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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Review: The Flagship to Beat This Year

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We review the Galaxy S6 Edge!

Samsung is out on a mission to regain lost glory. After a brutal 2014 which the company saw its market share and profits shrink because of competitors both big and small, Samsung set out to prove itself yet again, coming out with not one, but two totally redesigned flagships to regain lost glory. Both the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge are unlike anything that Samsung has ever made, and it’s not hard to see after spending a couple of weeks with the Galaxy S6 Edge that these are the best phone that the company has ever made in years.

While this review is for the S6 Edge, you can consider it as a review for the S6 as well. Aside from the dual-curved display (and a slight 50mAh battery bump) on the S6 Edge , both devices are identical, including the camera, hardware and so on.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge specs:

  • Exynos 7420 octa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED dual-edge display, 2560 x 1440 resolution
  • 32 of storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with OIS
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • 3G, LTE Cat. 6
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC
  • 2600mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop, TouchWiz UI
  • 142.1 x 70.1 x 7.0mm

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Project Zero

After the lukewarm reception that Samsung got with their S5 last year, the company vowed a complete redesign of their next flagship from the ground up. Not a lot of people believed that Samsung would follow through – what would Samsung be without well made plastic phones? But follow through they did, and the result is the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge.

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While the S6 Edge and the S6 are Samsung’s first ever full-metal flagships, we’re not surprised that both turned out so well. The company has been flirting with metal designs with the Note 4 and the Alpha, further refining their techniques with the A-series of devices. The S6 Edge and the S6 are the culmination of their metal mastery, and it shows – both phones are spectacularly well made, and you can’t even see the gap that’s typically present in the join near the display and the metal chassis. We’re sure it’s there but Samsung made the phones so well that it’s virtually impossible to see. The metal body is sandwiched between two panels of Gorilla Glass 4.

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The chassis of the S6 Edge and the S6 are curved and rounded in a way that reminds us a lot of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. While there will be a debate if Samsung copied Apple’s design again, it’s important to note that other companies tend to employ the same design cues for the corners of their phones. Even though Samsung may have taken liberal design inspirations from Apple’s frame design, it’s not difficult to see how much care the company has poured into making it their own – chamfered edges on the frame surrounding the phone make it look all the more premium. The relocated speaker that’s now on the bottom of the phone allow it to blast some serious volume when you’re listening to music or watching video.

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Of course, detractors are quick to point out that Samsung’s new design direction also axed many of the things that made the S-series great. The metal and glass unibody construction means that there’s no more removable battery, nor is there a microSD slot. You’re now tied in to the storage capacity of your choice, in the Philippines’ case 32GB or 64GB. Water resistance is now gone so if your phone gets dropped in H20 (or other liquids) you’ll need to fish it out immediately.

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Samsung has also revamped the fingerprint scanner to something more akin to Apple’s TouchID implementation. Instead of swiping your finger over the scanner, you just have to press your finger over the home button to unlock it. It’s an infinitely better solution than the previous iteration because it’s a lot faster AND more accurate. Just remember to keep your backup password written down somewhere – we relied so heavily on the fingerprint scanner that when it stopped working (for some odd reason) we couldn’t get into our phone because we forgot our own password. Senior moments – it hits even if you’re just 33.

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The S6 Edge’s main claim to fame is the dual edge displays that seem to fall away from the sides of the phone. To be blunt, there’s no added advantage from getting the S6 Edge over the regular S6 aside from the fact that it looks amazing. Those dual edge displays really are a sight to behold, and while people will rightly call it a marketing gimmick, it’s still one hell of a marketing gimmick. The phone’s dual edge displays are real headturners – several people did a double take whenever we took the phone out of our pocket while we were using it. Of course the display isn’t completely useless – you can get the edge clock, see notifications and assign a unique color for several favorite people to notify you whose calling when the phone is face down.

The S6 and the S6 Edge have Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) displays. While this isn’t new particularly new, as the Galaxy Note 4 had the same resolution, it’s being stretched on a much smaller 5.1-inch display which results in one of the most pixel-dense displays currently in the market. As a result, the display is insanely crisp, and you won’t be able to pick out individual pixels at all on the Super AMOLED panel.

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Speaking of Super AMOLED, Samsung’s panel on the S6 Edge and the S6 is better than the ones before it. AMOLED and Super AMOLED panels have always had over saturation problems, but the one on the S6 and the S6 Edge don’t seem to have it. Blacks are deep, contrast is amazing, color reproduction is glorious.

For the S6 Edge, people have remarked that you’ll probably get mis-presses on the display since the two ends of the panel curve down straight to your palm. Samsung has thought of that too – the panels don’t extend far enough to be an issue when you’re holding the phone, and we’ve never had any mis-presses that can be attributed to the display.

Living with TouchWiz

One of the main complaints against Samsung’s phones was its TouchWiz UI and accompanying software “enhancements” that always seemed to be the culprit for phone performance issues. Samsung”s heard this complaint as well, and while the company still has TouchWiz layered on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop, they’ve stripped down the unwanted software to nearly 0. On our 32GB variant, there’s almost 23GB of available space on board after the OS and everything else needed to make the phone run, which is the industry standard. If you choose, you can install Samsung’s apps back into the S6 and the S6 Edge.

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Ditching Qualcomm to go with their own

Samsung drew heavy flak from the ‘net when it was confirmed that they would no longer go with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor on the S6. Instead, the company went with their own home-brew Exynos 7420 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM. In the end, Samsung’s gutsy decision was right – in benchmarks, the Exynos 7420 processor managed to score an astounding 60K+ points in AnTuTu, which demolishes the performance of the Snapdragon 810, at least on synthetic tests.

Even with real-life tests, the S6 Edge managed to hold its own against other flagships. The phone never lagged or slowed down during our time with it, and it managed to pretty much power through everything we threw at it, from games and apps. Nothing could faze the S6 Edge in terms of use, and it performed really well. Samsung’s Exynos 7420 is a beast, plain and simple.

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Taken at 9:00 PM in the evening, with just store lighting

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A camera that improves on the S5

Samsung’s cameras, at least the ones on their flagships, have always managed to impress. The one in both the S6 and the S6 Edge improves on the already stellar camera on the S5 and cranks the dial up to 11. The 16-megapixel camera (made by Sony, interestingly enough) sports a f/1.9 lens and optical image stabilization which results in simply stunning photos. All photos taken with the S6 Edge were pretty great, with excellent color reproduction and fine detail.

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Even in low-light, the Galaxy S6 Edge managed to capture great photos. While photos taken in really low light (like the one of the Quezon Memorial) would understandably get a lot of noise, we were surprised that there was a lot of definition considering that the only light sources were the one that were illuminating the monument – the photo was taken at around 8:00 PM in the evening.

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Taken at 10:00 PM in the evening, with just street lighting
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Same photo with LED flash on

 

The camera is also incredibly fast – you can see that little photo montage of the skater trying to jump the rail? You can probably make an animated gif out of that – that’s how good the S6 Edge’s camera is.

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We’re also really happy how the phones automatically applied HDR whenever it would be useful, instead of making the users turn it on when they needed it. It takes the burden of camera settings off of the user – you just need to worry about composing the actual shot.

Average battery life

The biggest concern of everyone eyeing the S6 and the S6 Edge is battery life. The 2600mAh battery on the S6 Edge is far less than the one on the S5 by a few hundred mAh.

During our time with the S6 Edge, we averaged around 8 hours of use before we needed to turn on the battery saving mode, which is less than ideal, especially for a flagship. Of course those days were spent running around the metro heading to meetings, presscons and writing in cafes which needed us to turn on WiFi hotspot for a few minutes, which may not be representative of what you’ll get in a normal day. Thankfully Samsung’s power saving modes will allow you to ration whatever battery life you have left into something usable, hopefully until you manage to find a power plug and get some juice in the phone.

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Verdict: the most beautiful and desirable smartphone in the world today

Functionally, there is no difference whether you get the S6 Edge over the regular S6. But in our opinion the S6 Edge should’ve been the sole flagship of Samsung, because it simply is unlike any smartphone out today. Samsung’s finally figured out how to make beautiful, metal phones, and while the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge may not turn around the company’s fortunes anytime soon, they’re a damn good start.

The Galaxy S6 Edge is available from Samsung tomorrow, priced at Php 41,990. BPI has a very attractive 0% interest plan for the S6 and S6 Edge, and it’s also available through Smart at just Php 2,000 a month for 24 months, which makes it an attractive upgrade or retention option for people (like us) who are looking to upgrade from the S4.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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9 Comments

  1. kanyan kanyang kultura nga naman.. Western review sites do not recommend the Edge over the plain S6 because for them, the price premmium is not worth since there is no added functionality other than looks… pero sa Pinoy, apparently, mas importante ang porma, ang show-off factor… kaya umuunlad tayo ehhh… :)

    1. Who says Pinoys are the only one who wanted porma factor? Are you late to the news that the Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge is selling and has a demand more than expected worldwide?

      If you’ve actually bothered to visit and read the western tech forums, you can see how people are quite aware that functionality wise there is little difference between the edge and the regular S6 but they bought the edge anyway specifically because of the way it looks.

  2. Note 4 parin. Loving it for 4 months now. Truly a beast and the most productive phone out of my 10 phones.

    1. Why would you compare a Note 4 to S6 edge? first of all Note 4 belongs to the Note Series of Samsung which has its own capability and function. while S6 edge belongs to S series of Samsung that has its own capability and function too. Don’t compare phones that are not alike.

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