Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ is flying the Android flag highest in its battle with iOS. We took a look at the phone to see what all the fuss was about.
I’m going to start this review along the chronological lines of a customer opening up the box for the first time. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is stunning looking. It looks and feels like a well-honed shard of glass, a pretty large one at that.
With a 5.7in screen, weighing around 150g, the whole thing is protected by a thin aluminium frame and Gorilla Glass that you really have to just trust.
Living on the Edge
I say that because for the first few hours with this phone I was fairly certain it would smash. Take it out of my pocket too fast? Smash. Fall off my desk? Smash. But, gradually, I began to put my faith in the engineers behind this beautiful piece of kit and now, a few weeks later, it almost feels sturdy.
The warped edges, of course, enjoy some functionality, so, when you’re in any app you can swipe from your Edge tab and open up contacts or apps that you have chosen to keep in a nice little cubby hole.
When the phone is locked, too, you can check the time or scroll through notifications/news feeds on the edge of the screen.
They’re the eye-catching elements of the phone and, rather than dwell on them (we’ll come back to the Edge bits), let’s move on. Or, rather, let’s step back.
But at what cost?
For, if you were a customer, and my chronological ramblings actually worked chronologically, we should have started with what you do in store.
This is a major point as, if you were buying this phone on pre-pay, it would set you back an amazing €900. I’ll get into more pros and cons for the device but, for starters, I don’t know what I would want in a device to make me stump up that cash. Although if size is what you are after…
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is massive. You can’t use it with one hand, you can barely, safely, take it out of your pocket with one hand.
It’s almost a phablet and, with the Note 5 not available outside the US or Asia, it is basically the Samsung Galaxy phablet available to you or me.
The operating system is incredibly fast. This device is powerful enough to keep you away from your laptop or tablet. The screen is clear and the overall functionality is absolutely excellent.
It has to be, of course, as it is competing directly with the iPhone 6s, and 6s Plus. I know a couple of people who have actually made the move across to this phone from the iPhone due to its look and performance, which is the exact opposite of what you’d expect in the Android vs iOS wars.
It has all the bells and whistles you expect from a premium Android phone so I won’t go in to that, rather I’ll look at a few oddities that make this phone what it is.
It’s all on the big screen
Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen technology is the best of the best. It is crystal clear, colours pop and the resolution (2560×1440) leaves me complaining about absolutely nothing.
When you’re watching videos or playing games, the wrap around the edges, although minimal, does actually improve the whole feel.
At no stage have I used the phone with the brightness on fully, for that would be needlessly harmful on my eyes. At about 40pc it’s clear as day.
Separating itself from Android rivals like the HTC One M9, for example, Samsung has its own 64-bit Exynos processor, with a pairing in the backend meaning battery life survives better when just browsing around (rather than gaming).
On battery life, I can’t complain. It has lasted a full day pretty easily, even when I’ve been jamming up all the apps I can. The quick charge, too, is very impressive. In about 45 minutes it’s almost full. The phone is big enough to let you split screen some apps, if you want, but I found that a waste.
The camera, too, is impressive. 16Mp and the power behind it to make it all work as fast as you like, it comes with loads of photography styles and, when you’re out and about, it works like a dream.
Wait, why did they mess this up?
On to some quibbles now, of which there are, surprisingly, many. First up, there’s no FM radio. This is something happening more and more to smartphones and it’s something I’m not impressed by.
With no FM radio, you rely on apps and, despite the Galaxy S6 Edge+ being a powerful beast, data can drop anywhere, at any time, for any reason. FM doesn’t.
So I was relying on apps that I knew would fail once I got into my nuclear bunker of a house after work. In this regard, the apps worked better than I expected, but still, it is pointless in my eyes to not host this service.
Staying on audio, the speakers and audio jack in general work like a dream – until they don’t. I was getting around 20-25 minutes out of podcasts (I wouldn’t listen to the radio after a day or two) before it would inexplicably stop. Just stop. No reason.
I thought it was the incredibly sensitive screen rubbing against things in my pocket, but I couldn’t check because as I took it out to look my fingerprint unlock had opened the phone up and I lost any clues I needed.
I eventually found out my podcast app was on some weird battery saver setting, which may have caused it, but it still happened after I fixed that (although far less often).
The screen, for all its benefits, can’t really be protected. I went into a Three store to get my SIM swapped over so I could review the phone and, when asking for a cover, was told I’d do well to find any specifically made for the Galaxy S6 Edge+.
This, genuinely, is a problem, as, when you take it out of your pocket, you press pretty much everything because you need your whole hand, with wandering fingertips, just to grip it.
A case would stop this and, maybe, make my podcast continue on.
Lastly, the functionality of the Edge when the screen is in lock (the time, notifications etc) is utterly useless as you need two hands to do it and if you swipe marginally too much the screen unlocks. It saves a lot more time to just unlock the screen straight away.
Overall my worries are largely trivial. Radio woes? Most people probably don’t care. Podcast cutting out? Whatever erroneous setting I had on was probably a fluke. Price? People who buy premium phones, pay premium prices.
I was actually deeply impressed by this device but, in the end, it doesn’t suit me. I’d still give it a very high score as the vast majority of elements are very, very impressive. But the handful of things that I rely on were not.
We’ll go four out of five. Comfortably the coolest-looking, best-performing smartphone I’ve messed around with. But that last 20pc is really down to user preference, and I’d prefer something else.