After having a look at a few budget phones, it’s time to look at another premium flagship device. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks as my daily phone and it’s time to share my thoughts on the latest from Samsung in my Samsung Galaxy S6 review.
- 5.1″ 1440×2560 (~577ppi) Quad HD Super AMOLED display
- Exynos 7420 Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 Processor
- 32/64/128GB Storage
- 3GB RAM
- 16 MP (2988 x 5312 pixels) rear camera with optical image stabilization, autofocus, LED flash camera
- 5MP/1080p front camera
- Sensors: accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
- Fingerprint scanner
- 2550 mAh Lithium-ion battery with wireless Qi charging
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0, NFC
The Samsung Galaxy S6 marks a departure from the design of the last few devices in the Galaxy S series. Both front and back of the device are covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 4 giving it a sleek, shiny finish on both sides of the phone. The edges are covered with a curved aluminum frame with the power button just below the two-third point on the right side and the volume buttons near the top of the left side. The nano SIM slot is just below the power button while the headphone jack, microUSB port, and the single speaker are on the bottom of the phone. The LED flash sits to the right of the rear camera when looking at it, and the heart rate and SpO2 sensor sits just below the flash. Because the phone is pretty thin, the camera does jut out a bit and when resting the phone on a flat surface, it does rest on the edge of the camera housing but at the same point gives the phone a slight tilt making it a bit easier to use when laid flat. There’s no doubt about it, the Galaxy S6 looks and feels like a solid device and is very comfortable to hold – partly due to the flattened left and right edges.
My one complaint about the design of the phone is the placement of the power button. I’m not sure why Samsung decided to move it down a bit but I found that when using the phone in one hand, I’d have to shuffle it up or down if I wanted to switch between accessing the volume and power buttons. Held normally, my thumb rested nicely on the power button, but then I’d have to slide the phone down to be able to access the volume buttons – perhaps Samsung should have moved those down a bit as well.
As with most Samsung devices, the Super AMOLED screen is very vivid and the Quad HD screen is very sharp and crisp. The auto brightness seemed to work relatively well and the screen was easy to see under pretty much any lighting condition and angle.
As those with Samsung devices are aware, the Galaxy S series runs Android with Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay. As I mentioned previously in my Note 4 review awhile ago, TouchWiz is definitely becoming lighter and less bloated with each release and even though I installed the Google Now launcher, I did go back to TouchWiz for a couple of reasons. The first reason I went back to TouchWiz is because Samsung has added the the option to adjust the screen grid size, something I’ve always wished Google would do with stock Android. With the latest version of TouchWiz, you can set your screen grid to 4×4, 4×5, or 5×5 allowing you to customize and fit more icons on your home screens. The second reason for using TouchWiz is the built in theme support that Samsung added in. While themes are currently pretty sparse, limited to a few generic ones and a full set of Avengers themes, they do work pretty well and allow users to change their lock screen wallpaper, home screen wallpaper, icons, fonts, and dialer when they install a theme. One touch I liked about the Avengers themes that I tested out is that the home screen wallpaper moves slightly as you tilt the phone up and down or from side to side. Nothing functional by any means, but a neat little addition that makes using the phone feel a little bit more dynamic. In addition to TouchWiz, Samsung has added a TouchWiz Easy Mode to slim the home screen functionality down even further.
In addition to TouchWiz and Samsungs default apps like S Planner, S Health, S Voice, Smart Manager, and a couple others, the Galaxy S6 also came with Microsoft’s OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype preinstalled. While these apps can’t be uninstalled, they can be disabled effectively removing them from your app drawer and placing them out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. Of course, Samsung’s Galaxy App store is also installed with “Galaxy specific” apps and addons for Samsung apps and devices.
The speakers on the Galaxy S6 are decent, even though it’s only the one speaker. The one issue with the speaker however is its placement and you’ll want to place the phone down with the speaker towards you for best sound. If you happen to have a Qi charger that sits more upright, you may lose some of the sound quality and volume due to the speakers potentially being partially or fully covered.
As expected, the Samsung Galaxy S6 performs wonderfully. Apps and games load fast and run without a hitch, and video plays and looks great as well. There’s no complaints in the performance department with the latest from Samsung.
With all the phones I’ve tested, I’ve gotten used to what I call an acceptable level of delay from the time I open a camera app to the time I can take a picture. I can honestly say the camera in the Samsung Galaxy S6 absolutely blew me away with how fast it opened and focused on the subject, ready to take a picture. I can barely get a “one one thousand” out and the default camera app is launched and ready to capture an image. The quality of the images is really good as well and Samsung has also incorporated an HDR mode which can be set to auto, on, or off, as well as other effect modes like faded colour, cartoon, vignette, grayscale, or vintage, and has many others available to download from the Galaxy Apps store.
Reception was as good and call quality was clear and there was no troubles on either end of the call with volume levels.
As mentioned many times before, battery life in phones seems to be the weak spot these days and with the premium flagship devices you’re generally lucky to get a full day use out of a single charge. The same held true with the Galaxy S6 and I found I was able to consistently get a pretty full day out of it before having to put it on the charger around 6 or 7pm. It’s not the best battery life I’ve seen, but it’s most certainly not the worst and you shouldn’t have to worry about the phone dying on you part way through the day. The Galaxy S6 also has power saving and ultra power saving modes to help you extend battery life as well. Another feature that the Galaxy S6 has is an abnormal battery usage indicator which you can check to see if any apps are using an unusual amount of battery while the screen is turned off. In addition to Qi wireless charging, the device also features fast charging which can charge your battery for an extra 4 or so hours of use after 10 or 15 minutes.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 will run you between $680-$860USD ($750-$970CAD) depending on what storage size you get. Unlike its predecessors, you can’t get the 32GB version and just toss in a microSD card for extra storage as Samsung has removed this capability from this device. As mentioned above, there’s no doubt that the Galaxy S6 is a slick looking and high performing smartphone but honestly I can’t see myself spending $750USD for a 64GB version of the device. If you can pick one up on contract (some carriers offer a $0 down/24 month payment plan, while others require a smaller $250-$450 payment up front on a 2 year contract), it’s a bit of an easier pill to swallow cost wise but then you are bound to a 2 year contract.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a wonderful device if you can afford it. It’s fast, has an absolutely beautiful screen, the fastest loading camera I’ve seen, and decent enough battery life with wireless and fast charging and options to extend the battery life. If you can justify the cost and plan on having the device for a couple of years you won’t be disappointed as long as you pick up a version that will meet your storage requirements for the next couple of years.
*We were sent a demo unit from Samsung Canada for the purposes of our Samsung Galaxy S6 review.
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