This post was published 4 years ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
So finally came the day Samsung had been building up to for quite some time: the official unveiling of their new flagship the Galaxy S6, along with a curved-screen variant, the S6 Edge.
The phone was announced at their Samsung Unpacked event in Barcelona on the build up to the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event and is due to replace the current Galaxy S5.
The S6 is pretty much as we expected, sporting some of the latest and greatest hardware wrapped in a body that has a very familiar Samsung look from the front, but a revised design for the back and sides.
The back of the phone is glass and fixed (sorry lovers of removable batteries and MicroSD cards!) and reminds me of the back of the Nexus 4 but with a protruding camera and sans the shiny dots in the glass.
The sides are now a metal unibody design which is a lot more solid feeling than the plastic trim of previous Galaxy phones. They are also more rounded and rather reminiscent of the iPhone 6, especially the drilled circular holes for the speaker grill.
Overall the design of the and feel of the S6 is generally improved, even though it is nothing especially new.
The S6 Edge though is perhaps more interesting. It features two curved edges where both the glass and the AMOLED display wrap around the sides of the device, making for a much more unique look and feel, despite it otherwise looking the same as the standard version. This results in an immersive viewing experience and the curve feels very nice under your fingers as you make swipe gestures (like pulling open a navigation drawer).
The internals have been given a huge boost over last years offerings, now including Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 which is a very powerful 64-bit Octacore chipset with 4 cores clocked at 2.1Ghz and another 4 lower power cores at 1.5Ghz. It is built Interestingly this has been chosen over Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, which you’ll likely see in most other flagship Android devices this year.
This uber-powerful chipset paired is with 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM and that combination means the device should be incredibly quick regardless of what you throw at it. Generally navigating the interface, task switching, gaming and web browsing should all be buttery smooth without any signs of lag or stuttering.
The screen on the S6, like the S5 before it, is a 5.1″ AMOLED panel but has seen a bump from 1080p to QHD, bringing the pixel density up to a staggering 577ppi! It looks stunning and being AMOLED means that the colour range is fantastic and you’ll get nice deep blacks.
The display is calibrated in typical Samsung fashion though, so expect to see very saturated colours which really ‘pop’ but are not necessarily accurate. Some people will really like that, while others might prefer slightly more muted and natural looking colours.
The cameras are also upgraded from the S5. The rear sees a new 16MP rear camera with OIS partnered with new IR white balance sensing, superfast autofocus and the ability to launch the camera in less under a second with two presses of the home button. The front camera is now a 5MP snapper with a wider angle lens than before and better low light performance.
The battery life may not be quite as good as the S5 though, given the increase in horsepower, the new super high screen resolution and a smaller battery than previous generations.
The battery capacity is rated at 2550mAh for the regular model and 2600mAh for the Edge version which is a fair chunk less than the 2800mAh battery in the S5. Also, unlike the S5, this battery is non-removable thanks to the new fixed glass back.
We’ll have see how the battery copes in the real world to know for sure but things don’t look so promising on paper.
The only possible saviour is that Exynos 7420 as it is the worlds first 14nm SoC which should make it very power efficient. It also uses a big.LITTLE configuration which uses four, low-powered 1.5Ghz cores for light tasks and only calls in the big boys for the heavy lifting. This should also help with power consumption, but whether the difference will be enough to offset the decrease in battery capacity and the more power-hungry display remains to be seen.
Another noticeable change is with the storage. Gone are the days of being able to pop in and out your MicroSD card which no doubt will be a pity for some. If that is a deal-breaker for you then Sony is probably your best bet from now on. The internal storage options now span all the way from 32GB to 128GB though so if it’s just amount of storage that matters to you and not the ability to easily swap or remove it then the lack of an SD card may not be such an issue.
All the sensors and other features you’d expect are present such as LTE, WiFi AC, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. More notably it does also include ANT+ (for connecting activity sensors like external heart rate monitors, bike cadence sensors etc), apt-X for higher quality bluetooth audio, IR remote control and support for both of the main wireless charging standards.
That last feature is a first for a mobile device and means you can use it with any wireless charger using the Qi standard from the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) or the standard from the Power Matters Alliance (PMA).
Both variants are said to ship with 5.0 Lollipop along with Samsung’s infamous TouchWiz user interface. There had been some suggestions that Samsung would make some major design changes to their Android skin this time around, but seemingly that is not the case. The look and feel are very similar to past versions, with the typically bright icons, modified interface layout and Samsung’s S-stuff everywhere.
That said, they have reduced the memory footprint of the latest TouchWiz version and also slightly decreased the number of preloaded apps (although still higher than you’d see on most phones). They are claiming they’ve “reduced the pre-loaded software by 40%” although I have no idea how they are attempting to quantify that.
Thankfully, whatever that 40% reduction signifies, between these software improvements and the new beefier hardware, the typical TouchWiz jank seems to finally be a thing of the past.
There have been some features added on top of Lollipop, mostly those carried over from previous versions of TouchWiz but also a few new additions, primarily for taking advantage of the curved sides of the display on the S6 Edge variant, such as the ability to use the sides as a clock while the rest of the screen is off.
Summary: TouchWiz is still one of the most ugly Android interfaces out there (unless you’re a fan of super saturated colours everywhere and plasticky looking icons), but it is a whole lot smoother than ever before.
Release Date & Pricing
The phone is expected to go on sale on the 10th of April in 20 different countries at once for both the standard model and the Edge, launching in more countries thereafter. Pricing is as yet not confirmed but we would expect that the regular Galaxy S6 should retain a similar price point to the S5. The S6 Edge however will likely be more expensive due to the curved display and rumours have it that due to yield issues, this difference will be by no small margin either.
5.1” Quad HD (2560×1440) 577ppi, Super AMOLED
Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, 64-bit Octacore application processor (Exynos 7420)
RAM: 3GB, LPDDR4
Internal Storage: 32/64/128GB, UFS 2.0
Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
16MP with OIS (rear), 5MP (front)
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), HT80 MIMO(2×2) 620Mbps, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Mobile hotspot
Bluetooth®: v4.1, A2DP, LE, apt-X, ANT+
USB: USB 2.0
Quick Launch, Tracking AF, Auto Real-time HDR (Front & Rear), F1.9, Low Light Video (Front & Rear), High Clear Zoom, IR Detect White Balance, Virtual Shot, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Pro Mode, Selective Focus
Audio Codecs : MP3, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC, OPUS
Audio Formats: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA
Ultra Power Saving Mode, Download Booster, S Health 4.0, Samsung Pay, Smart Manager, Microsoft Apps (OneDrive 115GB for 2 years, OneNote), Sound Alive+, Themes, Quick Connect, Private Mode, S Finder, S Voice
Google Mobile Services
Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play Newsstand, Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice Search, YouTube
WPC1.1 (4.6W Output) & PMA 1.0 (4.2W) compatible
S6: 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm, 138g
S6 Edge: 142.1 x 70.1 x 7.0mm, 132g
S6 Edge: 2,600mAh
So there you have it, Samsung’s latest flagship. Would you get the Edge or the regular version, or does something else take your fancy instead? Let us know in the comments!