What is the Samsung S6 Edge?
Due to the S5's poor reception and sales, the new S6 became even more eagerly anticipated. Available in both traditional screen and the subject of this review, the dual Edge version, Samsung are hoping this all new S6 will tempt users back after last year's disappointment. Both the S6 and S6 Edge boast a 5.1" 2560 x 1440 resolution QHD Super AMOLED display with 577ppi, 2.5 and 2.1Ghz Octa-core CPU, 3GB RAM, 16MP rear camera, 802.11ac WiFi and in what represents a complete change by Samsung, a non removable battery and no expandable storage due to the removal of the SD card slot, with fixed storage options being 32, 64 and 128GB. At around £600 sim free for the 32GB version, this isn't small change and puts it in the same price range as Apple's iPhone 6. Read on to see how it fares in our review.....
Design and Connectivity
If you can look past the loss of those, then you will see a Smartphone that is a real thing of beauty. The S6 Edge with the screen curving on both sides towards the metal bezel and an all glass rear panel is in this reviewer's opinion, the most stunning Smartphone we have ever seen. It is very comfortable to hold, although the Edge version does take some getting used to as quite often you will grab the phone and be pressing on the back panel before realising you have it the wrong way round, or perhaps that was just this reviewer! It really looks the business and feels very well made too. It's currently available in Black Sapphire, White Pearl, Gold Platinum and Blue Topaz, all of which complement the design perfectly.
To the front we have the physical home button (which also acts as the fingerprint scanner) and it's surrounded either side by the back and current app touch buttons. The headphone jack is located to the bottom, alongside the speaker and the multipurpose jack for connecting the power charger or USB cable. Power button is to the right, with the volume buttons on the left. The rear panel houses the camera which extends from the rear by about 1mm, as well as the flash and heart rate monitor. In another disappointing change from the S5, two more features that have now disappeared are MHL support and USB OTG. Samsung are clearly pushing people away from cables to an all wireless environment, which is fine unless you have devices that aren't compatible or a car stereo that you can no longer connect your phone too. Measuring 142.1 x 70.1 x 7.0mm thick, the S6 Edge certainly maximises the screen to body ratio and it feels very light too, despite the all metal and glass design, weighing in at just 131 grams.
Moving on, the high specifications continue with the stunning SuperAMOLED 2560 x 1440 Quad HD display, the latest 802.11ac dual band WiFi, 16MP rear camera capable of UHD 4K video recording @ 30FPS and a 5MP front camera. As you'd expect the phone has the latest Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and has full 4G LTE and FDD capabilities along with a 2600mAh (2550 in the non edge S6) battery with fast charging and wireless charging with the correct accessories.
The two benchmark apps we currently use are both free to download via the Play Store. Firstly using PassMark's Performance Test Mobile we have a superb average System score of 7835. Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 at just 5782 and you can see how far the S6 has come in terms of performance. The S6 sits alongside the HTC Nexus 9 tablet as the current best performing Android devices according to PassMark's benchmark score chart. Now with 3D Mark and using the Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark we received a reasonable 21,082. Not quite the result we were expecting here as whilst this is a good score and exceeds our Note 4 test of 20,484 and other submitted results including last year's S5 Plus of 21,443 it's not the leap we were expecting following the excellent PassMark benchmark result.
Benchmarks have their place, but it's real world performance that really matters. Testing with several games such as Real Racing 3, Air Attack HD, Dark Meadow and Soulcraft presented no problems to the S6 and they all ran quick and played very smoothly with no stuttering. The Quad HD display helping to give them that edge. One game we found that the S6 couldn't quite cope with was Simpsons Tapped Out with a frame rate that was just a tad too low to make for a smooth playing experience, especially if you happen to have a big town. The dual window feature worked as expected with no issues when playing a YouTube video on one half and various other apps such as Chrome and Google Maps on the other.
Whilst that all sounds great, we did occasionally experience lag when not really doing much with the S6. At random points it would take several seconds from unlocking to get to the home screen or going straight to an app. Given the specification the general use just doesn't feel as smooth as we would have expected. Most of the time it runs very fast, but it's these occasional slowdowns that cause a slight concern. Although as of this date Samsung have acknowledged a RAM issue and have promised a quick fix.
What features does it have?
For previous Android users, all the features are still in play here that continue to give an edge in customisability over the iPhone. The whole layout can be tweaked to suit your requirements with the adding of widgets to the home screen, pages and folders and more. Holding down the recent apps button launches the dual window mode which seems to work well with quite a good range of apps compatible and if an app is already open, holding the same button will automatically put that app into one half of the screen with a menu of compatible apps shown in the other half. Holding down the home button launches Google Now. Which if you want to know just how much Google knows about your life, then this is the app for you. Google Now can also be used to open apps on the phone or even turn the flashlight on.
Swiping from the left gives you the Flipboard Briefing. This is a magazine style layout of all the latest news taken from a multitude of popular sources covering multiple topics. It can be heavily configured to show just the topics you wish to see such as news about a particular subject or technology news just on iPhones, for example. It does work very well and is a great way of getting a wide range of the latest news topics instantly. But again as this is Android, if you don't like it then you can simply turn it off. It can't unfortunately be removed or changed to something different as it is part of the TouchWiz layout.
Swiping to the right will cycle through the various pages and swiping from the bottom currently has no function. As is the norm on most Android devices, swiping from the top will bring down the menu with quick access to various options such as turning the Wi-Fi on or off, Bluetooth, Flight Mode and Torch. Here we also find the S Finder which is very similar to Spotlight Search on iOS which will search your entire phone for any emails, files, apps etc matching the words you enter. Next to that we have the Quick Connect which is a very nippy solution for mirroring the S6's display to another device such as a TV.
The S6 also has an array of Samsung apps that are either pre-installed or ready to install. S Health is the main one which is heavily integrated into the phone and will tell you how many steps you have taken, what your heart rate is via the heart rate monitor (although how accurate that sensor can be is open to debate) and it can even track your caffeine intake, you do have to manually enter that information though, the S6 isn't that clever! The others worthy of a quick mention are S Voice which is similar to Siri and Smart Manager which shows the devices current status with an option to 'clean all' which basically empties the cache and closes any running apps.
Samsung again have impressed with their Galaxy Gifts. This is a very wide range and comprehensive set of apps with either exclusive free content or fully paid up subscription periods. A free book per month with Kindle, 3 months of free music from Deezer, 12 weeks of the NY Times, ad free version of Shazam and a couple of games such as The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and Dragons of Atlantis which give you free resource packs which are basically in game credit that you would normally have to pay for. Whilst there will be apps you won't need or subscriptions you won't be interested in, a load of free stuff is certainly something you'd never see come with an iPhone.
Lastly we'll cover the Edge screen functionality which was first seen on the Note 4. The S6 screen edge disappointingly offers a much more trimmed down version than the Note 4 as the curved screen is more of a design feature on the S6 as opposed to a functionality feature on the Note 4. With the phone in standby, swiping quickly down and up on the far edge of the screen will turn on the edge display. This can be configured to work on either side of the phone, but only one side at once. It will show the weather, time and date, battery life and then can be cycled through other feeds to show any notifications, news updates, sports results and more. You can configure and add feeds although not that many appear available at this time. The Edge screen can also be used to show a night clock and when setup will light up just the edge of the screen when calls or notifications are received. In theory it has several uses, but we've found it to get hardly any use in practice.
How good is the camera?
has an f1.9 aperture for better results in low light, an LED flash, optical image stabilisation, fast tracking auto focus and HDR. Samsung also claim this to have a launch time of just 0.7 seconds and whilst we can't accurately time that it does launch very quick. Either by swiping the camera icon up to the top left of the lock screen or even easier by quickly pressing the home button twice, even in standby. It certainly helps to ensure you won't miss that photo opportunity that requires swift action. The front camera is 5MP.
The stock camera app has plenty of options to satisfy most novice photographers and also includes a 'pro' mode for those more advanced who actually know what metering, iso and other photography terms mean. Along with the pro mode you get slow motion, fast motion, panorama, selective focus and also a virtual shot mode which when activated allows you to circle around an object and the camera creates a sort of Matrix style shot. We also have HDR and various style effects. On the video side of things we get UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution @30FPS recording, QHD (2560 x 1440) and 1080P @ 60FPS. The slow motion is 120FPS at 720p.
The camera is easily one of the best we have yet encountered on a Smartphone. In all light conditions the quality is excellent and the UHD 4K videos played back on our Samsung 4K TV really do look fantastic. It doesn't quite have the autofocus speed that we saw with LG's G3 Smartphone, but overall it performs superbly. Similar to the G3, the S6 has a burst mode which will activate when you hold your finger on the capture button, you can see the image count quickly start to increase and it will take 30 shots in just about 3 seconds. It all makes our iPhone 5's camera look like it should go and hide under a rock in shame.
What about the Quad HD Display?
As seen with previous Samsung devices there are 4 screen modes which will adjust the display accordingly. Adaptive display which optimises the colour range, saturation and sharpness automatically, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo and the basic mode. Along with the display modes there is Smart Stay which detects your face with the front camera and will stop the phone from going into standby and Daydream which allows you to control what happens when the device is in standby, from a simple colour screensaver effect to displaying your Google Photos or acting as a digital photo frame. We can't comment enough as to how impressed we were with the S6's display. It is currently one of the best displays we have seen and quite possibly the best available on the market.
Is the audio quality any good?
How good is the battery life?
With our standard YouTube 480P video test, the screen set to 50% brightness and all other features on as standard we achieved 6 hours 33 minutes and strangely with Netflix HD we achieved more at 8 hours 12 minutes. With gaming this was slightly less although still impressive at 5 hours. In standby the battery life reduced by 10% in just under 8 hours. With Samsung's new Ultra-fast Charging they claim 10 minutes charging should be enough for 1 movie. The fast charging certainly has merit as from completely flat to 100% took just 80 minutes, with the battery regaining 20% after just 14 minutes. The S6 also comes with wireless charging which when used in conjunction with the compatible wireless charging pads gives you a very easy way of ensuring your phone is always charged up. The wireless charging pads are widely available with official versions costing from £25 upwards and non official from under £16.
The S6 comes with a couple of battery saving modes, which are useful if you are getting dangerously close to running out of juice. The standard power saving mode limits the CPU performance, screen brightness, frame rate and has a few other tweaks to increase battery life whilst still giving you a device that can do almost everything. The Ultra power saving mode on the other hand is much more brutal. Activating this mode will turn the display greyscale and give you a very basic home screen with just 6 available app selections including the phone, messages, internet and calculator for example. Mobile data will be turned off when the screen is off and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are disabled. It is highly restrictive but if you are down to that last few battery % and are expecting an important call or message then it can certainly be useful to use.
What about media integration?
The removal of MHL has unfortunately removed several easy options of connecting the S6 to your TV. Out of the box connectivity therefore is particularly limited if you aren't the owner of a recent Samsung TV or another make that supports Miracast. Fortunately we have a recent Samsung 4K TV on site and after registering the TV with the S6 the screen mirroring worked perfectly and allowed the fast streaming of video and audio to the TV. Playing back 4K video recordings worked without any issues such as stuttering or buffering and the same applied with 1440P YouTube videos.
If you don't have a Samsung or Miracast compatible TV there are still a few options available, though none out of the box. The likes of Amazon's Fire TV, a Miracast video adapter or Google's Chromecast all should allow you to stream content from your S6 to your TV. Of those options we currently only have the Amazon Fire TV stick to test that theory with and it all connected and worked without issue.
- Stunning curved screen
- High end design
- Superb Quad HD Display
- Class leading Camera
- Streamlined TouchWiz
- Non removable battery
- No expandable storage
- No MHL
- No USB OTG
Samsung S6 Edge Smartphone Review
Should I buy the Samsung S6 Edge Smartphone?After Samsung's fairly dismal offering of the S5 in 2014 and their resulting loss of market share, they really needed to come up trumps with the S6 and we believe they have done exactly that, particularly with the stunning Edge version. The 5.1" Quad HD display is simply gorgeous with excellent colour reproduction and the specification is top notch with Samsung's own Exynos 7420 CPU and 3GB of DDR4 RAM providing the power to run it all. The 16MP camera first seen on the S5 returns but with an upgraded f1.9 aperture which helps to provide some amazing results, both with still pictures and up to 4K video recording. It is easily the best camera on a Smartphone we have reviewed to date.
Whilst the dual edge screen is a real beauty, being coupled with the complete redesign to an all-metal and glass construction, which looks and feels high-end all the way, has resulted in significant losses to Android fans. Gone is the removable battery, expandable storage and any waterproofing. The S6 is now very similar to Apple's iPhone in this regard. With the S6 Samsung has also removed MHL and USB OTG support which makes connectivity a bit of a headache. Other negatives we found were a slight laggy feel to the S6 at random times, although in apps and games performance most of the time was top notch, occasionally unlocking the phone or launching apps would take several seconds.
What else is available?Other than those few negatives, the S6 Edge definitely sees a winning return to form for Samsung. Whilst you could argue the Edge has no real use to warrant the premium over the standard S6, we feel on looks alone it is worth the extra. The main competition will always be Apple, their iPhone 6 64GB version is £619.00 compared to the S6 Edge 64GB at £599.99, or there is LG's G4 offering similar specifications to the S6 and even Samsung's own Note 4 Edge both around £500. The Samsung S6 Edge is currently amongst the very best phones money can buy, dare we say it may even be the best phone out there. It certainly has the best camera available on a Smartphone today. The S6 Edge is an easy winner of our AVForums Highly Recommended award.
Call and Signal Quality
Email, Browsing, Calandar, Contacts
App support and functionality
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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