Samsung Galaxy S6 phones emphasize design, ditch many popular features

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A sleek glass and metal body, no removable battery or waterproof capabilities, fixed storage space and a new mobile payment service.

No, not the iPhone. It’s the newest Samsung smartphone.

The South Korean electronics giant introduced its redesigned smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, over the weekend with an emphasis on design first — and in the process, stripped the flagship series of many fan-favorite features.

The phones are “carefully crafted” with “purposeful design” and “premium device aesthetics,” the company said. The Edge, with its double curved screen, “shows unique and outstanding beauty.”

Even if it’s better looking, the loss of functionality was a tough blow to longtime Galaxy users such as Michael Lambie, 33, who said he was disappointed to lose the water-resistance feature, microSD card and removable battery.

“Those were some of the differentiating factors I loved about S5,” said Lambie, the head of product at a Culver City marketing platform. “They really have to make up for lost ground if I’m going to upgrade in the Samsung Galaxy family.”

Revamping the phones was a bold and necessary move for Samsung, which struggled last year as rival Apple and fast-rising Chinese upstarts including Xiaomi and Huawei emerged as viable competitors in the smartphone space. Their words:

I know consumers are upset about it, but it really is progress. It’s a more modern design; it’s more integrated; it’s more efficient.

Even if it’s better looking, the loss of functionality was a tough blow to longtime Galaxy users such as Michael Lambie, 33, who said he was disappointed to lose the water-resistance feature, microSD card and removable battery.

“Those were some of the differentiating factors I loved about S5,” said Lambie, the head of product at a Culver City marketing platform. “They really have to make up for lost ground if I’m going to upgrade in the Samsung Galaxy family.”

Revamping the phones was a bold and necessary move for Samsung, which struggled last year as rival Apple and fast-rising Chinese upstarts including Xiaomi and Huawei emerged as viable competitors in the smartphone space.

Samsung remained the world’s No. 1 smartphone brand by unit sales in the third quarter, with 24.4% market share, according to research firm Gartner. But among the top four smartphone brands — Apple was No. 2, followed by Huawei and then Xiaomi — Samsung was the only one to lose market share and see year-over-year unit sales decrease.

“The success of this new phone is extremely important,” said Shoneel Kolhatkar, Samsung’s senior director of product marketing. “What we did with the GS6 and the GS Edge is basically say, ‘Let’s start from scratch, let’s reinvent the phone category.’… All of us know it’s getting more and more difficult to meet the needs of the consumers.”

Kolhatkar acknowledged some “negative sentiment” after the product unveiling but defended the company’s decision to do away with a few product features. He noted that the new phones come with super-fast charging capabilities — 10 minutes with a charging cable will net four hours of battery life — and built-in wireless charging. That has essentially removed the need for swappable batteries.

As for microSD cards, Kolhatkar said the company’s research showed that the average consumer only uses about 20 to 25 gigabytes of storage. Both the S6 and S6 Edge start at 32GB of space, which should be more than enough to satisfy most consumers, he said.

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