Following the poor reception of the Galaxy S5, Samsung brought two Galaxy S series flagships to the table: the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, which showcased an all-new curved display. The demand for the Galaxy S6 Edge has been high, but is Samsung's flagship all it's cracked up to be? Find out in our Galaxy S6 Edge review.
- Inventive new design
- Simplified software interface
- Stunning display and video quality
- One hour charge for 100% battery
- Non-removable battery
- No microSD card support
- Steep asking price
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge release date and price
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge release date was April 10 2015, and the Galaxy S6 Edge price is around US$580. At the time of its release, the S6 Edge cost US$800 off-contract.
While these prices are considerably high, it's important to note that with this device, Samsung has set the bar for premium smartphones in 2015 – and perhaps even started a revolution – with its clever innovation. Much like in 2011 when Samsung introduced the term 'phablet' with the Galaxy Note, it's entirely possible that the S6 Edge is the beginning of a new smartphone trend.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge design and build quality
The Galaxy S6 Edge is one sleek machine. It has the glass and metal finish that many have been crying out for from Samsung, the first time that the manufacturer has used these materials on a high-end smartphone. It's slim, sophisticated and surprisingly lightweight.
The side-panels of the Galaxy S6 Edge are narrow and slim, making it feel slightly sharp. After using it for several weeks, we can't say that the design got any more comfortable to hold. This seems to be the current price to pay for a dual-edged screen though.
The dedicated volume buttons are located at the top of the left edge, and the lock/power button is just above the middle of the device on the right-hand side. The button placement is well-suited to right- or left-handers, but your index finger might naturally sit a little higher than the lock/power button if you're holding the S6 Edge in your left, and your thumb will be a little higher up when holding it in your right.
It feels slightly awkward to have to slide down to access the power button every time you unlock the phone, but it's not uncomfortable, as such.
In daily use, the smartphone can be held and operated in one hand without any problems, and it has a strong grip. Maybe too strong – the rear glass will quickly become masked in fingerprints. Still, this is preferable to a device that slips out of the hand too easily.
The design of the Galaxy S6 Edge does favor style over comfort. It's beautifully thin, but this means that it's not an especially pleasing device to hold. How much this matters will depend on your personal taste; it's certainly not a deal breaker. I'd predict that the majority of those who purchase an S6 Edge will never complain about its thin sides.
What people might complain about, however, is the lack of removable battery and microSD card slot. Samsung has done away with these features on both the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, but despite a mass of complaints, the lack of expandable storage and removable battery doesn't seem so significant to us. There are plenty of online storage options available to users now, and Samsung has included some excellent charging solutions to pacify removable battery fans (more on this later).
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge display
The Galaxy S6 Edge has one of the highest resolution displays that can currently be found on an Android device, and it’s one of the best we’ve ever seen. The display comes in at 5.1 inches, similar to that of the Galaxy S6, and it's loaded with pixels; picking them out individually is near-impossible.
The screen technology is super AMOLED, which Samsung has been using since the Galaxy S, and it has a QHD (1,440 x 2,560 pixels) resolution. The Galaxy S5, by comparison, has a Full HD (1,080 x 1,920 pixels) display.
The biggest thing that sets the Galaxy S6 Edge apart from other devices is, of course, the sloping sides of its screen. These sloping sides provide additional functionality, but also work to great when watching videos. It's not 3D, but it somehow gives videos a more "energetic" feel that you don't get with other smartphones.
The S6 Edge displays houses around 577 pixels per inch. This is an impressive number, and the Edge has an impressive screen tone to boot. If you find it too garish, however, it is possible to change the contrasts with four pre-set options (adaptive, cinema, photo and basic).
The S6 Edge is protected by Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and the back. The fourth generation of Corning's glass improves display durability by an estimated 80 percent compared with conventional glass on other smartphones and tablets.
The screen is a joy to look at; it's extremely detailed and has rich color and contrast. It is hard to avoid some glare from the sloping sides, but this is a small complaint, and the subtle 'wipe' animation when you lock the device is an elegant overtone. In terms of screen responsiveness, taps and swipes on the display are interpreted almost instantly by the S6 Edge. It's a real gem.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge special features
Among the standout features of the S6 Edge is the fingerprint scanner which can be accessed in lock screen settings. You can configure multiple fingerprints to unlock your device, as well as adding a backup password to use in case the fingerprint scanner malfunctions. Not only can your fingerprint be used to unlock your device, you can also connect to the Web, check your Samsung account, or make a payment with Paypal.
Some argue that the fingerprint reader greatly enhances security, but we're not sold on this. What's more, you must place your finger at a specific point on the home button in order for it to be recognized, and it occasionally doesn't work. It’s a good idea, but it's not 100 percent perfect yet.
The Galaxy S6 Edge also incorporates a heart-rate monitor, just like the S5 did. You can find it within the S Health app, and it measures your heart rate using a sensor below the flash on the rear of the camera.
When you hold your finger against it, a red light is displayed while it monitors your heart rate. It's more consistent than the previous iteration on the Galaxy S5, and is a neat function for anybody concerned with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge software
The S6 Edge arrives with Android 5.0.2 and Samsung's TouchWiz UI, but it's now been upgraded to Android 5.1.1. It's expected to get Android Marshmallow, but Samsung hasn't officially confirmed this.
Samsung's latest user-interface provides the freedom to uninstall most of its pre-installed applications, except those that are crucial to the system, which is a welcome change from typically bloatware-filled Samsung devices.
With the curved edges, Samsung has introduced a brand new concept to the smartphone market, but what use do they have, besides looking good?
First up, People Edge. This feature lets you configure up to five favorite contacts which can be assigned to a side of the screen. Swiping in from the side of the screen will bring these favorite contacts into view, where you can easily SMS or email them.
The second feature, Edge Lighting, works in combination with the first. When your phone is on its stomach, the side screen will project a color onto the surface it rests on when one of your favorite contacts calls you. Because each of your favorite contacts has been assigned their own color, you can see who is contacting you at a glance.
It's a fantastic USP because it produces such a strong visual effect, making it excellent for Samsung's marketing campaign. For the end-user, though, the novelty quickly wears off.
Samsung's Information Stream is more interesting. This feature is activated by sliding your finger along the screen edge. The edge will then display information such as the current temperature, time, date, news feeds and even Twitter updates. Samsung's intention is for it to be used at night (or early morning) while the device is lying flat on a bedside table; it means you can see useful information without having to pick up the handset.
This seems like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, though. I'd rather pick up my phone and use if properly than perform a slide motion gesture to access to some limited functions. Information Stream just isn't all that relevant.
There are many other features to be found with the new version of TouchWiz, on top of those relating to the side display. TouchWiz now provides access to a wide range of customization options, as well as all-new themes, while Download Booster makes a welcome return.
Located in the additional connection settings, Download Booster combines Wi-Fi and LTE networks for faster download speeds for files larger than 30 MB. This feature isn’t new, but it’s still excellent.
There is also a new gesture command, which enables you to launch the camera by tapping twice on the home button. It’s convenient, super fast, and reduces the chances of you missing a perfect photo opportunity because you were waiting for your camera app to launch. It's a fantastic idea, which has been perfectly implemented.
Sadly, Samsung has not followed LG's lead with a "knock on" effect, in which you can wake the screen by tapping on it twice. If you've never had a phone with this function before, you probably won't mind, but if you have, you'll miss it.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge performance
The performance dished out by the Galaxy S6 Edge is generally very impressive. During our first few weeks with the device we noted how Samsung's UI would stutter from time to time, but a few updates later, it seems that this has now been addressed.
When we discuss performance, this concerns all of the device components including the touch screen, processor, graphics chip, RAM, internal memory, cameras and connectivity.
After splitting with Qualcomm, reportedly over fears that the Snapdragon 810 chipset was overheating in some devices, Samsung decided to use its own Exynos 7420 processor for the S6 Edge release in the west. Whether this was a good decision or not, I'm pleased to report that the S6 Edge suffered no overheating issues throughout my time with the device, even after running an intensive performance test for 30 minutes.
The graphical capability of the Galaxy S6 Edge is outstanding, the only disappointment is that few apps and games can make full use of such power yet.
With powerful components together and well-optimized software, the S6 Edge is one of the fastest devices around. Its Antutu benchmark results provided an average of 61,493, which is a very respectable score. To provide some context, in our independent tests, the S6 Edge+ achieved an average score of 69,456, the Nexus 6P came out with 52,845, and the Galaxy S5 averaged 44,095 when running Android Lollipop.
What this means is that the Galaxy S6 Edge is a capable handset and will be for the next few years. Check out our fastest Android phones article for further insights into current flagship performance.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge audio
When confronted with a high-end smartphone worth more than 800 dollars, I expected superior audio quality. With only a single speaker for music playback, the Galaxy S6 Edge audio is substandard compared with other modern flagships, although Samsung has introduced a Sound quality and effects section to try to make up for what it lacks in hardware.
Within this menu there are three options, the first of which is called Adapt Sound, which allows you to configure a personal sound setting for when you make calls, listen to music or watch videos.
The second option is SoundAlive+, which simulates a surround sound effect, and the third is Tube Amp, which recreates the warm tone of a tube amplifier. It’s an good package of sound enhancements for use with headphones, but none of them add anything substantial to the single speaker playback.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge camera
Both the rear and front cameras on the Galaxy S6 Edge are best-in-class. Samsung can always be relied upon to deliver on its flagship smartphone displays and cameras, and once again it proves itself in the photography stakes with truly outstanding image quality.
The rear camera has approximately 16 million pixels, meaning it can take photos with up to 5,312 x 2,988 pixels in 16:9 ratio. On the video side, you can choose any resolution from VGA (640 x 480) up to UHD (3840 x 2160). There are a number of devices out there right now that are capable of the same raw numbers, and have been since last year. It's Samsung's image processing software that sets this handset apart.
Samsung has optimized its own image processing technology to ensure that photos and videos taken in dark environments look better than ever before. The image quality is always lower at night than during the day, but low-light photos taken with Samsung's S6 and S6 Edge show significantly less noise than the competition.
The camera installed on the front is a 5 MP snapper, capable of taking pictures up to 2,592 x 1,944 pixels in 4:3 aspect ratio. Here once again the pictures are of an excellent quality. Video calling in Hangouts or Skype looks great, as do selfies.
It was recently confirmed that not all Galaxy S6 Edge models use the same camera, but whether you end up with the Sony IMX240 image sensor or the Samsung ISOCELL equivalent, it's still possible to capture stunning photos and videos both indoors and outdoors. Check out video below for an explanation of some of the Galaxy S6's camera features – the same can be found on the S6 Edge.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge battery
The Galaxy S6 Edge's glorious QHD display and lightning fast processor come at a price: the Edge can't survive for more than a day under intensive use. This is somewhat unsurprising given that this could be the best display currently on the platform, and the display is where most of the battery life is used up. Still, be prepared to charge the Galaxy S6 Edge often.
Thankfully, Samsung has introduced some solutions to soften the blow of quickly diminishing battery life. The first is a quick-charge function provided by the Samsung charger, which enables you to charge the S6 Edge to 100 percent battery life in about an hour.
This is an outstanding feature and should be a regular fixture on every smartphone in the future. While it's useless if you don't have access to a power source, the chances are most people will encounter one at least once within a 24-hour period, and the ability to significantly top up your phone in just 10 or 15 minutes is wonderful.
The second feature is the ability to charge the device wirelessly with an optional Qi charger. This doesn't charge the S6 Edge as quickly as the regular charger does, but it makes things a little more convenient. Neither of these solutions affect how battery life is consumed, necessarily, just how it is recovered.
Beyond the charging features, it is possible to extend the Galaxy S6 Edge’s battery life with two power saving modes. The first can limit processor performance, frame rate, screen brightness, and device vibration to add minutes, or even hours of battery.
The second, Ultra Power Saving mode, can double or even triple the battery life. It turns your device to grayscale and limits the number of usable applications, effectively reducing your device to minimum processing. The features that remain are: Phone, Message (SMS), Internet, Calculator, Voice Recorder, Facebook, Google+, Clock, Notepad, Twitter and WhatsApp. Here you can expect two days of battery, but it comes at the cost of a significant reduction in functionality.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge technical specifications
With the Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung has proven it is capable of the innovation that many thought it lacked. This smartphone opens up unexplored horizons and bring new ideas to the market, which has long since revolved around iteration rather than revolution.
Samsung has cut the fat from its typically bloated interface, presenting an airy UI with no unnecessary additions. What's more, the S6 Edge has introduced inventive features such as lightning-fast charging and a quick-launch camera gesture, as well as delivering on the essentials with outstanding performance, a sensational display and probably the best smartphone camera on the market.
Samsung has taken a big risk introducing the curvy S6 Edge, but I think that it could be the start of a whole new line of smartphones – from Samsung, and other manufacturers alike. The Edge functions might not set the world on fire right now, but we can't wait to see how this technology can be developed in future.