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Samsung Galaxy S6 review

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Samsung Galaxy S6
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Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Excellent camera
  • Quality look and feel
  • Wireless and fast charging
  • Superb screen
  • Powerful performance

Cons

  • So-so battery life
  • Some App crashing issues

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Key Features

  • 5.1-inch 1440 x 2560 resolution screen
  • Octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset
  • Wireless Charging
  • 3GB RAM
  • 2,550mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 5.0 L with TouchWiz
  • Samsung Pay
  • IR Blaster
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £599.00

UPDATE 08/03/2016:

Now that Samsung has released a successor to the Galaxy S6, with the Galaxy S7, the next generation of smartphones has started to arrive.

But the S6 remains one of the finest phones of last year. It was so good, in fact, that we gave the handset – and its curvier S6 Edge cousin – the Trusted Reviews Smartphone of the Year award.

Although the S7 packs in a number of new features and upgrades, including the return of the SD Card slot, the S6 still has a lot going for it. It's got a sharp screen, stunning camera, and slick build, all packed inside a compact design.

What's more, the S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge have both received an update in the form of Android Marshmallow, to coincide with the S7 launch. That means a host of new features for the S6, all of which you can check out on our guide to Android Marshmallow on the S6 and S6 Edge page.

  • In brief, Android 6.0 brings the following to the S6:
  • A new memory manager that allows you to check how much memory each app is using
  • Battery optimisation on a by-app basis
  • Better Google Now integration with Google Now on Tap
  • More control over app permissions
  • A new power saving feature called Doze
If you're looking for a great Android handset with a sleek design, but don't want to shell out for the S7 or the even more expensive Galaxy S7 Edge, the Galaxy S6 is a great choice.

You can read our original review of the Galaxy S6 below.

Samsung's most important release to date

First reviewed: May 2015

One of the finest phones of the year, we recently gave the Samsung Galaxy S6 – and its curvier S6 Edge cousin – the Trusted Reviews Smartphone of the Year award.

Thanks to a more affordable price, the S6 is still one of the best Android phones you can buy right now. It's got a sharp screen, stunning camera, slick build and it's a lot more compact than most other similarly specced phones on the market.

If the S6 Edge+ is simply too big for you and you're not keen on going over to IOS with the iPhone 6S, the Galaxy S6 is a great choice.

VIDEO: Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 vs HTC One M9 group test

Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 – Design

Metal chassis; Gorilla Glass 4 rear; 142 x 70 x 7mm; 132g; Home button; Soft keys

Samsung has managed to make the Galaxy S6 a great-looking phone. The Galaxy S6 Edge is arguably the more stylish of the two, 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. That’s important.

Related: Best Smartphones and Mobile Phones

S6 colours

Less successful are 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. The brighter colours also tend to be fingerprint magnets so keep a spare cloth handy if you opt for one of those.

Some finishes have a slight dual tonality to them, so they appear to change colour depending on how the light shines on them. The effect is more subtle than the pink/gold combo on the HTC M9, but it can still look a little tacky, particularly in Blue Topaz and Gold Platinum.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy S5 Specs Comparison

Samsung Galaxy S6 pics 9

The phone is light but still feels solid, 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. This muffles the sound in the natural way you'd hold it while playing a game or watching a movie. Another issue is that the home key is slightly raised, making it easy to press accidentally while it's in your pocket.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S6 Tips and Tricks

Samsung Galaxy S6 pics 3

The S6 and S5 look very similar from the front

The rear of the phone is a less of a design success. The camera protrudes around 2mm making it look a little like a break-out on the face of an unfortunate teenager. Some people will be bothered less than others but the key point is that it slides in and out of your pocket easily thanks to sloped edges. The SIM-tray sits flush with the side and if you can keep hold of the annoyingly elusive 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 – we've caught the S6 on the edge of possible destruction on numerous occasions during our time reviewing it.

Using a case or resting the phone on a textured surface reduces the frequency of these suicide dives, but a less slippery finish might have been better. It's swings and roundabouts though. We prefer the look of the Glass-backed Galaxy S6 but felt safer with the S5's grippy, dimpled back.

The S6 isn't waterproof like the Galaxy S5, so you need to take more care than before. Mind you, we’ll be surprised if Samsung doesn’t release an IP-rated Galaxy S6 ‘Active‘ variant in the coming weeks or months.

Related: Best Samsung Galaxy S6 cases

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 G4 and Galaxy Note 4 can match it for sharpness, but the Super AMOLED panel on the S6 is cut above in every other respect.

Compared to most LCD-screened phones the Galaxy S6’s screen is more vibrant, though Full HD (1080p) screens look just as sharp unless you start looking at the screen from a couple of inches away. 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

S6 pixel comparison

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 well 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.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S4 VS S5 VS S6: Which is the right upgrade for you?

Samsung Galaxy S6 pics 15

Related: Best Mobile Deals: Top Smartphone offers this month

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.

Best Deals for Samsung Galaxy S6

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drunkenmax

March 2, 2015, 8:12 am

I hate the water resistance on the S5 and have removed the cover to the charging port as it was so annoying. If only I could get rid of the pop up telling me to make sure it was closed. ironically with wireless charging and no microSD it would now be easy. I personally love the Note 4 Edge so am looking forward to some playtime with the S6 edge.

Zubeir

March 2, 2015, 8:28 am

No SD card is a deal breaker for many. They could have easily implemented a slot on the side of the device. Waterproof devices are a bit of a gimmick personally.

ElectricSheep

March 2, 2015, 9:57 am

Agreed. And micro SD support for the M9 makes it my phone of choice. And I'll take a metal back over a glass one any day.

torjs99

March 2, 2015, 11:22 am

cheap deal on a s5 looks like the better deal/phone

Eno

March 2, 2015, 11:34 am

Samsung can say goodby to it's loyal customers, the non replacing battery is one thing but the omission of micro SD card slot is unforgivable!
Their strategy is to tray to "milk us" for the versions with more internal memory and force the move to cloud, I say one thing, f..k the cloud!
People are smart and will look elsewhere.

Eno

March 2, 2015, 11:59 am

The lack of micro SD card slot is unforgivable!

PGrGr

March 2, 2015, 12:21 pm

No issue with the lack of micro SD card for me. Just saying.

00tony

March 2, 2015, 1:02 pm

How do you know the M9 has a great camera? It is something HTC has not had upto now

dthom02

March 3, 2015, 12:48 am

"Cracking first impression": That's my issue! Slippery glass on front and back! Expect to drop it often. One can only hope that the glass is as strong as Corning says or no more phone! Count me in as one of the "some" who see no MicroSD card and no replaceable battery as a "deal breaker". If I wanted that, I would have bought an iPhone instead of buying Samsung for the past 10 years. AS concerns quick charging: Of course a small capacity battery can be charged quickly!

Mark Colit

March 3, 2015, 12:23 pm

It's all very nice, but this technology would be more suitable on a 10.1 inch tablet. At least you'd see the benefits then.

Prem Desai

March 11, 2015, 7:26 am

Ticks many boxes - on paper.

Samsung is going to lose many customers by ditching the memory card and removeable battery - just because the iphone has done this. Ditching these is not the secret to the iphone's success. Rather, it has probably harmed sales.

I'm guessing that the S6 will cost around £600 sim free. At the moment, the LG G3 can be had for £285 (16Gb).

Apart from the fingerprint scanner which is of limited appeal, they're so similar. Why would I want to buy the S6 ??

I am a previous Samsung mobile owner and have always had a bitter taste with Samsung devices. Issues ranging from the customised interface (which adds nothing), delays in firmware updates / buggy updates, rubbish customer service and tons of crapware on the device that one cannot remove.

Samsung will need to do a lot more than put on a metal body ....

christina

March 13, 2015, 5:49 pm

I was very excited about the new s6, but after reading through all the new features i think i will be forced to buy a different phone. I don't like the fact that the battery is no longer removable. That was a big reason why i never bought htc phones before. I also don't like that they're not water resistant. That was an awesome feature on my 5. So no i will not be purchasing the 6 ever. They messed up with this one

jon

April 4, 2015, 2:32 pm

With 128GB storage and 15GB free from google I'm a bit confused why a removable SD card is a priority? My applications may differ from most but I find the storage just fine... What application requires more than 128?

AHYL88

April 10, 2015, 3:14 pm

You do know the 128GB model is enormously expensive to get SIM-Free at £740 or via contract; getting a 128GB microSD card, while overkill, costs much less at £39-£50. While a 64GB microSD card, which is frankly enough, only costs around under £20, rather than the £60 premium Samsung is demanding for the 64GB model.

32GB is actually quite tight because you actually only get a snip over 23GB to play with, due to the partitioning, OS, software and pre-installed apps eating into that space. The same applies for the others.

Peter

April 10, 2015, 9:27 pm

How about 100gb of free OneDrive storage for Galaxy S6 users from Microsoft? Is that better? Becuse that's what you get

Peter

April 10, 2015, 9:29 pm

I've got Z3 at the moment and never even crossed my mind to replace battery. I also have everything backed up in the Google Drive. Smart people started using the cloud long time ago. And they f..k their partners instead

Eno

April 11, 2015, 7:14 am

F..ck the cloud storage! I as many others want to be able to snap the micro SD cards for the device any time we desire. For example if you want to record 4K video, the internal memory will be full in an instant etc, etc.
I for instance will look elsewhere, period!

Eno

April 11, 2015, 7:21 am

This is a joke, cloud storage is the warts thing since sliced bred.
First, I like to be in total control of my files (like privacy, you know), second it takes a lot of time to store and download the cloud data (even from a PC), third you need to pay for rent to access you data.

There is no problem, there are better and cheaper phones with the functions I (and others) need. From my part, Samsung can blip themselves, they deserved it (the greedy bastards).

Mikey

April 11, 2015, 9:01 am

And let's face it. It should be for the price.

LeeTronix

April 13, 2015, 8:52 am

I think the SD card removal is a case of if itoy (apple) can do it then we can do it, and I think they should of included the SD card, keep their identity not copy itoy. I feel that phone companies are wishing people would use the cloud for main storage use, but it is still about having the stream speed to make good use of it. 4G is available but it is not consistently available all the time when out and about and if you need to access your cloud where the coverage is poor which can be more frequent than not then it is just not going to work. So an SD card is a good compromise for those many times when you cannot use the stream speed needed for cloud storage.

I am sure for a lot of people the internal storage is enough, but some like me do not want all my things on the actual device. I think it is about having the flexibility and choice. As for an application that requires more than 128 I think you have missed the point entirely. It could be lots of certain heavy intensive files or it could be a SD card you use on your computer like a tablet or laptop etc and you insert the card into your phone so you still have access to certain data or it is a card you use a lot whatever the reason it is about choice and flexibility not necessarily the size of an individual application.

Greg Hall

April 16, 2015, 10:31 pm

No they did not mess up with this one. I have both an iphone 6 plus the edge. amazing. the phone is smooth. battery gets you through the day. screen is amazing. it makes apple phones look silly. samsung hit it out of the park. best phone ever made

Milo

April 23, 2015, 6:03 am

Your experiences with previous Samsung devices will not do justice to face it off with its new devices. Best way to know how they stack up is to get some hands-on with them. I might as well say that I'm a previous apple owner and I've had issues with how boring iOS 6 is and how small their screen size was, how bad the battery life is, and how un-innovative they were when they released the iPhone 5, but again it's just stupid of me to do so because technology progresses.

Oguzhan

April 25, 2015, 5:16 pm

What is missing with Full HD screen? Can a phone manufacturer do everything right?

*Decent battery life (Iphone 6 plus like)
* IPS sharp screen
* Very good low light perf. Camera
* Software Update support
* Not bigger than 5 inch(one handed usage)
* Light but smart user interface
* Expandable Storage

matt wait

May 4, 2015, 4:37 pm

Free cloud storage is nice, but the fact that using it uses data is a turn off for people, whereas physically having that storage with you uses no data.

Angela Christian

May 10, 2015, 10:01 pm

I am going to have to label this phone as THE best phone I have ever owned. My fiancee bought me this phone as to avoid purchasing a land line when I move out of my parents' house. When I first heard about the glass back, I was very apprehensive and nervous. After watching a detailed drop test off of YouTube, my fears were abated. Despite its glass backing, it is a very solid phone. As a high-dollar, top-notch phone, it should still be handled delicately. This is not the phone of a trucker or construction worker. The color is very beautiful(I have the black sapphire). Despite what other reviews have stated, the battery life on this phone is FAR from the worst I've seen. My phone actually outlasts my fiancee's(iPhone 6 Plus) on a regular basis. And honestly, why worry about battery life when 1 hour of charging will get it back to 100% from 1%? The volume of calls, sounds, and music is phenomenal(Something I've noticed that can be iffy with the iPhone 6 Plus). I never have trouble hearing the other person. The design reminds me HEAVILY of the iPhone anyway. I honestly think Apple has a new rival: one that they may not be able to beat back
any longer. As for the debate on the removable memory card, I see little point. Why worry about removable memory when you the default memory storage is already 32GB(Larger than most smart phone storage now)? I easily carry more than 730 songs on mine. The fingerprint scanner actually works(The iPhone has struggled with this in my opinion. I actually was able to unlock my fiancee's)! Learning the ins and outs may be a daunting task for a first-time smartphone user, but it is still not too complicated. As with most smartphones, it will come with a lot of app options that you may not even use, but that is part of the fun of exploring your new phone. Lastly, the wiFi calling is a dream come true! As someone who, at the present moment, lives away from cell reception, this feature is a life saver. This feature alone has made the phone an invaluable commodity for me.

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