Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge available April 10: It's all about the base

The launch of the Galaxy S6 is critical to Samsung's overall financial performance and it's clear there will be strong curb appeal among the Android crowd. Switchers from the iPhone are unlikely.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Samsung on Thursday said that its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will be available April 10 in the U.S. with the major carriers taking preorders on Friday. After a brief evaluation period, I'm willing to bet that the Galaxy S6 pair will do well.

Going into Samsung's announcement, the big questions were the pricing difference between the S6 and the Edge version and how many units would be shipped. Carriers are announcing pricing separately, but the premium applied to the Edge will be critical to overall sales.

Update: Carrier pricing is starting to emerge. At T-Mobile, the S6 Edge carries a $100 premium on the 32GB model. That differential will probably point to higher S6 Edge sales. T-Mobile's pricing breaks down like this:

Samsung Galaxy S 6 (32 GB) $0 down + $28.33/mo x 24, Total: $679.92 (64GB) $99.99 down + $27.50/mo x 24, Total $759.99, and (128GB) $199.99 down + $27.50/mo x 24, Total $859.99; Samsung Galaxy S 6 edge (32 GB) $0 down + $32.49/mo x 24, Total $779.76 (64GB) $99.99 down + $31.66/mo x 24, Total $859.83, and (128GB) $199.99 down + $31.66/mo x 24, Total $959.83.

AT&T said its pricing starts at $22.84 per month on AT&T Next 24 for the Galaxy S 6 with 32GB and $27.17 on AT&T Next 24 for the Galaxy S 6 edge with 32GB.

Sprint is using the Galaxy S6 launch to be more promotional. For a limited time, Sprint is offering the 32GB Galaxy S6 for free for those who sign up with the Sprint Unlimited Plus plan for $80 a month. The 64GB Galaxy S will be $5 more a month and the 128GB S6 will be $10 more. The Edge will start at $5 a month with a 24-month lease and with the Unlimited Plus Plan run $85 a month.

Given the less than 24 hours I've had with both versions of the Galaxy S6, the following things stick out:

  • Both devices show well and feel good in your hand.

  • If you're already in the Google/Android ecosystem and have had a Samsung Galaxy device before, the S6 is likely to be a strong upgrade candidate.

  • The Samsung bloatware that was included in previous Galaxy devices appear to be cordoned off into a folder with optional installation. Preinstalled apps from Google and Microsoft are also in a folder.

  • Anyone that gives you a star rating on the S6 line is full of it. Nearly all reviewers barely had enough time to truly test battery life, cameras and other key features. CNET's course was simple: They didn't have enough time to hand out a full rating yet. Here's CNET's take on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

  • The iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 could be brothers from another mother. In the end, you're in the iOS or Android camp. There's nothing about the Galaxy that would get an iPhone user to switch. Fortunately for both Apple and Samsung they only need to keep the base happy and upgrading.

  • Your existing wireless chargers work with the Galaxy S6 duo.

  • The pricing differential between the Edge and the standard S6 will go a long way to determining how many units sell for each. I wonder if the Edge shouldn't be the sole flagship. It's still fuzzy to me what functionality that sliver of screen brings. Aesthetically though, the Edge looks like the keeper.

Here's a walkthrough of the Edge screen settings. For now, the Edge screen real estate equates to a glorified alarm clock and notification bar.

How to configure Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge screen

And now for the big picture. While Samsung's smartphone is critical to the company's hopes to compete better with Apple's iPhone 6, analysts are expecting the Galaxy S6 to create a halo effect of sorts for the company that extends from the consumer market to the supply chain to the enterprise.

Also: Samsung's Galaxy S6: How it was designed | Samsung Galaxy S6 first look: The productivity edition | Apple tipped to open Android trade-in program ahead of Galaxy S6 launch

Keep in mind that the Galaxy S6 uses Samsung screens and processors. In other words, Galaxy S6 sales are likely to be a boon for Samsung's other divisions.

U.S. adoption would also go a long way toward solving Samsung's squeeze in the commodity phone market because it would raise overall pricing for the portfolio.

Tech specs: Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge

For instance, Hyundai Research analyst Young Park said the Galaxy S6 will boost profits for Samsung's mobile unit. Meanwhile, Samsung Securities analyst MS Hwang is projecting 25 million Galaxy S6 units will ship in the first half with Edge sales trending up. Because of those Edge sales, Hwang said that handset operating margins should increase to 12.2 percent from 9 percent.

Samsung's Galaxy S6: A tour of the device, simplified software

Jefferies analyst Sundeep Bajikar also argued that the Galaxy S6 could boost memory prices, which would also benefit Samsung. Bajikar is also betting that lower-end smartphone players will consolidate and benefit both Apple and Samsung.

Bajikar said that Samsung should be able to benefit as its installed base upgrades to the Galaxy S6. In the end, all Samsung has to do is get the installed base of Galaxy smartphone users to upgrade en masse. Samsung's Galaxy S6 is likely to do the trick.

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