Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Samsung's new flagship smartphone for 2015 comes in two models, the regular Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Here's our full and in-depth Galaxy S6 Edge review, the phone with a curved dual edge screen. Also seeBest smartphones 2015 and Best Android phones 2015.

If you like what you see here, read Best Galaxy S6 Edge deals | Where to buy Galaxy S6 Edge before you buy.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Price and release date

Samsung has confirmed that the Galaxy S6 and Edge model will be available starting 10 April and it will cost officially from £760.That's more than £150 extra compared to the regular Galaxy S6 so it's a lot. However, retailers such as MobileFun have the S6 Edge pegged at a more affordable £699 - though it states for 32 GB which is a model Samsung hasn't announced. It has the 64 GB model at £749. Vodafone, O2, Three and EE have all confirmed they will stock the smartphone which is hardly surprising.

At this price, the Galaxy S6 Edge is one of the most expensive smartphones you buy on the market but is it worth all that money? Read on to find out what the S6 Edge offers in design, build, hardware, performance, battery life, cameras and software.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Design and build

The Galaxy S6 looks pretty similar to the regular Galaxy S6, as you'd expect. However, it has a curved screen which wraps both sides of the phone and we'll talk a lot more about those in a bit.

For a large smartphone, the Galaxy S6 Edge is very light, just 131 g and it's not exactly thick at 7.2 mm (Samsung says 7 mm) a tiny bit thicker than the regular model but lighter. Note that the measurement doesn't includes the camera which sticks out a fair way – included it comes to 8.5 mm.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S6 Edge

We've been criticising Samsung for putting out premium phones with a plastic build for a long time and this is the first time the firm has really eradicated that horrible stuff. The S6 uses a nice metal frame around the edge which does look remarkably similar to that of the iPhone 6. Similarities aside, the front and back use Gorilla Glass 4 which finally makes the S6 feel like the premium phone it should be.

Although the curved sides make the phone looks great, there are downsides to the athletics of the S6 Edge. We're pleased about the metal frame of the phone but the sides are a little sharp and make the device less pleasant to hold than the regular S6 – this isn't helped (on either model) by the completely flat back. We also found a sharp edge on the metal below the home button as it sits a little higher than the flat surface where the buttons preside.

It's much flusher on the back but the same is true on the front at the top of phone making phone calls an uncomfortable experience.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review design

The design also has a large impact on the hardware of the Galaxy S6 including downgrades. The first is that the battery is no longer removable which fans may be disappointed with. This is a necessary change to get the design like it is, though while the second downgrade isn't. Apart from the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung has always offered expandable storage but the S6 Edge lacks a microSD card slot which is a real shame and moves Samsung towards the Apple style of less freedom.

Another big design change from the Galaxy S5 is that Samsung has dropped the dust- and waterproof credentials which unavoidably makes it more like the iPhone 6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

While the Galaxy S6 Edge looks great in either black or white – the black model looks particularly nice with a deep blue tint - there are other colours available. There's gold and a new green colour which is exclusive to the Edge (the regular S6 comes in black, white, gold and blue). Colour options are great but they use a chromed/mirrored finish which won't be to everyone's taste. Not only does it look a bit naff, fingerprints and smudges show up like never before. The gold model is the worst offender here.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Hardware

Edge screen

When it comes to hardware, the Galaxy S6 Edge is identical to the regular model apart from the screen. They are both 5.1in and Quad HD but the Edge has the dual edge feature which is the main thing to talk about.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review screen

For starters the screen looks amazing with the usual SuperAMOLED technology and the curved sides give it a bezel-free look. The upgrade to Quad HD (1440 x 2560) means an incredibly crisp image. A pixel density of 577 ppi is the highest we've ever seen on a smartphone, outpacing the LG G3.

We've just reviewed the Galaxy Note Edge which has an edge screen down the right-hand side, and while the S6 Edge is similar it's also very different. For a start it's down both sides so you can choose, based on whether you're left or right handed, which side you use for the features.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

It's worth noting that the edge screen isn't as big as the note Edge, so there isn't a bar showing icons and information all the time and moving on-screen items like buttons there to keep the main part of the display clutter-free. Instead you just use it occasionally for just a handful of things.

Like the Note Edge, you can get information via various feeds (called Information stream) but this only appears when the screen is off and you do a magic two-way swipe. The Night clock is also an option. The main feature being touted is People Edge so if you swipe in from the side where a small bar sits, you get quick access to contacts.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

You can have up to five favourite contacts each with a unique colour. Edge lighting means you'll know who is calling if the phone is face down. However, it only lights up the side which you've selected which seems a bit silly and who places their phone face down anyway. You'll also get a coloured bar appear when you have missed notifications from that contact.

With a great deal more functionality on the Note Edge, the Galaxy S6 Edge is a bit of a let-down in this area so we hope Samsung can add more in the future. With a big gap in price compared to the Galaxy S6, it's simply not worth the extra at the moment. Curved edge screen technology like this is still very much in its infancy and is yet to find its feet or true purpose.

Processor, memory and benchmarks

As expected, Samsung hasn't gone for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, instead opting for its own Exynos 7420 which is also octa-core (quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57). There's 3 GB of RAM and a Mali-T760 GPU. Performance seemed exemplary during our hands-on time and continued during our thorough testing period. The phone rarely lags with the only issue we noticed was swiping in and out of the Flipboard part of the homescreen.

In terms of benchmark results – which should only be used as a rough guide (Samsung has been found to cheat in the past) – the Galaxy S6 Edge performed very well. In Geekbench 3 it set a new record, smashing the HTC One M9 out of the park. That Quad HD resolution means it doesn't quite hit the heights in our graphics test and SunSpider didn't wield the best numbers either. The below table shows how the S6 Edge performs compared to the regular S6, HTC One M9 and iPhone 6.

 

Geekbench 3

GFXBench T-Rex

GFXBench Manhattan

SunSpider

Galaxy S6 Edge

5076

39 fps

16 fps

990 ms

Galaxy S6

4438

30 fps

14 fps

462 ms

HTC One M9

3331

50 fps

24 fps

867 ms

iPhone 6

2794

49 fps

26 fps

351 ms

Stoage and connectivity

As mentioned earlier, there is no microSD card slot for adding more storage which we're disappointed about and will no doubt anger fans. While the regular Galaxy S6 comes in 32-, 64- and 128 GB capacities, the Edge only comes in 64- or 128 GB.

Wireless and additional hardware remain strong with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 with atpX, NFC and an IR blaster. There's also Cat 6 4G LTE support with Samsung's Download Booster which combines 4G and Wi-Fi connections. The phone, along with the regular S5 and Microsoft Lumia 640 is compatible with EE's new Wi-Fi Calling service.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner

Samsung still provides a heart rate monitor which is located on the back next to the LED camera flash and still doesn't take a reading first time. The fingerprint scanner is still embedded inside the home button and gladly Samsung has changed it so you only need to touch it rather than swipe. It's so much better than before making it genuinely useful rather than a bit of a pain.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Battery life

Battery size has dropped compared to the Galaxy S5 from 2800 mAh to 2600 mAh (even lower at 2550 mAh on the regular S6). However, Samsung has added wireless charging with WPC and PMA standards. There's been some confusion so to clarify; a wireless charger is not included in the box.

The firm also touts fast charging with 4 hours usage from just 10 minutes worth. Our tests show the phone charges extremely quickly with the supplied fast charger. We went from three percent to 21 percent in just 10 minutes. The phone will charge from completely dead to full in around an hour.

Our battery benchmark test using Geekbench 3 resulted in total time of six hours and 41 minutes with a numerical score of 4011. That's a little less impressive that the regular Galaxy S6 which managed six hours and 53 minutes and 4136 points.

We've found battery life to be pretty good from a user perspective. Unless you hammer the phone with demanding tasks like gaming and video playback, it should last a couple of days.  

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review cameras

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Cameras

The main camera remains at 16 Mp but there are improvements elsewhere which new auto real-time high dynamic range (HDR), Smart Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and IR detect white balance. You can also now Quick launch the camera in as little as 0.7 seconds, according to Samsung by double tapping the home button. It's super speedy from the homescreen and takes a little longer if the display is off. The camera isn't just quick at firing up either, the auto focus is quite fast and you can take a series of photos with almost no interruption.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge test photo

There's no dedicated shutter button but if you hold the phone the unnatural way in landscape mode then either volume button will do the trick. Auto will be fine for most users and the camera is a great all-rounder for photography and video. If you want to, you can fiddle with individual settings in the Pro mode (essentially manual) and there are also some others to play with like Selective focus, Virtual shot and Panorma.

On the video side, the S6 Edge can shoot at up to UHD (3840 x 2160), commonly known as 4K, although Full HD is the default. You'll fill up the internal storage quickly if you shoot in UHD. As mentioned there is OIS and you can shoot video in Slow motion or Fast motion modes. You can go up to x8 in each mode and edit your video to select which bits should speed up or slow down before exporting. Check out our sample videos of making tea below.

At the front is an upgrade to a 5 Mp snapper for selfies and the results are impressive. Samsung has cleverly enabled the heart rate monitor on the back of the phone to be used as a shutter so you simply tap it to take your selfie. It can even record video in up to Quad HD resolution to match the screen (2560 x 1440).

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Software

Moving on from hardware and the Galaxy S6 Edge is running on Android 5.0 Lollipop with Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

The software isn't massively changed from the Galaxy S5 despite rumours of a move to a much more vanilla look. That said, the software is slick and easy to use with Samsung using its own notification bar rather than Lollipop's but going for Google's card-style recent apps menu. From here you can use Samsung's Multi-Window feature to use two apps on the screen at the same time – only compatible apps will display the icon.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Flipboard still sits to the left of the main homescreen for your newsfeed but can be switched off if you don't like it and you can choose from different grids if you want to fit more icons and widgets on the screen. There's also a new Themes part of the settings menu (also accessible when editing the homescreen panels) which will let you change the look of the interface. There are only three but plenty more are available to download.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Samsung was touted to install less apps out-of-the box and while this is true, the phone now comes with Microsoft apps pre-installed including OneDrive, Skype and OneNote. You also have more control than before with the ability to uninstall or disable almost anything from the device, including Google, Samsung and Microsoft apps. A new feature which will launch in the US later this year is Samsung Pay, an NFC payment system to rival Apple Pay.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

Overall, we’re pleased with the changed Samsung has made keeping the interface simple and easy to use while offering customisation and flexibility should you want it.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 5.1in Quad HD SuperAMOLED dual edge screen (1440 x2560)
  • Exynos Octa-core processor
  • 64/128 GB storage
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 16 Mp rear camera with OIS
  • 5 Mp front camera
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 132 g, 7 mm
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 5.1in Quad HD SuperAMOLED dual edge screen (1440 x2560)
  • Exynos Octa-core processor
  • 64/128 GB storage
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 16 Mp rear camera with OIS
  • 5 Mp front camera
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 132 g, 7 mm

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a beautiful smartphone, one of the most attractive but the design has flaws such as sharp edges. While a non-removable battery is an inevitable outcome, we're surprised about the lack of waterproofing and a microSD card slot. Hardware is strong with a gorgeous screen, fast processor and great all-round camera. The key point here is that while dual edge display sounds like an amazing innovation it has very limited in functionality so simply isn't worth the extra money compared to the regular Galaxy S6.

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