Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge hands-on preview | Android Central

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The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edgeA single phone with two different looks telling a brand new story.

by Andrew Martonik

March 1, 2015

The Galaxy S5 was hardly a flop. Tens of millions have sold since its introduction last year and you’d be hard-pressed not to see one in use on the street in any populous city around the world. But despite its success relative to other devices in the market, the prevailing feeling about the GS5 is that it didn’t live up to the expectations of a flagship smartphone in 2014. Those shoes were instead filled by the Note 4 launched later in the year, with its superior materials, more refined design and improved camera performance.

Samsung, naturally, is hoping to put the Galaxy S series back on people’s radar as a top device, and it’s doing so by starting afresh with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. Though it numerically follows the GS5, the Galaxy S6 bears little resemblance to the previous model, and marks a pretty significant change in the way Samsung designs phones. At the same time, the S6 edge picks up the fun parts of the Galaxy Note Edge and leaves behind the poor software experience.

There’s a brand new design philosophy in play with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, starting with the radical hardware change and flowing into a more considered software experience. These are the phones that Samsung’s hoping will change the perception of its devices in 2015 — let us show you what they’re all about.

Samsung Galaxy S6

About this Galaxy S6 preview

We're taking a look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its curved cousin, the Galaxy S6 edge, unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. We've only had a little alone time with both phones thus far, enough to form some initial impressions and to get a pretty good feel and what Samsung has going on here.

We'll update with a full comprehensive review once we've spent more time with the phones, and we'll have plenty of separate pieces to go along in the meantime.

Samsung Galaxy S6 video hands-on

Samsung Galaxy S6 hardware and design

Metal and glass

Samsung Galaxy S6 display

Samsung continues to bring its best ...

Samsung pretty much blew everyone away with the quality of the Note 4’s display, touting the best brightness, colors and resolution of any available phone she while also retaining accuracy, viewing angles and modest power consumption.

Samsung Galaxy S6

There’s not much you could ask Samsung to change about that display, and so it has taken all of those traits down to a smaller size in the Galaxy S6.

The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display is now QHD (2560x1440) resolution, which is the same as the Note 4 in the smaller package, leading to a quite ridiculous 577 ppi. It looks great, particularly at the intensity of 100 percent brightness, and we were unable to find a single flaw with it. The same display is used on both models, with the obvious exception of it being curved around the sides on the S6 edge.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the phone outside so I couldn’t get a feel for outdoor visibility or viewing angles, but considering it’s based on the same tech that made the Note 4 outstanding in those areas I see no reason to expect the Galaxy S6 to be any different. The only real worry here is how the extra resolution will hit performance and battery life — and we’ll need more time to assess that.

Samsung Galaxy S6 internals

What's powering the next big thing

As rumored, Samsung's using its own 64-bit Exynos processor in both Galaxy S6 models.

It’s clear that the design of the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge is more important than the numbers on the spec sheet, but of course one isn't worth much without the other. As long rumored to be the case, Samsung is going with its own in-house Exynos processor — a 64-bit octa-core unit based on a new 14nm manufacturing process — for the Galaxy S6. While it had previously used a mix of Exynos and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon for devices depending on the market, going all-in with Exynos lets it have one consistent platform, benefiting from that more efficient 14nm process across the board. And considering that there’s a relatively small battery in these phones it’ll need all the power-efficiency it can get.

Joining the Exynos processor is a healthy 3GB of RAM, and we wouldn’t expect any more than that at this point. While Samsung chose to ditch the microSD card slot on the Galaxy S6, it is making up for it by (finally) setting the base internal storage to 32GB. There will also be 64GB and even 128GB models available as well, though we honestly don’t expect all three storage capacities to come to all areas of the world. Samsung says its data shows that microSD cards weren’t actually being used as often as we may think, and when combined with new higher storage options it makes more sense to drop the slot.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6 front facing camera moduleSamsung Galaxy S6

PowerMat and Qi charging are supported out of the box.

The sealed case and glass back on the Galaxy S6 gives Samsung greater freedom in what it can fit inside the phones, and that means for the first time we have devices from the manufacturer with built-in wireless charging. Both phones support both WPC’s popular Qi and PMA’s fledging PowerMat standards, burying any doubt that your phone will work on any given wireless charging pad. Samsung is also introducing a new Qi charging pad of its own, which will be available in both blue and white colors closer to launch.

The last big parts of the Galaxy S6’s spec story are the cameras. The Galaxy S5 was definitely hindered by its camera’s poor low-light performance and speed issues, and Samsung is really putting its best foot forward with the sensors this year.

Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6

A new 16MP sensor can be found on the back of the phone, this time with OIS on board and a bevy of new features to support it. The camera has a very wide f/1.9 aperture, IR detection white balance, auto HDR mode, and live HDR view in the viewfinder. Samsung has even nabbed a feature from its high-end NX cameras, “fast tracking autofocus,” that lets you lock focus on a particular item and keep it in focus no matter how you or the subject move. There’s also a new quick launch feature that opens up the camera with a double press of the home button within one second, no matter what the phone is doing — even when the screen is off. (Previously this shortcut was claimed by the S Voice assistant app.)

The front-facing camera gets a new sensor as well, a 5MP unit behind a f/1.9 lens that produces much better shots than the GS5... but looks only marginally better than the really good 3.7MP sensor on the Note 4. This’ll do just fine for selfies.

Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

S6: 70.5mm

S6 edge: 70.1mm


S6: 6.8mm

S6 edge: 7.0mm


S6: 143.4mm

S6 edge: 142.1mm


S6: 148g

S6 edge: 132g

5.1" QHD





S6 Edge: 2600mAh

PowerMat wireless charging

Qi wireless charging

  • Rear: 16MP, OIS, ƒ/1.9 lens ƒ/2.4 lens

    Front: 5MP, ƒ/1.9 lens

    Auto real-time HDR, IR detect white balance, high clear zoom, slow motion, fast motion, pro mode, selective focus

  • Samsung Exynos processor

    Octa-core 4x2.1GHz + 4x1.5GHz

    64-bit, 14nm process


    32/64/128GB internal storage

    (no microSD expansion)

  • LTE Cat.6 (300/50Mbps)

    Wi-Fi 802.11ac, MIMO(2x2)

    Bluetooth 4.1 LE

  • Android 5.0.2 Lollipop

    One-touch fingerprint sensor

    Samsung Pay

Samsung Galaxy S6 software

A lighter TouchWiz? Yes and no ...

Samsung Galaxy S6

While the hardware story on the Galaxy S6 is brand new and very exciting, the software side of things hasn’t changed as much as some might've expected (or hoped). Many Galaxy S5 and Note 4 users around the world have started to get a taste of Android 5.0 Lollipop via firmware updates in the past few weeks, and what they find on their newly-updated phones is a pretty good indication of what to expect on the Galaxy S6. This is Android 5.0.2 and TouchWiz throughout, with few visual changes being made from the Lollipop updates that have hit other devices.

The notification shade now has just the top row of quick toggles and loses the drop-down menu, while the settings are a familiar white with pops of color. Plenty of neon blues, yellows and greens are still found all over, though you can see Samsung is slowly progressing toward phasing these eye-popping colors out. In an astonishing turnaround, the international units we used were missing Lollipop’s questionable priority notification features, instead opting for a plain mute/vibrate/volume option when pressing the volume buttons.

Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung proudly claims it cut back on the features “by 40 percent” compared to the GS5.

Samsung Galaxy S6

When it comes to the feature creep that has defined Samsung phones of old, the GS6 still hasn't completely escaped from that bucket of bells and whistles. Samsung proudly claims it cut back on the features “by 40 percent” compared to the GS5, which is great, but there's still a good number of apps and settings to wade through. You’ll find S Voice, Milk Music, Milk Video, Galaxy Apps and a bevy of Samsung utilities installed, as well as the Galaxy Apps store to summon forth even more. Microsoft has also found a place in the app drawer, with its own folder holding Skype, OneDrive and OneNote apps.

The Multi Window (multitasking) experience has been improved and streamlined a bit, with fewer options to mess with when managing two windows on the screen. Samsung has also brought the ability to run apps in individual movable windows down to this smaller screen, though this isn't quite the productivity boon it was on the Note 4 considering you don’t have an abundance of room on the GS6.

In our brief time with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge we weren't able to come to any definitive conclusions about the performance of Samsung’s Exynos processor, but equally we didn't see any cause for concern. Hours and days of use in real-world situations will have to determine how it holds up compared to the competition.

Samsung Galaxy S6 — Our first impressions

A bold new direction for Samsung

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