Samsung's Galaxy S6 is ready for battle at the high end

Ahead of Mobile World Congress 2015, Samsung announced the latest updates to its Galaxy S line of high-end handsets: the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The new Galaxies feature a striking new design that incorporates metal and glass materials, a marked change from the more plastic-y bodies of previous Galaxy S phones.  

Common to both phones is a 5.1", 2560x1440 AMOLED display whose pixel density works out to an eye-popping 577 ppi. On the regular S6, the screen is flat—no surprises there. The S6 Edge, however, has a curved front panel that arcs over the screen. Why? I have no idea, but Samsung did demonstrate a notification feature wherein a call from a contact caused the edges of the screen to spill colored light onto a table or desk if the phone was face-down. That's somewhat useful, I suppose. Mostly, the curves just look cool, and they're a welcome flourish.

More exciting for me are the improvements Samsung has made to the S6's cameras. The lenses on the front and rear of the S6 now feature a wide f/1.9 aperture for better photon-gathering in low light, versus the S5's (and the iPhone 6's) slower f/2.2 optics. The front-side shooter now packs 5MP for high-quality selfies, while the 16MP rear camera adds optical image stabilization for extra help when shooting in low light.  I've yet to see any sample images from the S6, but the camera does sound promising.

Under the hood, there's an eight-core Samsung SoC that's presumably part of the Exynos family, though Samsung didn't describe it as such in its press materials. Samsung says this SoC is 64-bit-capable and that it's fabbed on a 14-nm process. Four of the SoC's cores are clocked at 2.1GHz, while the other four clock in at 1.5GHz. Sounds a lot like an improved version of the chip Scott looked at in the Galaxy Note 4. The Verge couldn't get Samsung to confirm that this is the SoC we'll see in the U.S. version of the S6, however. The SoC is backed up with a beefy 3GB of RAM, plus 32, 64, or 128GB of onboard storage.

The higher-end materials and construction do come at a cost. The S6 abandons the removable battery and expandable storage slots that were mainstays of the Galaxy line until now. While there's nothing to be done about the missing microSD slot, Samsung did claim major improvements to battery charging speeds for the S6. The device also supports wireless charging out of the box, so heavy users should still be able to keep the S6 juiced up.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will be available on April 10 in a range of colors, running Android 5.0 Lollipop. Samsung didn't talk about prices during its presentation, but it's probably safe to say the S6 won't be cheap.

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