Despite being one of the year's most impressive handsets, Samsung's Galaxy S5 isn't exactly dominating the smartphone market. However, the imminent new year will herald a new Galaxy phone, one that, according to rumors, could significantly shake up the device's overall look and feel. From a stronger CPU to a sharper and possibly even curved screen, here's everything we've heard so far about the purported Galaxy S6.
Design and Display
In order to stand out in a sea of iPhones and Android competitors, the Galaxy S6 could sport a bolder look than we're used to. According to ZDNet, the smartphone could be available in an Edge variant, which would mimic the single-edge curved display and second screen functionality of Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge. A separate PhoneArena report suggests Samsung could take things even further, with a flexible display that's curved on both edges.
Rumors of two Galaxy S6 variations were recently bolstered by a leak on Samsung's website, which, for a short time, listed two model numbers for brand-new Samsung phones.
A recent Samsung video suggests that the Galaxy S6 will eschew the plastic design of its predecessors in favor of a premium metal-and-glass build. That tease was followed shortly by one from T-Mobile, which tweeted out a quick snapshot that all-but-confirms the smartphone's rumored curved display.
One of the more out-there rumors we've heard suggests that the Galaxy S6 might support optional, swappable back panels, each with their own unique features. These purported panels include an e-paper back cover, as well as fitness-minded rear panels that can measure blood sugar or hook up to exercise machines.
Curved or not, it looks like the the Galaxy S6 may sport a 5.5-inch, 2560 x 1440 quad HD display, according to its supposedly leaked specs. That would be a big bump from the S5's 5.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen, and would make the next Galaxy S oddly similar to the 5.7-inch, quad HD Galaxy Note 4 phablet.
Specs and LTE
Aside from a sharper display, the Galaxy S6 is rumored to tout a 64-bit octa-core Exynos or Snapdragon 810 CPU, which would make it the first mainstream Android smartphone with a 64-bit processor.
Other rumored guts included an ARM Mali-T760 GPU, 3GB of RAM and storage options ranging from 32GB to 128GB. We don't think Samsung will ditch the microSD Card slot, but it's nice to know that it's moving away from the pitiful 16GB level.
The smartphone is expected to launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop, presumably coated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin. TechRadar reports that Samsung is testing CAT 10 LTE technology, which could allow the Galaxy S6 to achieve super-fast download speeds upwards of 450 MBps.
The Galaxy S5's 16-MP camera is already one of our favorite smartphone shooters, and it could get a bump to 20 MP for the S6. The new Galaxy could also be a sharper selfie taker, with a 5-MP front camera possibly replacing the S5's 2-MP sensor. This year's Note 4 was the first Samsung smartphone to boast optical image stabilization, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the feature transfer to the S6.
The Galaxy S5 packs a wealth of handy camera features like real-time HDR, Selective Focus and Eraser Mode, all of which we'd like to see return in the S6.
Samsung's senior VP and head of camera research group DongHoon Jang wrote that the company is working on a camera that will deliver images as close as possible to what you see. And the upcoming flagship could pack an "amazing" shooter that will "do all the thinking for its users."
An Answer to Apple Pay
Samsung recently announced that it is buying LoopPay, a company that makes mobile wallet cases for the iPhone. While Apple Pay is limited to supporting retailers, LoopPay cases feature a dongle that can be used at just about any register that accepts credit cards. We don't know for sure if LoopPay technology will be integrated into the Galaxy S6, but it would give Samsung's new smartphone some serious ammunition against Apple in the mobile payments space.
No More Bloatware
If you've felt bogged down by the swath Samsung apps that usually come preloaded on a Galaxy phone, the S6 could be a breath of fresh air. Sammobile reports that the smartphone will ship with a trimmed-down version of the company's TouchWiz software, suggesting that apps like Story Album and S Voice could become optional downloads instead of mandatory inclusions. This could help the S6 run even faster out of the box, and could provide a more clean slate that stock Android users are used to.
Microsoft Apps On Board
In place of Samsung-branded apps, recent reports suggest that the S6 could come with Microsoft's OneNote, OneDrive, Office Mobile and Skype apps preloaded. The Korean company's previous apps, such as S Voice, S Note, S Health and Scrapbook, will still be available for download in the Galaxy Apps store for free, according to SamMobile.
Release Date and Price
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is all-but-confirmed to debut on March 1 at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Spain. Based on last year's model, we expect the new smartphone to start at $200 with a two-year contract and sell for around $650 unlocked.
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Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.