At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, Samsung unveiled their latest flagship phones, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Gone are the days of design cues brazenly borrowed from Apple; enter the era of admirable fit and finish and improved attention to detail.
While Samsung has started to walk its own design path, I’m not sure I can say quite the same for Xiaomi. The just-announced Mi 5, seemingly kicks its predecessor’s iPhone influence to the curb in favor its more closely related OS cousin, the Galaxy S7. If you can get past the unoriginality and the limited availability, the Mi 5 is an incredible deal for a small package that packs a powerful punch.
Android manufacturers are known for the tech spec arms race and these new phones do not disappoint. Reportedly top-notch camera results, high-powered processors, and long lasting battery are great selling points in the ever demanding market for smartphones. I’m still personally well-entrenched in the iOS/Apple camp, but for those of you who are happy jumping back and forth or identify as Android 4-eva, it’s a great time to be alive.
Samsung’s new phones, featuring the ingeniously named Samsung Pay, can make payments at magnetic swipe credit card terminals, eliminating the need for newer NFC-enabled terminals to allow mobile payments. If the technology works and is as secure as reported, then it sounds like an interesting technology to increase mobile payment adoption during the transition to the newer payment terminals. Here’s a bit about how it works from The Verge:
To fix the problem of ensuring that more stores will take mobile payments, Samsung turned to a clever piece of technology that lets you pay at most any terminal where you can swipe a credit card. The trick comes thanks to a tiny coil that shoots out the same magnetic code that those readers normally get from your credit card. It’s called “Magnetic Secure Transmission,” or MST; it’s built into the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5. As with other mobile wallets, Samsung Pay can also let you pay with NFC and it will store loyalty cards and gift cards.
MST features tokenization, which is the real the game changer technology for secure mobile payments. I still prefer the security and simplicity of TouchID for mobile payments, though.
I don’t care who did what first, if smartphones unify into a single design interpretation, I’ll chalk that up as a very cynical view by manufacturers and design teams of the unique and individuality of consumer tastes and preferences. Obviously, I’m a bit disappointed. Thankfully, we have Motorola and Microsoft to help stem the tide of conformity.
That said, in terms of build quality, the S6 looks like a great improvement over its predecessor. The bad news for Samsung, I’m guessing, is that build quality comes at a cost. And even though I don’t like to put companies on blast for making $4.5 billion in profit, the media isn’t quite so kind.