Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, the best Android on the market

Hardware The phone market today has become saturated with slates of glass, metal backs and it’s really hard to stand out from the crowd. Samsung have taken their singe...

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Hardware

The phone market today has become saturated with slates of glass, metal backs and it’s really hard to stand out from the crowd. Samsung have taken their singe curved edge from last year and this year have made it symmetrical so both sides of the display curve. This gives a much more ‘on purpose’ look to the phone.

The other new flagship device from Samsung is the Note 5 which has the curves on the back. This actually feels great in the hand and it’s easy to see that next year Samsung introduces a device with a curved back for the fit in the hand, as well as the curves up front for the visuals.

The phone’s 5.7” AMOLED display has a 2560 × 1440 resolution and looks fantastic. Unsurprising when you learn it has a crazy 529 pixels per inch. The success of this display is really highlighted when you experience full-bleed, edge to edge content that wraps the curved edges. A great example of that is when you swipe left from the home screen to access Flipboard.

Those curved edges aren’t just for looks, they’re functional. The edge holds the quick access controls to get straight to regular contacts or apps, and are now available globally across the OS, regardless of which screen you’re on.

The edge also lights up if you place the phone face down on a desk and you get an incoming call. It can also act as a clock at night if you wish. At the start I was suspect of just how useful the edge would be, but after spending time with it, it was an important inclusion for this Samsung flagship to stand out.

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Camera

Think about what you want from a phone camera today, it’s not good enough to be great in one specific scenario. The camera you have in your pocket needs to be capable of taking great photos wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. That means it has to perform in sunlight and moonlight, inside and out, up close and far away and most of all, do that fast and be ready for the next one.

Thankfully the camera in the Edge+ lives up to our modern expectations. The F/1.9, 16 Megapixel camera is good for clear, sharp photos that are as good as any I’ve seen from a smartphone. The camera in this phone makes it hard to justify taking the DSLR out of the cupboard.

Of course the video also shoots stunning 4K video, which may not seem like a feature you’ll use all that much, but if you have a 4K monitor or TV, you’ll want to be shooting in the best quality available. Filming at 3840 × 2160 at 30 FPS doesn’t come for free, it takes a lot of processing power and eats significantly into your storage. Thankfully the 8-core processor is up to the task and I never noticed slow down in the OS after ending a clip. In terms of the storage, there’s 32GB (24.5GB usable) and 64GB (54GB usable) options available. It is strange the 128GB from the S6 Edge has disappeared for the Edge+. If you plan on doing anything a lot of 4K, you’ll definitely want the larger as there is no micro SD card slot.

Transferring large data will definitely be your biggest challenge. While it’s certainly possible to upload directly to YouTube that supports 4K, most of the time you’ll want to connect it via USB, transfer the files, do some editing and then upload. This makes it a very strange choice to only have a USB 2.0 power at the bottom of the device, this really should be USB 3.0.

If you’ve shot some video you’d like to show the family or friends on the TV, this phone also supports 802.11AC WiFi, making it plenty fast enough to stream using Wi-Fi Direct if you have a TV that supports it.

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Finger Print Reader

Locking and unlocking your device is something you do dozens of times per day so the inclusion of a fingerprint reader on the home key is something that’s not only appreciated, but expected. The training process was fairly quick, although not as fast as iOS, this works and you’ll want to train it on a few fingers so it works regardless of how you pickup the device. I’d also recommend training it with your index finger as well, making it easy to unlock when the phone is on the desk.

Unlocking your device with a fingerprint is night and day faster than a pin code or even a pattern unlock. While it might not seem like much, after using a fingerprint unlock, you’ll never want to go back to a pin again. This seriously is a must have feature for future phones. I found the accuracy works really well, with it only missing an attempt around 5% of the time.

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Battery Life

Inside the 6.9mm body lies a 3,000 mAh battery, up from the 2550 mAh in the S6 Edge, which Samsung says is good for 20 hours of talk time. In reality most of us burn through our battery using apps, not phone calls. All you really care about is answering the question, will it get you through a day?

The answer is yes, most days. Despite the octa-core processor and large display, the battery life is great with average use. Most days I’d still have more than 20% left by around 9pm at night. Of course there are things you can do with the phone that will kill it faster. Anything location related is certainly taxing, so if you’re walking around a foreign city getting directions from Google Maps, you’ll eat the battery. If you film any length of video, especially 4K, you’ll eat the battery. If you leave Google Photos automatically backing up, or backing up to the included OneDrive app (gives you 100GB free), then that’ll eat the battery.

At the end of the day, Android has never been great at battery life and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has a great blend of performance, size, weight and battery life. That said, I’d still take another dozen grams in weight to get another hour or two of battery.

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Ultra Fast Recharge

If you are an aggressive user, then you’ll be glad to learn about the fast charging. We first seen this in the Oppo phones, but it’s fortunately spreading quickly throughout the industry. Connect the phone to the charger and you’ll get hours of extra use for just a few minutes of recharge. If you can’t be bothered with cables, Samsung have a neat little hockey puck accessory (purchased separately) the phone can wireless charge quickly and the losses involved with inductive charging vs cabled charging are negligible.

The biggest mistake Samsung made with the wireless recharging is the insanely bright, blue LED on the front of it. Yes you need to be assured the wireless charge is happening, but if you plan on sleeping in the same room as this, think again. It seems none of the Samsung engineers actually slept with this on their bedside table, or they’d never have included this. Instead of the LED pointing up to the room and lighting the room, all it really needed was a lower power LED pointing downwards.

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Software

The phone runs Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) and the biggest concern with any Samsung phone is how much they mess with it. Samsung have thankfully heard the calls to stop with their ideas to make it better and leave it to Google. Yes there’s still Samsung customisations which will impact updates to the OS, but overall their touch is as light as we’ve ever seen.

To access Google Now, simply long press the home button and to enable the ‘Ok Google’ voice commands across the system, you just need to dive into the settings and enable it.

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The phone ships with Microsoft Office mobile apps pre-installed which helps with the sell of the device for productivity. My suggestion is to add OneNote as one of you’re apps in Edge screen, this works great for accessing and taking notes quickly.  If you’re a hardcore user, who needs to copy and paste content from a Word document to an Excel worksheet, you may enjoy the multitasking on the S6 Edge+.

From the recent apps screen, you can tap an icon and split the screen in two. Once split, you can decide on what % you want dedicated to each. This may work great if you’re watching a live video feed like that of ABC News 24, as well as staying up to date with a Twitter feed. This is supported in both portrait and landscape modes.

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Overall

What Samsung has created here surprised me. It’s been a long time since they put together such a compelling flagship device. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a massive success and I believe the best Android phone on the market right now. It won’t be for everyone, but almost all of the previous complaints of the device have been addressed. It seems Samsung are listening to feedback and have toned down the crazy throw it all at the wall approach.

Despite the killer 2.1Ghz, Octa-core processor, there have been times where the OS experienced slow downs. These were rare, and not an issue that should stop you from buying, but one that should be investigated as it really shouldn’t be possible with specs like this. Android has never been a light and fluid OS and even with Lollipop is still battling against the massive amount of background tasks.

At the end of the day, this phone is a massive success and one that I’d be proud to keep as my daily driver.

For more information, head to Samsung.

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