Farhad Manjoo wrote for The New York Times reported on Samsung’s attempt to regain its footing with the Galaxy S and S6 Edge.
Samsung’s internal code name for its latest top-of-the-line smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, is “Project Zero,” signaling what Samsung calls “a return to fundamentals.”
The code name also suggests that Samsung finally seems to understand the many criticisms that have long been leveled at its phones: the plastic hardware looked cheap, the most promoted features were mostly useless and the software was too complicated.
Samsung, according to Samsung, has realized the errors of it ways.
He goes on to detail these errors.
The new S6 and S6 Edge — which are nearly identical to one another except that the Edge’s screen curves intriguingly, though mostly uselessly, on its left and right side — are at least an answer to critics who say Samsung’s devices look cheap.
The S6 phones are made out of aluminum and glass rather than the plastic in Samsung’s older phones. Both the S6 and S6 Edge strongly resemble Apple’s iPhone. The S6 in particular looks like Apple’s brother from another mother. Samsung has also co-opted many of the design ideas for which its fans have long criticized Apple. The new Galaxys no longer offer a removable battery, for example, or a slot for add-on storage cards, and unlike the Galaxy S5, the S6es aren’t waterproof.
But with a premium price the same as the iPhones, can Samsung compete?
If you pay the premium price to Apple, you get a phone with a well-designed operating system, no overlapping preloaded apps, and a host of services that often work very well, like iMessage, Apple Pay and expanding compatibilities with Apple’s personal computers and devices like the Apple TV and, soon, the Apple Watch. You can criticize Apple’s sticky ecosystem as a form of consumer lock-in, but Apple sure has built a luxurious prison, and customers are willing to pay extra for it.
If you pay that premium to Samsung, you don’t get a whole lot more than you can get on, say, a phone made by Xiaomi, OnePlus or any of a dozen smaller players.
Hence the catastrophic question for Samsung: If lots of other, cheaper, almost-as-good phones run Android, why pay extra for a Samsung?