People may or may not buy Apple's new watch, but one thing we know people will buy are smartphones—to the tune of more than a billion in 2014. Samsung has two models that will go on sale on Friday, and the company hopes this double-barreled strategy can restore some lost glory.
If you haven't been paying close attention to the vicissitudes of the smartphone market, here's the fast version of the past year or two: For a while, Samsung's good fortune was, in part, due to the company's success at making phones for every kind of customer and doing so at a lower cost than competitors. Indeed, the company's victories in the marketplace led many to wonder whether Apple would have to reverse course and—instead of focusing almost entirely on the higher end of the market—start making a line of less-expensive phones.
That turned out to be wrong. Apple has been posting insanely large numbers each quarter, while Samsung—bedeviled by new iPhones at the high end and Chinese and Indian competition at the low end—experienced declines.
Apple didn't have to go down-market; the market went up. When that happened, people looked at the flagship phones of both companies, and Samsung's plastic-bodied Galaxy S5 paled in comparison to the machined surfaces on Jony Ive's aluminum-and-glass Museum of Modern Art collection entries. (And the iPhone 6's larger screens took away one of Samsung's major advantages.)
With their new phones, Samsung has responded. Both models are made of aluminum and glass, with clean lines, reflective surfaces, and colorful finishes (including a British racing green, which is pretty dope). The Galaxy S6 has what you'd expect a new flagship phone to have: new processor, new display (which was very impressive in a hotel conference room), and improved battery life. (Charge it for 10 minutes, and you can watch a two-hour movie, the company says.)
The Galaxy S6 Edge is the funkier of the two. It has a similar display to Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge—one that slopes off the sides, giving additional space for narrow control panels and notifications.
Prices for the phones vary, depending on what kind of plan you want from your carrier. Look to second-quarter numbers from Samsung (opening-day figures are good for press releases but don't really tell you anything) to see if the market is into the luxe the company is now selling.