Samsung officially launched its latest flagship Android smartphone at its Unpacked event in Barcelona — the GALAXY S6, with the addition of the unique dual-curved edge GALAXY S6 Edge. The new devices mark the biggest design changes yet to its flagship GALAXY portfolio.
If the new-look GALAXY A series and GALAXY Note 4 series are any indication, there’s a big rethink in Samsung’s design direction this year. The Korean mobile giant went back to the drawing board and embarked on a ground-up reboot of its devices, including that of its flagship GALAXY.
With dwindling market share and revenue as well as increasing competition, Samsung had to dig deep not only to shed its ‘iPhone copy’ image but also to show that it is an innovator and leader in the game.
Well, enter the GALAXY 6 and GALAXY S6 Edge. The biggest change in the GALAXY line since the GALAXY SII.
Make no mistake, the two devices are stunning with their all-metal frames and glass exterior. Comes in new funky metallic colours too. For the GALAXY S6 there’s White, Black, Blue and Gold to choose from, whereas the GALAXY S6 Edge gets an exclusive Green option.
Both devices exude a premium look and feel, not something Samsung have been good at before.
The GALAXY S6 measures 6.8mm thick and weighs just 138g, while the GALAXY S6 Edge tops up at 7mm and 132g. The GALAXY S6 Edge of course has sexy dual-curved edges, although not as pronounced as the GALAXY Note Edge.
Both the GALAXY S6 and GALAXY S6 Edge pack similar internals. The key differentiator is the display — the conventional S6 gets a 5.1-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED which pushes a mindblowing 577PPI, while the S6 Edge gets a dual-curved edge display.
Samsung’s own 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 processor built on the super advance 14nm process powers both devices. The 14nm process in theory provides better performance and power efficiency against its bitter rival, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, built on the 20nm process. The octa-core chip consists of a Cortex A-57 @ 2.1GHz + Cortex A-53 @ 1.5GHz).
Both devices pack 3GB LPDDR5 RAM and come in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB storage variants. With the new ultra-thin, all-metal design though, Samsung has chosen to remove microSD expansion. This may erk Samsung fans and some consumers. To counter that, Samsung has partnered with Microsoft to offer 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage, free for 2 years.
Something to note of is the inclusion of UFS 2.0 flash memory, a technology based on Samsung’s latest SSD drives, which is claimed to be 30% faster than standard eMMC 5.0 flash storage seen on most flagship smartphones.
If you were impressed with the camera on the Note 4 (and Note Edge), as did I, then you’ll be chuffed to know that the two S6 variants have improved cameras. The main camera is a 16MP module with OIS, while the front gets 5MP. Both feature a super fast, f/1.9 lens which will deliver some stunning shots even in low light.
During the launch in Barcelona, Samsung pitted the S6 camera with the iPhone 6 in low-light, and the S6 came out tops in internal tests.
A new quickdraw feature for the camera will ensure you never miss shooting those special moments. Double tap on the Home button and this will trigger the camera app.
A key change with the venerable Home button is a new fingerprint sensor with a 360-degree one touch method. The previous sensor on the S5 utilised a swipe method which isn’t as convenient or fast.
A heart rate monitor is also built-in, like in the previous S5, but its position has been moved to the right of the back camera.
The GALAXY S6 sports a 2,550mAh battery while the GALAXY S6 Edge gets a slightly bigger 2,600mAh. Both has smaller battery capacities compared to the previous generation. These are non-removable btw, something that will erk some quarters.
A feature that Samsung is touting is Adaptive Fast Charging, which we’ve seen on the Note 4 and Note Edge. Adaptive Fast charging gets your from 0-50% in 30 minutes, and a quick 10 minute charge can give you over 4 hours of use.
Built-in to the battery is support for native wireless charging. This is the first time Samsung has made wireless charging standard in any of its devices. It is compatible with a WPC/PMA wireless charging standards.
Unlike the S5, the Samsung has dropped dust- and water-proofing on both devices.
In terms of software, the S6 and S6 Edge run Android 5.0 Lollipop with Samsung’s TouchWIZ on top. There isn’t much change to TouchWIZ aside for some design tweaks and enhancements where the S6 Edge is concerned. Specifically for the S6 Edge, a “People Edge” function on its curved edge display lets you keep 5 of your favourite contacts within reach.
As seen during the launch, the S6 Edge also has a glowing edge light which acts as a notification light when the phone is face down. You can assign a colour to your favourite contact and it will flash accordingly when you receive a call.
Due to its limited display size, the S6 Edge’s edge screen doesn’t have more extensive functionality unlike on the Note Edge.
Pricing and availability
The Samsung GALAXY S6 and GALAXY S6 Edge will be available in 20 countries starting 10 April. No word on pricing or Malaysian availability yet.
I’m liking the new design direction from Samsung. While they’ve been accused to play it safe and rest on their laurels in the past, the two new devices show that they can certainly innovate when it matters. Both devices are stunning and exude class. I’m torn between the two — while the S6 Edge demonstrate cutting edge display tech, I also like the silent simplicity of the conventional S6. The new camera is brilliant and the new octa-core Exynos should return top class performance.
Perhaps the only drawbacks for some may be the exclusion of microSD expansion and non-removable battery.
Otherwise, a solid effort by Samsung and a very strong early contender for flagship Android device of the year.