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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review – hands on

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The Samsung Galaxy S6 may have finally given people the metal phone they wanted, but it’s the S6 Edge that everyone will truly desire. Following on from the Galaxy Note Edge, which only had a curved screen on one side, the S6 version curves on both sides.

It’s this symmetry that really makes the new handset stand out and makes it a phone that’s uniquely Samsung. From the moment that we first saw it, we thought that the S6 Edge was one of the best-looking handsets that we’ve ever laid eyes on; a week later, we haven’t changed our minds.

This article gives you our hands-on first impression of the handset, but read ourSamsung Galaxy S6 Edge specs, release and price article to get the basic information on the handset. For more information on this handset’s little brother, read our hands-onSamsung Galaxy S6 review.

Build quality and finish

It’s not just a pretty face, as the S6 Edge is built with a staggering attention to detail. A new glass moulding technique, which requires 800C heat, ensures the smooth curve of the glass, which dips neatly down to join the rest of the metal case. It’s incredibly well done and the instant you pick it up, the S6 Edge feels like a premium product.

Samsung has used the same technique as on the S6 to produce the Edge’s colour variations. Photos really don’t do justice to the handset, but the slightly translucent appearance looks amazing. There are four colours to choose from: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, and Green Emerald (Galaxy S6 Edge exclusive). Our favourite is the green, but the other colours all have their own merits, so it’s a matter of choosing which one you like the most.

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A glass rear and metal sides neatly finishes the phone off and completes the feeling that this isn’t just the best phone that Samsung has made, but one of the best phones, full stop.

Although the handset has a 5.1in display, at 142×70.1x7mm and 132g it’s not much bigger or heavier than the 4.7in iPhone 6 (138.1x67x6.9mm, 129g). Crucially, the new handset is both smaller and lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S5 (142×72.5×8.1mm, 145g). In the hand, we think that Samsung has managed to get the perfect balance between screen size and physical size, with the S6 Edge proving to be extremely comfortable to hold.

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Display

Samsung has stuck with its Super AMOLED screen technology for the S6 Edge’s 5.1in screen, although it has increased the resolution from 1,920×1,080 on the S5 to 2,560×1,440 (QHD). That’s the same resolution as on the LG G3, although as Samsung has used a smaller screen, the S6 Edge, along with the S6, has the highest PPI of any phone at a staggering 577ppi. With the curved edges of this phone, the screen really pops out, making what you’re doing more involving.

We certainly noticed how sharp the screen was, and the colours were excellent. We’ve always been impressed by Samsung’s AMOLED technology and can’t wait to get our hands on a final review sample, so we can measure the screen and find out how good it really is.

Samsung has also said that it has improved the brightness of the screen, pushing it to 600cd/m2. This should make it easier to view in daylight, although we haven’t been able to verify that, as we only used the handset inside.

Android Lollipop and Edge features

As you’d expect, Samsung has used Android Lollipop for its new handset, giving it the 64bit OS to go with the new 64bit processor (more of that later). Again, the OS has been customised with the TouchWiz interface, but Samsung has taken the approach, this time around, that less is more.

That means that most of the pre-installed applications have gone, with Samsung claiming a 40% reduction. That’s brilliant news, as it removes clutter and frees up storage space. Even the Microsoft apps that are bundled (OneDrive, OneNote and Skype) are merely shortcut icons that you tap to install the apps.

For the S6 Edge, Samsung has made some modifications that use that curved screen. People Edge lets you pop-out five key contacts by sliding from the right-hand edge towards the middle of the screen. Each person can be colour coded; when you place your phone face down on the desk, if one of your key contacts calls, the side of the screen lights up the corresponding cover. Cleverly, you can place your finger on the heart-rate monitor on the rear to send a text message explaining that you can’t answer the call.

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If you miss any notifications from one of your key contacts, a colour tab appears on the side of the screen. All you have to do is swipe in from the tab to bring up the full details. It’s a neat way to keep in touch with people, and feels far more integrated than the Note Edge’s approach, which treated the side area of the screen as a completely separate display.

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When the handset is lying on its back horizontally, you can swipe you finger up and down the right-hand edge to bring up the Information Stream. This displays little bits of information, such as the current date, time and weather. While we won’t argue that you can live without these features, it’s nice to see the edge of the display being used in an intelligent way.

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Performance

As widely expected, Samsung has ditched Qualcomm and manufactured its own Exynos quad-core SoC. This is the first smartphone processor to use a 14nm fabrication process, which means that it runs cooler and uses less power. It should mean that Samsung can clock it further (specs weren’t available at the time of writing) to get more performance out of this 64bit chip. We’re going to have to wait until we get our full review sample to find out how quick the new chip is, in both 2D apps and games.

Battery life

Samsung has fitted a 2,600mAh battery, which is slightly smaller than the 2,800mAh battery fitted in the S5. Don’t worry that this will mean reduced battery life, as the 14nm processor and efficient OS should, according to Samsung, mean more battery life. Again, we’ll have to wait until we have a review sample before we can test exactly how long the S6 Edge lasts.

Some people will be annoyed that the battery is no longer replaceable, but for us, we’d rather take the better design and curved screen than suffer a plastic handset with a removable battery. Charging the phone is either via the USB port on the bottom or wirelessly, with the handset supporting both the WPC and WMA standards. A fast-charge option means that 10-minutes of charge will provide two hours of HD video playback.

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Camera

Samsung has fitted a 16-megapixel sensor, which is the same resolution as that of the S5. However, there are several improvements, which should boost image quality. First, the lens has an f/1.9 aperture (up from f/2.2 on the S5), which lets in 34% more light. Next, real-time HDR is turned on by default, improving the dynamic range of images. Finally, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) should reduce blur when taking low-light images. A double-click of the fingerprint sensor/home button now launches the camera app in less than 0.7ms; in other words, you’ll never miss taking that perfect shot again.

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There are also some new modes, with a time-lapse setting joining the 240fps slow motion mode. There’s also Virtual Shot, which looks really cool: you move the phone around an object to create a 3D image that you can rotate around later. The test shots that we saw were certainly impressive, with plenty of detail coming out in all of the shots. We can’t wait to get our review sample to put the camera through our usual barrage of shots.

Conclusion

With the S6 Edge Samsung is back in full force. While this handset may have the same specs, bar the curved screen, of the regular S6, this is the phone that everybody’s going to want. It’s beautifully made, the colour options all look fantastic and it’s a handset like no other. Memories of a plastic build will be vanquished and Samsung now has the best-looking and best-made Android phone, and it looks to have completely overtaken theHTC One m9; even iPhone 6 owners will be sorely tempted by this handset. We’ll bring you our full in-depth review as soon as review samples are available.

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