Opinion

MWC 2015: Should Apple feel threatened by Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9?

7 min read

02 March 2015

Former deputy editor

Apple's dominance of the business and technology worlds is seemingly unstoppable – even when the brand is hit with criticism – because, in a world where smartphones have become the norm, the iPhone is hailed as the king by many. But with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 unveiled at Mobile World Congress, should Apple be worried?

It’s fair to say that Apple is a tech brand like no other. Regardless of what any other mobile OEM does to their devices in the innovation stakes, Apple is still looked at by consumers as the most popular kid in the class that everyone wants to be friends with.

Samsung’s devices have evolved considerably over the past few years with the introduction of the powerful flagship Galaxy S range in 2010, which have incorporated everything from fitness trackers to eye-based scrolling.

Indeed, each launch achieved faster sales than the previous one: in 2010 the S reached 10m sales in seven months; the S II hit 10m sales in five months in 2011, and the S III hit 20m sales in 100 days in 2012, and the S4 hit 10m sales in a month.

However, the Galaxy S5, which was revealed at MWC 2014, didn’t have its sales figures as widely publicised as previous models, due to slower than expected sales as a report in November 2014 claimed the S5 had sold 40 per cent fewer devices than the S4.

By comparison, let’s take a look at Apple, which many naysayers said would lose its innovation and creativity in the wake of founder Steve Jobs’ death, and its newest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones. Having been released with the tagline of “the biggest advancements in iPhone history,” the devices achieved sales of 10m in the first weekend when released in September 2014.

The company opened 2015 with record fiscal Q1 figures, as CEO Tim Cook, said: “We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our revenue grew 30 per cent over last year to $74.6 billion, and the execution by our teams to achieve these results was simply phenomenal.”

So moving on to MWC 2015 – the biggest mobile trade show event in the world – we’ve seen a couple of fallen stars in Samsung and HTC attempt a revival with launches of the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9, so is it time for Apple to be worried?

Samsung has seemingly taken inspiration from its biggest rival by introducing a metal and glass design akin to that of the iPhone. For some time now, people have remarked upon Samsung’s continued plastic design, but the new look and feel could potentially win over a new audience while retaining existing users.

“With the all new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, Samsung is offering what’s next in mobility, along with a new standard to drive the global mobile agenda,” said JK Shin, CEO, Samsung. “By listening to our customers, and learning from both our success and missteps, we continuously push forward new technologies and ideas. With a reimagined design, robust partner network and novel services, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge offer users the ultimate experience in smartphone options.”

Presumably listening to customers prompted the new frame while said missteps were the low-selling S5.

Another innovation that may have been inspired by Apple comes in the form of Samsung Pay. Like Apple Pay, the mobile payment technology will support transactions via devices through fingerprint scanning and NFC, while the Samsung Knox security has been integrated throughout the device to keep data secure.

Not only does the move bring Samsung closer in line with what Apple is doing, but it’s also a clever move to become directly connected to the surging mobile commerce industry, which is set to rocket by a 77.8 per cent increase in spend in the UK this year.

Other features will include a 16MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, a thickness of just 6.88m (7mm for the Edge), weight of 138g (132g Edge), and charging speeds 1.5 times faster than the S5.

Read more from Mobile World Congress 2015:

Meanwhile, HTC’s One – the line comparable with Samsung’s Galaxy S – M9 is positioned as blending the M7 and M8 into one “iconic design”.

Cher Wang, chairwoman, HTC, said: “HTC has built its reputation on challenging expectations in the mobile industry,” said. “The HTC One M9 accomplishes this once again with stunning elegance and design, combined with smart features that help bring your world to life, connecting you in a deeper way to the things you consider most important. So much more than just a phone, the HTC One M9 is an extension of who you are.”

Is it really or is that just generic marketing speak?

Well, software on offer includes the HTC Sense 7. It will supposedly personalise apps and backgrounds by analysing the user’s photos, while location-based functionality will change the apps found on the home screen based on whereabouts to make them more relevant, while also offering points of interest, news and information.

Additionally, the M9 comes with a 20MP camera that records videos in 4K resolution, and the Eye Experience software encourages editing and creativity, which could position the device as one that very much looks to support on-the-go millennials.

Both devices won’t hit the market until late March / early April, so Apple still has a head start with the iPhone 6, but it doesn’t seem as though either the S6 or M9 will truly interfere with the cult-like following Apple has cultivated over the years, and it’s unclear whether another mobile brand – or any brand altogether – will ever be able to conjure up the frenzy around new releases like Apple can.

Of course, we’ll only truly know that by waiting with bated breath for the next month to see if the deckchairs and sleeping bags come out for the arrival of the S6 and M9.