The way Samsung launches phones is easy to work out: the flagship 'S' model appears, and then a few months later the improved Note pops up. So now the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has arrived the path is clear for the Samsung Galaxy S6.

In fact, unless the Sony Xperia Z4 pops up in January, the Galaxy S6 is the next biggest phone launch, despite being a few months away.

Latest updates: An image has been leaked, apparently giving us a look at the Galaxy S6's new design.

We're already seeing a few whispers and wonderings about this next model, and with the Samsung Galaxy Alpha trying to fix some of the design failings of the Galaxy S5 - plus the Galaxy A5 options recently launched - there's definitely been a quick change at the South Korean brand to try and make its phones look much better.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next flagship smartphone from Samsung
  • When is it out? Early 2015, probably March or April but maybe even earlier
  • What will it cost? A lot, at least as much as the pricey Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S6 release date and price

There's no official word on when the Samsung Galaxy S6 might launch, but Samsung has a yearly product cycle which it rarely deviates far from.

In fact from the Samsung Galaxy S2 onwards the company has always announced its phones at or close to MWC, and we're certain the same will hold true for the Galaxy S6.

2015's MWC is set to take place between March 2 and March 5, so it's likely that we'll see the Samsung Galaxy S6 sometime around then. Possibly not at the show itself but perhaps at a press conference a day or two before it starts, much like Samsung did for the Galaxy Note 4 launch before IFA 2014.

A group of analysts in South Korean reckon Samsung will somewhat jump the gun with a Galaxy S6 launch at CES 2015 - which would be first week of the new year. That sounds highly unlikely to us, and there are plenty of reasons why this probably won't happen.

However, that's not when it will actually go on sale. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 both launched in April, of 2013 and 2014 respectively, so it's probable you'll be able to buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 from April 2015.

There are rumors suggesting Samsung may be a little quicker to market with the Galaxy S6 though, with South Korean news outlet Daum claiming it'll ship the Galaxy S6 in the same month as it's announced - March 2015.

There's no real information on what the Samsung Galaxy S6 might cost either, but this is a flagship phone we're talking about.

This means it's not likely to be any cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S5, which at launch sold for £579 (around $972 / AU$1048) SIM free.

Given that the specs will presumably be better and that it may even have a premium build for once it's possible that it could be even more expensive, but we'd be surprised if Samsung went much higher than £600 / $1000 / AU$1100.

Samsung Galaxy S6 design

Samsung needs to sort out the design of the Galaxy S6, and there are (happily) reasons to believe it's doing just that. There's every chance that Samsung will mould it on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, which launched with a metal frame but still kept hold of the polycarbonate rear from the Galaxy S5.

At just 6.7mm the Galaxy Alpha is considerably thinner than the Galaxy S5, and we hope this is a positive sign for the Galaxy S6.

Sources in Samsung's supply chain have been talking fast and loose about the Galaxy S6, claiming the Galaxy Alpha and Note 4 will test the waters for Samsung's metal design ahead of an all-metal flagship in the form of the S6.

But what if Samsung's feeling that's not enough? Project Zero is coming, apparently, and not only do we love that name it also heralds Samsung starting again and completely retooling the S6 to be something that even iPhone and HTC lovers can't keep their paws off.

Given one of the design chiefs at the South Korean firm was shuffled sideways in the aftermath of less-than-expected Galaxy S5 sales, we can really believe this is happening.

Don't expect a fancy new name to go with it though, as according to SamMobile the new phone will simply be called the Samsung Galaxy S6.

The best look we've had so far about the design of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is from Dutch website Top Tien Mobiel, which has posted photos of the Galaxy S6 prototype which were sent in by an anonymous source.

The alleged image of the S6 shows a design with extremely thin edges along the left and right sides of the screen, with the front-facing camera now at the centre of the handset.

Samsung Galaxy S6
Source: Top Tien Mobiel

Before that leak we had to make do with this interesting concept from Josip Jakubiv - it's the same mottled back, but with a much larger screen and a refined design - perhaps even a spot of metal there?

Galaxy S6
Credit: Josip Jakubiv, Part Community

Samsung Galaxy S6 screen

There's no sign that Samsung is ditching Super AMOLED in its screens, so we expect that to make a return in the Galaxy S6.

The resolution will likely get a boost though, as Samsung has already revealed the 2560 x 1440 Galaxy Note 4 and even among smaller screen sizes there's the equally QHD Galaxy S5 LTE-A in South Korea, so we expect the Galaxy S6 to have a resolution at least that high.

Galaxy S5 screen

In fact Samsung has previously said that it hopes to have smartphones with 4K 3840 x 2160 displays on the market by 2015. It's possible then that the S6 will leapfrog 2K and go straight to 4K, but with an early 2015 launch expected we'd be surprised.

More likely Samsung will save that for the Galaxy Note 5... plus, surely, that's getting to the point of just too many pixels in a phone screen?

In any case, SamMobile claims it's likely to launch with a QHD screen, so with few other rumors around that's looking the most likely. A second report from Chinese site cnmo.com featured a supposed AnTuTu benchmarking result from the Galaxy S6 that confirmed the display was a 2,560 x 1,440 QHD affair.

Either way, the Samsung Galaxy S6 may have a slightly bigger screen than the Galaxy S5. The company has slowly been increasing the size of the screens on its flagships and we wouldn't be surprised if the Galaxy S6 were to push things up by another 0.1 or 0.2 inches to 5.2 or 5.3 inches. Samsung may decide to go all the way up to 5.5-inches, given the Google Nexus 6 has launched with a 6-inch screen.

If Samsung can shrink the bezel then it could probably even achieve that without increasing the phone's footprint. On the other hand the Note 4 is no bigger than the Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung's going to want to keep its two premium brands differentiated, so maybe it will decide that 5.1 inches is the sweet spot.

Note Edge

There's also an outside chance that the Galaxy S6 might have a flexible display. Samsung has been looking at this sort of technology for a while and has even recently launched the Galaxy Note Edge: a version of the Note 4 where the screen curves down one side, so it's possible.

Others have been keen to push this idea, with the rumours that the Note Edge was supposed to feature the dual-bend design, but it was shelved and pushed the to Galaxy S6. It would certainly boost the brand's presence on the shop shelves.

The curved screen idea has also been pushed by South Korean news outlet Daum, which goes on to predict a 2560 x 1440 resolution (the same as the Galaxy Note 4) and a Snapdragon 810 processor.

But we doubt Samsung would equip its flagship with such an untested technology, so we'd expect the S range to stick with a flat screen for at least one more year.

On the other hand we might see both a flat and curved version, much like with the Note 4. Rumors from SamMobile suggest that's exactly what will happen, with the Galaxy S6 sporting a flat display and a separate Galaxy S6 Edge being launched alongside it.

We can believe that would happen and it would be cool if the S6 had a bendy screen - something different from the continuously-similar rectangular designs, right? It's not clear whether such a phone will get a widespread release or be produced in more limited quantities though.