How Samsung won me back with the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge
I’ve been waiting for this smartphone maybe since two years ago, but I’ve been constantly disappointed by Samsung with its constant use of plastic, gimmickry and slow TouchWiz. That’s not to say they weren’t improving with every iteration – it’s just that they decided not to take a lot of risks and go with very small updates for the past few years, and that really underwhelmed me.
I’ve used several U.S. Galaxy S phones and a Galaxy S2, my brother got a Galaxy S3, my dad has a Note 4, my sister had a Galaxy Nexus and my mom uses a Galaxy Note 2. I think it’s clear that I know how upgrades feel for Samsung, and for the past iterations of Galaxy devices, I choose not to go back to Samsung ever since the Galaxy S2, because I felt that they were too gimmicky, and that they lacked inspiring design. It’s true that they win in spec wars most of the time, but I feel like they missed on the user experience by a mile, and I think this is due to the fact that they are trying to differentiate itself from Apple through a lot of things.
Seeing how my family uses their Galaxy phones, no matter how much I tell them to use these “other software features”, they just won’t. Heck, I won’t either – because the implementations on TouchWiz are quite unintuitive. Deciding that these gimmicks don’t really add value (more often, they slow down and add junk to your device), I became a loyal stock Android user with the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and the Nexus 5 – and I never looked back at Samsung… until now.
I’ve always considered getting an HTC One, because of its amazing design, its toned down Sense UI and the BoomSound speakers, but the cameras and the support here in the PH tell me not to. I’ve always considered an Xperia Z because of its design, camera & waterproofing, but the semi-annual release cycle of Sony keeps me hanging. And hey, I haven’t shut myself from buying an iPhone, but I’d like to stay away from jumping ecosystems until Android devices really start to bore me. Those were the only smartphone series that I could choose from now, but with the Galaxy S6, Samsung won me back.
It’s no secret that companies take pages out of their competitors’ play books, and Samsung is no different. The South Korean firm has finally gambled, while maintaining most of what made their Galaxy S lineup. The Galaxy S6 is in some ways Samsung’s reply to HTC’s premium metallic build and Sony’s glass-backed Xperia smartphones. It’s also quite an iPhone with the fingerprint scanner and the design on the sides, ditching a removable back and micro SD card support. To top it all off, there’s Samsung’s top of the line hardware and whether you like it or not, TouchWiz.
This won me back. Call it copying, but they copied the things that actually matter and ditched a lot of those that don’t.
So, Samsung listened to all the cries complaining about their lack of innovation and design, how about TouchWiz? They did smoothen out the edges by removing a lot of junk, claiming it to be a lot faster. We’ll have to see that in our full review, but surely it’s a step in the right direction.
As for the removable back cover, I don’t see where the buzz comes from as I barely see anyone bring an extra battery to switch. The micro SD card might be missed by some, but coming from a Nexus, that’s okay with me. Besides, the base model now starts at 32GB, whereas with the iPhone and the Nexus, it’s still 16GB.
And did I mention how beautiful the S6 Edge looks like? Say what you may, but Samsung didn’t copy that from anyone, and it’s not as gimmicky as you think it is. First off, it has the looks, which will surely catch a lot of people’s attentions (the other color variants will add to this). Second, there’s functionality added by Samsung, namely People Edge, Information Stream and more. Finally, the curve should also add to the user experience in swiping. This is something that I’ve felt for myself on the curves of the Nexus 4, and something iPhone 6 users felt as well with the glass curving to the metal on the sides. Considering Android has a lot of swipe gestures from the left and from the right, a curve will surely feel a lot better on the screen.
I still have some gripes with what they’ve done though. They sacrificed battery capacity and allowed the camera to bulge out the back just to slim down the Galaxy S6 when it would have been okay to make the device a little thicker; TouchWiz could have used a redesign; they’re probably going to be slightly more expensive because of the materials used and the storage options, and I also think they should have released only one Galaxy S6, and it should have been the Edge (because of fragmentation and branding confusion).
The Galaxy S6 speakers are not front-firing, it’s not waterproof – so there’s still plenty of reasons to get other phones. But for the most part, Samsung may have just gotten its mojo back, and they might have created one superphone worthy of my attention by getting ideas from everybody else.
And that’s great.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on, first impressions
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge first impressions
Samsung Galaxy S6 vs HTC One M9: spec comparison
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy S6: spec comparison