A week with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: A Review
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is the most surprising phone released within the past year. Why? Because I didn't think Samsung could make something this good. Usually tied up in figuring out how to add every feature under the sun, Samsung's "selling points" were quickly becoming annoyances. The S5 was waterproof - but you had to pry off a protective cover every time you wanted to charge it. It had a micro SD slot - but holy god was it slow when loading your gallery. It had facial recognition, eye tracking, tilt scrolling, and some gestures I've long forgotten to ignore calls - but none of them made the phone easier to use. All of it made for great commercials, but none of it made for a good user experience.
This year, Samsung went back to the drawing board, isolated a few nerds, and created the best Android phone that has ever been made. Period.Hardware and Design
When HTC, maker of the elegantly manufactured M8, was facing off against Samsung at Mobile World Congress, no one could have expected that Samsung, maker of cheap feeling plastic phones, would be the one getting all the praise for exceptional hardware. But man, does Samsung deserve that praise.
What I like most about Samsung, as a brand, is that they've been able to swallow their pride. While HTC rests on its laurels with a three-year-old design, Samsung said, "Hey. You're right. Our flagship line does
feel a little cheap. Let's spend the cash to improve that experience for you." And it did. The S6's Gorilla Glass 4 back replaces the S5's removable, BandAid-textured plastic back and real aluminum replaces last year cheap, chrome-painted plastic rim. The metal rim has the volume and power buttons at EXACTLY the right place. Seriously. It's magical. They are perfect. Now, hearing about the glass back may sound like the phone is more fragile than previous iterations and conjure horror stories of the iPhone 4 and Nexus 4, but it shouldn't. Corning's Gorilla Glass has been massively improved and a few drops from yours truly can confirm that it holds up. More thorough drop tests on YouTube confirm that the phone is exceptionally tough.
The front of the phone is made from the same glass. It's just as tough. On the front you'll find a physical home key with a fingerprint reader a la iPhone 6 and capacitive buttons for back and multitasking in lieu of on screen buttons. I actually prefer this approach to on screen buttons, but wish the back button was swapped with the multitasking button since I have large, scary, manly hands. (Or just relatively large, very normal hands. You know, whatever....)
The headphone jack is on the bottom (thank god) and the micro usb charging port faces the right way with the longer end on the bottom and the shorter end on top (THANK GOD). Why manufacturers ever swapped this is a mystery to me. The bottom is also where you'll find the lone, stereo speaker. The bottom is also where you'll see every tech site ever compare the S6 to the iPhone. They'd be right. But I don't care. Android steals from Apple. Apple steals from Android (cough notification bar cough). Everything copies everything. Get over it.
I've heard some criticize the S6 for having a flat back and feeling slippery to hold, but I couldn't disagree more. The back has a good grip on your hands and the flatness of it makes the phone feel especially premium. That doesn't mean the phone lays flat however. Man, there is quite the camera bump on this device (about 1/4th the thickness of the entire phone), but it's not a deal breaker - even if I have to be a little more thoughtful about making sure none of my phone overhangs off the table when I put it down. More on the camera later. Also on the back is a heart rate scanner I will never use next to the flash. Waterproofing, Removable Battery, and Micro SD
All three are gone. Why? Because most people don't use that shit and Samsung wants this to be the best selling Android phone in the world. Don't like it? Sorry. Samsung has decided to focus on the mass market and, thankfully, that includes increasing the quality of the hardware at the expense of some geeky features (and the expense of your wallet if you want the 64GB or 128GB version). That may sound abrasive, but ask yourself.... Did you REALLY use any of those that often?
Thankfully, fast charging is here and it works like a dream. "But I don't WANT to carry around a fast charger! I want to carry around my batteries and always wonder which ones are charged and which ones aren't and the special battery charger for my spare batteries!" Shut. Up.The Screen
I bet you want to hear what I think about the edge part of the Edge. It's coming. But as for the screen? Fucking. Shit. This is the best smartphone display out there - and I'll tell you why: OLED. OLED displays have come so far in the last couple of years, with Samsung's investment in them clearly paying off. If you didn't know, OLED displays are different than LCD displays (like the one found in the iPhone) because they can light up individual pixels to use less power. Black or dark colors use less power than whites or bright colors. The colors on the S6 absolutely dazzle, but, if the saturation is too much for you, you can change the screen calibration in settings.
Now, let's talk about that resolution: 2560x1440 with 577pixels-per-inch. You can't see a pixel on this phone, no matter how close you look. While this would normally be a huge battery drain, Samsung's AMOLED technology makes sure the screen is uber-power efficient - and it is. Is this resolution necessary? Who the fuck cares what's necessary? Half the shit you own isn't necessary. What's true is that it's awesome, crystal clear, and makes my friends say, "Wow." Mission. Accomplished.TouchWiz and Performance
I don't care if my phone can run Grand Theft Auto while updating all of its apps while accessing the Pentagon. I care about my phone feeling fast when I'm doing day to day things like opening photos, switching apps, loading webpages, and won't buckle while multitasking. The S6 completely succeeds at this. To get geeky, the S6 uses Samsung's own 14 nanometer Exynos Octo-core chip clocked at - ugh. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that Samsung packed a hugely powerful chip that they've been able to easily optimize. It shows.
After I halved all of Android Lollipop's animations in developer settings, the phone flies. Switching apps is seamless. Editing photos is quick and easy. WiFi is super speedy. The download booster that downloads files using 4G and
WiFi actually works. The camera opens in just over one second with a double tap of the home button NO MATTER WHAT. Navigating menus never stutters. It's seriously impressive. Despite all that awesomeness, sometimes my widgets take an extra second to load, but it's nowhere near as show stopping as with my past Android devices.
Samsung's TouchWiz is..... generally annoying, too bubbly, and difficult to navigate. This time though? Not so much. I barely notice it. The settings menus still isn't perfect and having to press 'Sort A-Z' after installing every app is mind-numbingly stupid, but other than that? It's fine. Very close to stock Android with some genuinely useful tricks, like that double tap of the home button to open the camera. I don't have much else to say about TouchWiz. It will probably anger some people more than it does me and other people won't notice it at all. For me, it's good enough in the most polite way possible. The Camera
That bump in the back is worth it. This camera is the best camera on an Android phone. Ever. Photos are always crisp, saturated, in focus, and beautiful. The 16MP rear shooter is a camera you can feel confident about whipping out. It will stand toe-to-toe with the iPhone 6 and, in low-light situations, it will beat the iPhone 6 (albeit with some warmer tones). The interface is dialed back (just like TouchWiz) and the shutter is snappy.
The 5MP front camera was a surprise. It's.... really good. Like, almost better than my M8's main camera. That's not saying much for the M8, but the point here is that this front camera is stellar. Subjects look far enough away that selfies are beginning to look like someone else took the photo for you.
There isn't much else to say about the camera. Sure, it can shoot 4K video, has auto-focus tracking, and can take slow-mo videos, but the coolest thing about this camera is that you don't really have to think much about it. If you've owned an Android (or considered switching from iPhone), I'm sure you've asked yourself whether it was worth the sacrifice in the camera departure, both in regards to features and quality. Worry no longer. The S6 delivers.Battery Life
I use my phone. A lot. Here's my day: unplug phone, go to work, use phone, charge phone before leaving work at work, use phone, go to bed, and charge phone. That's been my routine for the past four years. It continues to be my routine. The S6 doesn't have out of this world battery life. In fact, some days I've wondered how it got so low so fast. But I've wondered that with my iPhone 6 too. Bottom line is that fast charging really is your best friend and that this won't won't disappoint, but also won't wow, in the battery life department.
If you're in a jam, power saving and ultra power saving modes are available. And they kick ass. Use in dire situations. Audio
I don't know who these people are that want surround sound on their phones and who are willing to make the design sacrifices for giant, front-facing speakers and a big black bar (zing to HTC. Again.). Honestly, 90% of the time, my phone's audio is coming out of headphones or my car or a Jambox or my sound bar. The other 10% of the time, I just want it to be loud enough to hear my podcasts in the shower. The S6 is loud. That's for sure. The audio is not the best quality, but it's not noticeably bad. It IS noticeably loud. This was the right call for Samsung to make and I no complaints in the sound department. This includes call quality. The Edge
And now for the part you've been waiting for: the edge of the Edge. The Edge does not have a killer "feature" or functionality to revolutionize the way we interact with our phones. You may hear a lot of criticism about for the phone for those reasons. But here's the deal.... Those people don't know what they're talking about. The Edge is awesome because it looks (and feels) awesome. That's why it exists and that's a good enough reason.
Because the screen tapers off, the metal sides are thinner. I don't feel like this makes the phone feel too sharp or slippery, but I can see how certain hands could feel that way. To me, the thinner metal sides let the screen's bezels melt away and the curved glass makes video / images more immersive than ever. Hey! Maybe that is
a feature! Again, who cares. It looks and feels awesome, but I recommend playing around with it before dropping the extra $100 for something that looks cooler. This decision totally depends on your situation.
As for me? I made the right choice. I like new and different things. I want my phones to be eye-catching and interesting. The S6 Edge is both. Overall
There are some features I didn't go into (like wireless charging or the still annoying Verizon bloat or the Edge's my favorite 5 people feature I use more often than I thought I would), but the bottom line is that all of the main criteria that should decide whether or not you should buy a phone are met - and not just for Android, but for every phone out there. Snappy performance. Worry free camera that produces striking shots. A screen that wows (and can be easily seen in broad daylight). The Samsung Galaxy S6 literally has it all. Phones aren't perfect yet, but man. This phone comes damn close.
I was fully expecting to get the M9 this cycle (thanks, in large part, to leaks that ended up being fabricated), but Samsung has won me back. Here's to hoping this is the start of a most customer-centric company that continues to push boundaries in both hardware and performance. I like this new Samsung - and I love
my S6. #Android #Samsung #S6 #S6Edge #Google #Apple #iPhone