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Samsung responds to iPhone 6 with premium metal & glass Galaxy S6, counters Apple Pay with Samsung Pay

Kicking off the Mobile World Congress event on Sunday, Samsung took the wraps off its highly anticipated next-generation handsets, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, both of which use premium glass and metal to counter the blockbuster success of Apple's iPhone 6.

Samsung has famously used cheaper materials like plastic in previous flagship handsets, giving the devices, to some, a less "premium" feel than Apple's iPhone lineup. That will change in April, however, when Samsung releases the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, handsets the company says have been "entirely redefined" from their predecessors.

The Edge model is unique with a curved display wrapping around both sides of the device. Both handsets feature Corning's Gorilla Glass 4 to protect their 5.1-inch Super AMOLED displays, and come in a range of colors including White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz (S6 only), and Green Emerald (Edge only).

Both phones feature a 16-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, and they include wireless charging compatible with any pad supporting WPC and PMA standards.

Samsung has also responded to the success of Apple Pay with its own "Samsung Pay," which will debut on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in the U.S. in the second half of this year. Samsung Pay will use both Near Field Communication and Magnetic Secure Transmission, and will be protected by Samsung KNOX, fingerprint security, and advanced tokenization.

The magnetic element of Samsung Pay is possible thanks to the company's recent acquisition of LoopPay, whose technology largely mimics normal credit card swipe functionality. Samsung says that its new Samsung Pay service has the "potential" of being accepted at about 30 million merchant locations worldwide, and has touted its payment system as the only solution with "near universal acceptance."

Fingerprint scanning on the new devices has been improved with an "enhanced touch-type fingerprint scanner," the company said. And Samsung will counter Apple's popular Find My iPhone feature with a handset tracking service dubbed "Find My Mobile."

Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge will be available starting on April 10 in capacities of 32, 64, and 128 gigabytes.

"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 and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. "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."