Shock, horror! Samsung has launched its Galaxy S6 smartphone and the curved screen variant, the Galaxy S6 Edge, as we all kind of expected from the gajillion leaks. Still, the lack of surprise doesn’t detract from the interesting new design, impressive battery tech and slick new cameras.
Update: Check out our full Samsung Galaxy S6 review
Samsung has bumped the Galaxy S5’s 5.2-inch screen down to a 5.1-incher for the Galaxy S6, while the display now boasts an uber-crisp Quad HD (2560×1440) resolution. The result is gorgeous high-def visuals, making the Galaxy S6 a serious media heavyweight and rival for the LG G3’s ‘best for movies’ crown.
You can also pick up the ‘Galaxy S6 Edge’ variant, where both the left and right side of the screen curve around to form the edges. We’ve already seen this on the Galaxy Note Edge, of course, although that phone’s screen only sloped on the right-hand edge, making it more difficult to operate for left-handed users.
Bulging out of the rear of both handsets is an f/1.9 16-megapixel camera, boasting the same excellent IMX240 sensor as the Galaxy Note 4. That’s seriously good news as the Note 4’s camera is still one of the best around and we expect the S6’s snapper to perform in almost any conditions.
You can launch the camera in just 0.7-seconds by holding down the Galaxy S6’s home button, which means you’re less likely to miss that vital shot. There’s 4K/Full HD video recording to capture those precious moments, like when your cat vomits on your baby. And don’t forget the front-facing camera, a 5-megapixel snapper also rocking a f/1.9 sensor.
A peek inside
As those rumours suggested, Samsung has shunned Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, instead packing its own 64-bit Exynos octa-core processor inside the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, backed up by 3GB of ultra-fast RAM. Samsung has also crafted its own LTE modem so you can jump on 4G networks, not to mention a supposedly super-efficient new GPS/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip which drains less power as you get connected.
Speaking of which, Samsung reckons the Galaxy S6 will outlast the S5 when it comes to battery life. Even more impressively, it can fully charge in just 80 minutes, or give you four hours of use from ten minutes plugged into the mains, and there’s full support for wireless charging.
Media and app fans will be glad to hear you can pick up a 128GB model, as well as 64GB and 32GB variants, and the flash storage is apparently faster and more efficient than ever before, good news for gamers and movie lovers. However, that’s not expandable via micro SD, so you’re stuck with whatever you opt for.
Easy on the eyes
All of that is wrapped in a sleek metal-and-glass body, which seems to be a step up from the Galaxy A-range and Galaxy Note 4. The glass panels cover both the front and back of the Galaxy S6, blending seamlessly with the metallic edge in a similar finish to Sony’s Xperia Z3. And like the Xperia Z3, the Galaxy S6 comes in a range of colours – White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
At 6.8mm (and 7.0mm for the Edge), Samsung’s new phones are also gloriously slender.
Not only does the phone look bloody lovely, it’s also solidly constructed. Apparently the Galaxy S6 can survive a 2.2m drop in testing, which means you can hold it over your head and let go and it should still work just fine (although perhaps with a wee chip or dent here and there). The ruggedness is bolstered by Gorilla Glass 4 for the screen.
You get a heart rate sensor on the back of both phones, as well as a fingerprint scanner on the front.
Edge without a point?
So what’s the point of that Edge model, with the two curved sides? So far Samsung has given us a few ideas of how it can be used – for instance, you can assign up to five contact shortcuts to either edge and the screen’s curved bits will flash set colours depending on who’s calling, so you don’t need to go to all that effort of picking up your phone if it’s sat face-down on the desk. Phew.
That’s pretty much the only reason Samsung has given us for opting for the Edge model so far, but we’ll be sure to test it out ourselves and then let you know our thoughts in the full review.