The Samsung Galaxy S6 review is finally here – the new flagship from Samsung changes much of the established formula to create what might be one of their best devices yet. With a new material choice in the design is the main headline of the Galaxy S6.
What was once a glossy plastic finish in a dimple backing is now a metal frame with glass on both sides. Though some other design cues might seem to come from specific sources inspiration. The S6 still retains the Samsung aesthetics, with shaping button layout making very clear that this is still a galaxy device. The metal frame is a very welcomed change, with the button layout following suit as a power button and the volume rockers now have a very needy and reassuring pressing click to them. The metallic frame has some of the taper raised on the top and bottom halves that are reminiscent Galaxy Note 4 frame. The vast majority of the phone’s hardware is found on the bottom now, with the micro USB charging port now flanked by both the headphone jack and the newly located speaker grill. The 2.5D glass adds a little dimension to the glass a top of the display and now the backing itself is made of glass. There are some obvious issues with this design choice because the backing is no longer removable and thus a couple of key features go by the wayside – replaceable battery and expandable storage. This will be the topic of debate for quite some time, I’m sure as many users have grown accustomed to having these two features in their Galaxy phones but it is going to be up to you to figure out if those are actually going to be deal breakers. Nonetheless this might just be the best looking phones that Samsung have ever made. Here in The Trendigo we are quite happy with the step forward that Samsung has taken this long to finally take.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 have a 5.1 inch display and this keeps the phone accessible for plenty of users who don’t want to go up to the growing group of sub 6 inch phones but even if you settle for this size of screen, you will still get all of the power with the Super AMOLED display that now comes with a QHD resolution of 2560 by 1440 and a ppi of 557. The Super AMOLED display in the galaxy S6 will bring what many of its fans already enjoy – deep blacks and highly vivid colors that are Samsung’s signature, and of course with the full freedom to still change the color saturation if it is too much for you. With the high resolution just about anything on this device looks absolutely gorgeous. Text is incredibly sharp with the 577 pixels per inch, videos are a blast to watch even if the full 2K resolution isn’t really being taken full advantage of. Viewing the phone in broad daylight is not difficult at all, though some issues with glare were expected and observed, but at full brightness I still had a few issues getting things done in incredibly open and sunny area. I noticed that this was such a dense display and also a little bit sensitive – swiping down the notification dropdown required just the right kind of flick, and even the small touch from the skin on the side of the device when playing games for example can mean the difference between living and dying in it. These are just things I simply noticed while using the S6 and perhaps they are testaments to how advanced the screen is on top of just being one of the best viewing experience that is available right now. The Samsung’s S6 display is such a beautiful display that compared to let’s say my personal favorite for 2014 the QHD display of the LG G3, even I am slightly in favor of the one found in the Samsung Galaxy S6 – this comes from a person that doesn’t quite like the oversaturated colors and prefers the more natural ones (but not before slightly tweaking with the screen settings).
In the Galaxy S6, Samsung set a precedent by not looking to Qualcomm this time around for their chipsets. The Korean giant has been making processors on their own for quite some time now and it looks like the S6 is Exynos coming out party. Globally EXYNOS 7420 will power the S6 bringing 2.1 gigahertz of performance with the Mali T760 backing it up. It almost made perfect sense to me that Samsung would optimize their operating system for their own processing packages, and it looks like this combination has actually paid off. Performance on the S6 absolutely screams with even the normal movements through the Touch Wiz interface speedily going along in smooth transitions. Jumping in the resent apps screen and jumping among the applications is a complete breeze. The performance of the Samsung Galaxy S6 perhaps is most easily demonstrated through using the camera shortcut on screen – simply double tap the home button and the camera application will gingerly slide up from the bottom in under a second and almost every single time it will do so without a hitch. The Mali graphics also do well to produce a good gaming experience, and the only slow down I noticed was when there were too many things happening on-screen like let’s say all the explosions in Sky Force. Even then the stutter was cosmetic and the actual game speed did not let down. Where you might have always noticed and maybe got angered by the stutters and slowdowns of Touch Wiz, we now have one of the smoothest iteration of Samsung’s UI yet. This only further justify Samsung’s moved to stick with the process that they’ve made in-house.
But now in the hardware segment we might see some of the appeal fading because when we once looked to Samsung as at least having all of the features that other devices didn’t, we are now seeing a dialing back of that philosophy. Now let’s get one of the obvious holes out of the way right now – expandable storage. While it is an issue that even I am a little bit peeved about the bottom line here is that with the Galaxy S6 there are no slots or trays anymore on this Samsung Galaxy device. This is definitely an issue to most of the Samsung S6 users but at least the phone now comes with a minimum of 32GB of storage and goes all the way to up 128 GB of storage options is available for those power users who do need that space.
The connectivity was no issue, with the phone easily connecting to my LTE networks and the call quality proved to be as good as ever. Speaking about sound quality on the Samsung Galaxy S6 probably is the best speakers’ experience Samsung has ever put on a flagship. With the speaker located on the bottom, the speaker is actually bringing some pretty loud audio that is even enjoyable in some noisy environments. It isn’t as good as front facing speakers but vastly superior to any of the rear mounted units Samsung has used in the past.
The heart rate monitor makes a return and works a little better this time around, mainly because its orientation. Even if you don’t use it very often the updated S health application and the ability to use the sensor as a trigger for self-portrait camera shots has given it a couple of extra capabilities. Underneath the home button is the fingerprint scanner now that is a press type which is much better than swipe version found in previous iterations. Unlocking the phone gets easier now, as you can just wake the phone by pressing the Home button and leave your finger on the button, and in moments later the phone opens up. Here in The Trendigo we like most about this is that unlocking the phone with this method is finally about as fast as it wound be with the typical swipe method.
Finally we make it to the battery and it is a none removable one, which is an issue for plenty of people and on top of that it is a little bit smaller than previously found in Galaxy devices – 2550 mah battery is its capacity and with the Quad HD display it’s easy to dismiss the battery life of the S6, but that’s half the story. I didn’t mention in the performance aspect in this review that the processor in the Galaxy S6 is now on 14 nm construction. What this basically means is that the same data transmission can be done on a smaller area, and this supposedly supposed to help power consumption. Unfortunately when you factor in all the other powerful specs including the screen the battery life just seem to even out, rather than get better than before. As such the S6 performs about where you would expect – a bit over the full day of work for the typical user, with the power user probably relying on power saving modes and the occasional connection to a fast charger or a wireless charging dock because the Galaxy S6 supports wireless charging out of the box. To say that it is a bummer the S6 isn’t an overachiever in the battery life department is unfortunate but the fact that it is average performer at best is something we quite frankly expected to say. ( I will update the review when my testing is done on the Galaxy S6 with a more in-depth information about the battery life)
Hardware is rounded out by the camera package, which brings some of the best specifications we’ve seen from a Samsung device, a 16 megapixels in the rear facing unit and a 5 megapixels on the front with both shooters sporting F 1.9 apertures – for better low light shots and auto HDR mode too easily add 2 photos. What’s easy to see in the camera app is that things have been dialed back a bit, with elements on the viewfinder relegated to the sides until you hit the PRO Mode which is a very welcome additions similar in some ways like the one found on the LG’s G3 and G Flex 2 interface and stock Android. While Pro Modes are not so very new, what I personally enjoyed about this one is the ability to manually adjust the focus. This to me is a better way to take advantage of the Depth of Field in F 1.9 aperture provides, though if you prefer to change the focus of a shot after the fact instead the selective focus mode is still available. You still have the Panorama Mode and the Dual Camera shot and many others. Video can be captured in slow motion or in 4K though both of these modes will not have the benefit of HDR, in other various enhancements 1080p video capture gets. The front facing camera though not an overachiever is more than enough for self-portraits and just about any situations. The camera in good lightning gets highly detailed, very vivid photos that are worthy of everything from social media to capturing key moments, and rarely I did get a dull photo. Autofocus tracking prove to be useful for moving subjects as the camera did well to keep the focus steady and had only a few missteps. It is certainly better than feverishly tapping on the screen yourself. In the lower light situations the F 1.9 aperture definitely helped. I was pretty impressed with what came out in the dead of the night. Normally on Android shooting during the night results in showing some smudges and overly fuzzy interpretations of the captured noise – after all it’s not necessarily how much the camera will be able to capture but what is done to that data after the photo was taken but in the Galaxy S6 the noise is largely left alone, so the portrayal of the scene remains pretty accurate. This is a much better way of handling the lower light situations as you get the photo just the way it can be given and the photo doesn’t get any worse than it should because of crappy post-processing. In the end “when the best camera is the one you have on you” you can do so much worse and that’s really saying something – based on my experience while doing the Galaxy S6 review.
The Galaxy S6 absolutely flies through all of its elements even through the overachieving features like the Multi-Window and the S Window that I will later show you in a short video. The Multi-window is the main example for the software features that the S6 have however there is also the small window capability that was originally introduced in the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 you can access this function by swiping down from the top of the screen, sure this features is still available by swiping from any top corner to create a smaller version of my screen, which could then be made into a multi window setup or floating icon for safekeeping. Nowhere was I interrupted with an annoying tutorial screen. This dialing back of the software is a refreshing change of pace, even if Touch Wiz still looks a little too bubbly or is a bit too colorful like before. But there is even an answer for that as the S6 introduces a Theme Store, where you can find and install a whole new look for the interface. It is not the most customization friendly version of themes store we’ve seen but it is a big step in the right direction. What is great about the Galaxy S6 is that if you are already used to just the typical Android experience, you get it skinned vie Touch Wiz but the experience is still as smooth and as speedy as it should be. Then if you want to dig a little bit deeper you can find those extra features without Touch Wiz parading himself all over your face. On the daily this is definitely one of the smoothest and easiest software experience Samsung has ever put out, and it stands as one of the best in this current crop of flagship devices this year.
As a conclusion
Sometimes a company need a different perspective to gain all of its attention back, and with the Galaxy S6 Samsung has definitely brought back quite bit of the buzz lost in the Galaxy S4 and S5. Pretty drastic change in the design philosophy brings one of the best looking and handling devices the Samsung’s Galaxy S line has ever had but sacrifices some of the key elements that Samsung fans pine over. It is yet another polarizing phone to the masses just like previous iterations from before but now perhaps for different reasons now. For all that has changed on the outside what has changed on the inside might even out the negatives – Touch Wiz is better than ever which is something I kinda never thought I’d say. The camera experience continues to improve and keeps Samsung among the top Android shooters, and the powerful screen and processor underneath it lend to an easily recommend as a daily driver for many users. Whether forward or backwards Samsung has finally shifted in a number of key areas and the S6 is the change we’ve been waiting for and the result – one of the best devices they’ve ever put out, one that won’t easily fade into obscurity the way it predecessors did.
Thank you very much for reading this Samsung Galaxy S6 review and stay tuned with us because I will be pinning this phone against all the major flagships including the IPhone 6 and the HTC One M9 in the coming week. Subscribe to our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter if you haven’t already so you can keep up with all of that.