There is no doubt the Samsung Galaxy S6 is the biggest, and potentially the most important, smartphone launch we’ve seen this year. It represents a reinvigoration of the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and, after having used it, we can confirm that it’s definitely one of the best smartphones available today.
Without exception everyone who saw the Galaxy S6 emerge from my pocket would ask if they could see the latest and greatest from the South Korean company, however the second question was invariably about its sibling, the Galaxy S6 edge*.
While the two phones share almost all of the same internal componentry, their outward appearance is the reason for all of the interest in the S6 edge.
In a world of near-identical glossy, glass- and metal-clad slabs of high definition smartphones, is design the only way to differentiate? And in the case of the Galaxy S6 edge, is it worth the expense over its near-identical sibling? Read on to find out.
*In case the lower-case “e” is bothering you, yes, that’s the phone’s official nomenclature -ed.
From the back, you would struggle to tell the Galaxy S6 apart from the S6 edge, as the camera, flash module and logos are all in the same place. It’s only once you flip them over that the Galaxy S6 edge reveals its party trick: a display curved on both its left and right sides.
The curved display is beautiful to behold, a striking design that immediately grabs the attention of those walking past. But from a function point of view, it’s a slightly flawed design.
The Galaxy S6 was already a slippery phone to begin with, but the thinning out of the edges to make way for the curved display has the unwanted result of having thinned out the grip as well.
It’s also far more uncomfortable to hold in hand. The logical place to have a curved edge of a phone is on the part that faces into your palm, allowing it to nestle gently into your hand. Instead the Galaxy S6 edge flips the bird to ergonomics, and goes full-bore towards form-over-function.
The thinner edges have also brought in the potential for unwanted touches being read as inputs by the display; all too frequently we would find that our palms had tapped the display unintentionally.
Samsung really needs to work on its touch-rejection algorithms if it’s going to continue to reduce the space available to hold on to your smartphone without activating it.
There’s really nothing to see here considering that it is nigh-on identical to the Galaxy S6. So we’ll just point you to its review if you’re the kind of person interested in the number-crunching abilities of your smartphone.
Suffice to say that Samsung has managed to cram all of the best components that its gargantuan manufacturing divisions put out into one satisfyingly fast package.
While the software for the Galaxy S6 edge is largely the same as that of the Galaxy S6 regular, there are some additions that take advantage of the dual-edged display.
Since the display is of the AMOLED variety, each individual pixel can be set to illuminate or not; this allows the Galaxy S6 edge to utilise the still-visible curved bits even while the phone is face down on a table, without needing to light up the main display.
It can glow different colours to match up to selected contacts to help you answer (or ignore) calls from a contacts of your choosing without having to even lift your phone. It also helps you to see messages and missed calls from those select few individuals.
This feature, combined with forgetting to turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode at night left us with a glowing disco of colours illuminating the bedroom. A mistake that was not made a second time.
There are also a number of information tickers that can be enabled for the edge of the phone with RSS feeds, weather, stocks and other information available to you if you can manage to initiate it with the finicky gestures required.
The 1 440×2 560 resolution display is as beautiful as its regular Galaxy S6 counterpart. With the same insane 577ppi pixel density, beautiful saturated colours and high contrast ratios as the S6 proper there can be no doubt that Samsung is at the top of its display game.
The same fantastically quick combination of camera hardware and software that Samsung shoehorned into the Galaxy S6 has been included into the Galaxy S6 edge. It’s a good thing too, considering it’s the best smartphone camera we’ve ever seen in an Android smartphone.
The home button, double-click-to-launch shortcut starts the camera in almost no time at all, and means that taking photos in the moment is easier and better than it has ever been.
While the Galaxy S6 edge does have a battery that’s 50mAh larger than the Galaxy S6, the non-removable 2 600mAh battery boasts as close to identical battery life to its sibling as possible.
It means that those who use their smartphones hard will need to get used to charging up mid-way through the day much like iPhone users have become accustomed to over the years. With more moderate use, you should make it to the end of the day before a recharge is needed.
The Galaxy S6 edge is a phenomenal phone in oh-so-many ways. The problem is, so is its much more affordable stablemate, the Galaxy S6. And while the edge is certainly prettier to behold, in day to day use the design adds very little. There’s simply not enough software that makes use of the curved edges, and what there is isn’t very compelling.
And while the S6 edge looks amazing in the hand – a display hovering out of your palm is very Tony Stark and surely how all phones will eventually be designed – it brings a couple of extra little considerations, notably loss of grip.
Which means that all in all, the only reason to favour the Galaxy S6 edge over the Galaxy S6 regular would be to say that you have one. And that’s a lot of money to spend right now – especially as the smart money would be on the price coming down a bit soon (it already has, in fact). The curved display adds a few gimmicky extras that will add no tangible value to the vast majority of smartphone users.
If you’re looking for a new Android smartphone from Samsung, rather save your money and buy the Galaxy S6 instead.
Price: R14 209
Display: 5.1 inch 1 440×2 560 resolution curved Super AMOLED display (577ppi)
Operating System: Android 5.0.2
Processor: Samsung Exynos 7420 quad core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
Memory: 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB non-expandable storage
Battery: 2 600mAh non-removable battery
Camera: 16 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation, 5 megapixel front-facing camera
Networking: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE
Dimensions: 142.1mm x 70.1mm x 7mm