After months of hype, leaks, and speculation, Samsung has finally unveiled the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, its new flagship model and fancier fraternal twin. As Samsung’s answer to the iPhone 6, the pair are the first Galaxy phones to feature aluminum construction over plastic, marking a significant design shift for Samsung that echoes the sleek metal lines of the iPhone and HTC One.
But does it stand a chance at luring over half of American smartphone users to the other side?
What the Specs Say
The South Korean electronics giant has loaded their new baby with all they could, attempting to stack the deck in their favor as much as possible. We’re talking a octo-core processor, a 2K resolution screen (made with Samsung’s unparalleled TV chops), a 16-megapixel camera with 4K video, and a camel-like battery with 2600 mAh. Its front-facing camera even shoots in 1080p. If you’re a specs nut, the iPhone 6 lags in all these areas, though they've just launched a new photo gallery with incredible iPhone 6 photos as a rebuttal. Point: Samsung.
Samsung Attacks Apple's Advantage
If you've read Jony Ive's shockingly long New Yorker profile, you know that Apple's meticulous design considerations trump all. The hardware has to look and feel right, and it does. Unless you have baby hands, their designs are intuitive in use, and look aesthetically beautiful. Unlike Apple, Samsung has never made an aluminum phone, and while their design departs from the older plastic iterations, it still looks like a Samsung phone. That just isn't a good thing when you're competing against Apple and the similarly-pretty HTC One.
Though the S6 Edge got rid of bezels, it solved a problem that didn't really exist to begin with. The iPhone 6's bezels are fine and not particularly offensive to the eye, or the hand. You might be able to do a few gimmicky things—flip it over and use it as a side light—but no discernible advantage here. Point: Apple.
Samsung's bringing wireless charging. Is this important to you? As first generation technology, it's not likely to be as flawless as they might want it to be. But of course, neither are the half-dozen frayed cables wrapped in electrical tape that litter your desk.
Also, on the heels of Apple's new credit-card killer "Apple Pay," Samsung is debuting one of their own systems, naturally called "Samsung Pay." If the cashier hardware can support them both, they'll both prosper. But it's hard to see Samsung besting Apple in the US, a country saturated with iPhones. Point: Apple, probably.
There's no question that Samsung's new phone is stronger. The battery life, the octo-core processor, and the giant battery make it a more impressive machine than the iPhone. However, unless you run incredibly taxing software on your phone, only a significant spec difference would matter and really catch your attention. I still have an iPhone 5, run tons of apps, and have never wished for more power. Similarly, you will need to have superhuman vision or a magnifying glass to appreciate the improved Samsung display. And as for the iPhone 6 camera, TechRadar called it the best so far when it came out in the fall—beating out cameras with more megapixels—so it's probably a wash as to who has the better camera.
If the difference in specs doesn't matter, it all comes down to one thing: design. The verdict truly hinges on your tastes and how you feel about the device and operating system.
For me, Apple's sleek and intuitive OS has been hard to beat—even with Android occasionally introducing better features—and their device is far easier on the eyes. If you're already reading this on an Apple product, there's no way Samsung is going to pull off a seduction.