We’ve been asking Samsung for something different for a long time now. And they’ve attempted to deliver in the past, but phones with cameras built into the back of them just didn’t do it for anyone. But that ‘something different’ has finally arrived, properly, and it’s in the form of a glass-backed, curved-screened flagship-worthy smartphone called the Galaxy S6 Edge.
And you’d think that the curved screen would work out to being a gimmick, something that can be put into a features bullet-point to differentiate the handset from every other slap of plastic, silicon and glass out there (most of them from Samsung’s own product catalogue). You’d be wrong – I’m actually pretty taken with the could-have-been-a-gimmick screen. It works.
People In Glass Housings
The Galaxy S6 Edge is, by and large, very similar to the Galaxy S6. They share a layout and a whole lot of specs, as well as most of the operating system nuances in the handset. The S6 Edge’s rear is just about identical to its boring sibling, with glass being marred by a bump where the camera lens protrudes. The edges are also similar, the volume rocker on the right upper side, the power button on the left while the power, headphone and charge port lives on the bottom edge. On top? That’s your SIM-card slot. Get a nano.
But then there’s that curved 5.1-inch S-AMOLED display (oh yes, with a 1,440 x 2,560 resolution), which trails away on the left and right to the metal edging around the phone itself. In simple terms it’s almost as though Samsung has reversed the phone, I’m more used to using the flat side in front. Still, I’d argue that the S6 Edge is easier to hold than the smaller S6 vanilla. Fingers enfold the handset a little easier thanks to that curved display. I’d still hate to drop either phone though, lest they explode in a welter of fragments which have to be swept up and then wept over. The S6 Edge is an expensive piece of fragile tech.
Taking The Curves
But what are you going to use those curved little strips for? Welllll… perhaps nothing. That’s up to you. But Samsung isn’t being in-your-face about the feature, they’ve given users the option to see notifications, the lock-screen clock or frequently-used contacts on one or another side of those strips. Your choice which, really.
Aside from that – there’s not much you’re going to see boomerang out at you. But it’s enough.
You might have seen earlier today that the HTC One M9 gives the Galaxy S5 a good smacking around before making it sit in the corner and think about what it’s done. The Galaxy S6 Edge – and the standard S6, for that matter – does exactly the same thing to the HTC One M9, so the M9’s reign was quite short in this case. That’s what happens when your phone is late to the party.
But there’s also a difference to be seen here in the internal hardware. Both superphones (that’s what they are, let’s be honest) are sporting impressive internals but Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 brings a quad 1.5GHz as well as a quad 2.1GHz to this particular phone fight. HTC’s Snapdragon 810 is clocked just a little slower but it makes a considerable difference in performance – at least on paper. You’d be hard-pressed to see the difference in action until you overload both handsets with apps. The S6 Edge can take just a bit more punishment.
Stamina For Snapping
The S6 Edge’s battery is non-removeable. You’d think that having only a 2,600mAh battery would be a problem for the phone but you’d be wrong in that. Samsung’s managed to squeeze out quite a respectable usage time from the phone with a smaller battery than you’ll find in the LG G3. I’m not exactly sure how they’ve managed it (wizardry?) but the whole thing has been optimised for extended use.
And it’s a good thing too, because you’re going to be using it a lot. That high-res screen is perfect for watching media, the speakers are impressive in themselves and internet browsing is quick off the mark. Get a higher data cap, is what I’m saying.
And you might be spending more time with the S6 Edge’s 16MP camera than you realise. In terms of usability, its one of the easiest to use snappers that Samsung has ever put in a handset, and we’re not excluding those ill-conceived camera/phone hybrids of theirs. Images are clear and sharp, provided you’re not mucking around with the digital zoom too much and will suffice to read number-plates on vehicles about 100 metres away. Don’t ask how I know that. Or why.
The Galaxy S6 Edge is a great phone, a brilliant phone even. I’d go as far as to call it Samsung’s best phone to date but that’s because I am highly impressed with the lack of bloatware, the curved display and the general performance of the thing. But I haven’t really mentioned that elephant in the room yet: The price. Over R16k for the 64GB version of the Galaxy S6 Edge is hard on any budget and that makes it hard to recommend. The score you see here is based purely on what it is and how it does everything, but feel free to knock a point off for the cost. Doesn’t change the fact that Samsung’s made something unusually good here. Just means you might not pay for one.