2015 can be marked as the year Samsung is reborn. At least in the mobile space. And the Galaxy S6 is the first substantial step in its change. Gone are the plastics, as sturdy as they were, and the all-too-familiar front fascia and uninspiring build quality. The legacy of the SIII, S4 and S5 dusted and gone. And for great reason.
Samsung needed this. No thanks to increasing competition, firstly from Apple's massive iPhone 6 in the top end, and then the onslaught of cheap and cheerful Chinese smartphones in the mid and lower tier. With rivals nipping at its rear end, it was time for the Korean giant to step up its game.
And guess what, it did just that. Sure, Sammy teased and tested waters with the metal frame on the Alpha, then A Series and of course the Note 4. And in more ways than one, that showed consumers it was listening, and it was willing to ultimately, change.
So came the massive Galaxy S6 and gorgeous Galaxy S6 edge, unwrapped at Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015), marking the biggest change in the flagship GALAXY S6 line since the SII.
Thanks to new partners in crime SoyaCincau and TheSkop, I've had the opportunity to test the GALAXY S6 edge further, albeit briefly, after a very positive first-time hands-on during the Samsung Unpacked Live event on 2 March.
Beauty on the edge
There is no doubt, and I believe my opinion is seconded by many who have seen and touched the device --- it's the most beautiful smartphone Samsung has ever made. The marque phone is packaged in glass and aluminium with a double curve-edge display that's both an aesthetic and engineering marvel.
SoyaCincau.com calls it, "the stunning flagship reboot."
It weighs 132g, compared to the regular S6's 138g. It's a little fatter at 7mm thin as opposed to the S6's 6.8mm, but really, it's 'thin enough.'
Flip it on the side and some quarters will accuse the S6 as an 'iPhone 6 copy.' While I see some similarities, I feel the two phones couldn't be more different.
The S6 edge is svelte, sleek, beautiful, premium. It feels great in the hands, and looks stunning. The brilliant, cutting edge 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display pushes out an amazing 577PPI, an industry-leading number at the moment. As a regular non-phablet phone, I think it's almost the perfect size for most.
The Note edge that I'm currently using tops out at 525PPI, and as a comparison, the iPhone 6's Retina pushes 326PPI and the Sony Xperia Z3 does 424PPI.
You need to see it to believe it. But as far as display goes, the S6 Edge screen is flawless.
The new set of colour options are pretty bling, and the new metallic Emerald Green option is rather interesting. There's also Platinum Gold in addition to Sapphire Black and White Pearl. While it's great to look at and it will undoubtedly turn some heads, it can be a bit of a finger-print magnet. And beware of distracting reflections.
Aside from the range topping display, the S6 and the S6 edge boasts some highly impressive hardware. Samsung opted for its in-house developed octa-core 64-bit Exynos processor that tops out at 2.1GHz. The new Exynos is built on Samsung's cutting-edge, industry-leading 14nm manufacturing process. This is mated with superfast 3GB LPDDR4 RAM and an all-new UFS 2.0 storage.
This combination is lethal, delivering performance and power efficiency. In early benchmarks, the Exynos simply blows everything else out of the water. Sorry, Meizu.
The S6 edge gets Cat6 4GLTE, 802.11a/b//g/n/ac, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 built-in, things you'd expect in a flagship.
What Samsung brings new to the plate though is wireless charging capabilities, built into the 2,600mAh battery. Supporting WPC & PMA charging standards, Samsung is banking on wireless charging to really take off this year. And I do hope so too. Unfortunately I didn't get to test its wireless charging capabilities but I hope to in a full review. The only gripe for some may be this --- the battery is now non-removable. Having a replaceable battery was always a key feature.
And as seen in the A Series, Samsung has dropped microSD expansion. This may already be a deal-breaker for certain quarters.
The other feature worth mentioning is the S6's Adaptive Fast Charging. I've swear by this, as it works flawlessly on the Note Edge. We're talking additional 4 hours from just 10 minutes of charging. And 100% in just over an hour. That's amazing. And super handy.
Samsung camera optics haven't always been great. Regardless of what Samsung marketing was boasting before about its camera (in the SIII, S4 and S5), photo quality wasn't always great. Sure, images mostly looked good on screen (thanks in most part to the oversaturated AMOLED) but end up washy and noisy when viewed on the PC.
Things have changed though. I'm impressed with the Note Edge's new 16MP main camera. It's quick and images are super sharp and bright, even in low light. But wait, that's the Note Edge.
The S6 gains an even newer Sony-sourced 16MP OIS camera module, now with an f/1.9. If the big aperture doesn't excite you, I'm not sure what will. It simply means you get a superfast shutter, and less noisy images in low-light. And it delivers. In droves.
Also, Samsung has now built-in a 'quick draw' feature for the camera. Double-click on the Home button and the camera will fire up. In 0.7 seconds. Nifty.
You can check out some image tests done by SoyaCincau here.
It's also fabulous for video and with OIS built-in, you can be assured of steady, ultra sharp video footage. You can shoot up to UHD resolution (3,840x2,160 pixels). You can also trade that for 1080p with 60fps if you wish.
The front 5MP isn't shabby either, and impressively also gets the f/1.9 lens. More wide selfies it is then.
The NFC chip in the S6 supports payment, and while it's unclear if it will be a feature that's available in Malaysia, Samsung Pay will enable convenient one touch payment with the S6.
The Samsung experience more or less remains, with the aging TouchWIZ still trotting along. Sure there are couple of added extras in terms of UI to take advantage of the dual-curved edge screen but otherwise, Samsung's UI on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop will feel familiar.
There's less bloatware if you compare the S6 to the S3 and S4. The plethora of Samsung apps still remain, but now as separate downloads from the Samsung's App store.
As a killer feature for the double-curved edge screen, Samsung has enabled the ability to assign different colours to up to 5 different contacts. Contacts appear as a bubble on either left or right side of the curved screen. When a contact calls you, a corresponding colour will glow. Check out the video of how it works below.
- Beautiful, premium, sexy
- Premium build
- Fantastic screen
- Outstanding performance
- Fabulous cameras
- No micro-SD expansion
- Runs a little hot
- Limited functions for the double-curved edge screen
- TouchWIZ needs a revamp
Is this the Android flagship to beat in 2015? I think so. The Galaxy S6 edge is everything a flagship smartphone should be and more. It boasts the best display, best hardware and best camera, packed in a beautiful package of luxury and style. If desirability was a criteria, the S6 Edge serves it in droves. Already it has excited and impressed the media and those who have seen and touched the device.
Two setbacks I can note is the lack of micro-SD expansion and the anticipated cost of RM3,099 for the base 32GB model. This prices it even above the Note Edge (RM2,999). The regular GALAXY S6 is expected to be retailing at RM2,599.
Having said that, I feel it's an exciting new change from Samsung and one that's long overdue.
Keep a look out later in the day where the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge will be officially launched to media, with general availability to public on 17 April.