In developing the inevitable successor to the Galaxy S5, Samsung will find itself with a unique problem. The S5 was Samsung’s first flagship phone in quite some time to receive middling reviews, and the S5’s design was the major driver behind reviewer complaints. If Samsung opts for a metal design in the S5 successor, though, all of that could turn around.
Samsung has consistently positioned its Galaxy S line of smartphones as top-of-the-line machines. Each one, according to Samsung, has been “The Next Big Thing,” and on par with Apple’s bestselling iPhones. Apple, though, made the jump to premium build materials for the iPhone some years back, earning critical raves with an aluminum design that the Cupertino company has occasionally tweaked and improved upon.
Samsung, meanwhile, has stuck with plastic for the Galaxy S line. For a long while, that was good enough, as Samsung packed Galaxy S smartphones with high-density displays, fast wireless connections, and speedy processors. Among Android phones, devices like the Galaxy S5 were pretty much king, right up until HTC raised the Android design bar with its One M7.
That handset, with its aluminum build and novel design, drew terrific reviews and saw solid sales, boosting a troubled HTC and turning tech observer eyes to Samsung. Samsung stayed the course, though, pushing out the Galaxy S4 with the same plastic design it had relied upon for multiple generations. The Galaxy S5 proved little different, as Samsung stuck with plastic and focused more on touting the S5’s supposed software innovations.
The tech press was unimpressed, and the Galaxy S5 saw a lukewarm critical reception. The phone still sold tens of millions of units, but increasing competition in the mid- and high-end smartphone segment means that Samsung can’t count on the Galaxy S5’s successor automatically catching on big with consumers.
Samsung appears to be aware of this. The tech giant has already launched the Galaxy Alpha, which swaps out the faux-metal plastic band seen on the Galaxy S5 for an actual-metal band. The forthcoming Galaxy Note 4 is also expected to feature similar metal build materials.
Samsung is well known for operating in this way — testing the waters with small changes before rolling out a new flagship model that brings everything together — so some observers are guessing that the follow-up to the Galaxy S5 will at last feature the premium build materials that tech lovers have been calling for.
As BGR notes, the rumor mill surrounding the Galaxy S6 is already churning, and rumormongers are just about convinced that the Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy Note 4 are just stepping stones toward a higher build quality in the Galaxy S5 follow-up. Such rumors, though, have been around since before the introduction of the Galaxy S4… so… grain of salt, and all.
It’s possible that a metal Galaxy S smartphone could be too little too late, though. One of the big advantages Samsung’s Galaxy S phones have had over Apple’s iPhones has been their comparatively massive screens. Apple, though, will likely introduce the iPhone 6 in about ten days, and the new iPhone is expected to have a much larger screen. If Apple manages to take away that key Samsung advantage, it may not even matter that Samsung has achieved parity in build quality with the next device in line after the Galaxy S5.