After all the rumours and speculation, we’ve finally got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, and they’re living up to our expectations. With their sleek new design, stunning new screen and blistering speed, these two could be the best phones on the market right now.
- Stunning metal and glass design
- Spectacular 16MP camera with OIS
- Sharp Quad HD Super AMOLED screen
- Fingerprint scanner can be inaccurate
- Lack of Google’s Material Design
- Camera hump stops the phone laying flat
Look & feel
Samsung has really pulled out all the stops with the design of the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge – everything about them looks and feels premium and well thought out. There’s a solid feel thanks to a metal frame and the colour options of the phone have a beautiful sheen as the front and back are both covered by super tough Gorilla Glass 4.
The build quality is fantastic too – it’s up there with those indestructible old Nokias. The transition from the glass back to the metal sides is seamless, and even the power button and volume rocker keys give a satisfying click when you press them.
And when you do press that power button, you’ll wake up a stunning 5.1 inch Quad HD (QHD) screen. As it’s QHD, it shows twice as much detail as a Full HD screen and you really can tell. When looking at shots of a night sky, for example, you see more stars than normal on the Galaxy S6.
The screen also uses Super AMOLED technology, rather than the more common LCD screen tech. That means it shows perfect blacks and brighter colours. And on the Galaxy S6, Samsung has tuned the screen brilliantly so everything looks lifelike. Independent testing by screen experts DisplayMate show it’s the best mobile screen ever.
How it works
For the last few years, Samsung has been criticised for having complicated software. But with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, things have been simplified and made to look much better.
The new phones run the latest Android Lollipop operating system, and Samsung has chosen to use some of its new design in its version of the software. Although it didn’t use the full Material Design package from Google, so things don’t look as good as they could have.
But it does look more modern and everything’s much simpler. For example, apps use bright colours that make them easily identifiable and buttons that used to be symbols are now words.
The menus have also been cut back for the sake of simplicity. On last year’s Galaxy S5, it felt like the settings menu would never end. But with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge there’s a lot less to scroll through, and what is there is better organised so it’s easier to find what you want.
One of the best examples of things being simplified is Samsung’s fingerprint scanner. On the Galaxy S5 and Note 4 you have to swipe your finger over the home button in just the right way. Now, you just have to put your finger over it to unlock your phone. The only problem with the new fingerprint scanner is that you have to completely cover the home button or it won’t accurately read your prints.
Samsung has also worked hard to improve its camera tech. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge come with 16MP sensors, so shoot the same hi-res images as the Galaxy S5 did, but everything else has been upgraded.
You can now launch the camera from the lock screen in just 0.7 seconds and it has the same superfast autofocus as the Galaxy S5, which focuses as fast as you blink, so you should never miss a great photo.
The new camera also comes with optical image stabilisation. This keeps the camera steady even when the phone’s moving, letting you take great photos if you’ve got shaky hands and making videos look much smoother.
Round the front there’s a new 5MP camera, so you can take high quality selfies. And that front camera also shoots video in Quad HD, which is perfect if you want to watch home movies back on the phone as that’s the same resolution as the screen.
Both cameras also have new lenses with wide f1.9 apertures. That means they let in more light, making photos brighter. It makes the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge the perfect phones for snapping shots on a night out.
If you’re looking for a fast phone, look no further than the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. The processor used in both phones is the first in the world to use a 14 nanometre architecture. This incredibly techy spec basically means the phone can run faster while using less battery than normal.
That incredible processor also has eight cores, and as each core can do a different thing, it can multitask effortlessly without slowing down. That means you can stream music through Spotify in the background while browsing the web and sending an email using the new split screen function.
That split screen feature lets you have two apps open side by side so you can get more done.
Even when you’re multitasking like that, the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge have batteries that’ll last you all day. They only weigh in at around 2,500mAh (around 500mAh smaller than the battery in the Sony Xperia Z3) but with the efficient new processor and the latest software, you don’t need a huge battery. And that means the phone can keep its super slim body.
Plus, the batteries support fast charging and wireless charging to make staying powered up easier. Samsung says a 10 minute charge will give you four hours’ use of the phone. And if you get a wireless charging pad, you’ll never have to worry about finding the right cables for your phone, just put it down on the pad and it’ll start charging.
After spending some time playing with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, we think they’re almost faultless. They’re incredibly fast, look beautiful and have top cameras. If we’re being really picky, we would have liked Samsung to make its software look more like Google’s own Android design and it would have been nice for the camera to sit flush to the back case. But these are tiny problems for anotherwise amazing smartphone.