Samsung's new flagship phones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Source: Samsung.
Samsung is in a tight spot. Sure, it's one of the largest smartphone makers on the planet and has sold millions of devices to customers all over the world, but 2014 was a rough year for the mobile juggernaut. The company saw its smartphone shipments slip, taking profits with them, all whileApple began riding on record iPhone sales.
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That's put a lot of pressure on Samsung's new flagship devices(yep, there are two now),the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Both debuted at the Mobile World Congress this week. Samsung needs the pair to tackle three main problems for the company: falling profits, sliding smartphone shipments, and the rising tide of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales.
Two devices to rule them allLet's dive right into some of the nitty-gritty specs for a moment, because that's what's going to make or break these devices, after all.
Both run onAndroid 5.0 Lollipop and have a fingerprint sensor for Samsung' forthcoming mobile payments system -- Samsung Pay -- launching later this year. The S6 will come in black, gold, and blue, and the S6 Edge can be had in black, gold, white, and green.
Aside from the all-important internals, the big news for these phones is the drastic change in Samsung's build materials. For years Samsung used plastic in its most expensive devices, while Apple used aluminum for its iPhones. Samsung has finally upped its game and added Gorilla Glass 4 to the back panel(bye bye, plastic backing), and a metal frame around the entire device.
High-end materials all around, and more than a hint of Apple's iPhone 6 design. Source: Samsung.
But those extra details bring about some unwanted changes for diehard Galaxy fans. For instance, the new phones aren't waterproof, don't have a removable battery, and both jettison the microSD card slot Samsung users have long been used to.
More than just new modelsBut the S6 and S6 Edge are more than incremental product cycle changes for Samsung. They need to be the starting point in turning around falling smartphone sales for the company.
The combination of falling Samsung smartphone shipments and rising iPhone sales pushed Apple ahead of Samsung as the No. 1 smartphone shipper worldwide in Q4 2014. This came in part because of Apple's latest record quarter of 74.8 million iPhone sales.
"Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung's share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure," Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a recent report.
While Samsung still moves plenty of smartphones, the company's shipments are moving in the wrong direction:
Data Source: Statista.
The drop in smartphone shipments over the past three quarters has lead the company to report its first annual earnings decline in three years. In the full year 2014, the company's mobile revenue fell 21% year-over-year, after rising by double digits for several years.
But the company's still positive it can turn around its smartphone sales. "With our competitive new product lineup, we will actively increase our smartphone sales," Jin-Young Park, vice president of Samsung's mobile business, said on the company'squarterly earnings call last month.
Looking aheadWe'll find out if Samsung's optimism is realized through the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in the coming months. So far the company has yet to announce the official release date of the devices, or their pricing.
Samsung may have ruffled the feathers of a few of its diehard fans by dropping things like a removable battery and microSD slot, but those changes shouldn't deter too many buyers. The addition of high-end materials, as well as adding a distinct new look and a handful of new features through the S6 Edge, should be enough to get loyal Samsung users to give the phones a closer look.
The real problem for Samsung is having to fighting against Apple's current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus momentum -- which show no signs of slowing down.
The article Why the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge Need to Be Samsung's Best Smartphones Ever originally appeared on Fool.com.
Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Gartner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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