The Galaxy S6 edge+ is one of coolest smartphones on the market right now. It is something fresh, something new that we haven’t seen on the market in a long, long time. And it is a testimony to the Korean manufacturer’s ability to emerge with something exciting in a smartphone market that has really gone downhill and is nothing short of stagnant and boring, to say the least.
To see the current sad and unfortunate state of the market, take a look at some recent smartphone presentations (that shall remain nameless). For some odd reason (nothing short of odd), swappable back covers have become the new style preference of some tech enthusiasts and consumers, with many online discussions going something like this: “do you like the sandstone, Kevlar, or wood back best?” If sandstone and wood are not your swappable back cover options, there are the “childish” colors like some form of neon green, neon purple (light purple, even), and bright yellow (which is an atrocity for any smartphone to model off, no matter how good-looking).
Colors and build materials are all the rage in the smartphone market now. How many times have you seen a video or read a blog post that dominates 90% of a new smartphone announcement with, specs aside, a lengthy discussion about whether or not one build material looks better than another? It’s gotten to the point where I feel like smartphones have become nothing short of paperweights or luxury bricks that we discuss because these items “happen” to have tech specs and run Android.
I’m not a person who usually gets excited about hardware build quality, since, honesty first, most smartphones have the usual “brick” look with some back cover material and a front display. Most smartphones also come with front and back-facing cameras, speakers, USB port, and so on – so these components do not surprise me. In the hardware arena, though, good looks have become a top priority for premium smartphones, and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 edge+ meets that.
Swappable back covers and wood, sandstone, and Kevlar, along with childish colors gone amok, are all testimony to the fact that the smartphone manufacturers, who are to lead the way for the consumer market, have failed in their job. Manufacturers should consume their efforts with examining and creating new approaches to mobile gadgets, looking for ways to advance the devices we cradle in our hands. The goal of selling smartphones each year is to raise money that can be spent on research and development, known in the tech world as “R&D.” When manufacturers come out with new smartphones that stuff a few chips in them that meet industry standards (and don’t cost much), with the same “brick” form factor that has persisted over the last few years, it makes me wonder what they’re doing with the money consumers give them. Additionally, it makes me wonder why anyone should invest in them at all if this year’s phone looks like last year’s phone with a few new color options and no additional experience-enhancing software to boot.
And let’s reexamine the removable back: was Samsung not criticized for the same thing in the Galaxy S5? “It’s cheap and flimsy,” they say; yet and still, Motorola does it with the Moto X Style, and OnePlus does it with the OnePlus 2 (which has a removable back but not a removable battery) – and they call them masterpieces? It’s funny how Samsung is pounded for removable back covers, but Motorola and OnePlus are praised for them by consumers (although removable back covers are criticized by a great number of tech reviewers). As the old saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” If Samsung’s back covers are cheap and laughable, then so are Motorola’s and OnePlus’s – even if you happen to like them better.
Samsung’s Korean rival, LG, has had its G4 smartphone praised for its 16MP camera with laser autofocus, OIS+, and f/1.8 camera aperture, but the company’s latest smartphone (with its brown leather back cover) looks hideous. Marques Brownlee has stood out for his claim that Samsung’s Galaxy S5 looks like “a giant Band-Aid,” but it’s got nothin’ on the LG G4: the brown leather-backed phone looks like a deflated basketball with a display and two cameras. I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.
Nowadays, when you want to look as if you’re innovating in the smartphone space, you need only create a swappable back cover with a few build materials and colors to convince everyone. If, hypothetically speaking, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 contained software “gimmickry” last year, and the Galaxy S4 the year before it, as some believe, the new “childish” colors and swappable back covers with Kevlar and sandstone are the “gimmickry” in the current market, placed under the titles of “customization” and “choice.”
While the current gimmicks are winning people left and right, with $389 and $399 price tags thrown in (or swappable covers with build materials as cheap excuses to hike phone prices), Samsung’s Galaxy S6 edge+ appeals to consumers who know what they want and who value what innovation is. Innovation is unique, distinct, separated from the batch. Anyone can add a few colors and build materials like wood, metal, Kevlar, and sandstone; however, not everyone can create a smartphone form factor that sets it apart. When it comes to Samsung, the Korean manufacturer isn’t your typical “sandstone, wood, and Kevlar back cover” manufacturer; its Galaxy S6 edge+ and edge predecessor, the Galaxy S6 edge, stand alone – in a market that has been boring for a long time.