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printed October 19, 2017
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Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 for AT&T

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

I was genuinely impressed with how the S6 performed on AT&T's network. In my tests in the general metro NYC region, the phone maintained a strong connection to AT&T's LTE service. Not once did the device lose its connection, though it did drop to HSPA a handful of times in areas lacking LTE coverage. The device always connected calls on the first dial and did not drop nor miss any calls, either. Apps downloaded swiftly and the GS6 tackled everyday tasks like uploading photos to Instagram or Twitter in a blink.

Sound

The AT&T S6 produced better-sounding phone calls than the Sprint and Verizon models I've already tested. I was more pleased with the clarity and volume available from the earpiece. The S6 isn't the clearest nor loudest phone, but it's above average for sure. I was able to hear calls in most environments without trouble. Voice sounded good to my ears, and those I spoke with via the S6 said I sounded very good.

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The speakerphone was moderately better than the earpiece for calling purposes. The speaker offered distortion-free conversations that were loud enough to hear at a soccer game.

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. Sadly, the AT&T variant of the S6 exhibited the worst battery life of all the models I've tested. It crapped out consistently at about the 15-hour mark with heavy use, where the Sprint and Verizon models lasted closer to 16 or 17 hours. The phone has a power-hungry processor and display.

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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