Today, Samsung announced the official shipping dates for its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge flagship devices. Both devices can be pre-ordered beginning April 10 and will be available in U.S. stores then. Pricing hasn't been announced yet, as each carrier and retail store will have its own pricing for the two devices.
The Galaxy S6 represents a major overhaul as to how the company builds its smartphones. The redesign, also codenamed "Project Zero," is arguably the biggest one since the Galaxy S3, a device that sold very well but also represented a bad trend for the company's smartphones.
Samsung started building devices with what many considered less-than-inspired design and using plastic material that didn't convey a premium quality. It made Samsung's flagships feel like $200 phones, even if they cost over $600 unsubsidized.
The company also began cramming as many new features as it possibly could between new generations, as a strategy to impress its customers. However, this mostly backfired, as eventually the phones became filled with software that didn't work quite as intended, had poor performance, and wasted precious storage space.
What was meant to impress customers ending up hurting the user experience. This was later reflected in Samsung's smartphone sales and profits, which started falling rapidly after the Galaxy S5 was launched. The Galaxy S5 could be considered the third and final iteration of the trend the Galaxy S3 started.
Beginning with the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung started experimenting with a classier look for its phones, slimmer bodies, and metal frames, which improved the overall perception of the quality of the devices. The new trend later continued with the Galaxy Note 4 -- and now with the Galaxy S6. The new flagship not only brings the same quality characteristics as the Galaxy Alpha, but it improves upon them, as well.
For starters, Samsung replaced the plastic back with Gorilla Glass 4 glass, which improves the look of the device as well as the in-hand feel. The company also seems more serious about shipping hardware features that actually work as intended, and it has removed the "swipe-based" fingerprint reader with a "touch-based" one, which works much more like Apple's Touch ID.
The company also added other top notch hardware components in the device such as the Exynos 7420 chip, which is the world's first 14nm FinFET mobile SoC. The Exynos 7420 comes with a heterogeneous big.Little architecture that uses four 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 CPU cores and four 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 cores, along with the Mali-T760 GPU, which is currently ARM's highest-performance shipping Mali GPU.
The Galaxy S6 also brings a 5.1" 577 PPI 2560 x 1440 resolution Super AMOLED display; a 16 MP rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) for great low-light performance; a 5 MP front-camera; 3 GB of LPDDR4 RAM; UFS 2.0 storage options of 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB; 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi with speeds up to 620 Mbps and LTE speeds of up to 300 Mbps for downlink and 50 Mbps for uplink; Bluetooth 4.1; and a 2,550 mAh battery.
Unfortunately, Samsung's Galaxy S6 doesn't offer a new USB Type C port, which is a feature many users hoped to see. The company has decided to stay with the USB 2.0 port for this generation of Galaxy S devices.
Samsung's new flagship device also comes with Samsung Pay, made possible by the acquisition of LoopPay, a mobile payment service that utilizes Magnetic Secure Transmission to work with most POS systems in the U.S. The technology replicates a magnetic stripe card when interacting with the POS equipment. It's not clear yet, though, how Samsung plans to transition to chip and PIN technology with a payments service that works more like Apple Pay or Google Wallet than a magnetic stripe card.
Although the Galaxy S6 looks quite impressive in its own right, Samsung also announced the Galaxy S6 edge alongside it. The Galaxy S6 edge is virtually the same as the Galaxy S6 spec-wise, but it comes with the rather aesthetic-more-than-functional curved screen edges. Samsung could have gone with the curved Galaxy S6 edge as its one and only flagship this spring, but it likely decided against that because the curved edges seem to be somewhat polarizing right now -- some like it, while others don't.
The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge models will be available in Black Sapphire, White Pearl and Gold Platinum, and each color will have an option of 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB storage. The four large carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint -- will carry both devices, while Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS will only sell the Galaxy S6. Samsung Experience Shops at Best Buy, as well as Amazon.com, Costco Wholesale, Inc., Sam's Club, Target and Walmart will have both the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 edge.
Update, 3/26/15, 9:15 AM PST: The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge will be available in Canada on April 10 starting at $250 on a 2-year term from Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodo, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind Mobile, Videotron and Virgin Mobile.
We will update this article throughout the day as we learn about various pricing options from each mobile carrier.