Samsung has a challenging year coming up. Its profits have been tanking throughout 2014, mostly because its high-end Galaxy smartphones aren’t selling as well as they used to. Sales of its flagship Galaxy S5 phone did not meet company expectations. A lot of Samsung’s recent misfortunes can be tied to the rise of smaller Android phone manufacturers like Xiaomi and OnePlus. Those startups make Android phones that are just as good as Samsung’s best phones but cost half as much. Xiaomi’s phones are so popular that the company is now the third-largest smartphone vendor in the world and the top vendor in China.
Samsung’s challenge for next year will be to find a way to differentiate its Galaxy phones from the rest of the cheap, generic Android devices out there. That’s part of the reason why Apple’s iPhone sales continue to grow. The iPhone may be expensive, but it provides a unique experience. Samsung can’t say the same thing about its phones. Its hardware designs and additional software features to Android don’t offer enough to justify spending an extra $300 or $400 over a Xiaomi device.
On Friday, the Android-watchers were buzzing about a new leak from Samsung on a Dutch website. Some think it’s the next flagship Galaxy S6 phone. Others think it’s another phone called the A7.
Whether it’s the next flagship phone from Samsung or not, we most likely have a peek at what at least one of Samsung’s new 2015 devices will look like. (It’s not a final version of the phone, and things could change, but it’s probably very close to what the product will look like when it launches. It could also be a fake.)
Whatever this thing is, it doesn’t look that much different from what we saw this year and the year before. It’s still mostly plastic. It probably has some metal around the edges like the new Galaxy Note 4, but it still looks like any other Samsung device. If this really is a taste at what Samsung has planned for 2015, it could be another tough year for the company. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible Samsung has dreamed up some crazy-cool new software features for the new phone that’ll make it stand out. It’s a stretch to think that, but anything’s possible. And keep in mind, Samsung isn’t totally hosed. It’s a massive company that makes everything from washing machines to medical equipment. Even if its profitable mobile division is faltering, there’s still plenty of opportunity to research the next big thing.
We’ve heard one aspect of that will be “the Internet of things,” which means appliances and other household stuff that you control over the Internet. Plus, the smartwatch market is just getting started. But in the near-term, Samsung needs to really wow the world with its 2015 smartphone lineup. Otherwise, it’s going to be another tough year.