BARCELONA: SAMSUNG unveiled the Galaxy S6 to unsurprised crowds at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Sunday, the latest device in its quest for smartphone market domination.
The Galaxy S6, is - of course - the sequel to last year's Galaxy S5, which if reports are to be believed, didn't go down well with smartphone buyers, with sales coming in 40 percent lower than Samsung had hoped.
Samsung confirmed rumours with the news that it has gone back to the drawing board when it comes to the design of flagship smartphones.
Perhaps like a lovechild of the Xperia Z3 and iPhone 6, the Galaxy S6 arrives crafted from high-end metal which is encased in Gorilla Glass 4. The handset certainly feels premium and is a huge improvement on last year's cheap-feeling Galaxy S5 - with the glass casing feeling both smooth and sturdy in hand, despite its slim 6.8mm-thick profile.
While it feels premium, the look of the Galaxy S6 likely will divide opinions. On first impressions, the handset made us 'ooh' and 'aah', and its glossy design is certainly eye-catching. However, the design is extremely reflective, which also means the handset will likely prove extremely prone to picking up fingerprints.
Speaking of which, the Galaxy S6 comes with an upgraded touch-based fingerprint sensor baked into 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.
In terms of colour options, the handset will be made available in black, white, pink, green and blue - the latter 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.
While we don't like a boaster, 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, with the Galaxy S6 offering much-more vibrant colours, sharper edges and improved viewing angles.
We also noticed that brightness levels are much improved compared to last year's Galaxy S5, which should improve outdoor visibility. We haven't seen outdoors for approximately 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 by 3GB of RAM. While we didn't get to test what effect this high-spec processor has on the handset's battery life, it certainly has a positive effect when it comes to performance, with the Galaxy S6 proving to be one of the speediest handsets we've used to date.
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, and just as rumours had suggested, Samsung has reworked its custom TouchWiz interface to be much less cluttered than before.
During our short time with the Galaxy S6, this quickly became our favourite thing about the smartphone. The handset offers an almost pure Android experience, with Samsung taking tips from Google's Material design language introduced in Android Lollipop and building on it, with the Galaxy S6 offering a pleasant, 'flat' design across the phone.
What's even more impressive is that fact 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.
While there are few Samsung apps onboard, you will find all of the usual Google apps pre-loaded, along with Microsoft OneNote, Skype and OneDrive - with Samsung offering 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, however, this will see a limited launch in the US in the second half of the year, so unlikely 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 wirelessly charged 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 an f/1.9 aperture, which proved better than most during our brief selfie-taking time with the smartphone.
Battery and storage
Of course, 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 - with the Galaxy S6 charging to 40 percent within 10 minutes, and fully in "half the time of the iPhone 6". Wireless charging support is also included.
In terms of storage, Samsung has taken a leaf out of Apple's book - 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.
While we've only used it briefly, we already think that the Galaxy S6 could be the phone to beat of 2015.
While HTC's One M9 also proved impressive, it feels like Samsung has innovated more than its main Android competitor, equipping its latest flagship smartphone 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.
While we think the design of the Galaxy S6 might divide opinions, we also think it could be the device that sees the firm regaining its smartphone crown. µ