Does the Samsung Galaxy S6 need an introduction? This is Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone like the others categorized under Samsung Smartphones. It’s a statement of intent from the world’s biggest smartphone brand. It’s Samsung’s most powerful phone ever, too. But, vitally, it actually looks and feels like a premium phone now. Samsung has gone upmarket.
No two ways about it, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a stunner, framed in cool-to-the-touch aluminium, and with a coloured Gorilla Glass 4 rear and front, it’s a beautiful phone to behold. It’s clad in Gorilla Glass 4 front and back, and the way it gleams and glistens in the light is quite entrancing. The S6 is available in “White Pearl”, “Gold Platinum” and “Blue Topaz”, but we think it looks best in “Black Sapphire”, which you see pictured here.
The S6 is extremely slim (6.8mm) and light (138g), and it feels surprisingly compact in the hand, especially considering there’s a 5.1in display up front.
The 5.1-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy S6 is truly brilliant and definitely one of the best screens on a mobile phone. Only the LG G3 can match it for sharpness, but the Super AMOLED panel on the S6 is cut above in other respects.
Colour accuracy, brightness and contrast, however, are more important than sheer pixel count, and on this front, the S6 delivers a knockout blow. In manual brightness mode, the screen ramps up to only 347cd/m2, which is what we’d expect of an AMOLED display; pop it in auto-brightness mode and it will soar to 560cd/m2 to aid readability on bright, sunny days. That’s an improvement on the Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge, which reached just below 500cd/m2 in the same circumstances.
Software and Performance
In terms of the performance-critical elements, Samsung is really pushing the boat out. Both the S6 and the S6 Edge employ its octa-core Exynos 7420 SoC, which comprises twin quad-core CPUs (one running at a frequency of 2.1GHz and one at 1.5GHz) and a Mali-T760 GPU. There’s 3GB of RAM to accompany this, and storage runs to 32GB, 64Gb or 128GB on the S6 and 64GB or 128GB on the S6 Edge.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is clearly a fast phone, but the Exynos 7420 is about more than sheer speed. Just like Intel’s new Broadwell generation of CPUs, it’s a 14nm part, which should mean greater efficiency and better battery life. And with Samsung reducing the size of the battery by 200mAh to 2,600mAh, it needs to deliver.
The Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop integrated with a newly streamlined version of TouchWiz and it’s incredibly snappy to use. One of the best features is the multi-window functionality – I used it frequently.
Multi-window lets you open and use two apps simultaneously by holding down the option button or dragging from the top left corner of the screen. It’s great for writing an email while checking details online, or sharing posts from social media while talking about them with a friend on WhatsApp, for example.
Camera, Audio and Call Quality
The S6’s camera isn’t a radical upgrade. It has the same 16-megapixel resolution as the S5 and retains that super-quick phase-detect autofocus, but this year adds a wider aperture and optical image stabilisation.
These sound like small changes, but in practice they make a dramatic difference to the S6’s photo- and video-capture capabilities. In all but the darkest of environments, the S6 is capable of capturing stunning images and smooth, stable video.
The camera also boasts some new features on the software front. There’s a new quick-launch feature, which allows you to double-click the home button to launch the camera app – in 0.7 seconds says Samsung. The camera software has been simplified, making it easier to access all the various settings. Samsung has made snapping selfies easier, too: you can now tap the heart-rate sensor on the rear to capture a self-portrait.
The front-facing camera provides 5-megapixel images and, with an aperture of f/1.9, selfies look impressively sharp even in poor light.
Impressively, video capture now benefits from object-tracking autofocus, a feature normally associated with dedicated camcorders. This worked pretty well in testing, but there’s a catch: you can’t use both object tracking and optical image stabilization simultaneously; it’s either or.
Audio is almost as impressive, both in-call and from the single speaker on the phone’s bottom edge.
Battery Life and Charging
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a smaller battery than its predecessor – down from 2,800mAh to 2,550mAh. It’s also smaller than the battery in the S6 Edge by about 2% because Samsung used a slightly different circuit board structure in each phone. The SIM-tray on the S6 Edge had to be placed at the top of the phone, which allowed Samsung to include a slightly larger battery, but the difference is minimal.
Battery life is the only chink in this awesome phone’s armour, but it can be managed and isn’t a deal breaker for us. If you want the best smartphone money that can buy right now and don’t care about fancy pants curved edges, the Galaxy S6 is a top phone that shouldn’t disappoint.