Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review – The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a striking handset, taking the title as the world’s first dual curved displays smartphone.
It attracts the eye, puts butterflies in my stomach and makes me weak at the knees. Samsung has, at last, made a handset which not only packs a powerful punch, but looks fantastic too.
Following on from the Galaxy Note Edge which boasted a single curved screen, the Galaxy S6 Edge was rumored for some time so its arrival wasn’t a surprise – it’s the natural progression for Samsung’s curved display technology.
It’s certainly not cheap though, with the entry level 32GB model rocking a wallet trembling SIM-free price tag of around £700 (around $1030, AU$1320).
If you fancy 64GB or even 128GB of internal storage you’re looking at approximately £749 (around $1120, AU$1430) and £829 (around $1180, AU$1500) respectively.
Shop around though and you’ll be able to find it a little cheaper than Samsung’s official site with the 64GB model available for around £635, $915 (about AU$1290) off contract.
That makes the Galaxy S6 Edge more expensive than the iPhone 6 Plus, a handset that already has my bank manager sweating.
It arrives alongside the Samsung Galaxy S6, and the two handsets share pretty much identical specs. The S6 Edge is slightly thicker (7mm vs 6.8mm), slightly lighter (132g vs 138g) and packs an ever so slightly bigger battery (2600mAh vs 2550mAh), but that’s it.
In short then, there’s very little between the two, aside from the obvious inclusion of the two curved display edges on this device. It makes the £100 difference in price hard to swallow and me question why Samsung bothered making both handsets in the first place.
For those looking to upgrade from the Galaxy S4, or even the Galaxy S5, there are a few compromises for you to consider.
In an effort to get a slender handset with a metal unibody Samsung has removed the microSD slot, blocked access to the battery and shied away from dust and waterproofing.
Many potential customers won’t be too bothered about these omissions, but for power users who have stood by Samsung for its continued inclusion of expandable memory and removable battery this news will be difficult to hear.
That said, whip the Galaxy S6 Edge out when you’re with your mates and they’ll all be clambering over you to get a peek of your new SpacePhone.
I’ve already expressed my love for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge’s design, but in truth this is a Jekyll and Hyde device.
Place the S6 Edge face up on a desk and you can’t help but be impressed with the sweeping sides, rounded metal frame and overall premium appeal of the handset.
These are compliments usually reserved for the iPhone range and HTC’s One series, but Samsung has managed to haul its design department into the 21st century banishing plastic to the lesser mobiles in its line up.
There’s no question there are some similarities to Apple’s design here. The placement of the headphone jack, microUSB port and machine drilled speaker holes on the base mimic the iPhone 6, while the change from a volume rocker to separate metal keys on the left also suggests a Cupertino influence.
With the edges of the handset tapering to a very slender profile thanks to those dual curved displays there’s no space for a SIM tray – plus that glass rear isn’t coming off.
This has forced Samsung to the top of the handset where it lines up alongside an Infra Red blaster, handy for controlling your home entertainment systems.
Everyone I showed the Galaxy S6 Edge was impressed by the handset’s premium appeal and lush curves – that was until they actually picked it up.
While the front of the S6 Edge is beautifully curved, the rear is as flat as a pancake, instantly making the handset feel a lot wider than it is.
Coming from the HTC One M9 which sports a lovely arching metal behind which nestles wonderfully into the palm, the S6 Edge never felt at home in my hand.
Things are made a little more unbearable thanks to the metal frame which runs round the circumference of the device.
On the front it doesn’t sit flush with the curved Gorilla Glass 4, creating a rather annoying lip which you don’t get on the Galaxy S6, while on the back the edges of the frame are sharp and dig into your hand.
The glossy glass rear offers little in the way of grip, which made me tighten my grasp on the handset, resulting in the frame digging into my palm more.
It’s never going to draw blood, and I wasn’t exactly in pain, but the S6 Edge is uncomfortable to hold for extended periods.
Had Samsung repeated the curved design of the front on the rear the Galaxy S6 Edge would sit a lot better in the hand. It may make it slightly thicker, but that would mean a bigger battery and no camera protrusion – which in my book would be good things.
Sticking with the back and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. For all the good things I can say about how the Galaxy S6 Edge looks front-on, it all seems to be undone by a sloppily implemented rear.
True, you don’t spend much time looking at the back of your smartphone, but the rear of the Galaxy S6 Edge looks like it was a bit of an afterthought.
I’m all for minimalism, but the flat, blank rear does nothing to ignite the senses and the bulky camera lens rearing its ugly head from the S6 Edge is a rather unattractive sight.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is available in white, black, gold and green – and the latter three reveal just how much of a fingerprint magnet it is.
There is some evidence of this on the white model when you turn the screen off, but the other colors reveal the full effect of the finger smudges – front and back.
In short, you’ll find yourself cleaning your Galaxy S6 Edge regularly if you don’t want your greasy paw prints on show.
Samsung’s iconic home button is retained on both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, but it’s been updated with a vastly improved fingerprint scanner (more on that later) and a sturdier construction.
This makes it feel more premium and resilient, while the touch sensitive ‘back’ and ‘multi-tasking’ keys flank it, illuminating only when required.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is very good and a huge leap forward from the Galaxy S5 and even the Galaxy Note Edge.
The futuristic premium look and feel helps to justify its lofty price tag a little more, but a number of niggles detract from the overall experience.
You’re not going to find a display like the one on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge on any other smartphone. It’s a unique piece of engineering and it certainly looks impressive.
The main display measures 5.1-inches and boasts a QHD, 1440 x 2560 resolution providing pin sharp clarity and Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology ensures everything is bright and vibrant.
That gives you a pixel density of 577ppi, which bests the Galaxy Note 4 with the same resolution stretched over its larger 5.7-inch screen resulting in 515ppi.
While the Galaxy S6 is the natural successor to the Galaxy S5, the S6 Edge pretty much replaces the Galaxy Note Edge which rocked up in 2014 with a 5.6-inch, 524ppi screen, but just one side of its display was curved.
And it’s the dual curving sides on the Galaxy S6 Edge which are the key talking point for the handset. There’s no doubt they produce a highly attractive handset, and the Gorilla Glass 4 covering should keep it well protected.
On paper then, the Galaxy S6 Edge sports a superb screen, and while I can’t fault it in terms of resolution and clarity, the bump from full HD to QHD doesn’t actually add a whole lot more to the experience.
Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology makes it stand out when compared to the 1080p Sony Xperia Z3 and HTC One M9, but there’s not a lot to pick between the S6 Edge and the corking display found on the Galaxy S5.
Don’t get me wrong though, the display on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is lovely and the way it gently curves away on each side will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Just don’t expect a marked step up from 2014’s fleet.
It’s not just for show however, and Samsung is convinced its innovative side screens can provide some genuinely useful functions. I, on the other hand, am not so sure.
First up you can only have the edge screen on the left or right of the screen – there’s no option to have details displayed on both sides simultaneously – which seems a little counter intuitive.
On the Galaxy Note Edge you can call up the edge screen at any point, but on the Galaxy S6 Edge it’s only available when the screen is off.
There is additional functionality relating to the edge when the screen is on, but again it’s relatively limited – more on this on the next page.
The column of apps you got on the Galaxy Note which included shortcuts to key applications and tools such as a ruler has been completely left out on the Galaxy S6 Edge.
I am close to the edge
The main functionality for the edge screen is actually only available when the main screen is off on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.
You have to slide your a finger one way then the other along the side of the handset to wake the edge screen, but it’s highly temperamental and I regularly found the Galaxy S6 Edge failing to recognize my swipe first time.
The idea here is you can get a quick overview of any important notifications, news headlines, sports scores or just an update on the time, date and weather without having to power up the battery hungry main display.
Thing is, the information is limited and if you’ve had to swipe several times to get the edge screen to show you’ll give up and just hit the home key to wake the full screen for all your notification and time needs.
A text message will scroll along the edge screen in its entirety so you can read it, but you can’t interact with the message from here – you’ll need to unlock and navigate to the app yourself.
There is some control over what gets displayed on the edge screen, but again it’s limited and not overly easy to find in the ‘Edge screen’ section of the settings menu.
The news feed comes via Yahoo News and cannot be tailored to any particular topics, the sports scores are again provided by Yahoo and there are only a handful of leagues and teams to choose from.
You can choose multiple teams, but the results tick through so slowly I found myself losing patience with it.
I’d like to have seen perhaps the latest tweets from a handful of people I select, or some in-depth stats on my retweets, favorites and new followers.
Stocks (from Yahoo, again) is another feed you can slap on the edge screen, but that’s all you get pre-installed. News, sports, stocks, notifications and Twitter trends.
So the slightly slow interface paired with a drab line up of feeds left me feeling a little hard done by, but then I noticed an option to download additional feeds. Sadly though, only one was available and it was RSS.
Not a totally useless offering I admit, but it’s hardly game changing. Hopefully more feeds will appear over the next few months bringing greater functionality to the edge screen, but for now in its current lock screen state it’s rather lackluster.
People on the edge
Turn the screen on and you won’t be able to bring up the information bar anymore, but you’ll notice a slender transparent tab at the top of the display.
Depending which side you’ve selected to have the Edge screen displayed will dictate whether this tab appears on the left or right.
Drag the tab into the screen and you’ll pull open what Samsung is calling the People Edge on the Galaxy S6 Edge.
Five colored circles will appear and you can assign five contacts (known as ‘My People’) to these slots for easy access when it comes to calling, texting or emailing them.
Another frustrating thing about the People Edge is the fact it’s there to alert you to key messages and missed calls, but it only covers calls, texts and emails.
There’s no support for the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or other messaging services, which means you could still miss an important message.
I send the majority of my messages via these web based applications, so I found the People Edge limited in its usefulness. If you’re a fan of these services then you’ve been warned – the People Edge is not your friend.
A useful function Samsung has built in to the People Edge comes when you pick the phone up off a surface. The Galaxy S6 Edge will detect it’s been picked up and notify you on screen (in a low powered black and white display) whether you have any missed calls, texts or emails from your key contacts.
Again I’d like to see integration with other messaging apps here, and hopefully Samsung will be able to provide this in a future software update.
Face down, message up
The final feature of the Galaxy S6 Edge’s unique side displays comes into play when the handset is placed face down.
It provides a discreet light up notification to alert you that you’ve received a call, text or email from a key contact.
As long as you can remember which color is which contrat then Edge Lighting can be a handy feature for those regularly in meetings.
For general day to day usage though you’re unlikely to really use it, so while it’s available you might just want to switch it off in the settings.