THE GALAXY S6 – DESIGN AND FEATURES
Admittedly, I enjoy the layout on the Samsung Galaxy S6, but that’s probably because I like the design on the iPhone 6. Samsung has returned to rounding the corners of its devices (something it dropped after the Galaxy S4). It also has an aluminium band around the edge like on the Galaxy Note 4, and the back is made of glass similar to the Sony Xperia Z3.
CNET and TechRadar have praised these design choices, and one could not blame them for doing so. However, despite these premium design options, the phone still just feels cheap. Holding it in my hand, it just didn’t seem to be as high quality as, say, the HTC One M9. The glass backing didn’t even seem as friendly as the Xperia Z series.
The phone looks too much like the iPhone 6. Seriously. Like, potential lawsuit similar. I appreciate the fact that Samsung wanted to go in a bold, new direction with the Galaxy S6… it’s just the same, bold direction as the iPhone. The camera on the phone, again like the iPhone 6, protrudes slightly. It’s understandable because the choice offers better optics, but it does leave the camera exposed for potential damage. The speakers are also on the bottom, which as I’ve said in multiple reviews before, is ridiculous at this point. Front-facing speakers should be an industry standard.
Samsung also reduced the battery size so that they could fit it into the phone’s thin frame. We will talk about how this affects battery performance in a moment, but for now, let’s focus on how it affects the design. I don’t mind that Samsung chose to make the battery non-removable. It adds to the phone’s slick design, absolutely, and I think removing the seams of a removable back adds to the phone’s polish. Some Samsung fans won’t be happy about it, but does anyone ever really need to remove their battery anymore?
The phone also doesn’t include a space for expandable storage. This will shake up more fans, but I don’t think its a big issue. Samsung has expanded the internal memory to 32 GB, which will cover the average user. Otherwise, you can upgrade to the larger 64 GB and 128 GB versions for about the same cost as a good memory card.
The Galaxy S6 comes with Android 5.0.2 with its custom TouchWiz interface overlaying it. TouchWiz looks and feels about the same as before, including its typical sluggishness. Long story short, it operates the way you think a Samsung phone would. The biggest difference is the removal of some of Samsung’s bloatware. This is great, considering that most of those apps are useless anyway. But, it seems like they only replaced them with other apps. Samsung Health is still around (and it’s still as pointless as ever), and now the phone comes with a Microsoft suite. Well, it’s called a suite, but it is only OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype. Not exactly a suite.
Samsung has once again made the best-looking display on the market. They have improved the PPI (pixels per inch) to 577, which beats out even the Galaxy Note 4. This is impressive, but not entirely so. Despite Samsung promoting it as a key feature, it isn’t that noticeable. It’s obvious compared to the iPhone 6’s noticeably lower 720p display, but compared to other QHD displays (such as other recent Samsung models and the LG G3) it is hard to tell the difference without bringing a magnifying glass into the equation.
With that in mind, the only thing the higher display is good for is draining the considerably weaker battery.
The camera is one of the most impressive parts of the Galaxy S6. It is the same resolution as last year at 16 MP, but Samsung has refined the interface and upped the optics capabilities. Users will immediately notice the snappy response time and instantaneous (and I do mean instant) shutter. The cleaned up interface also hides away the different modes and adjustable settings, letting you access them whenever you need them. All in all, it’s the best camera app Samsung has made, and it is among the best on the market.
SPECS AND BATTERY
Design flaws aside, the internal parts of the Galaxy S6 are pretty impressive. Carrying its own Samsung made Exynos Octa-Core processor, it packs a punch. Running the standard Geekbench 3 and 3DMark tests, the Galaxy S6 tops the list of devices, only slightly being edged out by the HTC One M9 (as according to CNET in a 3DMark Ice Storm test). It is also has 3 GB of RAM, up from 2 GB last year. Concerning use, that should get even the heaviest users by. As always, Samsung went out to offer the best of specs with the Galaxy S6.
Check out a full specs list here.
The battery on the S5 was great, borderline unbelievable. The battery life on the Galaxy S6 though is just… acceptable. It will get users through the day, though they will have to charge it when you get home. Battery life is comparable to the iPhone 6 (the similarities continue to pile up), and it outperforms the HTC One M9, so it is a solid battery all around. It is just disappointing to see Samsung take a step back with this. They were the innovators of battery life, and now they are virtually indistinguishable from the industry in this field.
And then there is the Galaxy S6 variant, the S6 Edge. Regarding specs and display quality, they are the same (with the Edge having a slightly more powerful battery, but not by much). The big difference comes in the phone’s dual curved screen. Like the Note Edge, The S6 Edge has a curved screen that gives the user access to their messages, email, and other assigned apps at any time. When the phone is in sleep mode, the edge functions as the notification bar. Unlike the Note Edge, the S6 Edge has the curve on both sides, which makes it a lot more versatile. It also just seems to work better on the S6 Edge as opposed to the Note Edge. Regarding functionality, though, I still feel it is strictly an aesthetic thing. I love the way it makes the phone look (it looks like a phone from the future, which is awesome), but I cannot imagine myself or anyone practically using it.
If you are a Samsung fan, you are probably already sold on the phone despite the lack of expandable storage and removable battery. If you aren’t a Samsung fan, you are probably still on the fence about it, which is understandable. It seems for every innovation Samsung has taken with this device, it has also taken a step back or not moved forward at all. Removable battery? Innovation. Reduced battery performance? Step back. Take into mind as well that, while the phone is a huge step in premium design for Samsung, it is also a spitting image of the iPhone 6. Then there is also the cost. For an unlocked, non-contract, international 32 GB model, it will run you $442. That’s a steep price to pay for a phone that doesn’t offer much more than the competition, and the S6 Edge is bit more expensive. Ultimately, it is up in the air whether or not the phone is worth it. If you are looking for the absolute best in screen quality and performance, then the Galaxy S6 is the phone for you. If you are looking for a new phone that fits your budget as well as performs well, you would be just as content with the older (and now cheaper) Galaxy S5.