Samsung had started the year with a bang with the introduction of its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge at MWC 2015. Not only it packs more powerful hardware underneath but they have finally made a device that looks and feels more upmarket than anything they have produced before.
With both models hitting Malaysian shelves very soon, we managed to get the Galaxy S6 edge for a long term use. Is the Galaxy S6 edge as good as the hype? Read on to find out.
Samsung has always been known for its plasticky build even on its flagship models. In each sequel, they had tried almost everything from using faux leather to rubbery textures to make plastic feel more expensive. For the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge, you can leave your old perceptions behind as Samsung has finally taken premium materials and design more seriously.
The two Galaxy S6 models are made mostly from glass and metal. Finally it is something on par with its rival iPhone 6 and HTC One M8 in terms of build quality. While the usage of glass isn’t entirely new, they have made the appearance look more stunning and unique with a range of vibrant new colours. In the hands, the back of the device looks like flowing metal and it reflects light beautifully under various angles. This has got to be the best looking smart phone that Samsung has ever made.
[nextpage title=”Build Quality and Design”]
The Galaxy S6 edge is the better looking and also the costlier version of the two, offering a double curve display on both left and right. Unlike the Galaxy Note Edge, it doesn’t curve all the way, leaving enough room to for a power and volume buttons to be placed on each side.
Like the normal Galaxy S6, it also gets a polished metal frame but on the Galaxy S6 edge, it slopes down on each side to leave more room for the edge display and this gives it an illusion that it is a much thinner device. In actual fact, the Galaxy S6 edge is slightly thicker at 7.0mm than the Galaxy S6’s 6.8mm side profile. This sloping frame design is rather similar to the Xiaomi Mi Note, which curves on the opposite side of the device.
It is available in Black, White, Gold and a mystical looking Green Emerald that’s exclusive to Maxis. We had the white colour unit for review which does a better job in hiding fingerprints compared to its darker colours.
With its premium feeling unibody design, the Galaxy S6 edge lacks the two essential features that are part and parcel of any Galaxy flagship – a removable battery and a microSD slot. The only slot you’ll find is a Nano-SIM tray which is placed at the top, next to its centre mounted infrared blaster. Another omission from its predecessor is water and dust resistance. If you don’t really need a waterproof device, the good news it is that you won’t have to deal with flappy covers when your device needs charging.
Moving on to the front, the Galaxy S6 edge still retains the typical samsung look with a metal strip on top for its earpiece and a physical home button accompanied with 2 capacitive buttons, which are dimly hidden when not in used. The home button also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner and this time they have improved it with a one touch sensor, similar to iPhone’s Touch ID and Huawei Ascend Mate 7. This is much easier to use compared to the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5 which requires the traditional finger swiping motion.
Over at the back, it gets an all glass panel and standing out is a protruding camera module that’s accompanied with a vertically mounted heart rate sensor. For better protection, both front and back are toughen with Gorilla Glass 4 which claims to withstand drops better than its predecessor.
Under the surface, both Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 edge packs the same internals that are class leading for a smart phone at the moment. Whether it is flat or curve, both gets a 5.1” Quad HD Super AMOLED display that pushes a pixel density of 577ppi.
For its processor, Samsung has abandoned the popular Snapdragon 810 processor completely for its in-house developed Exynos 7420 Octa-Core unit (Cortex A-57 @2.1GHz + Cortex A-53 @ 1.5GHz) that supports 64-bit in a 14nm process. In theory, having a smaller 14nm process would translate to better power efficiency and better performance compared to a larger 20nm process on a Snapdragon 810 unit.
Leaving no room for compromises, it gets 3GB of faster LP-DDR4 RAM and for storage it uses its own Samsung UFS 2.0 (Universal Flash Storage) solution that claims to be 30% faster than typical eMMC 5.0 based memories. Since there’s no external storage, the Galaxy S6 edge is offered with a minimum of 32GB, which unfortunately is the only option available for Malaysia at time of launch. After setting up the various apps, instant messengers and social apps, we are left about 22-23GB of available free space.
To accommodate for the missing microSD expansion option, Samsung is bundling 100GB of OneDrive storage for 2 years. If that’s not enough, your next best option is to invest on a USB OTG thumb drive.
[nextpage title=”Double Edge Display”]
The double curve display is what makes the Galaxy S6 edge special. Unlike the Galaxy Note Edge, the double curve design allows better support for both left and right handed users. However its functionality is rather limited compared to the Galaxy Note Edge that comes with more extensive edge features
When the Galaxy S6 edge is in use, the edge display has no additional features or extension to your current experience. What you’ll get is the option to enable People Edge, which is basically shortcuts for up to 5 contacts. If there’s a missed call, a tiny tab will be shown with is preset colours and from there you have the option to call, SMS or email. Considering we make less voice calls these days, Samsung should have included more IM and Social shortcuts instead. It would be useful if we could just send a WhatsApp or view their Facebook profile immediately from the People Edge. Another limitation is that People Edge only works if you’re on the home screen. There’s no way to access them while running other apps unless you return back by hitting the home button.
Another added feature for People Edge which we find quite gimmicky is the flashing lights when the S6 edge is placed upside down. If a call from your favourite contact comes in, it will flash the contact’s preset colour to let you know who’s calling. While it looks cool, the execution isn’t really spot on as it works best when placed on a reflective dark surface. Another niggle is that it doesn’t flash on both edges, so you have to make sure your selected edge is facing towards you during meetings. Plus, we reckon most people would place their phones facing upwards on the table.
If you can’t attend to the call, you can reject by pressing and holding on the heart rate sensor. This will also trigger an SMS to the person, informing them that you’re unable to take the call. So that’s all you can do on the edge display for the s6 while the phone is active. It doesn’t work as a secondary screen and there’s no favourite shortcut bar, mini edge apps, games or tools like the ones found on the Galaxy Note Edge.
When the screen is off, it gets a little more useful. For starters, it can be a night clock that can be activated at a time of your choice. If you do a quick left to right to left rub along the sides, you can have a peek on missed notifications, time and weather. There are some useful plug-ins that are carried over from the Note Edge like Yahoo News and a custom RSS Reader that displays up to 5 items.
Functionality aside, the double edge design does have some ergonomic advantages on the Galaxy S6 edge. With a slopping curve at each end, this makes swiping from edges more pleasant without a frame getting in the way. In addition, it feels comfortable to hold in either hand.
[nextpage title=”TouchWiz and Usabiity”]
When it comes to Samsung smart phones, you can’t run away from TouchWiz. On the Galaxy S6 edge, it isn’t as stripped down as one would hope for but the improvements are quite substantial. Out of the box, it runs on a more current Android 5.0.2 Lollipop and it is noticeably lighter and simpler.
Unlike the past Galaxy models that are filled with “Smart Features” which nobody actually use, the new TouchWiz feels much more refined. For instance, the settings menu has fewer options and they have taken away a couple of old features like Air View or Air Gestures. Even Multi-Window function is quite discreetly hidden and if you need to enable it, you can always minimise any apps by dragging from the corner or convert them into split view from the recent apps menu.
So for first time users, the overall UI looks less cluttered with essentials placed upfront. While for the hardcore user, the advance features are still there without begging too much attention. You still get the usual gesture features such as direct call, smart alert, mute, and smart stay, which can be disabled if not required.
On the Home screen, they have incorporated parallax effect where the wallpaper moves according to your movement to create a sense of depth for the icons. That’s not the only thing that looks iOS inspired. Even the native clock and calendar icons are dynamic to show the current date and time. Overall, the Galaxy S6 edge feels buttery smooth and it should be, considering it packs the best high-end processor and RAM in the market.
Also new on TouchWiz is the ability to change the grid set up from the usual 4×4 icons to a denser 5×5 configuration. The icons still look sharp and clear, which demonstrates the ultra high resolution capabilities of its display.
For health junkies, the S Health app has been redesigned with a Google Fit-like appearance with the usage of cards. From here you can customise which cards to be displayed from your weight, exercise goal tracker, heart rate measurement, stress meter, food and water intake. It is worth pointing out that getting a heart rate measurement seems to be much easier than its previous models.
Like most Chinese smart phones, the Galaxy S6 also comes with a Theme Store but there’s only a handful of themes available at time of review. Probably the only one worth checking out at the moment is the special Avengers Age of Ultron Theme.
Another interesting addition is a Smart Manager that comes pre-installed on the device. This essentially is a Clean Master tool which helps you to reclaim more storage space by removing unwanted files, optimise RAM usage and scan your device for potential security risk and malware.
[nextpage title=”Display and Audio”]
As expected, the display on the Galaxy S6 edge is incredibly good. With a Quad HD squeezed in a smaller 5.1” screen size, it is impossible to spot for any pixelation or flaws as text and images appearing incredibly sharp and clear as it was intended to be. Despite having curve edges, we are happy to report there’s no distortion issues since most contents especially web pages are loaded within the flat surface area of the display.
In terms of sound, the placement of is speaker grill on the bottom is much better than having it at the back. Compared to the Galaxy S5, the S6 edge is noticeably louder especially when using Waze navigation or making voice calls on speaker.
For audio recording, unfortunately it lacks the Multi-way Meeting Mode that was featured on the Galaxy Note 4. However there’s an Interview mode where it would recognise audio from 2 directions.
The Galaxy Note 4 camera is already impressive and Samsung has taken it up a notch on the Galaxy S6 edge. It gets a similar 16MP camera but they have tweaked it with a faster f/1.9 aperture lens. The front also enjoys the same f/1.9 lens but it gets a higher resolution 5MP camera that also supports wide selfie.
To capture moments quicker, you can now easily launch the camera by simply double pressing the home button at anytime, even while the phone is in sleep mode. Unfortunately it just loads the camera and you would still need to tap on the screen to take the shot. It is quite a snappy shooter too as it is almost ready to take the next shot after you’re done with one.
Depending on what type of user you are, the camera interface is simple and straight forward. Its real time HDR mode now has an auto mode so you have one setting less to tinker about when taking a scenic shot. For advance users, there’s a Pro mode which offers a wider array of controls including exposure and manual focus.
If you love taking pictures, you won’t be disappointed with the Galaxy S6. It is much better than its former Galaxy S5 and it carries the same stellar performance as the current Galaxy Note 4 with Optical Image Stabilisation. It performs decently well in low light conditions with controlled amount of noise, while outdoor shots appear sharp with great detail.
For more epic video shots, the Galaxy S6 edge camera also supports Slow Motion as well as Fast Motion, which is basically time lapse video. The build in video editing tool is quite easy to use and you can select which frames to speed up or to slow down. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge supports 4K video recording at 40fps and also Full HD 1080p videos at a more fluid 60 fps.
[nextpage title=”Battery Life”]
According to Samsung, the latest flagships should provide similar battery life as its former Galaxy S5. The reality is that having a demanding Quad HD display with a smaller 2,600mAh capacity battery would definitely take a toll on its battery life. We managed to get about 11-12 hours usage with nearly 5 hours of on-screen time from a single charge. This is based on our heavy usage with constant instant messaging and 2 email accounts that’s always in sync. As comparison, the Galaxy Note 4 with a Quad HD display and 3,220mAh battery could give us about 15-17 hours of usage on a single charge.
So on a full working day starting at 7AM, you’ll definitely need to charge before the leaving the office. Fortunately it also supports quick charging and the initial 30 minutes have given us about 46% of charge, which is close to its 0-50% in 30 minutes claim. After hitting the 50% mark, it took another 40-50 minutes to fully charge the Galaxy S6 edge.
Also new on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge is native support for wireless charging. Apparently it supports both WPC/Qi and PMA standards so it should work with most existing wireless charging plates in the market. We didn’t managed to try this out but do expect slower charging times compared to cables. If you’re in a hurry, the cable with its original fast charger is still your best option.
[nextpage title=”Conclusion and Gallery”]
As we’ve mentioned before, the Galaxy S6 edge is a stunning flagship reboot. It has the best performance, an impressive camera and refined interface in a beautiful looking package. We can forgive it for having a built-in battery but they could have packed a higher capacity battery for longer use per charge.
While the Galaxy S6 edge is the more desired model, the extra price difference over the standard Galaxy S6 would be tough to swallow considering both are the same under the hood. Furthermore, the Edge display features are not as extensive as the Galaxy Note Edge which is quite a let down. Hopefully Samsung would continue to add more edge features in partnership with 3rd party app developers.
In fact if you’re looking for a high end smart phone that takes great pictures and has better battery life, the Galaxy Note 4 could be a more worthwhile option right now. So, should you get the Galaxy S6 edge? There’s so many things to like but it all boils down to how much you are willing to pay for something that’s different from the ordinary.
The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge will be launched in Malaysia today on 2nd April and it will be officially available starting 17th April. Both are expected to be priced at RM2,599 and RM3,099 respectively inclusive of GST. Stay tuned for our Malaysia Galaxy S6 media launch coverage that’s happening today.
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge Photo Gallery