- ✓Fantastic camera performance and software
- ✓Gorgeous design, fit, and finish
- ✓Flawless fingerprint scanner
- ✓32GB, 64GB, and 128GB internal storage options
- ✕Battery life may not last a full day
- ✕Most expensive smartphone
If you appreciate unique designs, prefer Android over iOS, and want the best camera available on a smartphone, then run to your local carrier store this week and pick up the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.
I never stuck with a Galaxy S device for long due to my dislike of the plastic edges, faux leather backs, and cartoon UI. With the Galaxy S6 Edge Samsung finally showed it can release a beautifully designed smartphone for the masses.
While Samsung dominates the Android market, it wasn't until the release of the Galaxy Note 4 that we saw premium design finally match industry-leading specifications. The Galaxy S6 Edge takes those premium design elements further to provide a nearly perfect smartphone.
Retail package and special offers
When you purchase a new smartphone today, you typically end up with a SIM card removal tool, USB cable, and A/C adapter. While these are included in the retail package, Samsung went further than HTC and Motorola by including the fantastic fast charger in the box rather than charging another $35 to purchase one separately. If a company supports the fast charging technology, then a charger showing off this functionality should be included.
Samsung also includes a white wired headset with inline controller. I have several sets of headphones with mics and controllers, but they are optimized for the iPhone and have limited functionality on Android. The included headset lets you control volume, control music/podcast playback, and launch Google Now or S Voice.
I encourage you to register your new Samsung purchase online too. Samsung will send you a coupon code for 50 percent off an accessory purchase of $50 or less.
Samsung also provides Galaxy Gifts, composed of 22 apps and services in essentials and gifts categories. Essentials include a business card scanner, SideSync 3.0, Car Mode, S Link, and more. The gifts category includes Uber ($25 in US rides), Fleksy keyboard, Amazon Kindle for Samsung, Endomondo Sports, VSCO Cam, Evernote, Pocket, and many more.
The T-Mobile Galaxy S6 Edge I purchased also includes a one-year free subscription to Netflix. I've been a subscriber for years, but can still redeem a free year. This benefit is worth over $100 with tax added.
Check out the full CNET Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review.
Samsung has both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with the S6 Edge having a $100 price premium over the S6. After holding both smartphones at the launch event in Barcelona, I knew I was going to try the S6 Edge because I find the design of the curved glass to be more compelling.
There is some additional functionality included with the S6 Edge, such as having quick access to your five favorite contacts, getting a cool bedside clock on the edge, and having access to minimal notifications when the display is off. I personally don't think these functions are worth the $100 premium, but I do find the design more unique.
I never place my phone face down so the novelty of the multi-color glowing when a favorite calls is lost on me.
The S6 Edge does have more glare reflecting off the edges, can be a bit difficult to read with full-width text, and is probably more likely to suffer broken glass than the Galaxy S6.
I was disappointed to hear that the US was not going to get the emerald green S6 Edge at launch, and may never get it, so I ordered the black sapphire model. Little did I realize that the word sapphire in the model color would actually mean the phone is a dark navy blue the majority of the time. The color is fantastic and to be honest the color did have some impact on my decision to go with the Galaxy S6 Edge instead of the HTC One M9.
Despite what you may have heard, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge doesn't look much like an iPhone 6 at all. Yes, the bottom is similar in appearance, but the rest of the device follows the standard Galaxy layout.
The use of metal around the edges is beautiful while the front and back are both made of Gorilla Glass 4 material. I've owned the glass Sony Xperia Z3 for several months and have yet to drop or crack it so I am not as worried about all the glass as I would be if I did not already have a glass phone.
You can see fingerprints on the black sapphire model, but they wipe off easy enough and the color is so compelling that I am willing to wipe as needed.
The 5.1 inch quad HD Super AMOLED display looks amazing. I would have been fine with a 1080p display too, but I understand Samsung was able to improve the efficiency on this high resolution display so that battery life was not severely impacted.
The fingerprint scanner on all previous Samsung phones was garbage and the only time I could get it to work reliably was when I first programmed it. Thus, I am pleased to say that the new fingerprint scanner has worked 100 percent of the time for me with four fingers programmed to unlock the phone. You no longer have to drag your finger down the button, but you just place it over it like you do on the iPhone.
The Galaxy S6 Edge includes an integrated 2600 mAh battery. The first couple of days I used it saw me struggling to get more than 8 hours of moderate use. I then hard reset the phone and only loaded up about five third party apps. Battery life improved to about 12+ hours of moderate use so apps I had installed must be having issues with Lollipop.
While the battery life can't match a couple of my bigger phones and those with larger capacity batteries, it is acceptable for the size of the device.
Samsung included fast charging and wireless charging in the Galaxy S6 Edge. Fast charging will let you plug in to a compatible charger and in 10 minutes gain four hours of usage time. PMA and Qi wireless charging are also supported so you can simply set your Galaxy S6 down on a charger to top it off at a much slower pace.
Android cameras have gotten better over the years, but I always found they lagged a bit behind the iPhone when it came to consistency in quality. I have taken hundreds of photos with the Galaxy S6 Edge over the last week and posted several full resolution samples in a Flickr album. My wife and I both picked the Galaxy S6 Edge as the winner in most every situation and all photos were taken in auto mode.
Samsung included a 16 megapixel camera with OIS and F1.9 aperture. The front facing camera is a 5 megapixel shooter that also captures great photos.
You can simply double press on the home button to launch the camera, even when you have fingerprint security in place. It is easy to switch modes and control settings on the camera.
Photo and video editors are included with highlight videos automatically created from your most recent photos. The iPhone 6 helps you capture great photos, but the Galaxy S6 Edge does too with more options available for you to get even more creative.
The Galaxy S6 Edge runs Android Lollipop, 5.0.2, with a slimmed down version of TouchWiz. I did notice some pausing when launching apps for the first couple of days, but haven't seen this for the last few days after slowly installing more of my preferred 3rd party apps.
Flipboard is the left most home screen panel loaded by default, similar to how HTC has its BlinkFeed panel. I like having Flipboard here and have not disabled it, but instead have customized it to my preferences and social networks.
It's easy to customize the quick settings panel and I love having the flashlight right up there with a few other regularly accessed controls. The settings area has been cleaned up with a few prominent settings selected by default while also being completely customizable. Samsung has greatly improved the user interactions needed to customize your device.
The preinstalled Samsung apps I see on my phone include Hancom Office 2014, Memo, Milk Music, My Files, Peel Smart Remote, Voice Recorder, OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, Music, S Health, and S Voice. I personally hate the Samsung Calendar that lacks an agenda view so quickly installed Google Calendar.
Android phones from US wireless carriers all contain non-removable bloatware. On my T-Mobile Galaxy S6 Edge you will find T-Mobile My Account, Device Unlock, Mobile Hotspot, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, Visual Voicemail, Amazon store app, and Lookout. That's not too bad for a US carrier and most of these can be hidden and disabled, but not uninstalled as some were lead to believe.
Similar to what HTC has in Sense 7, Samsung includes the ability to theme your phone on a much more limited basis. You can select themes in the theme store and apply the wallpaper, icons, and sounds of that theme. You cannot customize anything in the theme, but the Avengers theme has been fun to use the last few days.
Samsung Pay has the potential to work just about everywhere in the US so I look forward to its release. As of now, I am using Google Wallet for my wireless payments.
Daily usage experiences
While I enjoy using my iPhone 6 Plus, it is definitely a large phone and doesn't fit in my pockets very easily. The Galaxy S6 Edge slips in easily and this kind of convenience is very appealing to me.
As I mentioned in the hardware section, I had some initial battery challenges that seemed to be primarily attributed to 3rd party apps. If I am out and about from 5 am to 10 pm, the Galaxy S6 Edge won't make it through with regular usage. I can top it off with a portable battery pack, reduce my usage, or turn on power saving to get me through. Unlike a few other phones I have, battery life is something I have to think about with the S6 Edge.
It was a real joy to use the Galaxy S6 Edge as my primary camera and count on it taking excellent photos and video. When I showed these to family and friends they were immediately impressed and couldn't believe it was an Android smartphone.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is thin, light, and gorgeous. I enjoy carrying it around and don't mind the ridge on either side of the curved glass. Some may find it a bit uncomfortable, but the design fascinates me personally.
Pricing, availability, and conclusions
The Galaxy S6 Edge was available early from T-Mobile and should be available starting this week on all major US wireless carriers. Subsidized pricing with a two year contract will cost you $299.99 to $499.99.
When I need to go out with just a single phone in hand, my SIM goes into the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. With the release of the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, my goal was to see if either phone could serve in this role since I find Android better meets my needs.
Some reasons I prefer Android include the ability to plug in a microUSB to USB stick to transfer files to and from a PC, Google Now cards, ability to much more easily attach files to emails, IR functionality so I can control my TV, and standard microUSB charging that I have in the office, in the car, and at home.
I have tried to just carry an Android phone as my only phone, but the camera always let me down. My Xperia Z3 was the closest to perfection, but the camera does not perform consistently and Sony has some real issues with voice calling quality and text message reliability.
Thankfully, the Galaxy S6 Edge has a camera I think performs better than the iPhone 6 while also offering fast and wireless charging, reliable fingerprint security, and much more. The battery life is about as good as the iPhone 6 and Moto X, but not as great as the iPhone 6 Plus, BlackBerry Passport, or Sony Xperia Z3. With fast charging and upcoming Mophie battery pack the trade-off is one I am willing to make.