Mobility

Gimmicks will not bring Samsung back to powerhouse status

The rumor mill is awash with speculation about the Samsung Galaxy S6 tilting more toward gimmickry and less toward real-world, functional design. Jack Wallen offers his take on the situation.

Galaxy S6

Word on the street is that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has a few tricks up its sleeve. In fact, there are two particular tricks to take note of:

  • Wrap-around display
  • Flexible OLED displays

Let me get this straight — and understand these are just rumors at the moment — Samsung, a one-time unstoppable juggernaut in the mobile industry, is betting on gimmicks to save its flagship line of smartphones.

Gimmicks.

Let's examine these gimmicks one at a time. First, the wrap-around displays. Imagine, if you will, a rounded edge on your phone that offers a row of launchers — right where your fingers would rest — that allow you to easily (or accidentally) launch apps. That wrap-around display does a couple of things:

  • Helps you to more easily launch apps you don't mean to launch
  • Marginally shrinks your screen real estate

What does it not do?

  • Add to the ease of use of the device
  • Enhance performance

Sure the wrap-around design might look cool (at first glance). Its smooth edges and futuristic look might sucker a few users into thinking they're using the next big thing. The truth is, what use will be made of these wrap-around displays (other than an awkward app launcher)? Stream a ticker of data? Message counters? And what about the apps? Will all Android apps be designed to take advantage of the wraparound displays? Probably not. So, in the end, you'll have what's supposed to be a flagship device with a less-than-usable feature that will only help to further sink the Samsung ship.

What about the flexible OLED displays? What purpose will they serve (other than to keep that screen from snapping from the stress of your skinny jeans back pocket)?

Curved devices. <sarcasm>Wow</sarcasm>.

I get the idea behind the curved screen. On a smartwatch, it makes sense (you get more display with less bulk). On a television or PC display, you get a much wider viewing angle. On a smartphone? What do you get? A device less likely to fit in your pocket or that's more cumbersome to hold.

Oh ... but it's c u r v e d! That's so from the future, right? Sure, if said future is powered by gimmicks and impracticalities.

I've said it over and over again. Samsung should simply go back to the drawing board and re-imagine its flagship line to better reflect the modern design-scape of the mobile world. Samsung needs to think:

  • Metal
  • Clean
  • Glass
  • Power

They should also work on maximizing screen real estate without resorting to gimmicks. Think slim and sleek bezels, not wrap-around displays.

On the positive side of the rumor mill, Samsung is reportedly dropping the Snapdragon chip and going with its own in-house octacore chip. That could, at least, beef the device up back into realm of flagship devices. Smart move, Samsung. Because the chip is in-house, Samsung could seriously optimize it, specifically for the S6, and deliver the single most powerful smartphone to date. Add to this a rumored 3,000 mAh battery, and you have a phone that could not only compete with the fantastic Droid Turbo, but possibly blow it away on specs alone.

I'm not saying the S6 will fail. I certainly hope that it doesn't. I'd love to see Samsung return to form. But when a company resorts to gimmicks (especially when they have everything they need to design and build something truly inspiring), it just seems that the precipice they dance upon is dangerous. If, however, Samsung could come up with a unique way of using the wrap-around display, then we're talking about a different game altogether. But as an app launcher or message ticker/counter, that feature (and all the R&D money spent) will go to waste.

Makers of smartphones have reached the unenviable position where design will make or break a release. Design a dull product, and it will flop. Over-design a product, and it will equally fail. It's that glorious middle ground where form and function overlap that will rise a device above the rest.

A wrap-around screen is not that ideal middle ground. And shipping a supremely powerful device hindered by an overly designed form will not help Samsung's case.

What you think of the Samsung S6 with wrap-around display? Is there a use for such a design that could revitalize the Galaxy flagship device? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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