Smartphone sales passed the one billion mark in 2014 and lots of new models were on display at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, many of which are now available in Europe. When it comes to Android, Samsung, the market leader, is facing hot competition from HTC, Lenovo, and Huawei.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is in direct competition with the HTC One M9, both priced at about 700 euros.
Will Findlater, the editor of Stuff Magazine, explained: “They both tend to come out pretty much exactly the same time of the year, their various devices have always been in competition with one other and this year I think the competition is going to be hotter than ever because Samsung, which has traditionally been in the controlling position. Last year a lot of people recognized the HTC One M8 – the M9’s predecessor – as the superior device. And now obviously Samsung wants to make up that ground.”
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge comes with two curved edges; a new way to stay in touch with contacts. Both the S6 and the S6 Edge come with 5.1 Quad HD, and Android 5.0 Lollipop. They’re set up for wireless charging, and have a 16 mega pixel rear-facing camera and a 5 mega pixel front camera.
“The main thing that you’ll notice as soon as you pick it up is that Samsung has made it from glass and aluminum instead of plastic, which has traditionally been a bit of a sticking point for some reviewers when they’ve been looking at the Samsung device, Findlater remarked. “It feels very premium, it’s got an incredible screen – 2k resolution screen which means you can’t see any of the pixels at all, no matter how close you get to it.”
The new HTC One M9 has a dual-tone finish and mirrored sides. It also has a new Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of built-in storage. It has a 20 mega-pixel camera, and an improved front camera for optimum selfies. It is equipped with Dolby Audio surround sound technology.
Will Findlater believes HTC has stuck with a formula that it knows works: “It’s adapted one thing which is the camera, the M8 came in for a bit of criticism because they adopted a technology which they called ‘Ultra Pixel’ which is basically bigger pixels in a rear camera, but less resolution. So a 4 mega-pixel camera on the HTC was going up against 16 mega-pixel cameras on devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5. This time they’ve put a 21 mega-pixel camera in there, they’ve taken part in the ‘Mega-Pixel Race’ which is never necessarily a smart thing, but it has resulted in a better camera than what the HTC One M8 had.”
But between the two big competitors, the Motorola Nexus 6 could be the big winner. It is cheaper, around 500 euros, and has a larger screen than the HTC. The Nexus 6 is powered by Snapdragon 805, the jewel in Qualcomm’s 32-bit crown. It has a modest 13-mega-pixel camera, capable of taking 4K videos.
Apple wasn’t at the Barcelona event, but has recently launched an Apple watch. It has 18-hour battery life and the luxury solid gold version will retail for around 10,000 euros, although the basic model will only be 350. It only works, however, with an Apple smartphone.
Will Findlater said: “You could certainly argue that the Apple Watch is going to make people look at Apple devices, at iPhones more closely again – not that they need that many more people to because they’re ludicrously popular already – but I don’t think that people are going to say; ‘Right, I can either choose a smart watch or a smartphone’, it’s more likely they’ll be thinking of buying both.”
Apple sold nearly 75 million units in the last quarter of 2014, elevating it to the number one spot in the global smartphone market. But its operating system has still only got 15% of the market, compared to more than 80 per cent of Android.