design is certainly eye-catching. However, the design is extremely reflective and will be prone to picking up fingerprints.
Speaking of which, the Galaxy S6 comes with an upgraded touch-based fingerprint sensor in the home button, although we weren't able to test this on the demo device. Samsung will be competing with Qualcomm, which unveiled an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner for mobile devices at MWC.
The handset will be available in black, white, pink, green and blue, the last of which we found the most eye-catching.
Samsung claims that the Galaxy S6's 5.1in 2560x1440 QHD Super Amoled screen, with its 577ppi pixel density, cannot be beaten.
No-one likes a boaster, but Samsung's claims rang true during our time with the Galaxy S6. We had no complaints about the Galaxy S5's 1920x1080 display, but the difference between the two screens is immediately noticeable. The Galaxy S6 offers much more vibrant colours, sharper edges and improved viewing angles.
We also noticed that brightness levels are much better, which should improve outdoor visibility. We haven't been outdoors for about 24 hours now, but will test this in our full review.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is powered by the latest 14nm 64-bit Exynos octa-core processor, paired with 3GB of RAM. We didn't get to test what effect this high-spec processor has on the handset's battery life, but it certainly has a positive effect when it comes to performance, and the Galaxy S6 is one of the speediest handsets we've used.
We'll be sure to put the processor fully through its paces in our full Galaxy S6 review.
Samsung typically stuffs its smartphones with heaps of apps, the majority of which will go unused, taking up precious memory space on the handset.
Things are different on the Galaxy S6. Just as rumours had suggested, Samsung has reworked its custom TouchWiz interface to be much less cluttered.
During our short time with the Galaxy S6, the handset's almost pure Android experience quickly became our favourite thing about the smartphone. Samsung has taken tips from Google's Material design language introduced in Android Lollipop and built on it, and the Galaxy S6 offers a pleasant 'flat' design across the phone.
What's even more impressive is that just two Samsung apps come pre-installed on the smartphone - S Health and S Voice - which means you don't have to de-clutter the handset before you go about actually using it.
There are few Samsung apps onboard, and you will find all the usual Google apps pre-loaded, along with Microsoft OneNote, Skype and OneDrive. Samsung offers free storage to Galaxy S6 buyers.
Samsung also offered some new software features on the Galaxy S6, including Samsung Pay, the firm's first stab at mobile payments. Unfortunately, this will see a limited launch in the US in the second half of the year, so it's unlikely that will make its way to the UK any time soon.
An upgraded version of Samsung Knox is also included, which the firm claims makes the device one of the first true enterprise-ready Android smartphones.
A deal with Ikea, also announced at MWC, will see the Galaxy S6 able to be charged wirelessly from certain home accessories, like lamps and desks, via embedded Qi technology.
The Galaxy S6 packs the same 16MP rear-facing camera sensor as last year's Galaxy S5, although the firm has upgraded the aperture to f/1.9 for better low-light shots.
We found it wasn't just low-light capture that had been improved, as the camera on the Galaxy S6 proved extremely speedy during our hands-on time, much more so than the iPhone 6 that we were testing alongside it. Image quality proved impressive too, even under the bright show lights at MWC.
On the front of the Galaxy S6, there's an upgraded 5MP camera sensor, also with f/1.9 aperture, which proved better than most during our brief selfie-taking time with the smartphone.
Battery and storage
We haven't yet had time to fully test the (non-removable) battery on the Galaxy S6. However, if Samsung's claims are to be believed, it could be worth getting excited about. The Galaxy S6 can charge to 40 percent in 10 minutes, and fully in "half the time of the iPhone 6". Wireless charging support is also included.
Samsung has taken a leaf out of Apple's book with the storage, opting not to equip the Galaxy S6 with a microSD slot. It has also introduced a 128GB version, which will be offered alongside 32GB and 64GB models.
We've used the Galaxy S6 only briefly, but we already think it the could be the phone to beat in 2015.
HTC's One M9 also proved impressive, but it feels like Samsung has innovated more than its main Android competitor, equipping the S6 with wireless charging, a high-resolution QHD screen and, most importantly, a stripped back version of its TouchWiz UI. HTC, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction.
The design of the Galaxy S6 might divide opinion, but we think it could be the device that sees the firm regaining its smartphone crown.
Open source solutions provider makes acquisition in bid to shore up cloud development tools business
Aims to "end data bottlenecks"
Looking to boost your career in IT? Here are the best-earning roles out there!
The BlackBerry KeyOne is a strange device that brings the best of BlackBerry and Android together in a Qwerty-equipped package, but it won't be for everyone