In our review
of the Samsung Galaxy S6, we described how the Korean giant, once the
undisputable king of the Android domain, had finally recognised that
top-tier smartphones need to be more than just pieces of plastic with
the latest tech stuffed inside. There isn't much to be gained from only
bumping up processor speeds and screen resolutions year-on-year; the
overall experience of using a device has to be new and exciting enough
to convince people to upgrade. The Galaxy S5 fell short not only because
of its unappealing style, but also because of features such as a heart
rate sensor that barely worked, a fingerprint reader that was too
awkward to use, and software features that no one ever bothered to try
We also said that while there was a lot to like about
the Galaxy S6 (Review | Pictures) in terms of design, restraint and overall identity,
Samsung had held back in terms of really exploring new ideas of what a
smartphone can and should be. That's where the Galaxy S6 Edge comes in.
every company can pull off a fundamental change in the shape of a
smartphone, since the entire thing is based around a screen. However,
Samsung's strengths as a multinational electronics superpower include
in-house engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Having recently
pioneered the mass production of curved AMOLED screens, the company is
doing everything it can to stand out in a crowded, homogenous market.
Galaxy Note Edge (Review | Pictures), launched last year, was the first commercially
available smartphone with a wraparound screen, but Samsung might not really
have known what to do with it. The area that curved over the phone's
right edge was physically part of the same panel, but behaved like a
separate unit altogether. Ultimately, we found the asymmetry too
distracting, and the overall idea lacking purpose.
Round two comes
in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The screen is still curved,
but the approach is different, and so is the target audience. Read on to
see how this phone holds up, and how it compares to its more
traditional sibling, the Galaxy S6.
Look and feel
ocean of smartphones with nearly identical shapes and proportions, the
Galaxy S6 Edge stands out like a shining beacon. This is a phone that
will grab your attention - Samsung clearly designed it as a showpiece.
The audacious curved screen is complemented by unreservedly brash shiny
metallic colours. The way it catches and reflects light makes you turn
it over in your hands just to admire it.
The Galaxy S6 Edge
manages to break new ground while still undeniably being a Samsung
phone. Our review unit was a shimmery gold, which made it seem more
glamorous than our plain white Galaxy S6 sample. The front is all glass,
and the metal sides frame it in sweeping curves. The rear is also
glass, but with the body colour clearly visible through it. It's so
shiny and reflective that it was actually difficult to photograph. If
gold isn't your thing, the Galaxy S6 Edge is also available in deep
jewel-toned blue and green, or plain white.
When seen head-on, the
Galaxy S6 Edge doesn't appear to have any screen borders on the left or
right, which gives the whole unit an elongated look even though its
proportions are pretty much identical to the Galaxy S6's. The physical
home button below the screen has an integrated fingerprint sensor which
works with only a tap, so you don't need to swipe across it. To its
sides, capacitive Recents and Back buttons light up when touched.
rear is just as slippery as that of the Galaxy S6, but this phone is
even more difficult to grip thanks to its narrow, somewhat sharp sides.
In our time with the Galaxy S6 edge, we were constantly aware of how
easy it would be to drop it and how disastrous it would be for this
phone to land face-down on any hard surface.
The power and volume
buttons are in the same places on both phones' sides, but the Galaxy S6
Edge's Nano-SIM card tray has moved to the top, to one side of the
infrared emitter. The ugly camera bulge is just as pronounced on both
phones, but looks even more at odds with the slick design here. The
battery is sealed in and there's no microSD card slot for storage
expansion - considering the buyers Samsung has in mind, these drawbacks
are easier to swallow than they were on the more mainstream Galaxy S6.
Specifications and software
new twins have identical specifications except for the battery
capacity, which is a tiny bit higher in the Galaxy S6 Edge at 2,600mAh
compared to 2,550mAh in the Galaxy S6. Both devices are available with
32GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage, with no scope for expansion. Samsung's
in-house Exynos 7420 SoC has four 1.5GHz ARM Cortex-A53 processor cores
and four 2.1GHz ARM Cortex A-57 cores along with integrated Mali-T760MP8
graphics. There's 3GB of RAM, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC.
You can read about the hardware and software in more detail in our
review of the Galaxy S6.
While the screen is curved on two sides,
it has the same dimensions and resolution as the flat one on its twin:
5.1 inches and 1440x2560 pixels. Samsung used a wider screen on the
Galaxy Note Edge compared to the one on the Galaxy Note 4 in order to
accommodate extra features and create new usage situations, but there is
no such intention here. Whereas the curve on the Galaxy Note Edge
extended down the side of the phone letting you see quite a lot of
information at a glance, the Galaxy S6 Edge's curves extend only
slightly down each side, with not enough room for lines of text to be
There are only a few tweaks that make use of the curved
screen edges, as opposed to the plethora of "edge screen" panels and
settings on the Galaxy Note Edge. That's not a problem, because we
found the always-on background distracting and the vanity text useless.
On this phone, the main application of the visible curves is that they
can flash in specific colours when certain contacts call you (up to
five), so you know who's calling when the phone is upside down. Aside
from that, you can have your notifications and information such as the
clock and weather show up on either edge for easier access.
identical components and capabilities, it should come as no surprise
that the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge performs just as well as the Galaxy S6.
We noticed subtle variations in the benchmark test scores, which are
within the range of normal variations from run to run. SunSpider, for
instance, gave us scores of 352.3ms and 353.7ms for the curved and flat
phones, respectively, while the BrowserMark results were 2546 points and
2663 points respectively.
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The Galaxy S6's AnTutu record of 67975
points has proven to be short lived, with the Galaxy S6 Edge beating it
by a slight margin with a score of 68433. Both got the exact same score
of 39fps in GFXbench, but the Galaxy S6 had a slight advantage in 3DMark
Ice Storm Unlimited, with 21878 points as against 20306 points for the
Galaxy S6 Edge.
As similar as the two phones' scores were,
real-world usage felt very different. Just like with the Galaxy Note
Edge, it's hard to stay focused on the Galaxy S6 Edge's screen because
no matter which way you hold it, there is always some reflection. UI
elements, full-screen games and videos bleed off the edges, which is
occasionally annoying. You're also instinctively much more cautious when
handling the Galaxy S6 Edge - it isn't easy to hold when, for example,
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The built-in speaker is clear and distinct, but
the sound it produces isn't very rich. Camera quality is excellent -
indistinguishable from that of the Galaxy S6. You can read all about it
in the camera section of our review of this phone's twin, but it should suffice to say in
short that image quality in most situations is on par with that of the
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Close-ups are richly detailed with almost no
perceptible noise, and even photos taken in low light are incredibly
We managed to get 12 hours and 20 minutes of video playback
time in our loop test, which was a little surprising considering that
the Galaxy S6, with a marginally smaller battery, ran for almost an hour
longer. Both phones were tested under identical conditions.
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Samsung decided to play it safe and offer two different versions of its
Galaxy S6 flagship; one with the new curved screen and one without.
This is one time when we're actually happy that the company has launched
multiple similar models - this way, all users aren't forced into using
(and paying for) what Samsung thinks is the next big thing.
of our main criticisms of the Galaxy Note Edge was that the extra
screen space felt like a separate display that we couldn't get rid of
when it wasn't needed - like a smartwatch physically attached to the
phone itself, somewhat defeating its own purpose. Similarly, to be
honest, we don't think there's much in terms of functionality that will
help the Galaxy S6 Edge sell, especially since the Galaxy S6 is
significantly less expensive. It can perform a few neat tricks but
doesn't work its way into new areas of our lives.
That said, the
vast majority of those who buy this phone won't care about such things.
They'll buy it either because owning something so new and different
gives them a thrill, or because it has a unique way of making people do a
double-take - the "wow factor", as it's called. No other phone, except
perhaps the Galaxy Note Edge and the upcoming LG G Flex2 can offer
that. This phone is gorgeous, powerful and has no major flaws. There's
nothing wrong with splurging on it if you feel like, because there are
no compromises or trade-offs compared to the excellent Galaxy S6.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge in pictures