When it came time to unveil the Galaxy S6, one of the better-kept secrets was a second model of the phone, the Galaxy S6 edge, which incorporated a curved screen with exclusive software to take advantage of it. A significantly more complete thought than the poorly-received Galaxy Note Edge, the GS6 edge ended up being a far more popular choice among general consumers than even Samsung expected.
So it isn't all that surprising that with the launch of the Galaxy Note 5 there's a second model launching alongside it to tap into that newfound edge screen demand — the Galaxy S6 edge+. Hoping to appeal to those who like the looks of the Galaxy S6 edge but just want something larger, the Galaxy S6 edge+ is built on the same exact internals and screen size of the Note 5, but with the familiar GS6 edge form factor. Despite launching together and sharing the large screen there's no S Pen here, though, leaving that feature exclusively on the Note 5.
Having a big phone that doesn't do anything "special" with the extra screen real estate is nothing new today — and for those who want the extra capabilities that come with a Wacom stylus there's a shiny new Galaxy Note to buy — the Galaxy S6 edge+ is all about striking looks and just having a big, beautiful screen to interact with. And we're here to tell you all about it.
Galaxy S6 edge+ hands-on video
There's a lot going on with the announcement of both the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5, so we've wrapped the big points up in our hands-on preview video right here. Check out the video, then read on for our full impressions.
Like the GS6 edge, but larger
Galaxy S6 edge+ hardware
It should come as no surprise that a phone with the name "Galaxy S6 edge+" shares the design of its namesake. The "plus" part is the only thing new, and hardware-wise that's the only thing that's changed as well — this is simply a Galaxy S6 edge, but with a 5.7-inch display instead of 5.1.
This is simply a Galaxy S6 edge, scaled up to fit a 5.7-inch screen.
The metal frame, glass back (which is flat, not curved like the Note 5) and tightly curved screen have all scaled up proportionately to the larger size — and the entire footprint nearly matches that of the Note 5. Volume and power buttons are in the same spots, the camera is in the same configuration on the back, and the home button — flanked by capacitive buttons — contains the same solid fingerprint sensor. The one loss here is the IR port on the top of the phone, which was also axed on the Note 5.
I question whether the curved screen will cause usability issues at this size.
Anyone who has held the Galaxy S6 edge knows it can be a bit slick and generally unfriendly in your hands, and scaling up to a larger size doesn't do anything to remedy that. Whereas the curved glass back on the Note 5 helps the phone nestle into your palm a bit better, the GS6 edge+ has the reverse effect because the glass and metal edges curve down into your palm. There likely were several decisions that went into keeping the flat glass back on the GS6 edge+ rather than trying to incorporate the curved back in addition to the curved front, but it would've been an interesting thing to see.
But of course Samsung knows more precisely how many Galaxy S6 edges are currently selling, and presumably the feedback is positive enough that there didn't need to adjust the design in this larger model. I haven't used the edge+ long enough to see how the curve impacts long-term use. But I'm a tad worried at this point, having used both Galaxy S6 models and found myself preferring the flat one.
Exact duplicate of the Note 5
Galaxy S6 edge+ specs
Internally the Galaxy S6 edge+ is identical to the Galaxy Note 5, which is just what everyone wants to see. You get the same 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display — plus the curves, of course — backed up by an octa-core Exynos processor, 4GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of storage and a 3000 mAh battery. There's no SD card slot and the battery isn't removable, of course, but again considering the similarities to the original Galaxy S6 edge we weren't exactly expecting that.
|Operating System||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, TouchWiz|
|Display||5.7-inch QHD (2560x1440, 518 ppi) Super AMOLED
Dual edge screen
|Processor||Exynos 7420 octa-core (2.1GHz quad + 1.5GHz quad)
|Storage||32 or 64GB, UFS 2.0
|Rear Camera||16MP, f/1.9, OIS, phase detection auto focus
4K video, slow motion video
|Front Camera||5MP, f/1.9|
(network bands vary by market)
|Connectivity||802.11ac Wifi, 2.4/5GHz, MIMO (2x2), 620Mbps
Bluetooth v4.2 LE, ANT+
NFC, Location (GPS, Glonass, Beidou)
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Fingerprint, Barometer, Hall, HRM|
|Charging||Micro USB 2.0, Adaptive Fast Charging
Qi wireless, Powermat wireless, fast wireless charging
|Dimensions||154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9mm|
|Colors||black sapphire, white pearl, gold platinum, green emerald
(colors will vary by market)
TouchWiz gets a small design refresh
Galaxy S6 edge+ software
As is the case on the Galaxy Note 5, the Galaxy S6 edge+ software has a refreshed — but not strikingly new — design, with a new take on the styling of icons and slight changes to the look of certain interface elements. The stock icons are more uniform — and a smidgen closer to Material Design — with rounded corners, and the launcher has been cleaned up a bit yet again.
This is the TouchWiz we know, with a few design tweaks and new YouTube streaming feature.
I honestly wasn't expecting any huge software change on these new phones considering how much visual and feature streamlining was done with the launch of the Galaxy S6 six months ago. Once again it's TouchWiz and Android 5.1.1, as you may already know it from your Galaxy device that's been updated to Lollipop, with a slight progression in design that's always nice to see.
A new YouTube live streaming feature is also built into the camera on the Galaxy S6 edge+ the same way it is on the Note 5, letting you stream directly to YouTube in seconds right from a dedicated camera mode. This can be done on Wifi or cellular data and isn't tied into a special version of the YouTube app, and what's more it's a nice little addition to compete with the likes of Periscope and Meerkat. There's no indication if this feature will make it back down to the standard Galaxy S6 and S6 edge (or the Note 4 for that matter), but considering the similarities in internals and camera specs I see no technical reason this would stay exclusive to these two phones.
A few new features, without going overboard
Galaxy S6 edge+ edge screen
After a swing-and-a-miss trying to do too much on the Galaxy Note Edge's edge screen, Samsung got it right with the simple and intuitive interactions on the Galaxy S6 edge — and things have only improved on the GS6 edge+. The idea of the "people edge" is still here, but it can now be accessed within any app with a swipe in from the edge, and you have better control over where that swipe-in zone actually is. Rather than choosing just left or right, now you can also select vertically on the edge where it appears.
A little extra functionality on the edge screen, without being overwhelming.
An additional swipe over with the people edge expanded now gives you a customizable app launcher — called the "app edge" — as well, which when paired with the ability to access the people edge in any app can make multitasking even quicker. You can put whatever apps you want on the app edge, and unlike the Note Edge it doesn't replace the use of a standard app tray on your home screen.
The same "desk clock" and "information stream" modes are here for giving you useful info along the edge screen when your phone is otherwise on standby, and the integration of your favorite contacts with colors to give you notifications on the edge when the phone is face-down is also here. I'm glad to see Samsung doing a little more with the edge screen without going overboard, and these edge screen features give the two phones a little extra to draw potential customers in.
I wasn't given any timeline for when the original Galaxy S6 edge would be brought up to speed with these new enhancements to the edge screen, but hopefully an update isn't too far behind the launch of the GS6 edge+.
More to come
Another member of the expanded Galaxy S6 family
The big question to be asked is not whether you should buy a Galaxy S6 edge or S6 edge+ — that's answered simply by saying "what screen size do you want?" The really tough choice will be between the two big-screen Samsung phones, the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+. With the same sized screen, shared design elements and identical internals there's not a whole lot that separates the two. You really need to decide whether you want a flat screen with the S Pen functionality baked-in, or the curved screen that'll turn heads and give you a few neat software features to go with it.
We can't answer that question right now, but we're looking forward to spending enough time with both the Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5 to answer it in the near future.