Samsung is taking a different approach with its flagship mobile products in 2015, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.
Samsung will release two variations of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S6, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in March.
The first model will be made with metal, a departure from the all-plastic plastic casings used in most Galaxy phones.
However, we’re not sure if it will be a unibody metal design like the iPhone or just have metal accents. A few weeks ago, an alleged metal frame for the Galaxy S6 leaked. It appears to be a unibody design.
The second model will have a curved screen like the one on the new Galaxy Note Edge that launched late last year.
On the Note Edge, the curved portion of the screen functions independently from the main display and is used to show stuff like notifications and live updates from certain apps.
Samsung will also release a new smartwatch with a round screen at MWC, sort of like the Moto 360 smartwatch that got a lot of high praise for its design.
A Samsung spokesperson declined to comment.
Now for the caveat. We’re still several weeks away from MWC, and Samsung’s plans aren’t final yet. Things could change between now and March. In fact, we’re told Samsung often changes things at the last minute. But Samsung’s plan at the moment is to announce two versions of the Galaxy S6 and a round smartwatch.
Samsung has been experimenting with metal on its phones already. Last year, it launched the Galaxy Alpha, which had a metal band around the edge. It looked a lot like the metal band that surrounded the iPhone 5S.
The company also launched two versions of the Galaxy Note 4, one with a curved screen and one without.
According to a source, those phones were released to test the market for curved screens and premium materials that could be used in the Galaxy S6.
Here’s what we don’t know.
It’s unclear when the Galaxy S6 will launch. Historically, Samsung has announced flagship products about a month before they go on sale. So April is a good guess.
We also don’t know what kind of software features will be in the Galaxy S6, but it’s safe to assume it will run Lollipop, the latest version of Android with a brand new design. There have already been a few leaks of what Lollipop will look like on Samsung’s phones, but nothing official yet.
It’s the same story for the software features of the new round smartwatch. With the exception of the Gear Live, Samsung uses an operating system called Tizen for its wearables, so Tizen will probably power the new device too.
It’s likely going to be a tough year for Samsung.
Samsung’s profits have continued to fall as it faces steep competition from other smartphone makers. Profits were down 37% for the holiday quarter 2014.
Samsung has had difficulty competing with Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi that make really nice Android phones that cost about half as much as Samsung’s most profitable phones.
The company’s big challenge with the Galaxy S6 will be to prove that the phone’s software and services are more powerful and useful than other Android phones and worth the premium price.
Meanwhile, Samsung is betting on new categories like the “Internet of Things” to reverse its fortunes.
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