The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is the hottest handset of 2015 and we’ve dug deep into the phone’s features and capabilities to deliver this in-depth review. As you know, the South Korean giant has launched two flagships and has stepped out of its safe zone to deliver something really unique. The Edge version is what’s catching everyone’s eyes thanks to its dual-sided curved display, despite it being almost identical to its sibling. And we’ve put it through its paces (scroll down for our video review) to see whether it’s worth the aforementioned title or just another over-hyped disappointment like its predecessor.
Specifications quick read:
– OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
– Display type: 5.1-inch dual edge AMOLED touchscreen
– Resolution: 2560 x 1440 pixels
– Processor: 64-bit octa core Exynos 7420
– RAM: 3GB
– Storage: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB options
– Connectivity: Wi-Fi ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, 4G LTE, IR blaster, GPS
– Battery: 2600mAh capacity
– Camera: 5MP front, 16MP rear w/ OIS and f1.9 aperture
– Dimensions: 142.1 x 70.1 x 7mm
– Weight: 132 grams
‘If you’ve seen one Galaxy smartphone, you’ve seen ’em all’ – This is something we’ve heard a lot about Samsung devices in the past and the statement is quite true even today. It’s only with the new flagship phones that things are finally starting to change as the company has finally deviated from the traditional monotonous design to something that’s not only fresh, but also unique.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are more or less identical and just adding two subtle curves to the sides of the latter’s display makes all the difference. This small change has a huge impact on the phone, giving it looks which are more appealing compared to that of the former. But unlike in the Note 4, these curves are mainly here for the aesthetics and less for enabling new features. You could say that Samsung threw in exclusive software content just to give more purpose to the design.
Don’t get us wrong here – This flagship device is by far the most premium looking piece of hardware we’ve seen come out of the South Korean giant in many years. It has a great feel in hand – A little uncomfortable to hold at start, but you’ll get used to the curved design. Samsung has opted for a full glass body on this handset and it has chosen the Gorilla Glass 4 protective coating from Corning as the main line of defense.
While the full glass body does add to the phone’s attractiveness, the rear can be quite a mess as it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get covered up in smudges and it isn’t a pretty sight. Sandwiched between the two layers is a metal frame which we’re happy to see in place of polycarbonate. What we’re not really content about is that the sides (top and bottom to be specific) are styled in a fashion almost identical to what you’d find on the iPhone 6 series.
As you’ve guessed, the Edge has a unibody design which means that there’s no removable back panel and also no swappable battery onboard. Samsung has even eliminated a few other much-loved features such as a microSD card slot and water resistance which were great additions on the Galaxy S5. A quick run through the components on the exterior – Above the display is the secondary camera, while the physical home button which also doubles as a fingerprint reader can be found below.
The recent apps and back buttons are also located here and are hidden from plain sight until illuminated. Flip over to the rear and you’ll be presented with the main camera, an LED flash and the heart rate monitor. The top edge has a nano-SIM tray and an IR blaster, while the bottom plays host to a 3.5mm audio jack, a loudspeaker and a microUSB port. Overall, the device is really lightweight at 132 grams and also pretty slim at 7mm with the thickness going even lower at the tapering edges.
Display and audio:
As with all flagships from the South Korean giant, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge also comes with a top-notch AMOLED display. The company has taken things a step further by bumping the resolution from 1080p to QHD 2560 x 1440 pixels and it has done so on a 5.1-inch panel. Now, there’s still a lot of debate over the need of so many pixels especially since there aren’t many benefits in such a small design. Also, higher the resolution means more battery consumption and more workload for the GPU.
Nevertheless, the display used here is nothing short of amazing. Clarity-wise, we couldn’t ask for more and the colors look rich and really pop. If you’re worried about over saturation, you know, since it’s an AMOLED panel, the color reproduction is very realistic compared to what we’ve seen before. Also, this is the same screen that has been used on the Galaxy S6, but the curves do make a bit of difference as they create a more immersive experience.
Swiping through menus generates a 3D-like effect and the subtle curves don’t hamper viewing. They do have a small downside though – You can clearly notice a slight shift in contrast just where the edges begin and we’ve also seeing a pinkish hue which is a bit annoying. Despite this, we didn’t notice any issues with the viewing angles as content looks clear from all sides. And where audio via the single loudspeaker is concerned, the output is pretty decent with clear and crisp sound that could use a bit more punch. We’re yet to see a good enough challenger to HTC’s BoomSound setup and we doubt Samsung will be the one to deliver, at least not anytime soon.
With the Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung ditched Qualcomm and used its own Exynos chipset instead. The move is certainly a surprising one, but there are many benefits from integrating homebrewed hardware, lower implementation and production costs being some of them. And the company’s own silicon hasn’t really been a slouch over the years at it has managed to go toe-to-toe with Qualcomm’s flagship chipsets. The Exynos 7420 is no exception as it’s based on the latest 64-bit architecture from ARM and coupled with high performance graphics.
It comprises of quad 2.1GHz Cortex A57 cores and quad 1.5GHz Cortex A53 cores. Also, the giant has used the 14nm fabrication process which not only saves up on a lot of space, but also reduces the overall power consumption. Where performance is concerned, this octa core SOC combined with the Mali-T760 GPU and 3GB of RAM will run almost everything you throw at it. Even the most demanding of games is no issue for the new chipset and we barely noticed the phone heat up. And if did, the rear panel around the camera only reached a mild temperature.
Where benchmarks matter, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge blew through AnTuTu by achieving a score of 70802 which is amongst the highest we’ve seen so far. Devices with the Snapdragon 810 manage about 61000 in the same tests. On 3DMark Ice Strong Unlimited, the phone scored 21738 points which is pretty good, but not enough to beat Nvidia Tegra K1’s 30047 score on the Shield Tablet.
Like in last year’s flagship, the S6 Edge also has a fingerprint reader integrated into its home button on the front. What’s different here is that you no longer have to swipe your finger across the sensor for it to work as simply placing the registered portion will suffice. This makes unlocking the device quicker than before and the feature is a lot more reliable as well. The Heart rate monitor is also present on the rear and works just as it should.
We’re going to be completely honest here – We’ve never really gotten too fond of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI and that’s mainly because it was too resource hungry and forced even the most powerful of smartphones to drop to their knees even with performing simple tasks like swiping through menus. But the latest version of the UX which comes with the Galaxy S6 series is a lot different despite it looking pretty much the same. What’s changed here is that the interface works more efficiently now and is butter smooth. It’s also more clutter-free and cleaner than before.
Sadly, Samsung still hasn’t cured it of the bloatware problem and has added even more potentially unwanted services and that too from Google’s biggest rival, Microsoft. While you do have the privilege to remove these apps from the drawer, you cannot exterminate them permanently. On the upside, TouchWiz is a lot more customizable as themes are now supported and the catalog is growing by the day. There’s a lot in the new UX and we’ve covered almost all of its new and less-known features over here.
Samsung flagships have always had some of the best imaging features and the company hasn’t made the S6 Edge an exception. The phone packs a 16MP Sony-made IMX240 sensor with OIS which similar to what you’d find on the Note 4, but this snapper also has an f/1.9 aperture which lets in more light, resulting in better low-light captures. Images we snapped up turned out bright and also had vivid colors. And the blazing fast shutter speed left behind no signs of ghosting even under poor conditions.
The LED flash on the rear is pretty good as well, as it offers ample lighting and doesn’t overexpose shots. Like in the S5, the new flagship also does 4K video capturing and combined with hardware stabilization, you get clear, shake-free and crisp footage.
Software-wise, the camera app UI is cleaner than before and also non-obstructive. Controls are simple and placed along the sides, putting more emphasis on what’s visible through the viewfinder. The usual set of capture modes is available to no surprise, but there is a new welcoming addition to the list. With Pro mode, you can tweak various settings such as the ISO, white balance, exposure, focus and color, giving you more control over the final results.
Almost everything on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge from its design to display to processor to memory provisions, has been improved over last year’s model, but the battery capacity hasn’t. In fact, the 2600mAh power pack is smaller compared to the S5’s 2800mAh cell and this does raise concerns since there’s a beefier processor and a higher resolution display onboard the new flagship. Somehow, the phone doesn’t fail miserably in this category as it manages to deliver average activity time on a single charge.
We conducted our usual tests and managed to achiever just over 4 hours of demanding gaming, while video playback at 2K resolution clocked in better results of around 7.5 hours. A single day’s worth of moderate to semi-heavy usage is what you can expect from this device. As we mentioned above, there’s no removable battery here. So be sure to have a wall charger close by during those long trips. On the upside, Samsung has finally integrated wireless charging with support for both Qi and PMA standards.
– The best looking device we’ve seen from Samsung in a very long time.
– The dual edge screen does create a more immersive experience and gives the phone its premium aesthetics. Also, the 2K AMOLED panel used here is one of, if not, the most amazing display we’ve come across on a smartphone.
– Top-notch performance and we couldn’t ask for anything more.
– Despite the premium looks that the dual edge display delivers, the implementation is still quite gimmicky as there isn’t all that much you can do with the curves.
– Battery life leaves much to be desired. Also, the battery isn’t user-replaceable.
– No microSD card slot which is a disappointment.
– MHL and HDMI connectivity have been dropped as well – Not what you’d expect from a flagship device.
Despite its flaws, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is still a superior phone amongst its peers and it’s also a brand new start for the company. Our only hope is that from here on things get better and a lot of previously loved features excluded in the new flagship get re-implemented in future releases. For the brilliant display, dazzling beauty and superior camera, we’re giving the phone a 4.5 out 5 rating. Prices stand at Rs 58900 (32GB), Rs 64900 (64GB) and Rs 70900 (128GB).
And now we come to the important question everyone’s been asking – So which version should I get? Simply put – If the Galaxy S6 is a chocolate doughnut, the S6 Edge is the one with sprinkles on top. It’s all the matter of preference – Would you pay more for the curved edges that give the handset premium aesthetics, but don’t really offer much in features, or save quite a bit and go for the normal model with the same core hardware and capabilities?