- Excellent camera
- Quality look and feel
- Wireless and fast charging
- Superb screen
- Powerful performance
- So-so battery life
- Some App crashing issues
What is the Samsung Galaxy S6?
Does the Samsung Galaxy S6 need an introduction? This is Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone. It’s a statement of intent from the world’s biggest smartphone brand. It’s Samsung’s most powerful phone ever, too. But, vitally, it actually looks and feels like a premium phone now. Samsung has gone upmarket.
It lacks the wow factor earned by the curved edges of its near-identical sibling, the Galaxy S6 Edge, but the S6 has strong legs to stand on all the same. A sumptuous 5.1-inch QHD screen, a ridiculously powerful processor and a highly capable 16-megapixel main camera all shine. The glass and metal trimmed design, meanwhile, is a huge step up from last year’s Galaxy S5.
Some diehard Samsung fans may dislike the S6, though. Upmarket design comes with upmarket compromises – you can’t change the battery or expand the phone’s storage with a microSD card. Both have been sacrificed for design and wireless charging functionality, as has water resistance – one thing I’m particularly miffed about.
But its easier to forgive those compromises given the Galaxy S6 isn’t just one of the most attractive phones available, but one of the most capable we’ve ever seen.
The best from Samsung, just got better.
Watch our hands-on video from MWC 2015 in March
Samsung Galaxy S6 – Design
Metal edge; Gorilla Glass 4 rear; 142 x 70 x 7mm; 132g; Home button; Soft keys
Just to be clear, the S6 is a great looking phone. We love the Galaxy S6 Edge, too, but you only need to spend more for it if you really want to. Smooth Gorilla Glass 4 front and rear, and aluminium alloy bands on the sides, means looks and feels like flagship phone. Unlike last year’s S5, the S6 feels like it’s worth over £500 / $684.99 USD. That’s important.
We’re less keen on some of the colour options, though. The "jewel tones" – as Samsung calls them – include White Pearl, Gold Platinum, Black Sapphire, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
Some have a slight dual tonality to them, so they appear to change depending on how the light shines on them. The effect is more subtle than the tragic pink/gold combo on the HTC M9, but it can look a little tacky, particularly in Blue Topaz and Gold Platinum.
The phone is light but still feels solid for its size, and it’s slimmer than the Galaxy S5. In fact, despite its large 5.1-inch screen, it doesn’t feel that much chunkier or clumsier than the dinky, 4-inch iPhone 5S. Thin metal volume and power keys live on opposite sides, which helps avoid accidentally pressing power key as we experienced with the HTC One M9.
One move that doesn’t work so well is the speaker placement. It now sits awkwardly at the base of the phone, rather than the back as it did on the Galaxy S5. Neither placement is particularly helpful, as they’re easy to block when held normally.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S6 Tips and Tricks
The S6 and S5 look very similar from the front
Some people may be bothered by the protrusion of the phone’s main camera, but it’s only 2mm and is barely noticeable. The SIM-tray sits flush with the side and if you can keep hold of the annoyingly illusive SIM-ejector tool or use a paperclip, the tray pops out firmly without too much difficulty.
There are a couple more genuine drawbacks to the spanking new Galaxy S6’s design, though. Glass may be easy to grip but it’s so super smooth that the S6 dives off many surfaces like Michael Phelps at the first hint of a starting whistle – I’ve caught my S6 on the edge of possible destruction multiple times.
Using a case or resting the phone on a textured surface reduces the frequency of these suicide dives, but a less slippy finish might have been better – I liked the dimpled rear of the S5, so it’s a shame Samsung’s ditched that.
Neither is the S6 waterproof like the Galaxy S5, which is unfortunate. Mind you, we’ll be surprised if Samsung doesn’t release an IP-rated Galaxy S6 ‘Active‘ variant in the coming weeks or months.
Samsung Galaxy S6 – Screen
5.1-inch; 1440 x 2560 pixels (QHD or 2K); 577ppi; Super AMOLED; Gorilla Glass 4
The 5.1-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy S6 is truly brilliant and definitely one of the best screens we’ve seen on a mobile phone. Only the LG G3 can match it for sharpness, but the Super AMOLED panel on the S6 is cut above in other respects.
Compared to the HTC One M9, the Galaxy S6’s screen is much brighter and more vibrant, though the M9’s lower, Full HD (1080p) screen looks almost as sharp. The S5’s screen is just as vibrant as the S6, but the S6 produces cleaner, more natural whites. Whites look slightly blue on the S5, while the S6 looks closer to the iPhone 6, which is the best in this department.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge
The S6 vs the S5 pixel density
But there’s no doubting which has the best contrast. AMOLED screens don’t have a traditional backlight, which means blacks appear perfectly black. This means videos and photos look fantastic, while the punchier colours outshine the iPhone 6 as well. It looks great indoors and holds up decently even in direct sunlight.
Read also: OLED VS LCD
Samsung’s TouchWiz UI allows you to adjust the display colours to fit the user’s preferences, and we found that the AMOLED Photo setting produced the most colour faithful results without heavily sacrificing vibrancy. Apple’s iPhone 6 is the benchmark for colour accuracy but the Galaxy S6 is closer to the iPhone than any other phone we've seen.
The screen looks good from every viewing angle, too, making it perfect for sharing videos and photos on. There really isn’t any department where this screen doesn’t excel. It’s brilliant.
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