Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge: A new look for Samsung and a new wallet

We were expecting a major reboot of the Galaxy S line, and that’s what Samsung gave us Sunday night at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in the form of the S6 and S6 Edge. The two new phones represent a major and stunning redesign of the Samsung line, but the changes weren’t just cosmetic. The biggest new technical feature to arrive in this Galaxy reboot was the much-anticipated mobile wallet Samsung Pay, which uses two different contactless transaction technologies to expand its reach far beyond that of any other mobile payment service.

Samsung has done away from the plastic cases that always characterized its phones and adopted Gorilla Glass front and back panels, which are then encased with a metal band. Also gone are Samsung’s removable battery and micro-SD card slot. The biggest cosmetic difference between the S6 and the S6 Edge is that the Edge has curved edges on both the front and back sides of the device.

Otherwise the two phones have almost identical specs. They both sport 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screens with 577 pixels per inch of resolution. They have an F1.9 lens in their 16-megapixel rear and 5-MP front cameras. They come with 3GB of RAM, and since they have no expandable memory slot, Samsung is selling the phones in three storage configurations ranging from 32 to 128GB.

The device Samsung unveiled at MWC in Barcelona used eight-core Exynos chip, but Samsung didn’t reveal any details about whether it would make a variant for the U.S. market. Qualcomm has supplied its Snapdragon processors to Galaxies in the past, but this Samsung may be making a switch. Qualcomm recently reported a key smartphone customer has dropped Snapdragon from its designs and Samsung has developed its own integrated LTE radio-application processor technology.

The S6 and SG Edge will be the first smartphones to use Samsung Pay, a contactless payments technology that’s intended to match [company]Apple[/company] Pay, but in reality will probably surpass it. That’s because Samsung isn’t just using near-field communications (NFC), which only works on newer terminals, but a special LoopPay-developed chip that generates a magnetic field that can be read by any point-of-sale terminal with a mag stripe reader.

Samsung also announced deals with Visa and MasterCard to support tokenized transactions the way Apple Pay does, as well specific partnerships with card-issuing banks like [company]Chase[/company], [company]Citi[/company], [company]Bank of America[/company] and [company]US Bank[/company] to support their plastic in Samsung Pay. The wallet will initially be available to customers in Korea and the U.S. this summer, shortly after the Galaxy S6es debut on April 10, but Samsung said it will expand to other regions.

Finally, the S6 and S6 Edge will be the first Galaxy smartphones with wireless charging build directly in, replacing the Qi charge covers Samsung used in the S5. These new devices won’t just support Qi, but chargers using from Power Matters Alliance technology as well.