[Editorial] Starting at Zero: The Story Behind the Design of the Galaxy S6

on April 23, 2015 by Minhyouk Lee
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Over the coming days, Samsung Tomorrow will be featuring a series of editorials by some of the leading designers and engineers who made the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge a reality. In the first installment, Minhyouk Lee, Vice President and Head of the Design Team at the Mobile Communications Business, discusses how the design for the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge was born and how it came to fruition. Lee has overseen the design on the entire Galaxy flagship series. Lee worked on a team that included Senior Designers Hye-Jin Bang, Ji-Young Lee Hyok-Su Choi and Hong-Ku Yeo and writes on behalf of the entire group.




We began at zero. It was about returning to the beginning. The prime point of focus was the product’s fundamentals. The prototype of the Galaxy S6 took shape in the midst of heavy contemplation to preserve that essence.


An essence refers to a core without superfluous details. The ideal Samsung design was to be simple and yet innovative. As a designer, refining the smartphone, which is an integrated form of cutting-edge technology, is an attractive challenge. Until now, we were focused on delivering everything we could offer but this time, we returned to the very beginning to capture the essence of what Samsung wanted to extend to its consumers.


This was how the concept of “Beauty Meets Purpose” was born. Galaxy S6’s delivers an elegant balance between innovative form and ergonomic function.




By focusing on core design principles, the first step was to incorporate organic materials to deliver authenticity. After much consideration, glass became the obvious choice. Glass has depth even at its thinnest, so it was a perfect solution as a key component of its design.


Water was the inspiration behind the design because of its purity and malleability in color and depth. The Galaxy S6 uses 2.5D glass, which creates a water-like appearance with its rounded edges and flat surface. Samsung has used this glass since the Galaxy S3. Like a metal bowl filled to the brim with water, the glass is beautifully wrapped in metal to symbolically represent a dynamic harmony of reliable technology and creative design.




The back glass consists of a color pattern that delivers the depth of reflected light. If you inspect the glass closely, it looks diamond-cut for this reason. If you magnify the structural layer, you can see thousands of layers emitting light. Through the reflection of light from different angles, diverse and enchanting colors are created to deliver a mystical feel. The process to achieve a successful end result with various colors and a vacuum plating effect was developed after numerous attempts to get it just right.


The sleek metal and glass design is at the core of the Galaxy S6’s beauty. The refined sides were created with an elaborate cutting process, creating lines that resemble a metal bowl overflowing with water. The design enables a comfortable grip, while providing convenient access to the side keys.




Sidelines have been part of Samsung smartphones’ unique design identity since our Galaxy Alpha. Producing thinner phones made it increasingly more difficult to maintain this aspect, but we were able to stay true to Samsung’s design heritage.


Above all, the peak point of unique and differentiated sculptural beauty lies in the dual edge glass of Galaxy S6 edge. Samsung had already launched the Note edge with a curved display. This evolved into the dual curved display of the Galaxy S6 edge. The concept for the edge screen of Note edge was more of an extra screen that is attached to the main display. Galaxy S6 edge, on the other hand, is a design aspect that provides a 3D effect with both sides curved. It appears to feature one display, and the device’s grip has also been improved.




Galaxy S6 is aimed at customers who want an innovative and classic product featuring the usability of prior models. Galaxy S6 edge, on the other hand, was designed to surprise and delight consumers through the innovative form factor.


The best part of this project was that we could continuously develop and refine the original design. With Galaxy S6, we had one voice and goal from start to end. Similar to the tempering process to harden metal, we pushed forward with one goal. New material, color and construction methods were used to develop a simple design that delivered the fundamentals to customers without added complexities.


If I had to sum up the core of our philosophy in one word, it would be innovation. Innovation is the keyword that captures the immutable philosophy of our design. We focus on innovation in all that we do.



From left: Hong-Ku Yeo, MinHyouk Lee, Ji-Young Lee, Hye-Jin Bang, Hyok-Su Choi

by Minhyouk Lee

Vice President and Head of Design Team at the Mobile Communications Business

Products > Mobile

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