Samsung’s 2014 output started with a whimper, but built to a bang. So our hopes for Samsung’s Galaxy S6 are already high…
Note: This feature was written before the official launch of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Check out our full in-depth and exclusive Samsung Galaxy S6 review.
Samsung was one of the first phone heavyweights to launch a new flagship in 2014: the mighty Galaxy S5, its very first waterproof smartphone, packing all kinds of cool features like a fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor. But in the end, we slapped it with a 4.5 out of 5, falling just a wee bit short of pure five-star excellence (unlike the HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2).
Still, we’re confident that Sammy has learned from its mistakes and that next year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 will be the biggest and best flagship phone from the Korean giant. Here’s why.
1. Samsung has finally learned how to sex up its smartphones
When we first laid hands on the Galaxy S5, we couldn’t help but groan. After five years and five iterations, Samsung was still building its flag-waving premium phones, which cost in excess of half a grand, out of what felt like cheap, crappy plastic. In fact, the Galaxy S5 looked even more dubious than the Galaxy S4, thanks to that bizarre crinkle-cut edging that just made us think of crisps.
But then in the second half of 2014, something snapped in Samsung’s brain, in a good way. First it unveiled the Galaxy Alpha, its first smartphone boasting an all-metallic rim. The world gasped, at the same time pointing out that the back was still bendy plastic. This was followed up by the Galaxy Note 4, which blended metal and faux leather into a handset that’s attractive enough to snog.
So expectations are now high for the Galaxy S6. We know that Samsung can do design, and make things feel solid and expensive, so if this phone arrives and it’s another placker nightmare, we might just cry.
2. Awesome tech
The Galaxy S6 won’t be launching until next March-ish, but you can already guarantee that it’ll sport the very latest tech. We’re talking Snapdragon 810 (a 64-bit future-proof processor specialising in 4K video rendering, multitasking and gaming, with improved power efficiency), at least a Quad HD display, plus the best camera optics around, with full Optical Image Stabilisation. Basically, enough geeky awesomeness to make our trousers moist.
Then there’s the extras which Samsung bolts on. The Galaxy S5 packed some cool new features such as the built-in heart rate sensor, which worked well in combination with S Health, and the S6 might add in some unique hardware too, such as a flexible body – it’s been promised by the Samsung bigwigs and we’ve seen hints of it in the likes of the Galaxy Note Edge (although we’re still not sure what the point of that curved bit is).
Which reminds us…
3. The fingerprint scanner no longer makes us want to hurl puppies at walls
Another issue with the Galaxy S5 was that fingerprint scanner. When it worked, it was usually quite frustrating thanks to its swipey mechanic, which often failed to recognise your print. When it locked up completely, it made us want to leap in front of a bus, head first.
By the time the Galaxy Note 4 rolled around, we found the scanner was a hell of a lot better thanks to various updates. The setup process has been improved to get a more accurate reading on your prints and we find the scanner never locks up and rarely mis-reads our prints (although wor Ian Morris still has issues).
We’re big PayPal fans, so the ability to waste all of our cash on tat at just the swipe of a finger is a major plus. Here’s hoping the new scanner is even better, then.
Or perhaps Samsung will replace it with a spangly new iris scanner instead, thus eliminating any kind of swipe failure entirely.
4. Everything to everyone
Samsung’s premium Galaxy handsets, especially the Galaxy Note 4, really are versatile little gizmos with a broad range of appeal. For a start, Samsung’s security features and multi-tasking abilities make the Galaxy phones handy business devices – even the US Government has approved the S4 and S5 for employee use, thanks to the excellent Knox software.
If you’re after entertainment instead, the high-res screens are a great way to take in movies on the go. Then there’s the fitness tools, which are aimed at everyone from casual occasional-strollers to serious workout enthusiasts.
We also love the Kids Mode. If you’re a dad with a young ‘un, chances are you’ve handed them your phone at some point to keep them from screaming/kicking the cat/vomiting all over your shoes. And chances are, they’ve gone and bought Taylor Swift’s entire discography on Google Play before changing every password you have, despite the fact they can’t even tie their shoelaces without pissing themselves and bursting into tears. But Samsung’s Kids Mode controls exactly what the little blighters play with, so they can’t go nuts and blitz your credit card.
Couch potatoes get the IR blaster and TV programming guides. The S5 brought waterproofing to bath tweeters and swimmers. Even us journos seemed to be catered for with the Note 4’s recorder app, a great way to capture interviews and meetings, and then play back with one or more voices isolated.
So, who else can the Galaxy S6 appeal to, to make it the ultimate made-for-everyone handset?
Well, how about drivers? We love the always-on voice activation of the Moto X, which is particularly handy if you’re driving and need to send a quick message or check traffic without fumbling around or taking your eyes off the road.
We’ve also seen Sony and Nvidia supporting gamers with their latest devices, which allow streaming from the PS4 and your home PC respectively. It may be wishful thinking, but if Samsung could offer a similar service for Xbox One owners, it’d be a serious coup. We can’t see Microsoft personally implementing game streaming on its Lumia devices any time soon, despite its hyped Xbox integration for media streaming, so perhaps there’s room for a symbiotic deal to be done.
5. Battery life, a.k.a the one-step win
Wireless charging is another area where smartphones are due to do battle soon. Some of the biggest phones of 2014, including the mighty LG G3, already support wireless charging. However, for it to work, you have to dump your phone onto a plate and leave it there.
What we need is a phone that can charge wirelessly over distance, so all you need to do is plug a charging post in beside your work desk, or your sofa at home, or wherever you spend most of your time slumped. If the Galaxy S6 could then charge automatically when you’re positioned near the post, it’d save fiddling around with cables every day. And if you can’t forget to charge your phone, you should rarely, if ever, find yourself stranded with a dead phone.
It’s technology that has been proven to work, and the first phone with this ability will immediately have a massive advantage over the competition.
6. Don’t throw in every last idea, plus twelve kitchen sinks – unless they’re well implemented
Samsung’s camera UI designers have already learned this lesson, offering a more streamlined interface and the ability to hide away those pointless fluffy bonus modes that you never use, like the weird virtual tour effort.
Now we just need the same applied to Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Magazine probably has its fans, but to us, a whole page dedicated to FlipBoard is just a bit excessive. Not a problem if you can blitz the bugger, confining it to Android’s virtual crap bin, but on the Note 4 and other blighted handsets, you’re well and truly stuck with it.
We also don’t need our phone to read something into every little movement we make, from shaking our fist to picking our nose. The decline in gesture recognition already started with the Galaxy S5 and we’d happily see the death of it with the Galaxy S6.
Of course, it’s a fine line between packing in genuinely useful features and flooding your phone with too much crap, a line which the likes of Samsung and LG tread with varied success. This is where a genuinely smart interface is needed, with all but the essential tools neatly tucked away until you need them.
Read next: How did Samsung’s Galaxy S6 actually fare against this wish-list? Check out our full ‘Did Samsung’s Galaxy S6 disappoint‘ feature to find out…