Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge or S5… Which do I choose?

CNET: (by /ASK MAGGIE):

Lovers of Samsung Galaxy smartphones have a lot to be excited about. The latest flagship phone from Samsung is available for preorder starting this weekend.

With a sleeker design, a better camera and easier-to-use software, the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are being called Samsung’s best smartphones to date. But truth be told, the Galaxy S5 was no slacker either, even though it didn’t sell as well as expected. And for savvy smartphone consumers, it shouldn’t be ruled out entirely when buying a new device.

All four major wireless operators started taking preorders for both the Galaxy S6 and its sexier sibling, the S6 Edge, on Friday. The devices will be on sale starting April 10.

With this in mind, I think you should wait till the S6 and S6 Edge are available before you buy a new device, regardless of whether you decide to get one of the newer phones or opt for last year’s model. By waiting, you’ll have the option of getting one of the new devices, which comes with a brand-new design and a few upgrades over the Galaxy S5. Also, even if you decide to forgo one of the newer products, the Galaxy S5 will be offered at a reduced price once the S6 is available. So either way, it makes sense for you to wait a couple of weeks longer before upgrading your device.

If you can’t wait to try the S6 and S6 Edge, both devices are already available in carrier and retail stores to check out.

Design, design, design

Samsung says that it’s listened to customers when it comes to the design of this year’s Galaxy S smartphones.

Even though the Galaxy S5 is loaded with great features, the phone wasn’t a big hit with consumers. Why? Most Samsung fans complained that its plastic body felt too cheap in comparison with competing flagship devices from Apple and HTC, which both use premium materials like aluminum for device bodies. Up until the Galaxy S6, Samsung argued that the plastic casing was more durable, but the company finally relented in the latest version of its flagship. Gone is the plastic casing of the former Galaxy products.

Instead, the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge feature a glass back and matte metal frame, wrapped in glossy Gorilla Glass on the front. There’s no question these are prettier and slicker smartphones than previous generations of the Galaxy family of smartphones. The new design makes these phones narrower and thinner than the S5. Samsung has also made them a smidge taller.

In terms of specifications, the S6 and S6 Edge are pretty much the same device. The big difference between the phones is the design and the price tag. The lower-priced S6 has straight edges, while the sexier S6 Edge has a curved edge on each side, creating an infinity-pool-like effect. Both devices look remarkably similar to the iPhone 6, but it’s the S6 Edge that’s likely to make even iPhone fanboys and -girls jealous.

CNET Reviews Senior Editor Jessica Dolcourt said in her review of the S6 Edge that its wraparound screen “transforms an already great phone into Samsung’s best-looking handset. Ever.”

But before I get too deep into offering advice on which S6 model you should choose, you should decide if you really want the newer design or whether you’d rather have the S5.

S6 vs. S5

So let’s start with some basics.

The Galaxy S5 was worthy of its flagship designation when it was introduced a year ago, and in terms of specifications, features and functionality, it’s still near the top of the pack when compared with smartphones in the market. As a result, there’s no doubt you’d be well served by this device.

That said, the S6 does offer some upgrades, even if they aren’t revolutionary. They’re more evolutionary. For instance, both the S5 and the S6 sport 5.1 displays. Samsung tweaked the resolution on the S6 smartphones, giving the already excellent display found in the S5 a slightly improved resolution that’s incredibly crisp and sharp.

Samsung also improved the already very good camera found on the S5. Cameras on both the S5 and S6 offer 16 megapixels. But Samsung has added a wider f/1.9 aperture on the new phones, which captures 40 percent more light as compared with the S5, which means higher-quality photos taken in low-light environments.

Samsung also stripped away some of its TouchWiz device software, which makes the S6 run faster and smoother than the S5. The software running on the S6 makes navigation a lot more pleasant, especially for those who prefer a more pure Google Android experience rather than Samsung’s customized TouchWiz experience. It also runs Google’s latest version of Android.

But the new sexier design of the Galaxy S6 also comes with a few potential drawbacks. First, the aluminum and glass body doesn’t allow for a removable battery. And there’s no SD memory card slot to add additional memory. These functional features were considered staples of former versions of the Galaxy products.

Though these design trade-offs may be deal breakers for some Samsung Galaxy fans, the fact that millions of iPhone customers have never had the option of a replaceable battery or expandable memory suggests that the absence of these features might not bother most consumers. You should note that the phones come in 32 gigabyte, 64GB and 128GB configurations, so you can choose more memory if that’s a concern.

Whether those features matter to you is a personal decision. For me, they’re something I can and have lived without for years. So I have little problem recommending a device that doesn’t include them. But as I say, it’s entirely up to you.

In terms of features, the S6 smartphones offer improvements across the board, though some of these improvements may be so slight that they’d be imperceptible to some customers.

If you can live without the flashy new design and the slight improvements in functionality, you could get the S5 and save some money. Traditionally, wireless operators have offered the previous model of an iconic device like Samsung’s Galaxy products or Apple’s iPhone at a discount once the newer model is released. This is likely to be the case again with the Galaxy S5.

With the new device-financing plans carriers offer today, this means you can likely save yourself at least $100 over the life of the product if you buy last year’s model. For this reason, I’d argue that buying the Galaxy S5 is a safe and frugal option for a more practical and price-sensitive smartphone shopper.

S6 vs. S6 Edge

If looks are important to you and you want a more premium-feeling device in your hand, then you should consider one of the new Galaxy S6 phones. But which one should you choose?

As I said earlier, the specifications and functionality of the S6 and S6 Edge are identical. The real difference between the models is design and price. The sexy design of the S6 Edge will cost you more. How much more depends on the carrier you subscribe to and the type of plan you have. For instance, AT&T offers the 32GB S6 at full retail for $685, and the 32GB S6 Edge will cost you $815. That’s a difference of $130 for the curvier and cooler looking S6 Edge without any other additional bells and whistles.

But if you plan to finance your device on one of AT&T’s installment plans, the difference in cost is spread out over many months, so it will likely cost you only about $5 more a month to get the S6 Edge rather than the S6. Though each carrier is offering the new devices at different prices, they all offer programs that spread out the cost of the devices in such a way that the difference in price between the S6 and the S6 Edge in terms of your monthly bill is around $5 a month.

For example, Sprint is offering these devices as part of its new leasing program. For $80 a month, its customers can get the S6 with an unlimited voice, text messaging and data plan. The S6 Edge is offered for only $5 more a month at a cost of $85 a month.

The bottom line: What should you do?

If you’re on a tighter budget and you absolutely need a Samsung phone, I’d say go for the Galaxy S5. In spite of the fact that the device may not have sold as well as Samsung had hoped, it’s still a solidly good device that offers a lot of high-end features and specifications. But if design is important and cost is only minimally important, I’d say the Galaxy S6 Edge is the device for you. The S6 is nice, but for the cost of a latte each month you can have a smartphone that could make your iPhone-toting friends drool.

 

A close look at the Gear VR for the Galaxy S6

The old and the new

The Verge (by Sean O’Kane):

Earlier this week, we saw some big news in the world of virtual reality when HTC announced the Vive, a new VR headset made in partnership with legacy video game company Valve. But the most important news for the adoption of virtual reality came from Samsung, Oculus, and Facebook: there’s a new version of the Gear VR that can be powered by both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge.

Virtual reality is quite obviously still in a nascent state. Even the best headsets still face myriad problems like poor resolution, bulky headsets, and social stigma. “What we want to do is we want to get down to sunglasses,” says Max Cohen, head of Oculus Mobile.

But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Cohen couldn’t comment on a time frame, but admits how far Oculus has to go before VR glasses are a reality. “Every aspect of this technology, both on Gear VR and the Rift, still needs to improve to get it where we want it,” he says. “We’re not going to declare victory any time soon.” Until then, headsets that use phone drop-ins might be the best consumer solution available.

The original Gear VR, which works with the Galaxy Note 4, took a step towards solving some of VR’s problems, but left much to be desired. The resolution was good enough, but not great. It was wireless and light, but got uncomfortable after extended use. And it did little to change the fact that people inevitably view you differently once you have a VR headset on your face, and you’re unavoidably cut off from the world. Perhaps most important, not many people owned the Galaxy Note 4, whereas the new version will work on a mainstream phone.

The first two issues are alleviated in the newest version of the Gear VR. At first blush, the new version is not much different than the Gear VR that uses the Galaxy Note 4. But once you put it on the differences are profound. To start with, the whole unit is much lighter, thanks in part to the fact that the Galaxy S6 weighs less than the Note 4. The straps are more comfortable but still fit tightly, and there’s a vent on the left side of the headset that helps reduce lens fogging. Overall, Oculus has really gotten the headset to feel, well, less like a headset.

The other big focus for Oculus is increasing the screen resolution, which is another place Cohen is ready to admit that the company — and virtual reality as a medium — still has a long way to go.

The reality is we need to go a lot further. We need 4K screens, potentially even 8K screens. So there’s still some time before we feel like we’ve hit the point where that “screen door effect,” as we call the impression of a pixelated display, goes away entirely. But the 1440p looks pretty darn good.”

He’s right. The Galaxy S6’s 5.1-inch screen is smaller than the 5.7-inch one found on the Note 4, but that means the pixel density is noticeably higher — 577 ppi compared to 515. That might not sound like a lot, but it made a big difference when I got to try it here at MWC. Everything I queued up — games, a new Cirque du Soleil demo, a 360-degree 3D photos app made by Otoy — was more impressive than anything found on the Note 4 version of the Gear VR.

But the difference from the old version to the new was most stark in the videos featured in the Oculus Cinema section. On the Note 4 version of the Gear VR, this was by far my least favorite content — it’s where the weaknesses of the resolution and lower pixel density were most apparent. My eyes would strain after just 10 or 15 seconds of watching a video, and the experience was worse with 3D content. But on the Galaxy S6 version, all the videos I previewed were not only watchable, they were enjoyable. That screen door effect was majorly mitigated here, and in its place was a much smoother and visually comfortable experience.

It’s hard to understate how important this could be for the success of the Gear VR, and Oculus’ efforts in the mobile space in general. The biggest barrier to the Gear VR so far hasn’t been the social awkwardness of wearing a head-mounted display, it’s that it only worked with a niche device. The idea of a $199 consumer VR device was attractive to many, but shelling out nearly $1,000 more to get a Note 4 off-contract kept the reality of it out of reach.

The new headset will likely be priced the same, though Samsung will ultimately set the price when it releases it to market — it’s not yet clear when that will happen. Cohen told us before that he thinks the ideal price is free. Alongside the new headset the company also announced that paid content is making its way to the Gear VR (it should be available in the Oculus store now, and to Note 4 users as well).

The Gear VR is about to face its sink-or-swim moment. Instead of being a cool idea burdened by the requirement of owning a niche device, it’s now going to be an affordable accessory to a phone that millions of people will own. If you still don’t think that’s a big deal, you probably haven’t tried it. And imagine the hype if it were compatible with an iPhone.

By leveraging the new revenue source with paid content and spreading the user base by building a headset around a flagship phone, the idea of dropping the price of the Gear VR to zero doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.

Until then, people are going to have to understand a few simple facts: virtual reality still needs headsets, and headsets are inherently awkward. But that doesn’t mean that the experience isn’t outrageously cool.

 

Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge

Relieving mounting anticipation, Samsung has unveiled the newest addition to its flagship smartphone — the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. The most significant upgrade is in the phone’s exterior body design, incorporating a metal and glass blend which will replace the standard subpar plastic in the previous S-series models. The S6 and S6 Edge are quite similar in specs with some slight differences in display, battery capacity and weight. The major difference between the two is the S6 Edge’s curved screen.

Pushing the envelope in its Galaxy lineup, the new flagship smartphones will feature a metal frame sandwiched between two glass frames which are made from the toughest mobile glass to date, Gorilla Glass 4. Aside from the exterior, other significant upgrades include a 3GB increase in RAM, 0.2 oz of reduced weight, 3MP camera improvement and enhanced screen resolution.

The S6 and S6 Edge are slated for release on April 10, and are available in five different colors. For more information on the premier smartphones, visit Samsung’s website.

Samsung Pay is official and may be the mobile payment platform we’ve all been waiting for

The race for mobile payments is heating up, and with Apple Pay and Google Wallet well underway, Samsung is finally joining the fray with its own system, aptly named Samsung Pay. Much like its competition, Samsung Pay will utilize NFC technology where NFC terminals are available, however, it may have a secret weapon that may revolutionize how we see ourselves using mobile payments. With Samsung having acquired LoopPay, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will both feature Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology, which will allow its flagship phones to digitally replicate a traditional, magnetic card, usable at retailers that already take them.

So your credit cards, gift cards and more can be transferred to your phone, almost truly replacing your wallet. Samsung will be relying on KNOX, ARM TrustZone technology, tokenizing your credit card numbers, and fingerprint technology for utmost security. Samsung is partnering with MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and US Bank to offer this service, which will launch this summer.

How Samsung won and then lost the smartphone war

samsung mobile ceo jk shin introduces galaxy s5

Samsung Mobile CEO JK Shin

 

Business Insider:

In November 2011, Samsung released the first of a series of ads that would define the company for the next three years.

It started with a bunch of hipster-looking people waiting outside a mock Apple Store for the next iPhone. As the hipsters tick down the hours until they have the right to get Apple’s new iThing, they spot others on the street using something better.

The phone, Samsung’s former flagship Galaxy S II, had a big screen and a 4G wireless connection, two major features that were missing from Apple’s new iPhone 4S. And unlike the iPhone, you didn’t have to wait around to buy a Galaxy S II. You could get it now. But you didn’t see anyone lining up to buy a Samsung, or anything other than an iPhone, in those days.

Things started to change with the first “Next Big Thing” spot. Just like Apple poked fun at Microsoft with its “I’m a Mac” campaign in the 2000s, Samsung’s goal was to tap into the same strategy — a little guy taking swings at the dominant player in the industry — and for a while it worked.

By the end of 2012, Samsung’s profits were up a whopping 76%, fueled by the growth of the mobile division, which suddenly became the most profitable part of Samsung. Samsung was the only company other than Apple making a profit in mobile, and it seemed to be closing in on Apple’s dominance, prompting The Wall Street Journal to publish its famous “Has Apple Lost Its Cool To Samsung?” headline in January 2013.

samsung galaxy s ii commercial

Samsung’s Galaxy S II commercial made fun of Apple fans waiting for the new iPhone

By the time the Galaxy S4 launched in March 2013, the anticipation surrounding Samsung’s products could only be rivaled by Apple. It was officially a two-horse race.

But it only took another year for things to come crashing down. Profits tumbled in 2014, even during the normally lucrative holiday season. Throughout the year, Samsung blamed increased competition in mobile for the downturn.

Now, Samsung is gearing up for its most important smartphone launch ever on March 1. The question is whether or not the Galaxy S6 will be enough to help Samsung recover from its slump, or if it will share the same fate as former kings of mobile like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Motorola.

How did Samsung get so big so fast and how did it all go so wrong?

Competition from new players like Xiaomi and a renewed Apple were central to the decline, but corporate turmoil at Samsung, including a rift between the company’s South Korean headquarters and its suddenly successful US group, also played a major role.

Samsung Galaxy S5 iPhone 5S Fingerprint Side by side

The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S

The birth of “Galaxy”

As the post-iPhone smartphone era began in 2008 and 2009, Samsung, along with many others, was hopelessly behind the curve. It relied mostly on carriers to sell its smartphones, but even then, there wasn’t any distinct branding to separate Samsung’s devices from the slew of other generic phones on the shelf. Depending on their carrier, consumers chose between iPhone, BlackBerry, or whatever their carrier threw in for free with a two-year contract.

By about 2009, Samsung decided it needed to come up with a new brand for its upcoming line of flagship phones designed to run Android, according to sources familiar with Samsung’s plans at the time. Samsung had a revolutionary new screen technology called Super AMOLED that it at first wanted to put in someone else’s device, perhaps a phone built by a major wireless carrier like Verizon. Samsung has always provided chips and displays for other manufacturers, and it wanted to license its Super AMOLED tech the same way.

Eventually, Samsung decided to make its own high-end smartphone to compete with the iPhone, but it had no way to market it. The “Samsung” name was synonymous with cheap flip phones and nice TVs. It was never mentioned in the same breath as Apple, BlackBerry, or Nokia. That could’ve set up the new device for failure before it even launched. Plus, Samsung tested its brand against Apple with consumers and learned it was barely recognizable as far as smartphones go. It needed a change.

So Samsung created a luxury sub-brand for its Android phones moving forward, the Lexus to its Toyota.

It chose Galaxy.

In March 2010, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S, the first in what would become its successful line of Android phones and tablets. The Galaxy S had hardware specs that rivaled the iPhone but was also heavily criticized for copying the iPhone’s software and physical appearance. That didn’t seem to matter. There were hundreds of carriers in the world that still didn’t offer the iPhone, and AT&T still had an exclusive on the device in the US.

Samsung made deals with wireless carriers to promote the Galaxy S in stores when it launched that June. Even better, Samsung got AT&T to agree to sell the Galaxy S, even though it was sure to be a strong rival for the iPhone.

htc president jason mackenzie with htc ceo peter chou htc one launch event

It wasn’t that long ago HTC was king of Android

Two-horse race

Even with the successful launch of the Galaxy S, Samsung was still behind Android rivals like HTC. Both companies were making decent phones, but neither gave customers a good reason to choose one over the other. As Samsung prepared to launch its successor to the Galaxy S, the Galaxy S II, in the spring of 2011, it also formulated a new strategy to market the device, at least in the US.

According to sources familiar with the company’s thinking at the time, Samsung’s Korean executives wanted Galaxy to be the number-one smartphone brand within five years. (It ranked fifth in consumer surveys at the time.)

Under the US head of marketing Todd Pendleton and his team, Samsung was able to do it in 18 months.

At first, the Korean leadership at Samsung wanted to pick off the competition one at a time, starting with HTC, then Motorola, then BlackBerry, and finally, Apple. But the US team decided on a different approach. It was going to start a war with Apple, kicking off the smartphone world’s equivalent of Coke versus Pepsi.

It was a gamble. By attacking Apple directly, Samsung risked looking petty and desperate.

But “The Next Big Thing” campaign, developed by the ad agency 72 And Sunny, was a massive hit. For the first time since the launch of the iPhone, someone had created the believable perception that there was something better out there.

Tim CookApple CEO Tim Cook

Out-innovating Apple

With the launch of “The Next Big Thing” campaign came a lot of glowing press coverage for Samsung. There was a company out there willing to take swipes at the king of smartphones, and consumers were responding.

And for all the criticism Samsung got along the way for copying Apple, it did prove that the world was hungry for something the iPhone didn’t have yet — smartphones with giant screens.

In the fall of 2011, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note, the first so-called phablet with a 5.3-inch display. (The iPhone 4S only had a 3.5-inch screen.) Compared to most phones at the time, the Galaxy Note appeared absolutely massive. When it launched in February 2013, critics blasted the Note for being too large. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, one of the most famous tech reviewers in the world, compared using the Note to holding a piece of toast against your ear.

 

samsung galaxy note 3Samsung’s Galaxy Note created the phablet market

The initial reception was so bad at first, sources say some US carriers almost didn’t want to sell the Galaxy Note II the following year.

But the phone sold well outside the US, especially in Asia, and eventually Samsung was able to prove there was a market for phablets. Samsung’s phones kept getting bigger and better screens, while iPhone users were stuck with tiny devices.

A powerful narrative began to emerge in the press: Apple was in trouble if it didn’t catch up with Samsung and start offering phones with bigger screens. Many asked if Apple had lost its knack for innovation following the death of Steve Jobs, and Samsung was doing a good job at making that theory seem plausible. Apple’s stock dropped as low as about $380 from its all-time high of about $705, largely on fears that Apple didn’t have a revolutionary new product up its sleeves.

Meanwhile, Samsung continued to climb. Sources familiar with Samsung’s sales at the time said its marketing of the Galaxy S line of phones had residual effects and boosted sales of Samsung’s other products like washing machines and refrigerators. In fact, the US team was outperforming Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea, and other international offices were itching to adopt “The Next Big Thing” in their respective countries.

The campaign was clearly a success. Unfortunately, not everyone at Samsung saw it that way.

Missed opportunity

The success of Samsung’s Mobile in the US began a rift with the Korean headquarters. Sources say the more successful Samsung was in the US, the more complicated the relationship with headquarters got. Instead of getting credit, the US team felt they were being chastised for doing their jobs well. (Samsung declined to comment on this story.)

It got so bad, a source told us, that Samsung flew a plane full of executives to the mobile division’s office in Dallas for an unannounced audit that lasted three weeks in 2012. The Dallas-based employees had to go through all materials they used to sell and market Samsung’s mobile products. They were accused of falsifying sales, bribing the media, and a bunch of other damaging actions that hurt morale in the office. The same US-based office that helped turn Samsung into a brand as recognizable as Apple was suddenly being punished for its work.

After three weeks, the Korean auditors found nothing wrong with the way the US office had been operating and went home. But the damage had been done, and the perception remained at the Korean headquarters that despite its success, the US team was up to no good.

In fact, during one meeting with the global teams at Samsung’s headquarters in Korea, executives made the US team stand up in front of several hundred of their peers in an auditorium. The executives told the employees to clap for the US team as encouragement since they were the only group failing the company, even though it was clear to everyone the opposite was true.

That all but killed any hope of translating what the US team pulled off to other regions. They were able to continue in North America, but Samsung’s global messaging remained disjointed.

Amid these tensions, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S4 in 2013 at an over-the-top event at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Instead of the traditional product announcement, Samsung put on a Broadway-style musical that incorporated features of the new phone.

It was weird, one of those things you had to see to believe. And a lot of people criticized Samsung for putting on a show that seemed to objectify women. CNET’s Molly Wood called the event “tone-deaf and shockingly sexist.”

Samsung Unpacked Event 92Samsung’s Galaxy S4 event was criticized for objectifying women

Aside from the awkward unveiling, the Galaxy S4 also launched to mostly negative reviews. Samsung packed a ton of features into the phone like touch-free controls, eye tracking, and a whole suite of camera modes that were either unnecessary or didn’t work as advertised. Still, the phone was Samsung’s most successful ever, and 2013 was another very good year for the company.

But 2014 was going to be a wakeup call.

The rough year

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, Samsung boasted it had sold more than 100 million units from its Galaxy S line over the last four years, a sales figure for a flagship series that only Apple could beat.

Then it unveiled the Galaxy S5, a phone that toned down a lot of the superfluous features of the Galaxy S4 while including some useful new stuff like an improved camera and water-resistant body. Like previous Galaxy S phones, the S5 had a plastic body and sold for about $650 unlocked. Based on the success of the Galaxy S4, the company had no reason to believe it had a dud on its hands.

It was wrong.

There were a lot of factors for Samsung’s major slip in 2014, but the biggest culprit appears to be Chinese smartphone manufacturers. Chinese companies like the startups OnePlus and Xiaomi appeared to have perfected the magic formula for making beautiful, high-quality smartphones that cost at least half as much as the iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy S series.

Xiaomi was the biggest success story of the year. By some estimates, it was the top smartphone vendor in China, the next big market where millions of people are making the transition to smartphones. Xiaomi’s phones are made out of premium materials like metal, so they look better than Samsung’s phones. They also have similar specs like fast processors, sharp screens, and high-quality cameras.

xiaomi ceo lei junXiaomi CEO Lei Jun. Xiaomi was the top smartphone vendor in China in 2014

Xiaomi’s rise meant Samsung’s decline in China. Since Xiaomi phones are also Android phones, there was very little Samsung’s pricier models could do that Xiaomi’s phones couldn’t do. Plus, Xiaomi is a marketing success story. Fans snap up the devices with the same fervor Apple fans buy new iPhone models in Western countries. And most of Xiaomi’s marketing is done through social media or word of mouth, so it doesn’t have to rely on the multimillion dollar ad campaigns Samsung uses.

But Xiaomi is just one factor. A lot of Samsung’s success came because it was able to get a head start and distribute its phones on a broader scale before the rest of the non-iPhone competition could, according to tech analyst Ben Thompson, the author of the Stratechery blog.

For example, the iPhone was only available on about a third as many carriers as Samsung phones were. In the US, Samsung phones were one of your best options unless you were an AT&T customer and had access to the iPhone.

It was the same story on China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world with over 700 million subscribers. Apple finally brought the iPhone to China Mobile early last year. Ever since, China has been one of Apple’s biggest growth areas for the iPhone business. Everyone else seemed to be choosing Xiaomi, Lenovo, or another cheaper rival to Samsung.

I think it’s always dangerous when you don’t know why you’ve won,” Thompson said in an interview. “One of the reasons Samsung succeeded is they pivoted in ways Nokia and others didn’t. They were able to leverage everything they already had, but weren’t able to sustain it because there wasn’t anything special about their phones. Samsung got crushed on the high end by Apple and the low end by Xiaomi in China.”

Thompson continued, “At the end of the day, there’s nothing to differentiate a Samsung phone, so they’ll have to compete on price.”

However, that doesn’t seem to be Samsung’s plan.

The new strategy

On March 1, Samsung will unveil two new versions of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S6. According to sources familiar with Samsung’s plans, one version will have a metal body, a departure from the plasticky phones the company has made in the past. The second version will have a curved screen, similar to the Galaxy Note Edge that launched last fall.

But both models are still going to priced as premium products. According to one leak, the “Edge” version of the Galaxy S6 could cost over $1,000 without a contract, at least three times the cost of a Xiaomi phone.

Unless Samsung has a special trick up its sleeve on the software side, it’s unlikely that its new phones will be enough to justify the extra cost over similar Android devices. And if that happens, Samsung is almost certainly up for another messy year. The glow surrounding Samsung’s smartphone business has almost certainly faded for good. Time to find something new.

Samsung CEO BK Yoon

Samsung CEO BK Yoon at the opening CES keynote

That doesn’t mean the company is hosed. Samsung is a massive organization that makes everything from dishwashers to air purifiers. It has the scale and manufacturing power to harness the next big thing after smartphones, even if that next big thing doesn’t come from it’s own R&D labs.

Plus, its chip business is already very profitable, and is due to get a nice boost thanks to a reported agreement with Apple to make processors for the next iPhone due to launch later this year.

One key area Samsung is focusing on in the near term is the “internet of things” (IoT) trend, which means connecting everyday objects like light switches and toasters to the internet for a deeper level of control. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year, Samsung announced that every product it makes will connect to the internet within a few years. In theory, this will build a valuable ecosystem connecting everything in your home and create a whole new category of Samsung customers.

Still, the company may always look back longingly on those brief years when it went head-to-head with Apple.

Samsung releases teaser for the Galaxy S6

Samsung has released a new teaser touting its upcoming Galaxy S6 flagship smartphone and its video capabilities via the video below. With color as the forefront to the campaign, we bear witness to hints at the curved, anti-reflective screen of the S6 as well as its metal design accents.

With not much to go by in this teaser, we’re looking forward to seeing how the S6 turns out. Be sure to stay tuned for the device’s release on March 1.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 to have a wraparound screen

Taking a page from the Samsung Note Edge (pictured above), the upcoming device in Samsung‘s Galaxy Series is reported to also include a curved screen. The Korean company seems to believe that curved screen technology is the way to combat its sliding mobile sales figures, so it’s offering the Galaxy S6 with a 5.1-inch screen that curves on both sides.

However, reports claim that they will also release a Galaxy S6 model with a regular screen in case consumers aren’t a fan. Both phones are expected to follow in the Galaxy S4′s footsteps with an all-metal body, but Samsung is replacing the problematic Snapdragon 810 processor in favor of its own Exynos 7420 model. Other speculations suggest that the phones will offer a Quad HD screen, 16-megapixel or higher camera, and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. However, take these specifications with a grain of salt, as nothing is confirmed until Samsung unveils the models, which is expected to occur March 1 at Samsung’s Mobile World Congress.

Stay tuned for more information.