Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Hands-on with the new Samsung Galaxy. Samsung’s flagship is more iPhone-like than ever
No microSD card slot, glass back and rounded metal edges brings the iPhone to mind, but a stunning screen, amazing camera and a fast, powerful processor help set apart the Samsung Galaxy S6 from rivals.
Samsung unveiled its brand-new flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S6, alongside the Galaxy S6 Edge duringMWC 2015 in Barcelona this week. We’ve spent some time with the Galaxy S6 to bring you our first impressions in our Samsung Galaxy S6 review.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Design & build
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Samsung Galaxy S6 for the iPhone 6. Its rounded edges with brushed metal look almost identical to Apple’s flagship.
However, flip the S6 over and you’ll spot a major difference: Samsung has gone for a mirrored finish rather than the brushed finish you’ll get with the iPhone 6. Samsung describes the effect as a “unique visual texture that reflects natural light.” We’re not keen on it – it’s quite blinding, and not in a good way.
It also picks up fingerprints within minutes. There are four colours to choose from, though, with the white and black models much less prone to fingerprints and eye-aching mirror effects than the blue and gold models.
It’s a departure from the traditionally plastic back for Samsung. Last year’s S5 had that dimpled plastic back, but the S6’s metallic back is made with Gorilla Glass 4, just like the display. Gorilla Glass 4 is designed to be super-durable, but if something should happen to the back of your S6 you won’t find it as easy to fix as with the previous models, because Samsung has made the decision to go for a unibody design and therefore no removable back. That, of course, also means that there is no access to the battery.
It does feel light and comfortable to hold and not too big, though, weighing 138g and measuring 6.8mm thick (that’s .1mm thinner than the iPhone 6 but 9g heavier, in case you’re wondering).
A big downfall to the S6, and incidentally another way that it’s similar to the iPhone 6, is that the S6 doesn’t appear to be waterproof. Samsung only introduced the waterproof design with the Galaxy S5, so the decision to sacrifice that extra durability that many people loved about the previous model is a surprising one.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Display
The Samsung Galaxy S6’s display is stunning, at 5.1in and 577ppi, it’s one of the best screens we’ve seen so far on a smartphone. It’s has a Quad HD 2560 x 1440 resolution. It’s arguably a bit unnecessary on a screen of this size, but there’s no denying that it looks amazing.
As mentioned previously it’s made with Gorilla Glass 4, so should prove to be tough and durable, and is Super AMOLED as can be expected from a Samsung flagship.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Hardware & performance
Inside the Galaxy S6 you’ll find an Octacore Exynos processor rather than Snapdragon, paired with 3GB RAM. During our time with the Galaxy S6 we found it brilliantly fast, with apps launching pretty must instantaneously every time. We’re looking forward to getting the S6 into our labs for some full benchmark testing, as we’re expecting some impressive results.
In terms of storage, you might be surprised to find that there’s no microSD card slot in the Samsung Galaxy S6. The company has decided to take a leaf from Apple’s book, but a leaf that is likely to disappoint many of its fans.
Instead, you’ll need to decide on the storage space you’ll need when you buy the S6. Samsung seems to have been smarter with its starting space than Apple, opting for 32GB instead of the small 16GB of the iPhone 6’s starting model, and then also offering 64GB and 128GBit comes to connectivity, you’ll find 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, LTE and an IR Remote.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Cameras
We were really impressed with the camera during our testing. Samsung has given the S6 an excellent 16Mp snapper on the rear paired with an LED flash, and a 5Mp camera on the front for some pretty good selfies, both with an f/1.9 aperture.
That rear-facing camera has optical image stabilisation and some good auto-focusing features, including tracking and selective focus. There’s also auto real-time HDR (this applies to the front-facing camera, too), as well as low light video capabilities, slow motion, fast motion, IR Detect White Balance and more.
Handily, a simple double click of the home button on the S6 will launch the camera from any screen.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Software
The Samsung Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, as can be expected. It’s overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. There’s the S Health 4.0 app, which will track your activity thanks to the various sensors including a barometer and is also used in conjunction with the heart rate scanner on the rear of the device.
Samsung’s new Samsung Pay is made available thanks to the NFC chip, too, though it isn’t set to launch in the US until the second half of 2015 so won’t arrive in the UK for a long time.
One interesting thing is that the S6 comes with Microsoft Apps pre-installed, and you’ll get OneDrive with 115GB of space for two years, as well as Microsoft’s OneNote app.
Samsung KNOX is present with security features including Find My Mobile.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Battery life
Samsung representatives were keen on highlighting the S6’s battery life. The company claims that just 10 minutes of charging time will give you four hours of battery life, and there’s optional wireless charging available too.
The battery itself is 2,550mAh. Samsung provides an Ultra Power Saving Mode for prolonging that battery life further. We’ll be bringing you full battery tests soon.
Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on review: Extra features
In terms of additional features we’ve got the fingerprint scanner in the home button, which has been tweaked to now recognise your fingerprint with just a touch rather than the previously slightly annoying downward swipe.