Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge goes upscale
Samsung’s Galaxy S line of phones, for the most part, stand out for solid screens, fast hardware and generally good cameras. But the construction never felt as solid as the specs would warrant.
It’s not like the handset of the S5 would shatter if it were to slide off a table, but the phone didn’t feel rock solid.
Not only does Samsung’s latest flagship Android device feature innovative hardware, it now feels like the premium handset that it deserves to be known for.
The perimeter of the device is wrapped in a metal frame, meanwhile the back cover is a solid, albeit permanent, slab of glass.
It survived several tumbles from a spinning bike, and one fall from my hand while I was trying to unlock my car in the freezing cold. The damage? Just a scratch on the edge from the pavement.
Despite the beefy feeling of build quality, the handset is still remarkably light, weighing in at only 136 grams.
The downside is that 1) there’s no option to add a microSD card for expandable memory and 2) you can’t swap out the battery. While many consumers are unlikely to replace the battery after a couple of years, some hardcore users may miss this flexibility.
On the upside, the phone is available in healthy storage configurations: 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB varieties.
The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen looks stunning and is the best-looking display on the market right now. On the S6 Edge, the left and right sides of the display are curved away from the front, thus the ‘Edge’ moniker.
This unique bend in the design makes it appear as though images and video and displayed in pseudo-3D, kinda like icing on a cake that adds depth.
Why else would you want a curved screen? Well, another benefit is the potential to see notifications displayed along the edge, so as to not disturb the rest of what you’re seeing on the screen. Or perhaps it’s a subtle text message visible from the curved display lurking under your phone’s case. The curved screen is not a feature I fell in love with, and there are two other potential drawbacks to consider.
In addition to the ‘Edge’ premium (about $100), the curved display makes it a little difficult to pick the phone off a table without disturbing what’s going on on the screen itself. So, for example, you might accidentally exit an app playing a soccer game, or pause a YouTube video.
Maybe it’s my stubby man hands, but I’d save the $100 to avoid this problem.
The rear-facing 16-megapixel camera features optical image stabilization to help produce sharper photos, and what a camera it is. Inside the dark, dimply-lit Parliament buildings during a recent trip to Ottawa, the S6 captured images in rich in detail despite not using the flash.
That’s thanks to the fast F 1.9 aperture which really excels in low-light situations. It’s also a damn fast camera too, ready to snap stills in 0.7 seconds.
When asking strangers to take a photo of my and some friends (sorry, no selfie stick here), they would inadvertently think the phone wasn’t taking photos because the shutter was just so fast.
Speaking of speed, the 64-bit octa-core processor provides more than enough juice for the S6 to crunch through everything from gaming to SnapChat.
With such a big screen and a fast processor, what is the battery performance like?
Yes, the battery in the Edge is smaller than what was used in its predecessor, the S5. But on that trip to Ottawa, the S6 helped me navigate through the city, take photos at touristy spots, browse the web, watch YouTube, use Instagram, hail an Uber, call the lost Uber driver, and then stream more YouTube to a TV late into the night.
Samsung has made its Android user interface, Touchwiz, less obtrusive, lending the S6 a fairly no-nonsense Android experience. Sure, it isn’t a pure Android phone (straight from Google, such as with the Nexus devices) but the latest Samsung likely won’t have users noticing the extra layer of software.
If you’re in the market for a smartphone with a big, gorgeous screen and a fantastic camera, the S6 should be on your list. And if you want to stand out from the crowd (and don’t mind paying extra for it), the Edge will turn heads wherever you go.
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