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printed December 16, 2017
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Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 for Verizon Wireless

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  

Screen

The S6 and S6 Edge both sport a 5.1-inch quad HD screen. The S6 has a traditional, flat screen and the Edge's display wraps around the side edges just slightly. The S6 screen relies on Samsung's OLED technology and it's very bright. Colors are perhaps not quite as accurate as I'd like, but that's only because Samsung likes to boost them to appear more intense. The size and resolution are a match made in heaven. The pixel density is incredible; everything on the screen is razor sharp. I found the display quite easy to read outdoors, even under sunny skies. You can't ask for a much nicer display in a modern smartphone.

Signal

The S6 performed great on Verizon's network. In my tests in the general metro NYC region, the phone held tight to Verizon's LTE service. Not once did the device lose its connection, and I didn't see it drop down to 3G, either. The device always connected calls on the first dial — no matter how poor the connection — and did not drop nor miss any calls during my review period. Apps downloaded fast and completed mundane tasks like uploading photos to Facebook or Twitter in a blink. Raw data speeds were fantastic, and averaged close to 30Mbps.

Sound

As with the Verizon S6 Edge, the Verizon S6 didn't provide quite the same level of call quality I experienced on the Sprint versions of these phones. The Verizon S6 was simply not as loud, and not as clear. I didn't have any trouble hearing calls in semi-noisy spaces, but a bustling diner during lunch hour easily drowned out the earpiece. Worse, voices were distinctly more muffled in the Verizon S6 compared to the Sprint S6. I conducted a number of side-by-side tests and the Sprint model totally outperformed the Verizon model in this key feature. Those I spoke to through the Verizon S6 said I sounded OK, but not great.

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I was somewhat happier with calls when I used the speakerphone. The speaker offered distortion-free conversations that were loud enough for the car and other spaces, and clarity was somewhat improved compared to the Verizon S6 Edge.

Ringers and alerts will certainly get your attention without trouble, even if the phone is in a different room. The vibrate alert is strong enough for you to feel it in a coat pocket, backpack, or purse. When the phone is flat on a table, the vibrate alert will send it sliding sideways.

Battery

The S6 has a 2,550 mAh battery sealed inside the chassis, which is a step down from the 2,800 power cell inside last year's Galaxy S5 and just slightly smaller than the Edge's 2,600 mAh battery. In my heavy-usage tests, the S6 was begging for mercy after 15 hours of active time. With less-intense use I saw closer to 17 or 18 hours of uptime. The phone has a power-hungry processor and display, but does provide about one more hour of battery life compared to the Edge despite the smaller battery.

Samsung included its Power Saver and Ultra Power Saver modes. These do make a difference if you run into trouble. The first option tones down a few features and doesn't crimp the phone's performance too much. For example, it will limit the CPU a bit, turn down brightness, turn off the key backlights, and put the display to sleep faster. The second takes a more aggressive approach and kills off all but the basics. It strips the UI down to the bare essentials, goes grey-scale, and prioritizes only key functions, such as calling and messaging. These will help you save power.

I tested the S6 on two different wireless charging pads I have. It worked with both. It charged slowly, but it had no problem switching between the two different standards used by the pads. The phone is very quick to charge when plugged into the supplied wired charger.

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