The Two and Only

A review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.


DISCLAIMER

The following units were sent by Verizon Wireless. This has no effect on my personal opinion of the devices. 

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

“Is that the new edge phone?” A friend asks as she points to the Galaxy S6 edge in my hand. I show her the phone and briefly talk about it, but all she’s solely focused on is the double-edge screen. I don’t blame her. While the S6 edge is aesthetically pleasing, the S6 is beautiful, too, but beauty can come with a hefty price tag. And the S6 edge is victim to that, because for a phone with the same camera and battery you have to pay $100 more because of its edge screen. That’s 36,190 Zimbabwean dollars for a screen with edges.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

For me, the extra $100 isn’t worth it because I’ve never needed an edge screen to enhance the experience of using a smartphone. Yes, the edge’s screen makes swiping across the screen smoother, but all the S6 edge’s screen does is light up when being called and stream a limited set of information. I only used the edge features when people asked about it.

But in all honesty, I commend Samsung for pushing the boundaries and trying something different. It’s that type of consideration towards thinking differently that ignites innovation and I believe that through more polishing, the successor to the S6 edge will be better. For now, we’ll have to see what Android developers do with Samsung’s SDK for the edge’s screen.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

The new S6’s cement my trust in Samsung making the most beautiful and powerful Android phones—a statement I used to reserve for HTC until I used the M9. Samsung has finally prioritised design to the point where they have a device made with thoughtful, desirable design attributes. Samsung still has a long road to travel, but for now they’re on the right path.

Because of its double-edged screen, the S6 edge feels weird (not painful) while the S6 snuggles it’s aluminum body in my hand and pockets. The size difference between the S6’s and iPhone 6 isn’t dramatic. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge is a little bit thicker and bigger than the iPhone 6, but that doesn’t stop it for being a comfortable phone. If you’re deciding between what coloured Galaxy device to purchase, I’d advise you to get the white body so you don’t notice fingerprints, because these phones love fingerprints like a nun loves her bible.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6.

The iPhone 6 is the camera I take the most pictures with. When used, it’s reliable and predictable. I point and shoot. With Android, it has always been a different story. Launching the camera would take longer and I’d end up having to tinker with settings and switch to manual mode. But the Galaxy S6’s dismisses that notion. I point-and-shoot, just like the iPhone. No worrying about if the white balance will be correct or if the image is accurately exposed. I just point and shoot, knowing that when I review the photo later, it’ll be the photo I wanted. If this worked for me, then how would the Galaxy S6 perform with my mum behind the wheel? To answer that, I let her shoot images at a Tigers game with the S6. Every image (even the selfies) she took from dusk to night were sharp, accurately exposed, and vibrantly coloured. She loved how detailed and fast the camera performed, which solidified my “point-and-shoot” belief with the Galaxy S6. But that doesn’t mean I never used manual mode on the Galaxy S6’s. Every image taken of either device for this review was taken with manual mode, allowing me to capture the desired image in mind.

Image taken by my mum with the Galaxy S6. Click to enlarge.

Image taken by my mum with the Galaxy S6. Click to enlarge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Two of the best things the Galaxy S6’s camera has that I wish iPhone’s had is the quick access to the camera and the voice command shutter. You click the S6’s home button twice and within milliseconds you’re provided with the ability to take a picture. If you’re capturing a picture with one hand and can’t press the shutter button, you can say “capture” and an image will be captured. Just beware of that guy who purposely says “capture” before you want to take a photo. Because this is how you quickly lose friends.

Samsung is bridging the gap between Android and iPhone’s mobile imaging capabilities. In fact, Sony is, too, and this progress is well-needed for Android. I haven’t extensively used the LG G4 yet, but have high hopes in it following the “point-and-shoot” mentality that Android has grown to embody. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge don’t have the best camera experience in a smartphone, but right now, they have the best camera experience in an Android device. While this is great for Android, it’s good for Apple because now they’re more than ever focused on producing a better camera in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’ successors. Competition fuels progress, and right now we’re witnessing Samsung throw a few right hooks for the “best camera” title.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Samsung’s Android skin, named Touchwiz, isn’t the sin it used to be. With Android 5.0 Lollipop, the interface is cleaner and less obtrusive than before. Now with the option to switch between themes and—finally—the absence of dripping-water tap sounds, Touchwiz silences most of the sins it held in user experience and interface.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

I used to have to hide or disable 20+ bloatware apps on the Galaxy S5, if I was even able to disable some apps. I’m glad that, that number has dramatically decreased to nine apps being disabled. It’s never fun having to hide or disable apps on Android, but anyone with an iOS device has a special ‘Purgatory’ folder in their home screen.

In terms of battery life, I can’t say I worried about charging either devices until I got home during the evening. At one point, I used the WiFi hotspot on the S6 edge from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with 12 connected devices and experienced a 30-40% drop in battery life. The battery life isn’t the best, if compared with the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus, but for its size, I would rate it fairly adequate without any user compromises.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Image captured with the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Making a great phone doesn’t require it to have the biggest numbers in a spec sheet. We live in an age where smartphones can do everything they’re reasonably requested to do. The general consumer doesn’t look at mAh’s. They focus on how many hours they can swipe right on Tinder. It’s about creating a phone that holistically works. It doesn’t matter if you prefer iOS or Android, because we finally live in an age that yields a great experience out of either preferences. For iOS users, they have the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. For Android users, they have the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.