The release date for the Galaxy S6 and the Samsung Z smartphones just became a whole lot more important to Samsung after it was revealed that its current headlining phone, the Galaxy S5, is something of a flop out of the gate. Released in early April of 2014, the first full month on the market for the Galaxy S5 was the month of May. And new data reveals that during that month, the Galaxy S5 was outsold by Apple’s nearly-year-old iPhone 5S. The Galaxy S5 still handily outsold competitors like the HTC M8, but by Samsung standards, the new Galaxy phone is a flop, or perhaps something of a mini-flop. If Samsung wants to continue growing at a rapid pace, it’ll need a home run from either the Galaxy S6 or the more mysterious Z phone.
Part of the problem with the Galaxy S5 is that it’s largely just more of the same: it has newer tech specs and a slightly larger screen, but offers the same old cheap-feeling plastic body which feels inferior to most of its name brand Android competitors. Samsung has largely relied on a heavy push from store salesmen, but even that can be a tough sell when it keeps releasing new products that look and feel almost exactly like the old ones. That puts Samsung in the position of needing to completely overhaul its flagship smartphone when it launches the Galaxy S6, giving even the most pedestrian of consumers a clear indication that it’s an entirely new phone from the ground up. At the same time, Samsung’s foray into non-Android phones is a wildcard which may help broaden sales or may simply tarnish the brand.
Samsung has spent considerable time touting its new Z phone, which runs an operating system called Tizen instead of Android. The pros to Tizen: it’s controlled entirely by Samsung itself, meaning full compatibility with software updates, and greater integration between hardware and software. The cons to Tizen: it’ll initially have virtually no apps beyond the ones Samsung writes itself, and those accustomed to the Android interface may find it foreign.
Bets have been split as to whether the Samsung Z and Tizen are intended to be a viable product, or merely an attempt at leverage over Google when it comes to control over the Android platform. The fact that Samsung keeps delaying the supposed release date of the Z phone could mean that it’s not a real product, or it could simply mean that Samsung is having a more difficult time producing an operating system than it thought it would. That in turn puts more pressure back onto the Galaxy S6.
The catch there: with the Galaxy S5 having been released just a few months ago, the calendar says the Galaxy S6 release date shouldn’t come until the first half of 2015 at the earliest. There’s nothing to say Samsung can’t move it up to the fall of this year instead. But in the short term, Samsung appears to be stuck trying to incrementally boost disappointing Galaxy S5 sales by releasing niche variants such as the S5 Mini and Active.