The hardware package that Samsung chose for this flagship, the Galaxy S6 Edge, is one that has greatly improved its build quality, feel, and appearance. These choices still allowed Samsung to maintain a recognizable front that aligns with a traditional Samsung device. These choices did sacrifice two huge features that Samsung had stuck to over the last few years and Samsung lovers always toughted as deal breakers; a SD card slot and a removable battery.
While the above description can be the same for both the new S6 as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge, the Edge is a true departure from traditional smartphone thinking. The dual sided slopped glass is much more of a change to the traditional rectangled glass that we all associate with a cell phone. This change is more dramatic than any other current design available. Samsung has doubled down from their Note 4 Edge model and this really gives the device a certain ‘wow’ factor that is not available in other devices.
The first thing you notice when you grab the device is the skinny side edges you will grip when holding the phone. Due to the Edge screen the device’s side edges are borderline sharp. As the screen tapers off the edges smoothly transition to the metal sides that are so much skinnier than the S6 model they become uncomfortable after holding them for an extended period of time. The only time I have experienced this was during a phone call that lasted nearly an hour. During most use cases the phone will be cradled in the hand and thus not forcing the users to grip the sides of the device for an extended period of time.
The top and bottom front bezels of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are larger than the Galaxy S5. There are two main reasons for this. First, a moving around the sensors on the top front of the device, including the camera. Secondly to accommodate a larger home button with the much improved finger print scanner. As you move to the top side of the device you see a microphone hole, two antenna bands, the nano sim card tray slot, and the infrared sensor. Gone from the top is the headphone jack. It has relocated to the bottom of the device along with the speaker (formerly on the back) to join the USB port, and two more antenna bands. Samsung dropped dust and waterproof certification along with USB 3.0 in favor of a more traditional micro USB with support for fast charging.
The left side of the device has a separated up and down volume button combination and the right side is where the power button lays about 60% of the way up the phone. The rear of the device is cornering gorilla glass 4 with a protruding camera flanked by the flash and heart rate sensor on the right side. The heart rate sensor also doubles as a shutter button when taking those all-important selfies! The back also has Samsung and Galaxy S6 Edge branding. Below the glass Samsung has included wireless charging that is supported by both major standards of wireless charging.
In typical Samsung fashion there are two features that stand out above other Android devices; the display and the rear camera. The 5.1’’ QHD display is the best display I have ever used on any device! The colors are extremely bright and easy to see in direct sunlight at their brightest settings and clear and soft enough to read text in dark environments at the lowest setting.
The sloping sides allow for an immersive experience but do lead to accidental touches more than normal phones as is expected. This screen, at higher brightness levels, is absolutely a drain on the included battery. As beautiful as the screen is I tend to wonder how different the experience would have been if Samsung had opted for a 1080p display instead of the QHD one.
That camera though! The speed that it launches with a quick double tap of the home button and the ease it is to use brings it up to the iPhone 6 in usability. The 16MP shooter has an Auto HRD mode that really provides some great shots. The front facing shooter is a new, larger 5MP that has a wide angled lens for some extreme photos that you can actually see yourself taking. The QHD, or 2k, recording on the front facing camera was a pleasant surprise too. Samsung has done a great job at giving consumers an opportunity to capture life’s moments in great clarity with either camera, in either still or video formats.
Samsung opted for their own Exynos 7420 Octa-core 64-bit processor in the S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Coupled with 3GB of RAM and storage options of 32, 64, or 128GBs the new device handles tasks much better than previous iterations. In most circumstances the devices flies unlike any other Samsung device I have ever used. Most importantly the Gallery app doesn’t lag anymore when opened, another Samsung first!
The only major error I can find in the hardware of this phone is the choice of a 2600mAh battery. Samsung’s site claims that you can get up to 13 hours of playback time with this device.
I am going to bet that with the screen on 25% and using a video that has been preloaded onto the device, in airplane mode, I won’t get more than 6.5 hours of screen on time. Actually I’m going to have to test that now!
Back to the battery. In the short week I’ve had the device it hasn’t been good. 3-3.5 hours of screen on time is pretty much the max that you’re going to get with any level of usage. What I mean by that is if you use the phone for 15 hours and only have 3-3.5 hours of SOT it will last about that time. If you use if for 6 hours and have about 3-3.5 hours of SOT time it will be dead then too. Lowering the brightness or turning off auto brightness is a way to get a little more battery but why should I have to cripple the part of my phone I interact with the most in order to make it through a day?
The new package that Samsung has wrapped its flagship devices in are a pleasant departure from traditional plastic devices with SD card slots and removable batteries. The glass on glass package that sandwiches the all metal body does get warm, and borderline hot, under heavy usage. Hardware wise this device is a true homerun for Samsung. Giving users multiple charging options really makes up for its only serious flaw that I have found in the hardware; the battery. The more I think about it the more I feel like Samsung removed the SD card slot and removable batteries as part of a larger thinking to eliminate what some call gimmicks. They’ve done that same thing with software in their newest version of TouchWiz on top of Android’s Lollipop! More to follow!