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Hands-On: Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge

Article Comments  10  

Mar 1, 2015, 4:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper
updated Mar 2, 2015, 8:53 AM

Samsung trotted out two versions of its flagship smartphone for 2015 and took them in a new direction with respect to design. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge boast the highest quality materials and build we've seen from Samsung. Here are our first impressions of these two phones

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Samsung is done fooling around. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are its most serious and compelling handsets yet. They swap Samsung's cheap plastics for high-quality metal and glass. There are certainly trades-offs here, but if you're looking for a premium handset, Samsung finally has one to call its own.

It would appear that Samsung finally caved to years' worth of complaints about the low-cost materials used in its flagship devices. Apple, HTC, Sony, and others have long since moved away from cheap-feeling skins for their most important phones. Samsung's switch from plastic to metal and glass is long overdue. The difference in the look and feel of the phones is night and day. The Galaxy S5 feels like a toy next to the Galaxy S6.

Samsung decided to use two glass panels to form the front and back surfaces. The glass is Gorilla Glass 4, which Samsung says is 50% stronger than Gorilla Glass 3. It tested this relentlessly to assure people the phone won't break when dropped. The glass panels are joined by a metal band that wraps around the outside of the phone. The metal band not only looks good, but it feels good, too. It's sturdy and strong. The band has a flat edge on the GS6, but is rather thin one the GS6 Edge thanks to the curved glass.

Galaxy S6  

While the materials are new, I think the design still bears some resemblance to its older handsets. The family lines are clear enough that people should recognize the GS6 as a Samsung device. It has Samsung's distinct button array on the front, rimed in chrome, for example. The camera module on the back closely resembles the one seen on Samsung's Galaxy Note 4, and so on. It's these little touches that let you know you're holding a Samsung.

The phone has an excellent feel to it. It's light, but not too light; it's big, but not too big; and it's thin, but not bendable. The build quality of the preproduction models on hand was superb. Seams were tight, though the device isn't waterproof like last year's GS5 Active. I think most people will like it. It should fit in hands and pockets without trouble.

The front face is mostly display. The bezels on the GS6 are super thin and are, of course, non-existent on the GS6 Edge. The speaker grill and sensors/user-facing camera are above the screen. Below it, you'll see the oblong home button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner. It is flanked by capacitive back and multitasking buttons. These all worked well. I was pleased with the volume buttons and screen lock button, which are on the left and right edges, respectively. They have a great profile and excellent travel and feedback.

Galaxy S6 Edge  

Samsung made one serious concession in order to get this design to work: the battery is sealed inside. You cannot remove the glass rear cover. That may be a deal breaker for many people. Samsung made up for it a little bit by adding Quick Charge technology to the battery and by building in wireless charging (both WPC and PMA specs). That means you can charge it fast. Samsung's Ultra Power Savings mode is also on board to help manage the power consumption.

The display measures 5.1 inches across the diagonal on both phones, and each has the same quad HD resolution. They look amazing. Samsung's Super AMOLED technology has improved dramatically over the years and the resolution on these phones is stunning. The GS6 Edge does not have quite the same set of cool features found on the Galaxy Note Edge. There are, however, a couple of features reserved only for the GS6 Edge. For example, a quick swipe from the upper right corner will reveal your top five contacts, lined up in a column along the side of the screen. Even better, these contacts are color-coded. When one calls, the side edges will light up with the corresponding color so you know who's calling from across the room. Neat-o.

Samsung has moved up to Android 5.0 Lollipop for the GS6 and GS6 Edge, but covered over most of it with TouchWiz. Though Samsung was sure to adopt some of Lollipop's Material Design elements, the bull of TouchWiz looks practically identical to last year's GS5. The one app Samsung spent any time discussing during the event was the camera, which has been streamlined a bit. More of the controls are front and center and don't require users to scroll all over the place.

UI  

With Samsung's own processor under the hood, the preproduction units on hand were blazing fast. The processor is an eight-core job with four at 2.1GHz and four at 1.5GHz in what the industry likes to call a big.LITTLE configuration. The GS6 has faster RAM and faster embedded storage so it does everything in a hurry.

There's no doubt in my mind the GS6 and GS6 Edge will outsell their predecessor, the GS5. They are significantly better devices, at least as far as the design and overall aesthetic is concerned. The phones will hit US carriers on April 10. Pricing has yet to be discussed.

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Comments

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This forum is closed.

kpeterk

Mar 1, 2015, 9:49 PM

Ugh....

No removable battery or SD card SUCKS. If they seal the battery on the Note 5, I'm ditching Samsung and going back to an iPhone. The removable battery and memory cards were what made them appeal to many people and was one reason I put up with Touch wiz for so long. Take away these and I might as well get an iPhone or a stock Android phone. At least Apple has it together software and design wise.
Yep...JK Shin wasn't listening to us and Samsung don't care.....BIG mistake. That would have been a "homerun" with micro SD card and removable battery. I can deal with the battery BUT no SD card....yuuuck!!!
I feel the exact same way. I am a fan of the note series and if they do the same to that line then I will probably switch back to apple myself. I can deal with the battery but the sd card is a deal breaker for me.I know they are making bigger storage ...
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I do have a great reason for the removable battery. My S5 will randomly lock up when receiving a call. It won't stop ringing until I take the battery out. I have had this same problem on 2 different phones. The only keys it will recognize are the keys...
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organshifter

Mar 2, 2015, 2:28 AM
edited

C'mon Sammy! Revised model?

No micro SD card is an absolute deal breaker. A move like this most definitely pushes me away. Hopefully, a revised model is in the works.

I don't keep any sensitive/personal data/media on my internal storage. All pictures, videos, and documents are kept externally. If I were to ever damage my device to the point of needing a replacement, it's a must that I'm able to pull the micro Sd card. It just gives me piece of mind.

I don't really mind a sealed battery. If it's as good as the cells Samsung normally chooses, I can live with it. The Note 4 has great battery life, so I imagine that the S6/Note 5 will be no different considering how power efficient the Exynos 7420 chipset is at 14nm architecture.

I've been using a Galaxy Note 3 si...
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Unbelievable how Samsung blew it....Agree with your points...WE have Samsung because of the fact it has those capabilities...micro SD card, removable battery etc
bluecoyote

Mar 2, 2015, 2:43 PM

Is anyone surprised they're back to copying the iPhone?

I guess it's a an improvement, but this phone looks like a mishmash of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 4, which I guess is better than the turd-ugly Galaxy S3, S4, and especially the insanely ugly S5. But yeesh- Samsung just can't seem to find an industrial designer to, you know, figure out something more original for the speaker grille, frame, or edges?

Too bad that TouchWiz is still a thing.
mont345

Mar 2, 2015, 8:04 AM

Only one flaw

The only flaw that I see is the petruding camera lens on back, why would Samsung not make this flush with the back of the phone, looks so old school..
This is becoming standard. The HTC One M9 and even the iPhone 6 have protruding camera lenses, too. Physics dictate how small the optics can be in a camera and still have it be any good.
tbacba

Mar 2, 2015, 12:40 AM

Nice!

Wow, the Samsung design absolutely crushes the iPhone in the side by side photos. Way to go Sammy!
 
 
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