Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are here to take on the iPhone

Samsung's best yet have finally arrived. Photo: Samsung

Samsung’s best yet have finally arrived. Photo: Samsung

Samsung’s love affair with cheap, tacky plastic is on hold for its stunning new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Unveiled today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the new handsets pull out all the stops in an effort to reverse Samsung’s declining smartphone sales and mount a new challenge against Apple’s most popular iPhones to date.

They sport all-new designs made out of premium materials, and vastly improved software that promises a better user experience. But they aren’t without their own compromises.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are exactly what the rumors have been promising. They are Samsung’s best smartphones so far, completely redesigned from scratch to counter the criticism received for the Galaxy S5 and other Samsung flagships that came before it.

The Galaxy S6 look a lot like other Samsung devices from the front, but flip it over and you’ll find a gorgeous glass back encased in a chamfered aluminum frame with rounded, iPhone-like edges.

The S6 Edge is almost identical, but its three-sided screen makes it unlike any other smartphone you’ve ever used before.

Both devices are powered by Samsung’s Exynos 7 series processors, 3GB of RAM, and either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of internal storage. They have 5.1-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) displays, 16-megapixel rear-facing cameras with optical image stabilization, and 5-megapixel front-facing cameras.

The Galaxy S6 has a 2,550mAh battery, while the S6 Edge’s is slightly bigger at 2,600mAh. They are the first Samsung smartphones to have wireless charging built-in, and they support both the WPC and PMA wireless charging standards.

Both devices also offer improved fingerprint scanners embedded within their home buttons, which no longer require a swipe; you simply place your finger upon them (think Touch ID).

Samsung has made massive improvements to its TouchWiz operating system, which is is accompanied by Android 5.0 Lollipop on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. It still looks like TouchWiz, but it’s much lighter, and significantly faster.

Much of Samsung’s familiar bloatware has been stripped away, but users will still get handy features and services like Ultra Power Saving mode and S Health built-in. They’ll also find the usual collection of Google apps, and some Microsoft services pre-installed.

The new TouchWiz interface also offers the ability to set themes, much like HTC’s Sense or CyanogenMod. So if you’re not keen on the traditional TouchWiz feel, you’ll finally be able to reskin Samsung’s software without flashing something completely different.

It’s not all good news, however. Like all smartphones, Samsung’s aren’t perfect, and they’ve had to make some sacrifices to get this good.

By far the biggest downside is their lack of a microSD card slot, which is a feature many Android users are accustomed to. Samsung has softened the blow by providing a 128GB storage option, but this is still going to be an issue for some.

Part of the reason for this is the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge don’t have removable back panels like other Samsung handsets, which means their batteries are fixed, too. You can no longer pull them out when they die and replace them with a fresh one while you’re on the go, then.

Samsung promises great battery life, however, and fast charging technology that’ll give the Galaxy S6 around 4 hours of usage after just 10 minutes of being plugged in.

The Galaxy S6 will initially come in black, white, gold, and blue, and it will go on sale globally on April 10. The S6 Edge will be available on the same date in black, gold, and a surprisingly nice Emerald Green.