Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015

In 2015 I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S6, and back then I said it was the best Android phone of 2015. Today I stand by that claim - in fact, I loved it so much I went out and bought one. Find out why in my Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone review. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review

See also: Samsung Galaxy S7 release date, price and specs rumours | Samsung Galaxy S7 review | Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy S7.

It's really not the done thing, for a tech reviewer to openly admit to not only favouring but buying one particular piece of technology over another. Stand back and watch the comments roll in with cries of bias and 'How much is Samsung paying you for this?'

(That would be nothing, by the way. And I paid for the phone, too. I pay £48.99 per month on a Vodafone UK contract with 6GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts for my S6. I probably could have got a better deal if I had looked around - and here are some of the best Galaxy S6 deals - but I was already a Vodafone customer and, well, I'm lazy.)

But we're not in the business of pulling the wool over people's eyes here at PC Advisor, and despite the fact we have new phones coming in for review every week and can more or less take our pick of what to take home for the evening, we are real people who also have personal phones that we use day in, day out. And we use them a lot. Also see: Best MiFi 2016. 

Indeed, to the left of me is an LG G4; to the right an iPhone 5s; in front are three more iPhones (I do sit opposite the Macworld UK team - and even they liked the Samsung Galaxy S6); and beyond them loads more Android phones and the odd iPhone. And you should see all the Android phones sitting in Chris Martin's drawer. But in front of me is a Samsung Galaxy S6, and even four months on I wouldn't have it any other way.

I continue to stand by every comment I have made in this review, although there are a few additional points I'd like to add, having now spent an extended period with the Galaxy S6.

I'm not usually the type of person to put my smartphone in a case, particularly if I've chosen it partly because I like its design. I've rounded up some of the best S6 cases you can buy but, even so, I really do have better things to do than protect it from everyday wear and tear - it's a smartphone, not a princess. So my phone usually gets thrown in a bag or pocket, along with my car keys, probably some loose change, and whatever other bits are in there. And after four months, there isn't a single scratch. If I were to wipe off the fingerprints from the screen it would still look as good as the day I got it. 

The new super-skinny build does mean that this Samsung gets very warm in use, however. Actually, not warm, it gets plain hot. Finger-burning hot. This is something that's becoming more and more common with today's increasingly thin smartphones, particularly those that have metal bodies. But I'm pleased to report that even when it's got a fever on performance doesn't appear to be affected.

One time you really notice it getting hot is when playing games. And with all the various little people in my life my S6 is often taken off me and not handed back until the battery is flat. Fortunately (and not only because Samsung took away the ability to remove the battery), battery life is good. As an example, last night before I went to bed I fancied a bit of Plants vs Zombies action. As a reasonably heavy user I had just 33 percent battery remaining. Two hours later (I got carried away), still 10 percent. Pretty tired by then, I gave up before the phone did. Also see: 100 funny things to ask S Voice

And that leads me on to another thing I really like about the S6: built-in wireless charging and quick charging. When the aforementioned little people get hold of my phone and return it with an empty battery, it's genuinely useful being able to draw a usable amount of power in just a few minutes. You can do it while their backs are turned. And wireless charging, when you're not in a rush for that power (such as overnight), is great - it's so cool being able to literally chuck your phone down on the side and not have to fumble about with cables, then just pick it up and walk away when you want to use it.  

Another thing I noticed on a recent hen do in Ibiza is just how good is the Galaxy S6's camera. You can see our standard test shots of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel further down this review, but for a real idea of how it fares you need to take out the phone and capture photos of everyday life and events. Now I'm no photographer (I leave that to Jim Martin, who has compared the Samsung Galaxy S6's camera performance to leading rival phones in his article best phone camera of 2015 - and it won), but my holiday photos were miles better than any of the other girls' shots, and every single one of them commented on it. I have never, ever had anyone comment on my photography before.

The fingerprint scanner is good enough now that the only time I turn it off is when handing over the S6 for gaming duties, but I have to admit that I haven't once used its heart-rate monitor.

One thing that does annoy me is the Galaxy S6's speaker. If I'm ever listening to music without my headphones I have a tendency to accidentally cover the bottom-mounted speaker with my palm. And I wish it was a bit louder, too.

That aside, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is still the best Android phone of 2015. Read on to find out why. You can also check out our individual Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review and Samsung Galaxy S7 review.

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Still the best Android phone of 2015

What an upgrade: a gorgeous Quad-HD screen, vastly improved build quality, astonishing performance, more manageable software, even better photography performance... And yet, much of the debate surrounding the new Galaxy S6 goes something like this: "It looks like an iPhone 6, and just like Apple's phone it now has a non-removable battery, and no microSD support or waterproofing. Samsung's lost me as a customer." 

But let's not get our knickers in a twist: the S6 gains so much more than what it loses. And we can quite easily live with what we're losing. Also see: Best phones 2015. 

The Samsung Galaxy S6 does indeed look a bit more iPhone than did the Galaxy S5, but it's still Samsung through and through. Remember what we had before, with that awful dimpled plastic rear? It's no longer waterproof, but at least those who don't drop their phone in the loo needn't fiddle with that irritating plastic flap each time they need to charge their phone. For those of you who really need the waterproofing, look to the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. 

With 32-, 64- and 128GB storage options, OTG support, 100GB of free OneDrive space and unlimited Google Photos storage for your photos and video, is the lack of microSD really a problem? Storage has only ever really been a genuine issue when it comes to apps, which more often than not couldn't be moved to the SD card, and the Galaxy S6 now has at least double the amount of internal storage for these. You will likely find faster performance when accessing files stored on internal- rather than removable storage in any case. Also see: How to add storage to Android. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

We won't fob you off with the excuse that reduced battery life can be countered with super-fast charging, built-in wireless (not-so-fast) charging and an ultra power saving mode that makes the phone pretty much unusable for all the things you want it for. The loss of 250mAh from the battery capacity and the addition of a higher-resolution screen is not the combination we were dreaming of. 

But let's not pretend the Samsung Galaxy S5 would last a full working day for most users. Nor would most other high-end phones for that matter. So you used to have to carry a spare battery; now you need to carry a power bank or use a battery case. And as you'll discover below, that's a compromise worth making. Also see: How to charge your smartphone or tablet faster. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Price and UK availability 

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is available to buy now from Samsung and all major UK mobile operators. SIM-free it costs £599 with 32GB of storage or £660 with 64GB, while pricing for a 128GB version is coming soon. The device went on sale on 10 April 2015. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 UK release date, price, specs and best deals. 

Somewhat surprisingly, this means SIM-free the Samsung Galaxy S6 is actually more expensive than the iPhone 6, which costs £539 for the 16GB model, £619 for 64GB, and £699 for 128GB. Even on contract this is a pricey phone, so we recommend waiting a few months for the SIM-free price to drop - which it will, rapidly. 

We got our review sample from EE, which is offering Wi-Fi calling on the Samsung Galaxy S6. For commuters or those travelling to remote areas, the ability to place calls over Wi-Fi when there's no cellular signal will be a real attraction. If this doesn't sound like something you would use, also look to other mobile operators to find the deal best suited to your needs. See all phone reviews. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Design and build 

It has to be said the S6 is the best-looking Samsung Galaxy yet, ditching the dimpled plastic rear cover of the Galaxy S5 in favour of a tough Gorilla Glass 4 back panel and metal chassis. At last Samsung's S-series flagship looks, feels and acts like the premium smartphone it is. (A phone well worth protecting - see Best Samsung Galaxy S6 cases.) 

We weren't at all keen on the shiny mirror finish to the Blue Topaz model we saw at MWC 2015 (read our original hands-on with the S6 at the end of this article), but our Black Sapphire sample is gorgeous. The Galaxy S6 is also available in White Pearl and Gold Platinum. It does attract fingerprints; more so with the coloured versions than the white and black models. Whichever one you choose, we highly recommend viewing it in store first. 

Samsung has long been criticised for copying Apple's designs, and with the S6 you can understand where some of those claims might have come from. Indeed, Samsung has picked on all the things we hate about the iPhone, and produced a handset that will anger many S-series fans, removing the waterproofing protection and the ability to add in removable storage and replace the battery. (If you need more power to get you through the day your best bet is now to use a power bank). 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

In other respects the two are also similar, in the same way are all premium smartphones. More so when viewed side-on, with similarly rounded edges, button- and port positioning. For example, on the right side you'll find a power button and SIM slot, at the top left are volume buttons, and on the bottom a headphone jack, charging port and speaker grill. One might argue these are simply the best places for those things, of course: while we'd prefer to see a front-facing speaker, we wouldn't like the S6 to be any larger; it's already at the limit for comfortable one-handed use. Also see: Best new phones coming in 2015. 

The lines on the iPhone's rear that extend to its edges appear to be mimicked on the S6's sides, with plastic strips apparently used to allow signals to pass through the metal. Here, though, they are found at the top- and bottom edges rather than left- and right.  

Flip over the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its camera is centred at the top of the device and protrudes much further than that of the iPhone 6, which sits at top left. Both phones will therefore rock when placed and prodded on the desk, but the central positioning and squarer design of the Galaxy's camera means it comes off better in this regard. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Forget what you've read: the S6 is larger and thicker than the iPhone 6. Although Samsung quotes 6.8mm against Apple's 6.9mm, in our lab we measured 7.1mm. And taking into account the protruding rear camera, it's actually 8.7mm. At 138g, it's also 9g heavier than the iPhone 6. 

The heart-rate scanner remains present and unique to Samsung, but now has the neat functionality of acting as a capture button for the selfie camera. This pairs with the preinstalled S Health app to help you keep track of your daily activity and goals. Also see: Best activity trackers 2015. 

One thing Samsung has clearly borrowed from the iPhone 6 is its fingerprint scanner, and we're so glad it did. Now it works: first time; every time. Built into the home button as before, the S6 now uses touch- rather than swipe-style recognition, just like Apple's TouchID. It's easy to set up, and simple enough to use that you will actually want to do so. The fingerprint scanner will become more useful later this year when Samsung Pay comes to the UK, too. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

But we've saved the best until last here: the biggest difference between the Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 is the Galaxy's gorgeous, super-high-resolution Quad-HD screen. With 2560x1440 pixels stretched across a 5.1in screen, the Samsung has a crazy pixel density of 577ppi - sharper even than the LG G3. You might argue that such a high-resolution panel isn't necessary on a device of this size - particularly one that you want to keep going all day long - but it's simply stunning, and games, videos and pictures look amazing. Also see: Best Android phones 2015. 

Samsung uses Super AMOLED screen technology in its mobile devices, which omits a backlight and therefore places less of a strain on the battery. That's not to say this screen is dull - at 600cd/m2 it's an improvement over the S5 and easy to see even in bright daylight. sAMOLED panels typically produce deep contrast (dark blacks and crisp whites) and saturated colours - an effect you'll either love or hate, and we love it. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Hardware and performance 

Something that's instantly obvious when you pick up the Galaxy S6 is just how fast it is, with the only lag we could find occuring when trying to use the multi-tasking screen or swiping in the Flipboard pane to the left of the home screen (we removed this in any case). Everything else is fluid and achieved in an instant - even browsing the web on the train in notoriously patchy areas, we couldn't believe our eyes as pages that would usually take several seconds to load were just there (yes, even PC Advisor). 

There is less bloatware dragging down this phone, and TouchWiz really does feel as though it's had a rocket up its bum. (We'll talk more about software later on.) But the core hardware is impressive, too. 

Having shunned the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip originally expected to be found inside the UK version of the Samsung Galaxy S6, the company has opted for its own octa-core Exynos 7420 processor. This is a 14nm, 64-bit chip built with two quad-core (1.5GHz Cortex-A53 and 2.1GHz Cortex A-57) sets. A Mali-T760 GPU is integrated, and there's 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM.  

Storage-wise you get a choice: 32-, 64- or 128GB, plus unlimited storage for standard-size photos and video via Google Photos (see How to back up Android), and 100GB of free OneDrive space. After installing a handful of benchmarking apps on our 32GB review sample we had just over 22GB free. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Oddly, given the identical hardware inside, the Samsung Galaxy S6 didn't fare as well as the S6 Edge in our benchmarks, but that just goes to show how reliable are such tests. Nevertheless, both phones turned in a significantly higher multi-core result in Geekbench 3.0 than anything we've ever seen before, with the S6 recording 4438 points and the Edge 5076. Their closest competitor here is the HTC One M9, with 3778 points. In single-core performance the phones turned in 1347- and 1501 points respectively. Also see: What's the fastest smartphone 2015. 

SunSpider performance is really very good for an Android phone, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 recording a tiny 462ms (this is iPhone territory) when tested with the preinstalled Samsung browser. However, for a fair test we run all our SunSpider tests in Chrome, in which the S6 recorded 1048ms. Again, the S6 Edge fared better, with 990ms (lower is better in this test). 

For graphics benchmarks we use GFXBench 3.0, in which the Samsung Galaxy S6 recorded 30- and 14fps in the onscreen elements of T-Rex and Manhattan. In the newly released Manhattan 3.1 test the S6 scored 6fps. 

We did find the Samsung Galaxy S6 became rather warm in use (and not only when stressing the hardware with our benchmarks), but not uncomfortably so. 

Inside the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a 2550mAh battery, slightly smaller than the 2600mAh battery inside the Galaxy S6 Edge. However, in our Geekbench 3.0 battery life tests it performed better. The Galaxy S6 managed 6 hours 53 minutes in this test, with a battery life score of 4136. Meanwhile, the Edge recorded 6 hours 41 minutes with 4011 points.

There are a couple of other points worth making in terms of the battery, too. You might lose 250mAh on the battery capacity, the ability to swap in a spare and gain what's likely a power-draining screen, but the S6 features wireless charging as standard (both PMA and Qi standards), and also supports quick charging. Samsung says you'll get enough power for four hours use in 10 minutes, and that it'll charge in half the time of the iPhone 6. With the supplied adaptor we got from zero to 40 percent in 30 minutes.

We ran the same Geekbench 3.0 battery test on our now year-old Samsung Galaxy S5 to see how it compares. You can't draw any accurate conclusions from this test as the phone has been in full-time use for at least the past six months and the battery is not going to be in the same condition that it was out of the box, but we can say battery performance on the S6 is significantly better than on a year-old S5. In Geekbench 3.0 the S5 recorded exactly 5 hours, with a battery score of 3001 points. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy S6. 

Let's not forget the Samsung Galaxy S6 also has an Ultra power saving mode, which turns off non-essential features and screen colours to vastly increase battery life, although it may well make your phone unusable for all the things you want it for. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Connectivity 

Connectivity options are strong on the Samsung Galaxy S6, with everything you'd expect: dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, an IR blaster and a Download Booster that can pair the power of 4G Cat 6 LTE with Wi-Fi for downloads over 30MB. The Samsung Galaxy S6 takes a single nano-SIM. Also see: Best dual-SIM phones 2015.

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Audio

Speaker Quality

We found the output of the phone’s external speakers to be mediocre, where the single downward firing speaker, located at the bottom right-hand corner of the phone was hindered by its placement for those wanting to hold their phones with their right hand. A dual firing speaker design would have been a lot better for its overall volume, which scored 7.5/10 in our loudness tests – in comparison the Google Nexus 6P which scored 9.5/10 due to its large dual front-facing speakers.

As far as the speaker’s sound quality goes we found it to have neither bass impact nor well-presented mids, which left us disappointed. On the plus side its highs were well extended, where it produced a nice sparkle to the speaker’s output. Also see: Best Sounding Phones of 2016.

Internal Sound Quality

The Samsung Galaxy S6 houses the Wolfson WM1840 DAC, which provides a unique sound signature. We found its internal sound quality to be fantastic, as it was able to combine the lows, mids and highs whilst also reproducing an accurate, yet warm sound.

The phone’s internal output volume also rated the highest in our phone shootout, where we only needed 55-60% output volume to suffice for our listening tests. In comparison the iPhone 6s needed 75-80% output volume for our listening tests. For our in-depth sound comparison article see: Best Sounding Phones of 2016.

The phone’s internal sound quality is what really stood out, where we found the bass frequency reproduction to be fantastic, a common trait found within Wolfson DACs. The mids were unfortunately hindered by being a little pushed back, but did provide us with a fun sound signature. Its highs also extended well and coupled with its instrument separation, produced a good soundstage.

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Cameras 

As a cameraphone the Samsung Galaxy S6 is excellent. As before there is a 16Mp camera with LED flash at the rear, but it now supports smart optical image stabilisation, automatic real-time HDR and IR Detect White Balance. There are all the manual controls and camera presets you would ever have need for, and we particularly like the fact a double-tap of the home button can launch the camera in a fraction of a second. 

With very little photographical expertise, we found the S6 fast to focus and able to take great shots out of the box - even in low light. There's no dedicated capture button, but in landscape mode either of the volume buttons do the job. You can see the quality of the camera in our standard St Pancras test shot below. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Video is supported up to 4K, although set to full-HD by default. This makes sense since it would otherwise eat through your storage. The S6 also has slow- and fast-motion video modes.

 

At the front of the phone is a 5Mp selfie camera and, as we mentioned earlier, we like the ability to use the heart-rate sensor as a capture button. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Software 

So much of the Samsung Galaxy S6's software was hyped up before its launch. Most importantly, TouchWiz was said to be stripped right back, and not as laggy with less bloat preinstalled.  

There are fewer apps preinstalled on the S6, but you still get a lot. As well as all Google's apps you get Samsung's own apps for browsing the web, listening to music and watching videos, managing emails and calendar appointments, plus social apps for Instagram, Facebook and Messenger, and several tools including Memo, My Files, S Voice, Smart manager, Voice Recorder and Smart Remote. Then there's the Galaxy Apps store, S Health and My Galaxy, as well as the rumoured Microsoft suite that turned out simply to be OneNote, OneDrive and Skype (you can always download Word, PowerPoint and Excel free from Google Play if you need them). 

With our phone supplied by EE, we also found MyEE, Lookout and a Games & Apps store. So that's three app stores you'll find on this phone if you purchase it from EE. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

What's different here is that although you can't uninstall many of the preinstalled apps, you can disable them or hide them from view. Plus, TouchWiz is fast. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

The most notable changes TouchWiz makes to the standard Android 5.0 Lollipop OS installed on the Samsung Galaxy S6 are in the Settings menu and drop-down notification bar. Both are easy to find your way around and customisable, allowing you to choose which settings or toggles you want to access most frequently and place those at the top of the window. Also in the notification bar you'll find a brightness slider and shortcuts to S Finder and Quick Connect. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Some users will find TouchWiz's Easy mode beneficial, putting the phone's key features right at their fingertips. The Samsung Galaxy S6 also features a Private mode and Do not disturb, the latter preventing incoming calls, text messages and emails if you're trying to watch a film or play a game. Of course, if you still don't like it you can disable TouchWiz by installing a custom launcher.

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

New to the Samsung Galaxy S6 are themes. Installed on the phone are the default-, pink- and space themes, and there's access to a new Themes store that offers free themes for everything from Hello Kitty to Lego.  

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

Several gestures are supported. Besides those we've already mentioned, Smart Stay lets the Galaxy S6 track when you are looking at the screen and prevent it going to sleep. It also supports Direct Call (instantly calling a contact as you hold it to your ear), Smart Alert (vibrating when you pick it up to warn of missed calls or notifications), and gestures for muting the phone or taking a screenshot with a swipe of the palm. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

One of our favourite software features of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is Split Screen, which lets you view two apps on screen at once. This is accessed via the multi-tasking menu, but doesn't support every app on the phone. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: The best Android phone of 2015 is Samsung's best-looking yet, losing some features but adding so much more

The Samsung Galaxy S6 also supports lock screen notifications, although these can be turned off in the Settings menu. 

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter. 

 

 

 

NEXT: Our original hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S6 by Ashleigh Allsopp

Samsung unveiled its brand-new flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S6, alongside the Galaxy S6 Edge during MWC 2015 in Barcelona this week. We've spent some time with the Galaxy S6 to bring you our first impressions in our Samsung Galaxy S6 review. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 UK release date, price and specs and our Galaxy S6 Edge review.

You'll also like: Top stories from MWC 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Design & build

At first glance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the Samsung Galaxy S6 for the iPhone 6. Its rounded edges with brushed metal look almost identical to Apple's flagship. Also see: Best smartphones 2015 and Best Android phones 2015.

However, flip the S6 over and you'll spot a major difference: Samsung has gone for a mirrored finish rather than the brushed finish you'll get with the iPhone 6. Samsung describes the effect as a “unique visual texture that reflects natural light.” We're not keen on it – it's quite blinding, and not in a good way. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy S6: What's new in the Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

It also picks up fingerprints within minutes. There are four colours to choose from, though, with the white and black models much less prone to fingerprints and eye-aching mirror effects than the blue and gold models.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

Above: The top and bottom edges will look familair to iPhone 6 owners.

It's a departure from the traditionally plastic back for Samsung. Last year's S5 had that dimpled plastic back, but the S6's metallic back is made with Gorilla Glass 4, just like the display. Gorilla Glass 4 is designed to be super-durable, but if something should happen to the back of your S6 you won't find it as easy to fix as with the previous models, because Samsung has made the decision to go for a unibody design and therefore no removable back. That, of course, also means that there is no access to the battery. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge UK release date, price and specsSamsung Galaxy S6 Active UK release date price and specs, and Samsung Galaxy S6 mini UK release date, price and specs predictions

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

It does feel light and comfortable to hold and not too big, though, weighing 138g and measuring 6.8mm thick (that's .1mm thinner than the iPhone 6 but 9g heavier, in case you're wondering).

A big downfall to the S6, and incidentally another way that it's similar to the iPhone 6, is that the S6 doesn't appear to be waterproof. Samsung only introduced the waterproof design with the Galaxy S5, so the decision to sacrifice that extra durability that many people loved about the previous model is a surprising one.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Display

The Samsung Galaxy S6's display is stunning, at 5.1in and 577ppi, it's one of the best screens we've seen so far on a smartphone. It's has a Quad HD 2560 x 1440 resolution. It's arguably a bit unnecessary on a screen of this size, but there's no denying that it looks amazing.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

As mentioned previously it's made with Gorilla Glass 4, so should prove to be tough and durable, and is Super AMOLED as can be expected from a Samsung flagship.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Hardware & performance

Inside the Galaxy S6 you'll find an Octacore Exynos processor rather than Snapdragon, paired with 3GB RAM. During our time with the Galaxy S6 we found it brilliantly fast, with apps launching pretty must instantaneously every time. We're looking forward to getting the S6 into our labs for some full benchmark testing, as we're expecting some impressive results. (Also see: what's the fastest smartphone 2015.)

In terms of storage, you might be surprised to find that there's no microSD card slot in the Samsung Galaxy S6. The company has decided to take a leaf from Apple's book, but a leaf that is likely to disappoint many of its fans.

Instead, you'll need to decide on the storage space you'll need when you buy the S6. Samsung seems to have been smarter with its starting space than Apple, opting for 32GB instead of the small 16GB of the iPhone 6's starting model, and then also offering 64GB and 128GB models.When it comes to connectivity, you'll find 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, LTE and an IR Remote.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

We were really impressed with the camera during our testing. Samsung has given the S6 an excellent 16Mp snapper on the rear paired with an LED flash, and a 5Mp camera on the front for some pretty good selfies, both with an f/1.9 aperture.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

That rear-facing camera has optical image stabilisation and some good auto-focusing features, including tracking and selective focus. There's also auto real-time HDR (this applies to the front-facing camera, too), as well as low light video capabilities, slow motion, fast motion, IR Detect White Balance and more.

Handily, a simple double click of the home button on the S6 will launch the camera from any screen.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Software

The Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, as can be expected. It's overlaid with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. There's the S Health 4.0 app, which will track your activity thanks to the various sensors including a barometer and is also used in conjunction with the heart rate scanner on the rear of the device.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

Samsung's new Samsung Pay is made available thanks to the NFC chip, too, though it isn't set to launch in the US until the second half of 2015 so won't arrive in the UK for a long time.

One interesting thing is that the S6 comes with Microsoft Apps pre-installed, and you'll get OneDrive with 115GB of space for two years, as well as Microsoft's OneNote app.

Samsung KNOX is present with security features including Find My Mobile.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Battery life

Samsung representatives were keen on highlighting the S6's battery life. The company claims that just 10 minutes of charging time will give you four hours of battery life, and there's optional wireless charging available too.

The battery itself is 2,550mAh. Samsung provides an Ultra Power Saving Mode for prolonging that battery life further. We'll be bringing you full battery tests soon.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Extra features

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review

In terms of additional features we've got the fingerprint scanner in the home button, which has been tweaked to now recognise your fingerprint with just a touch rather than the previously slightly annoying downward swipe.

The heart rate monitor is still positioned on the rear of the S6, just beneath the camera's LED flash.

Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Price & availability

The Galaxy S6 is expected to be available worldwide from 10 April, but UK pricing has yet to be officially announced. Mobile Fun has revealed that it will be selling the 32GB S6 for £579, which is the same as Samsung's original price for the Galaxy S5.

We have also had confirmation that Vodafone and Three will be among the carriers selling S6 contracts.

Relive the Samsung Galaxy S6 launch: Samsung Galaxy S6 launch live video stream: Unpacked 2015 at MWC.

Read next: Best new smartphones coming in 2015.

Samsung Galaxy S6: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • USB OTG
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • USB OTG
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)

OUR VERDICT

Samsung's Galaxy S6 is the best Android phone of 2015 so far, although we've yet to see what's to come from the LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z4. It's fast, it's well built, it has a gorgeous screen and the software isn't overly intrusive. The fingerprint scanner is vastly improved, the heart-rate scanner a potential draw for some users, and the wireless- and fast charging welcome inclusions. We'd like to see the price come down (which we are sure it will) and it's a shame we've lost the removable battery, waterproofing and microSD support, but these are all things we can live with.