So, as many of us in the tinkering mindset will likely agree, flexibility in any product is generally a good thing. Case in point: many Android smartphones over the years have shipped with removable batteries and microSD card slots. Battery runs down in half a day after a year? Swap it. Need to store 20GB of music and TV shows for a long flight (or live somewhere mobile streaming isn't a real option)? SD card to the rescue!

And in some places and situations for some people, removing those options really can be a major bummer. But when the Galaxy S6 was announced devoid of a microSD slot or user-replaceable battery, it seemed Samsung was finally waving goodbye to a large group of power users, emerging market customers, and people who just want this stuff in a sort of flippant way. Yeah, they talked up fast / wireless charging and a higher minimum storage capacity for the S6, but these aren't exact analogs to the features Samsung removed.

There's also no denying that Samsung has monetary motive here. Device storage tiers, especially, have the stink of profit margin about them. We don't know what the Galaxy S6 will cost at this point, but it's safe to assume that if you want a 64GB or 128GB model, you'll be paying out the nose to get those extra gee-bees. Maybe not Apple prices, but probably close to them. And, of course, people will buy them regardless of whether or not they're aware that the price of that flash storage is nowhere near the markup Samsung is going to charge. But, you know, market forces.

Removable batteries have long been a point of contention in the smartphone world, as fewer and fewer modern devices have them. LG and Samsung have generally been the holdouts here in the last couple years, but when Samsung unveiled the Alpha and A-series of phones in 2014, the writing seemed to be on the wall: the days of pop-off rear covers were numbered. It's entirely possible, then, that LG's G4 will be the only high-end smartphone of note in 2015 to have a removable battery, though we won't know that until it's announced.

I realize it all sounds rather gloom and doom, then, but I think the Galaxy S6 has also benefited from these changes in important ways, too. First, removing the microSD card acknowledges that Android's support of external storage generally is so pathetic as to border on worthless as anything but mountable storage for media playback, or in some cases, a dump for apps that generate large, user-created files. This in turn has caused Samsung to raise the base storage on the S6 to 32GB, which is frankly something that should have happened two years ago. Yes, it's not enough for everybody (really, I get it!), but it's going to eliminate gigabyte-anxiety for a huge number of people. And remember: Samsung will sell more of those 32GB models than the 64 or 128GB versions combined many, many times over. It's possible we won't even get the higher storage tiers here in America, because they simply don't sell well (unless you're Apple).

The removable battery has also allowed Samsung  to make the Galaxy S6 feel and look almost infinitely more premium than its predecessor. The Galaxy S5 isn't quite at LG G3 / Nexus 5 levels of build quality, but there's no denying the phone feels cheap and flimsy compared to similarly-priced phones from HTC or Sony. The S6, in turn, makes similarly-priced phones from HTC or Sony seem a bit cheap and hacked-together - it's that much of an improvement. And there's no way Samsung could have accomplished that while keeping a removable rear cover (granted, they could have still kept an SD slot).

So, what do you think: is the S6 DOA for enthusiasts, or has Samsung's abandonment of flexibility resulted in a phone that's likable enough to be worth the sacrifices?

Have the loss of a removable battery and microSD card made the Galaxy S6 a better or worse phone?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...