The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has arrived and now the path is clear for the Samsung Galaxy S6. In fact with the possible exception of the Nexus 6 this is one of the next big phone releases we're expecting to see, even if it is likely still many months away.
Samsung itself will surely already be hard at work on the phone and the first leaks and rumors are starting to emerge, with more sure to follow soon now that there are no other major Samsung phones in the pipeline.
Not much is known so far, but there are a few whispers floating around and other things which we can take a good guess at from a mix of past history, common sense and the state of the market. So stay glued to this page for all the updates.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next flagship smartphone from Samsung
- When is it out? Early 2015, probably March or April
- 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, so it's not a stretch to assume that 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.
However that's probably not when it will actually go on sale. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 both launched in April, of 2013 and 2014 respectively, so there's a good chance that you'll be able to buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 from April 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, so 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 revealed the Galaxy Note Edge- a version of the Note 4 where the screen curves down one side, so it's possible.
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, though it's possible that Samsung will release a Galaxy S Edge or similar alongside the Galaxy S6.
Samsung Galaxy S6 power
With Android L arriving shortly and bringing 64-bit support with it we fully expect the Galaxy S6 to have a 64-bit processor.
As for which processor specifically that's still rather up in the air, but traditionally it's been equipped with a Snapdragon chip of some variety and both the Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810 are expected to start appearing in devices during the first half of 2015, so one of them seems likely.
The Snapdragon 808 is a six-core 64-bit processor with support for 2K screens, while the Snapdragon 810 is an octa-core 64-bit chip which can power screens of up to 4K resolution and includes an Adreno 430 GPU, which is said to be 30% faster than the Adreno 420, so either way it should be in for a boost. Though it's always possible that it will stick with the Snapdragon 805 that's found in the Galaxy Note 4.
There's no word on how much RAM it will have, but a 64-bit processor works well when imbued with north of 4GB, so the sky really is the limit. Having said that the Galaxy S5 only has 2GB of RAM and even the Galaxy Note 4 has stuck with 3GB, so we'd be surprised if the S6 had more than 4GB.
Samsung Galaxy S6 chassis
While we don't know what the Galaxy S6 will look like 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.
A metal frame would finally make Samsung's flagship look almost as premium as it is and it's hard to imagine that it wouldn't roll something similar or at least similarly high end out for its flagship, especially as the Galaxy Note 4 has now arrived with a metal frame too.
In fact 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.
We wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be true as Samsung's going to want to do something to make its new flagship stand out and giving it a similar build to its last two major handsets would be a bit of an anti-climax.
Samsung Galaxy S6 operating system
It will also almost certainly run Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top, albeit streamlined once more to make sure it doesn't annoy consumers who are becoming aware of the simplicity of raw Android.
Samsung Galaxy S6 camera
One of very few rumours that specifically refers to the Galaxy S6 notes that it may have a 20MP camera, up from 16MP in the Galaxy S5. Samsung's always about more and bigger so this seems believable.
According to ETNews the Galaxy Note 4 was originally going to have a 20MP sensor but Samsung dropped it to 16MP (the report actually says 12MP, but we now know that's wrong) to keep it thin while still including OIS, however the company will instead use the 20MP sensor on the Galaxy S6 apparently.
What it doesn't say is whether the S6 therefore won't include OIS or won't be all that slim, since reading between the lines one or the other is likely to be the case. In fact at 8.5mm thick the Note 4 is already slightly fatter than the Galaxy S5, so if the Galaxy S6 does get OIS then it's likely to put some weight on too.
Samsung Galaxy S6 other features
There are a few things that we can be pretty confident that the Galaxy S6 will include. Samsung has been putting its fingerprint scanner on a number of phones and tablets so we're sure the S6 will get it too. Likewise it will probably retain the heart rate monitor from the Galaxy S5, since that's also been included on the Galaxy Alpha and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
We fully expect a microSD card slot too, since the Galaxy S range has always included one and we'd be very surprised if it wasn't water and dust resistant, since the Galaxy S5 is and removing a useful feature like that seems unlikely. Though neither the Note 4 nor the Galaxy Alpha is, so it's possible that the Galaxy S6 won't be either.
We may also see the Samsung Galaxy S6 inherit some of the new features which have been added to the Galaxy Note 4, such as fast charging, a UV sensor and multi-directional microphones.
Something that is unlikely but has nonetheless been rumored is a retina scanner, as Samsung has claimed to be looking at iris detection. Of course such technology may still be quite a way off yet and we're not all that convinced we'll see one in the Galaxy S6.
- Sony probably won't even wait till 2015 to launch the Xperia Z3.