Unsurprisingly at a distance you’d be forgiven for mistaking the S6 Edge+ for its smaller sibling, the vanilla S6 Edge. In truth the hardware controls are in the same locations, the home button and capacitive keys are the same size and there are no other aesthetic differences beyond its proportions. All this is a good thing though and as such it’s one of the most elegant looking devices in its class if not the best-looking phablet ever.
Despite its broader proportions and the thin metal frame running down each side of the phone’s dual curved display, it’s easy enough to hold. The ergonomics perhaps aren’t as fist-friendly as the curved back of the Note 5 (based on our hands-on with the phone at IFA 2015), but provided you’re comfortable with the smooth, reflective Gorilla Glass backing, it’s wholly manageable. It’s still an impeccably thin phone too; just 0.1mm thicker than the standard S6 Edge at 6.9mm.
The base of the metal frame features a single milled speaker grille, a headphone jack and a microUSB port, but Samsung hasn’t yet transitioned to the world of USB Type-C, so your current leads and chargers should still play ball.
Whilst the Note line has progressively increased in size since its inception, as with last year’s Note 4, Samsung’s phablets (including the S6 Edge+) have plateaued at 5.7-inches. Naturally this particular device comes sporting a curved version of the Super AMOLED Quad HD panel we’ve seen before and it’s truly beautiful.
It may technically sport a lower pixel density (oh no, only 518ppi) than the standard S6 twins, but it’s just as stunning. Individual pixels are of course imperceptible and maximum brightness appears strong too. Colours, in true Samsung fashion, may well be a tad exaggerated, but if it’s a phone with impact you’re after, the viewing experience of the Edge+ is a sight to behold, even if those curved edges distort imagery just a touch.
On the surface the S6 Edge+ uses a scaled-up version of Samsung’s skinned take on Android 5.1 Lollipop, but there are a handful of notable differences.
The Edge screen still supports handy features like Info Stream and People Edge, letting you swipe from the side to pull up five favourite contacts, but with an additional swipe left you’ll encounter Apps Edge – a system-wide app shortcut list that’s always accessible. As with People Edge, tapping the ‘+’ sign lets you attach any application to this view mode and for the time being it’s a feature that’ll be exclusive to the Edge+.
Knowing where to swipe takes a little getting used to (and it can be a bit of a stretch) but it’s a simple, convenient evolution that gives greater purpose to the edge screen. In addition, People Edge interactions appear in their own swipeable tab (see the screenshots above) and the ability to float or run two apps side by side is a great strength on the phone’s larger panel.
The brains of the operation is the same Exynos 7420 octa-core chip that the S6 and S6 Edge enjoy, and the RAM has been bumped from 3GB to 4GB (of the speedier DDR4 variety). For a pair of phones that flew to begin with, the S6 Edge+ is no different; easily offering the slickest performance for a device of its class and going toe-to-toe with Apple’s new iPhone 6s Plus and its swanky new A9 chipset.
On the memory side, out the gate there are 32GB and 64GB storage options that should suffice for most users, but no microSD expandability will be a bit of a letdown for some. To help partially alleviate this issue Microsoft includes 100GB of cloud storage from its OneDrive service and Samsung’s also wrangled six months of free Google Play Music too.
Charging is a big feather in the cap of the Edge+ too, with Sammy’s official figures promising full charge in 120 minutes, making 33 per cent faster at charging over the S6. It also supports faster wireless charging too so you can juice it up in more ways than pretty much any other handset out there right now.
The most noticeable crack in the S6 Edge+’s armour is its 3000mAh battery. We were expecting around two days of usage per charge, but thanks primarily to the phone’s standout display we were only managing about three and a half hours of screen-on time each time, a day of regular usage or at a push two days without battery extending functionality (which the phone does possess), but that required more delicate handling.
Imaging-wise the hardware remains unchanged over the S6 and S6 Edge, a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 5-megapixel front facer, but the party pieces fall to the software side.
In the mode selection menu, you’ll find two new features – the ability to live broadcast to select contacts via YouTube and the Video Collage feature. The former lets you pick individual contacts and share a link to your personal live stream directly, whilst the collage feature lets you tile multiple recordings in different arrangements in a 4:3 aspect ratio or a 1:1 aspect ratio and different lengths, spanning from three to fifteen seconds – ideal for social apps like Vine and Instagram.
Just as with the standard S6 twins, the camera quality is impressive to say the least, across both stills and video. You can expect crispy 16-megapixel stills in most conditions, impressive macro performance and attractive, albeit softened low-light results. The wide-angle front and rear camera lenses do distort imagery when you crop in, but the overall results are still pretty phenomenal, provided you’re happy with the aggressive post-processing, colour boosting and heavy sharpening.
Video looks great too, with plenty of resolution options to shoot in, including 60fps Full HD and 4K video. Image stabilisation, auto-focus and auto-exposure are also responsive and effective without being too aggressive.
We’re intrigued by how the S6 Edge+ will be received; with it’s eye-catching design, expanded proportions and smart charging capabilities. At £599 it’s nothing but premium, flagship phablet, but with demand for rival devices like last year’s Note 4 and the iPhone 6/6s Plus, there’s an unquestionable place for a phone like this in the market right now.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ has already dropped in price since its initial launch at the start of September and becomes more enticing by the minute, even with the arrival of Apple’s new iPhones. If you’re looking for a big-screened Android device, this would be the top recommendation on our list right now, without question.