BARCELONA, ― Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone-maker by sales, finally unveiled its new flagship smartphones ― the S6 and its variant S6 Edge ― in Barcelona on Sunday, a day before the official start of the Mobile World Congress, a global mobile and telecommunications trade show.
Intermittently mocking and deriding California-based Apple and its iPhones, Samsung showed confidence that it could outrun its archrival with the new Galaxy smartphones at its annual "Unpacked" event.
"These (the S6 and S6 Edge) are the most advanced and powerful smartphones in the world, with capabilities no one can match," Shin Jong-Kyun, the chief executive of Samsung's mobile business unit, said in his keynote speech at the event.
Samsung has come up with cutting-edge technologies for the new smartphone models, including its own 14-nanometer class 64-bit mobile processor, a display that is curved on both sides, wireless charging and the mobile payment system Samsung Pay.
Samsung is said to have opted for its in-house Exynos mobile application processors for the latest Galaxy smartphones, ditching Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips ― which it had used for its previous models ― due to controversy over alleged overheating problems.
Samsung has also incorporated the latest chip technologies including the LPDDR4 DRAM and the UFS 2.0 NAND memory in the new devices. With the adoption of the UFS memory chip, Samsung was able to increase the base storage capacity for its Galaxy smartphones to 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.
By getting rid of a slot for an external memory card and adopting a full-metal, unibody design, the new S6 and S6 Edge ― 6.8 millimeters and 7 millimeters thick, respectively ― are slimmer and sleeker than their predecessors.
The long-anticipated dual-edge display on the S6 Edge will likely be one of the most appealing factors for consumers.
Samsung first deployed the so-called "edge display" on the Galaxy Note Edge, though its screen was only curved on the right side.
Both the S6 and S6 Edge come in the colors "white pearl," "black sapphire" and "gold platinum." The S6 is also available in "blue topaz" while its variant will also come in "green emerald."
To improve the camera functions, Samsung installed new solutions that allow mobile users to open the preinstalled camera app in 0.7 second by pressing the home button twice or tapping the app.
For the battery, Samsung has come up with built-in wireless charging technology that allows four hours of use after charging for just 10 minutes.
"Zero to 100 (per cent) takes just half the time of the iPhone 6," said Justin Denison, vice president of mobile design.
Samsung Pay, available on the new smartphones, will allow users to pay for goods or services through mobile transactions.
Since the payment system uses Magnetic Secure Transmission, which enables smartphones to communicate with existing terminals, it is expected to increase Samsung's footing in the mobile payment market.
Tech firms including Apple and Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba have been competitively rolling out mobile payment systems in a bid to take the lead in what is considered the next cash cow business.
Samsung, which has joined hands with banks and credit card firms, including Visa and Bank of America, vowed to form partnerships with other financial institutions to make the payment services more accessible to consumers and merchants.
Many analysts and media outlets have churned out positive reviews on the latest Samsung smartphones, but some have also been critical.
"Whether Samsung can realise sales improvement (as Apple did with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) depends on its ability to manufacture the Edge model at scale and avoid teething problems with the Exynos chipset it is using in a global flagship for the first time," said Ian Fogg, head of mobile analysis at research institute IHS.