For all the Apple vs. Samsung back-and-forth over the years, there's one simple unavoidable truth: Apple’s iPhone just sells better than Samsung's Galaxy S series.
For Samsung, I'm part of the problem. A former Android user, I converted to iPhone last year. The truth is I've always found the Galaxy S devices a bit forgettable and the TouchWiz software Samsung forced people to use on top of Android was just terrible.
Things changed for me earlier this year with the Galaxy S6 and in particular the Galaxy S6 Edge, which were both immediately memorable as objects of design. I was intrigued to see if Samsung could repeat the trick with the larger Galaxy S6 Edge+.
Obviously the main talking point here is the curved screen.
Samsung sells its curved display as being a benefit from a practical point of view, but this is simply not true. While there are a few software tweaks to allow you to use the edge of the display for contacts, recent apps and display the time at night, I never used any of them after a first look.
But, I still think the curved screen is brilliant. It is immersive and beautiful. This is in part due to the super-high Quad HD resolution, but the curved edges seem to make the screen much bigger than its 5.7 inch dimensions suggest. It facilitates swiping much more and it also helps to reduce the phone's bulk, making it a much easier smartphone to use one-handed compared to the iPhone 6S Plus -- though not everyone agrees on this.
The only gripe I have with the display is that I found typing was an issue because some keyboards (I used Swype) don’t take into account the curved display, so you end up tapping buttons just by holding the phone. It takes a bit of practice to get used to and can be really frustrating when you want to type something fast.
Slim And Lightweight
I reviewed the gold version of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and while I’m not typically one for such ostentatiousness, I did like pulling the phone out of my pocket for the reaction it provoked. The only thing I can compare it to is the reaction people had to the touchscreen on the original iPhone.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is its weight. At 152 g it is significantly lighter than the iPhone 6S Plus (192 g) while also being slimmer 6.9 mm compared to 7.3 mm.
Samsung hasn’t done everything right, however. The ultrashiny rear cover will get smudged with fingerprints within seconds, the edge where the curved screen meets the rear cover is slightly sharp. These however are small points, as overall I think this is one of the best designed phones I have ever used.
Samsung is selling this phone for a lot of money -- $750 for the base 32GB model - - though that is the same as a 16GB iPhone 6S Plus will cost you off contract. Therefore it had to make sure it offered top notch specs to match the design -- and it has.
The company’s Exynos chipset powers the phone; paired with a huge 4Gb of RAM, it makes everything open instantly, stream smoothly and download quickly. I never had a problem with the phone’s operation -- thanks to Samsung’s sensible decision to strip back TouchWiz, it all works much better.
The phone has a 3,000 mAh battery that also features a fast charge ability and support for wireless charging. With such a large, high-resolution display, it was no surprise the battery typically lasted no more than a day, and sometimes not even that long. The fast charge aspect does help -- with a full charge taking under two hours and a quick 10-minute hit getting me enough power to last an hour or so.
It's a shame that Samsung has moved away from removable batteries and microSD cards, but with this phone’s design it's no surprise. It has included a fingerprint scanner on the home button which works much better than it did on the Galaxy S5 when Samsung first introduced the technology last year. There is also a heart rate monitor built into the rear that is only really useful for taking a selfie by tapping it.
The final selling point of this phone is its 16 megapixel camera. It is simply brilliant. Just as the camera on the Galaxy S6 matched the iPhone 6 in terms of quality, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ does the same.
Capturing an image is ultrafast thanks to the new auto-focus system Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S6 and the improved camera app loads up in an instant. For me, this is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone camera that you typically want to use at short notice. To that end, the feature allowing you to double click the home button to launch the camera (even when the phone is locked) is another fantastic addition.
The results are superb. In good lighting conditions, the results were as strong as any I have seen from a smartphone camera, while low-light conditions were almost as good. I took this photo in a room where the only light was from the TV.
The camera app interface has been overhauled, and while it's not as stripped-down and simple to use as the iPhone’s, it is very easy to navigate; for those looking for more manual control, there is a Pro mode available.
Video can be captured up to 4K resolution (though this drains your battery pretty quickly) and has slow-mo and time-lapse modes which offer some fun effects. The front-facing camera has a 5MP sensor offering decent results, and Samsung’s voice control feature is excellent, allowing you say "smile" or "cheese" to capture a picture.
Here are some more sample images from the Galaxy S6 Edge+
Value and Verdict
There are many who will see the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and its curved screen as a gimmick, but I would say try it out first. I was in the same camp until I actually used it and I was surprised by how much I liked this smartphone.
It has a big and beautiful screen, an amazing camera, powerful hardware and a decent battery with fast charging and wireless support. The software features that Samsung has included for the curved screen are not needed and it should just concentrate on telling people how good the screen is to look at.
It’s not all perfect, however, with typing on the curved screen an issue while images and video can at times look distorted. Overall, if I had to choose between this and an iPhone 6S Plus, I would go for the Edge+.
Galaxy S6 Edge Key Features:
- 5.7 inch display (2560 x 1440)
- Octa-core Exynos chip
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB/64GB storage
- 16MP camera
- 3000 mAh batter
- Android 5.1.1
- Wireless charging
- Price: From $750