With the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge the Koreans want to build on the successes of the Galaxy S2 and S3, since sales of the S4 and S5 weren’t so hot. Samsung has recaptured the success of the early Galaxy series with two aces, the Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge. We are putting them through a detailed review for you here.
I can’t say I was a big fan of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5. The Koreans won me over with the S2, which was a pure delight. I imported my contacts from my HTC Desire, then showed the S3 my love after that. From there, the journey of their flagship smartphone with their quad-core processors and 5-inch HD displays was just boring. Sorry, Galaxy S4 and S5, there was absolutely nothing special about you; you were safe and easy. These were two handsets that didn’t build on the success of their predecessors. They merely assumed Samsung’s marking budget would carry them forward.
This assumed success wasn’t for Samsung’s lack of effort, they gave it their all to provide the user with enhanced new features, which in hind sight demonstrated that their developers and designers have tunnel vision and forgot to build on the essentials. The needed to build simply chic and well-made smartphones, rather than handsets packed with features that don’t actually enhance user experience.
I even have the feeling that the Galaxy Note series sold much better. At the very least I meet more passionate users of Samsung phablets versus S4 or S5 owners. At least there was an alternative in Samsung’s portfolio. If they didn’t have the Note they probably would have lost all market share, and maybe even all smartphone relevance.
The Galaxy S6 & S6 Galaxy edge are a full frontal assault
Now, I’ve pretty much already taken a stand on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. I’m set to recommend these devices. I was even before I started writing this review. Both of these handsets are worthy flagship smartphones, and without a doubt I I will say that any potential buyer who is willing to pay $700 won’t regret their decision one bit.
“Project Zero” was popular with the Samsung designers. This was the internal project name for the 6 series, and makes it crystal clear that they didn’t want to rely on it’s predecessors for anything. The Galaxy S6 was “Project Zero” they were starting from scratch. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that the Galaxy S series demands a premium price. This time they’ve shed the sub par synthetic leather dimpled back, which was plasticky. This finish made them the laughing stock of the smartphone world when you looked at what their competitors were putting out on the market.
Metal frames are totally in style and the fundamental design language of this design is definitely inspired by the beautiful Sony Xperia Z series.
Those who hold the S6 will find that it has a very satisfying quality. The materials used, combined with the beautifully curved edges, makes the S6 an absolute stunner, and it’s only surpassed by its sister, the S6 Edge (which, by the way, is my personal favorite).
SIM card slots can be found on the upper-right, because for the first time in the series, the back is no longer removable. One of the only, but blatant, downsides to the handsets is that Samsung has somehow managed to make the back of the biggest fingerprint magnet in the universe. It is worse than touching a mirror after eating toast dripping with butter. As a Sony user, it makes me wonder why they didn’t use the same coating, which made their gorilla glass back slightly resistant to smears.
Pro tip: Always carry a small cloth with you, because otherwise your phone will make you look like a dirty person who never washes his hands. (What A Shame!)
What else is wrong with this smartphone? Well, neither S6 devices are waterproof. They are not protected against taking a dip, which is a feature that Samsung has heavily advertised in the past. This is really too bad, and I’ve never been the type to take a phone into the bath, or use my phone in the shower. It’s a nice feature to have… just in case.
Moving on to the S6 Edge, we have to tip our hat to what is the hottest little piece of tech porn to be released at Mobile World Congress. The last time I saw something so hot must have been the MacBook Air (just to give you a point of reference – this isn’t an argument that I use with any kind of regularity). When you take it out of the box, you get this immediate feeling that you need a glass of water. Your eyes widen and your mouth dries up. The Galaxy S6 edge triggers a sense of awe in everyone I know who has held one.
The beautiful AMOLED panel fold over the lateral edges. Display, Screen, Monitor, Panel … any synonym you can think of for the most important component of a smartphone. I look at it and it leads me to an immediate and seemingly irrational conclusion – this is how a smartphone should be. Crazy, right?
After all this gushing, what must be said is that the the S6 and S6 Edge are a little like a hybrid of iPhone 6 and Sony Xperia Z3. It’s the best of two smartphones with best in-class design. Samsung has knocked it out of the park… twice, with their dual flagship release. What we have here are two exceedingly beautiful smartphones.
One of the key features of the new Galaxy S6 smartphones are the new displays. As with the predecessor it uses a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel, but they’re now cranked up to a toasty resolution of 1440 × 2560. Now, if I’m not mistaken, we have one of the highest resolution displays when we take into account the fact that it’s only 5.1 inches. What this gives us is a hiliariously high pixel density of 577 (ppi). When we see a number like this, we have to wonder what Apple is thinking calling it’s displays Retina. Just look at what Samsung has created here.
When first hearing about a phone with two curved edges, we had to wonder if the designer might have been enjoying some mind-altering substances made in some back woods Czech laboratory. Sadly, this isn’t the case. Samsung’s decision to release a smartphone with a dual curve was the smartest move they’ve made in a long time. In terms of brightness, viewing angles, color saturation, resolution and readability, Samsung is holding the crown. Not only are they on top, but they have also released a display that has set the benchmark as the device to beat in 2015.
We know that such a statement isn’t going to sit well with Apple fans. And to be fair, Samsung doesn’t exactly have the best history when it comes to putting killer displays in their phones. Truth be told, the display on the Galaxy S2 had exaggerated color saturation, and readability in bright sunlight was far from optimal. So knowing what I know about Samsung, I would be skeptical of the OLED technology the Koreans have put into the S6 and S6 edge. But this display reminds me of my almost surreal encounter with an the 8K Sharp display back in 2009. You just have to touch this display. You’re going to want to look at photos, enjoy movies and play the most graphically intensive games. When you take two fingers and zoom in on the photo you just snapped, you won’t believe just how much detail you’re given to look at… it’s seemingly at the micron level.
I do want to caveat my stance and say that we will, at some point, see better displays. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are just the best that we’ve got to drool over at the moment. And right now we have to tip our hat and give you a top score of 10, which is very rarely handed out. Looking back at all the reviews I’ve written, I can say that I have never given a display a 10 before.
Only one speaker again, Samsung? You’ve gotta be kidding me! The built-in speaker is now at the bottom. It looks (from the outside) very similar to the one found on the iPhone 6, but it actually sounds good – it has a little more “bang”. Do not get me wrong here, the HTC BoomSound speakers are still the best around. Samsung has just come out with a solo speaker that is loud enough to fill the room. We’re not talking about a speaker to hold a little cocktail mixer by. It’s not cranking things up to the 100 decibel department, but you can be sure that every person in the room will know that you’re doing something on your phone.
The audio quality is, of course, light years ahead of what we found on mobile platforms years ago. Remember the first listening experiences? Almost like you were listening to music that was played through speakers made of melting chocolate. What we have on the S6 is almost sublime in comparison to what was on the market a few years ago. We now have a warm blanket of sound that offers us the slightest hint of bass.
The downside is that if you play games in landscape mode the speaker is going to be covered by your hand. The sound experience immediately turns into something similar to listening through ear muffs; It’s not great, but it’s unavoidable when you look at the design.
Samsung should make the move to a front-facing speaker, like Sony and HTC. Until they wake up and feel the subwoofer, we’re going to have to be satisfied is the best single-speaker around. Which, if we’re being honest, just isn’t up to the benchmark set by it’s competition.
Samsung, are you trying to make my review sound like an advertisement? It sure seems like it’s getting to that point, given that I have been saying nothing but good things about the new Galaxy S6. Only, that’s not my fault, it’s just the way the phone was made.
Previous iterations of the Galaxy Series only offered their in-house processors to East Asian handsets. With the new Exynos 7420 chipset, the Koreans are able to let go of Qualcomm’s dependency, something the Californian company is likely not enjoying. After all, the Samsung Galaxy phones are the most successful smartphones to come with a Snapdragon processor every previous year. This successful partnership has been halted completely, as now Samsung can provide everything on its own. The 7420 is by fart eh best performing SoC. The Koreans are not only beating the Snapdragon 810, they are making it look old.
In combination with the Mali-T760 MP8 (now 8 cores compared to the T760 MP6 of the Galaxy Note 4, which is supplied with the Exynos 5433), Samsung not only shows who the boss is, but also how good the ARM reference design has become. The big.LITTLE chip comes with 8 cores (ARM Cortex A53 and A57), which shoot the Galaxy S6 into completely new regions. One reason is that, unlike the predecessor, now ARM’s 64-bit architecture implemented. The ART runtime environment supported by Lollipop now takes advantage of this, and particularly Java apps are expected to get a great performance boost.
Looking at the AnTuTu benchmarks, compared to Exynos 5433 (thanks to our Friends at Android Authority), the 7420 comes with a significant boost in GPU, and RAM performance. The Galaxy S6 now sports 1552 Mhz LPDDR4 memory ( predecessor only had 825 MHz LPDDR3 RAM).
Apart from all these typical and synthetic benchmarks, we have been testing with games and I wonder how Samsung has managed to squeeze so much juice out of the ARM design. Qualcomm is clearly falling behind here. Although Californians probably still have the most popular integrated chipset on the market (they usually have the best support for wireless connections), they are falling behind and are now literally sunk by the new Exynos. And what we also should not fail to mention… the 7420 also takes on the acclaimed Apple A8 like nothing.
Within a year, Samsung has almost doubled the performance of its processor. It’s definitely something to celebrate for those who really want to see truly powerful processors.
Whoever claims a device has great performance must also mention how performance relates to battery life. This concept comes from portable computers and is now equally applied to smartphones. It’s a test Samsung, too, must pass.
We can anticipate what has now become standard; the battery in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge (2550 mAh and 2600 mAh, relatively) can take you through a full day on a single charge. You can really push this phone to the limits and kill it pretty quickly, though. Luckily, the Koreans put together their quick charging technology, which can give you 4 hours of run time (or 2 hours of HD video playback) with just a 10-minute charge. I couldn’t get the same results in our tests, but they were still good. Charging for 10 minutes would allow me to use the phone for 3 hours of run time, or 1.5 hours of video streaming, which I still think is sensational.
When testing pure video streaming with a fully charged battery and brightness set at about 60%, I was able to get about 7 hours of battery time, which displays great battery performance. Nevertheless, you realize how much Samsung’s developers had to cheat here. Who builds such a THIN smartphone that not only has a lot of storage, but also a 1440p display? The Quick Charge function is a clever solution, but what happens if you just do not have the opportunity to plug it into an outlet? I would like to se a hefty 3000 mAh battery here.
The keyword is “recharge”. Both the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge offer the possibility of wireless charging. But beware: you won’t get nearly the same charging speed. It generally takes wireless charging twice the time to charge the battery. You are pretty much still caged, to a certain extent.
At Last. The paragraph I have been most looking forward to this entire review! When the specs got leaked, this was what I was most curious about. 16 MP is more than enough. The question is: how did Samsung deal with the data? How well did they handle the software processing? Great picture quality is essential to a great smartphone. It’s the feature that people get excited about and it’s what has set Apple apart from the crowd with the iPhone 6 & 6+.
When Samsung said they were going to not only deliver a great camera, but they were going to throw down on low-light performance, which made an optical image stabilizer with an f/1.9 aperture a must. For those of you who don’t think that 16 MP was enough, you get solid features like auto-HDR and an auto-focus for moving objects. The difference is that the auto focus can follow the subject while it’s moving in video and remain in focus…not just focus in on a object and get it right.
There is a downside to all this excellent photo taking – you have to live with a small bump on the back. If you’ve had a few too many Jagermeister shots, you might be reminded of Gnubbel and his inappropriate song about a female bump. Unlike the female’s, this one is a little unsightly, but it is totally worth it because you get the optical image stabilizer. If you’re wondering why you should care, OIS means that you can focus on objects more quickly, take it out of your pocket hit a button and snap: super famous person doing something they shouldn’t be is totally captured like you’re using a DSLR (or at least not like you’re using a smartphone).
If taking quick and in-focus shots weren’t enough, you can also take recordings at night or zoom in quickly at “super famous person doing something they shouldn’t”. The moment you take your first photos or videos with the S6 or S6 Edge, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not creepy stalker talk, Samsung has really done a great job and greatly improved the outstanding camera that is widely considered best-in-class – the Galaxy Note 4’s. When the sun shines, the photos are almost perfect. This is actually something that $140 Shenzhen smartphones can do, so let’s just talk about what happens in difficult lighting conditions. You won’t believe that this is an Android smartphone! The last time I saw photos like these was from the Pure View Lumia line-up and iPhone 6+.
I’ve been spending all my time talking about the rear-facing camera, when in fact there is a large number of people who would think the front-facing camera to be more important. What we have here is a 5 MP front-facing shooter. If you are selfie-obsessed user (like I am here, with Cashy), you can see just how the iPhone camera stands out, but isn’t quite as good as what Samsung has brought to the market. Let’s take a look at what we have here with the Selfie King and the HTC One M9 (with its Ultra Pixel shooter, which is the low-light champion). We have to admit that with respect to detail, the S6 is in the lead. Besides, it also offers HDR mode on the front.
Oh, oh. here we go with the annoying TouchWiz again, right? No, not so true. Samsung has not only been listening, but has also addressed the criticism and purified the TouchWiz launcher properly.
It’s now so simple to customize Samsung TouchWiz, which is god sent. In a certain way, the Koreans pretty much pushed everything in their software before. Even features people couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams. The fundamental advantage of Android, which was that the software could adapt to you, was thwarted with this overload when those annoying water animation were on the least of your problems.
I noticed the obvious changes when I looked up and pulled down the notification area. The new flat Lollipop design is clean, and the Koreans have cut back their “featuritis”. In the past, this section looked like yuo first had to attend a 2-week basic training course in order to understand what was going on.
All jokes aside: apparently Samsung has now also incorporated a pop-up blocker. Remember how in the S5 and S4 you got an annoying message every time you tried a new feature? It was something like “Congratulations, you’ve managed to unlock level 2 of the hidden features. We think you’re doing really great.” OK, so it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the point. I am glad they decided to do away with that.
By the way… even if it’s “only” a 5.1-inch display, you can still use multi-window and “one-hand operation”. Those who swipe down from the upper-left or right corner will find themselves in a “small window mode”. I honestly don’t need it, but it’s good it’s there for those who do.
Visually, the new TouchWiz is still at the boundary between marshmallow land and Hello Kitty world. To me it is too colorful, too playful, and therefore, right after this review I am installing my beloved Nova Launcher in it. Those who would rather not get a new launcher can also download complete themes in the Theme Store and experiment with different looks.
Yes, I have special requirements and am such a “Settings fetishist”, but for the average user Samsung probably does offer one of the best launchers. Quick, easy to use and not overloaded with all sorts of useless gimmicks. Less is more, and that’s why I am saying good things about TouchWiz after a long time of crapping on it.
This beast has the best in-class display, the fastest SoC and some variants go up to 128 GB in memory.Samsung seems to have done everything right… right? At least it seems so at first glance. At least this time they managed to incorporate a fingerprint sensor that actually works. Mind you, at the same level as the iPhone 6 and Huawei Ascend Mate 7.
What I do not like is the lack of a microSD slot. Yes, there are now 32, 64 and 128 GB variants of both S6 versions, but the ability to expand storage should never be discarded..
Also, it’s no longer possible to exchange the battery. At least not in a few seconds like before. I have to admit that I have never missed that feature, though. Yes, it is quite nice to be able to just remove the back side and insert a new battery, but who does it benefit, other than geeks?
Samsung has everything that is good and expensive packed into the two S6 devices. Despite its downsides, it’s still the best equipped smartphone around.
Now it gets ugly, because the prices are steep. We’re looking at €699, and that’s only for the 32GB version. The 64GB option jumps up to €799, and the 128GB one ends up at a whopping €899. Those of you after the Edge, you’re going to have to pay €150 more, which means the top of the line will run you a shocking €1049! Honestly, for this price you can get an Ultrabook and a OnePlus One smartphone.
Samsung has set it’s pricing as high as Apple’s product line. What’s surprising is that it doesn’t seem to have hurt their pre-orders, which are estimated at 20 million globally. When the price inevitably drops €100, in a few months, the 128 GB version of the S6 Edge won’t be over €1000 anymore… at least that’s something.
I spend a fortune on gadgets. And yes, I was once an ardent supporter of the Sony Vaio Z series. I have indulged in picking up a new €3000 laptop every year… but mind you, this was due to lack of alternatives. There are alternatives that cost half as much as the S6 or Edge, and they are really great handsets. Price for these two devices gets an average score, since it’s on the high side… and the price really has nothing to do with the devices themselves, but with the air Samsung is looking to create around them.
Special features Galaxy S6 edge
We would be wrong if we didn’t take the time to talk about the edge of the Edge. To start off, it doesn’t actually have any functionality. You can’t run your finger along it to activate anything. You need to touch the flat part of the display. On the side you do get some information, notifications, alerts, contacts and a clock.
It even lights up like a race car emitting a different hue when certain people call you. It’s nice, but it’s not really useful. The decision to go with the Edge is a straight up emotional one – you’re going to raise eyebrows and get double takes because your phone is just so gawd damn beautiful. The only actual advantage that the Edge gives you is an extra 50 mAh in the battery, which should give you an extra 6 minutes and 23 seconds!
Samsung, I hate you just a little bit. Let me list the reason why: the first is that the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are making me leave the phablet and head back to a 5-inch smartphone. This doesn’t sound bad, except of the fact that the move is going to cost me a fortune. This is the first time in 3 years that I wont be holding a device that has tons of display real estate, and that is one of your devices. I have to say, I’m utterly delighted by this move, it’s a breath of fresh air and what I am about to own really shows how you have grown up in terms of your design language and overall execution. These are absolutely high-end smartphones, and not just on paper. This may be the finest little piece of hardware to ever inhale a SIM card.
The missing microSD slot, average battery life (paired with the fact that it’s not replaceable) and the fact that it’s not waterproof. Well, these are definite drawbacks, but they can be over looked because you improved TouchWiz, put in a sensational SoC, the display is the best on the market and the camera is jaw dropping. You are going to see quite a few people part with 700 Euros.
This is a heavy weight smartphone, and it’s the device that everyone else is going to have to fight to take down. Let’s start with why we gave it a 10 out of 10 for Editors Choice. It is the combination punch it delivers with all of it’s killer features. The display, SoC, and camera are the 3 most important components in a smartphone and if you win at these. Somehow it can make you forgive average battery life. The one thing Samsung did do right was include quick charge capabilities, so if you can’t get through the day 20 minutes will make everything ok.
After the Galaxy S4 and S5, which were huge disappointments, Samsung is now back in the game and winning at life! The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are the two best smartphones that we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing!
Translation provided by Edgar Cervantes and Nicole Scott. Original post comes from MobileGeeks.de.