The public has already voted: it likes the Galaxy S6 Edge better than the Galaxy S6. So much, in fact, that the demand could not be satisfied. The good news is that the new Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a dream for large-display phone enthusiasts. It brings everything that was loved about the S6 Edge, into a larger, more comfortable 5.7”smartphone.
So, how does it feel to have this device and the hand, and how does it compare to the Galaxy Note 4, and Galaxy Note 5? All good questions, so let’s get to it:
Industrial design (excellent)
By now, it is clear that the Galaxy S6 Edge design has proven to be the one people want, and that Samsung has been too conservative in predicting its success. Fortunately, the Galaxy S6 Edge + has been planned all along, and it’s exactly what I was hoping the Galaxy Note 5 would be, minus the pen.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is bringing a much welcome addition in the form of expanding a winning-design into the 5.7” display size realm. The thin design makes a normally large phone more comfortable to hold in one’s hand or pants pocket.
The front of the phone is very clean and besides the Samsung Branding at the top, nothing is really distracting. The curved edge gives the impression that the bezel is even thinner than it already is. Virtually everyone who has seen it has shown some interested, if not sheer awe, at the Edge design. If you haven’t looked at one yes, check it out when you have a chance.
The Fingerprint reader has been much upgraded since the Galaxy S5 days. Its accuracy is much better, and that makes it a credible, faster and more secure alternative to the 4-digit pin we’ve all used at some point. The accuracy is not 100% and it can act weirdly if you fingers are wet, but overall, I have completely switched from PIN to fingerprint since the S6 came out.
The sides of S6 Edge + are exactly like the S6: at the top, you will find the infrared (IR) emitter and the SIM slot. The Power control is on the right, while the Volume control is on the left. At the bottom, there’s the 3.5mm audio connector, the micro-USB port and the Speaker. Microphones are placed at the top and bottom of the phone. Just like the S6 and S6 Edge, there is no micro SD slot, so don’t bother looking for it.
In the back, you have the same 16 MP camera as the Galaxy S6. The handsets I’ve been playing with do not have any carrier markings, or even the product names engraved on the back, so they look much classier than the current S6 Edge retail units (I have a T-Mobile version at the office) which have a bunch of branding on the back. I hope that Samsung will reconsider this next time. It’s a shame to taint this amazing design with too much branding.
S6 Edge+ vs. S6 EdgeAs you can see, the S6 Edge+ is literally a larger Galaxy S6 Edge phone with a 5.7” display. The bezels on all sides are similarly sized. Without any frame of reference, it would be hard to tell if you’re looking at the S65 Edge+.
The S6 Edge+ feels slightly bigger as you can imagine, but it is substantially thinner than the Note 4 for example. This makes it an agreeable large-display phone to use, since things like virtual keyboard keys and system fonts are large enough to reduce the keyboard typo rates, and to read without using glasses.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ uses an effective 5.7” Super AMOLED display, part of it wraps into the curved edge on either side. The Edge curve doesn’t impair the normal phone usage in any way, and feels rather natural, from my experience with the S6 Edge. This larger version felt very similar and looks incredibly slick.
The Super AMOLED screen features a 2560×1440 resolution (518 PPI) and looks very sharp when going through HD photos taken with the internal cameras, or downloaded from the net. 1080p movies show at a comfortable size, and with high contrast (OLED has nearly infinite contrast) and very saturated colors.
This is multimedia eye-candy for any activity: reading, taking photos, watching movies, playing games. Everything is better with such a screen.
Powered by Android 5.1 at its core, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ still features TouchWiz, Samsung’s own interface layer on top of Android. It looked very much like the one introduced with the S6, which had a cleaner and more responsive user interface.
Dual Edge screen
Besides being a Design feature, the Edge screen also acts as a place where it is possible access and view different types of information. After introducing the Galaxy Note Edge in 2014 and the S6 Edge in 2015, Samsung had ample time to observe how people were using the edge interface, and has added improvements to the interface:
The Edge dock in general can now appear on any screen, where it was previously available only on the Home screen. This means that it is available at anytime, thus increasing its overall usefulness. It can now contain shortcuts to your favorite contacts or to your favorite app. The list is completely customizable.
The wipe trigger location of the Edge interface can now be customized to match where your thumb lands on the screen. This reduces the odds of an unwanted activation, and it increases the user comfort at the same time. Smart.
Previous functions such as using the Edge area to display a clock or notifications are still available. I don’t use the notification because they are too subtle, but the clock is pretty cool. Because it’s always on, I can either look at the time discreetly, or I can use it as a night clock at home. It’s also possible to get missed calls, tweets, stock prices and many other types of information that people like to check all the time.
Because OLED display pixels only consume energy when they are lit (not black), so having a little text on the side doesn’t really hurt the overall battery life.
Samsung Pay was introduced at Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015), but is still currently being tested in South Korea. I’ve been told that a beta in the United States would start soon, so we have yet to try it in the real world.
The gist of it is very interesting: The Galaxy S6 Edge+ (and S6, S6 Edge and Note 5) can send an electromagnetic signal that can mimic the swiping of a regular (dumb) credit card. This means that it would work with millions of existing points of sales. Many of them would need a simple software update.
There are corner cases, like gas stations where the magnetic reader is too deep inside the gas dispenser. As a general rule of thumb, most swiping machines would work, but anything that has a credit card slot would be out of reach. Still, it’s pretty good and I predict that many merchants will be shocked that people can pay with a smartphone on their old terminals.
Sidesync 4.0 is a feature that lets you operate your smartphone from a computer (Windows or Mac). It is useful if you want to use a smartphone app with a real keyboard, for sending SMS for instance, or using private chat apps that have not been approved on your corporate network – again with a real keyboard.
It’s also possible to drag and drop any files from and to the Android device, which is really nice to view and transfer photos. Of course, you can do it over USB, but this removes just a little bit more friction. Finally, it’s possible to answer phone calls and use your PC as a speakerphone. There’s no need to pick up the phone in your hand. All the notifications are also immediately visible.
Ultra High Quality Audio (UHQA): This acronym corresponds to an audio signal “upscaler”. It’s a filter that takes a compressed or low-bitrate audio stream, and processes it to make it sound more like a high-end, uncompressed, audio stream.
It works the same way we can take a 1080p video signal and improve it (to a point) to look better on a 4K display. Of course, it’s not as good as having a high-end audio file to start with, but it does sound better than a plain MP3 — totally worth trying.
Note that while any wired headphones work with UHQA, Bluetooth headsets need to be specifically compatible with it, and of course, Samsung has a few of those…
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ uses the same camera hardware as the S6 Edge: a 16 Megapixel sensor with an f1.9 large-aperture lens. The lens has built-in optical image stabilization to reduce the likelihood of blurry shots due to shaky hands. However, Samsung has also added a digital image stabilization system for video recording.
It works by slightly reducing the effective field of view to give the stabilization algorithm some leeway to virtually pan the camera up and down to compensate for shaky motion which is beyond the ability of the optical stabilization system.
Talking about video recording, there’s also a Live Broadcast feature that allows the phone to stream directly to YouTube. This is extremely convenient because you don’t have to have a fancy camcorder, and it’s easy to setup, no computer required. Sharing the live broadcast is as easy as sharing a YouTube link, so everyone can do it.
Overall, the S6 Edge+ is a top-notch camera phone, just like the S6 Edge before it – its DXOMark score confirms it.
For all practical purposes, the system performance of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ should be identical to the S6 and S6 Edge. The reason is simple: they are built on the same hardware platform. There may be some small changes here and there (including 4GB of RAM instead of 3GB), but it’s pretty much the same hardware.
The Samsung Exynos 7420 is the system on a chip (SoC) that powers this smartphone. It is a 64-bit, Octa-core (4+4) chip that is built using a very advanced 14nm semiconductor manufacturing process, which is the best being used right now for smartphone chips like this. This gives Samsung a performance… edge… which should last until 2016 on Android. We’ll see how fast the upcoming iPhone 6s is.
Like the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, the responsiveness was one of the more important “real-world” performance aspect of this phone. Samsung has done a lot of work on its software to reduce or eliminate leg in many places. This makes a huge difference when compared 2014 and prior Galaxy phones.
Battery life (very good)
At 3000 mAh, the battery capacity of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is large, but not really unheard of. Many other phones of this size can easily compete with it, so this is no longer a differentiator. When I asked Samsung why this was, I’ve been told that there are significant tradeoffs that need to be done in order to find what they consider to be the best balance between design, size, weight and battery capacity. Also, the battery is not removable.
To make up for a small drop in battery capacity (when compared to the 3200 mAh Galaxy Note 4), Samsung is pushing hard to educate and convince users that fast-charging and wireless charging can compensate small capacity differences.
And that’s quite true: the difference between 3000 mAh and 3200 mAh isn’t so remarkable in the real world. But if you can combine fast-charging (which the Note 4 has too) and wireless charging at work and/or at home, integrating Wireless Charging makes all the difference in the world.
The downside is that you need to buy charging pads that cost $15 to $30. Hopefully, they should remain compatible with future phones. I have been successfully using a 2013 wireless charger with the S6 Edge.
Fast-charging with a USB cable is also a great option if you have a proper charger (a high-Amp one, or the genuine Samsung charger, or a Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 charger). You can get as much as 50 mAh/mn, which translates into 1500 mAh for 30mn, or a 50% charge for this phone.
Accessories, including a physical keyboard
Samsung has a ton of accessories for the S6 Edge+, going from cases, to fast-charging battery packs. But I have to admit that I was surprised to see the physical clip-on keyboard.
I tried it on for a short time only, and the software is actually well done: when the keyboard is on, the effective display size is automatically reduced so that nothing is hidden by it. I didn’t think that the “feel” of the keys, or their design was very good. It’s definitely not at the BlackBerry level, which is what most people would want. I’m hoping that 3rd party keyboards will come in the future.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ takes everything that made the success of the Galaxy S6 Edge, and made it bigger. If you like large-display phones, you know that increasing the display real estate already improves the user experience significantly. That’s especially true when the screen has a very high quality.
In an ideal world, the S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5 would have been one and the same. But it’s just impossible to fit a pen that is comfortable to use in the body of the S6 Edge+. That’s the primary reason why Samsung has launched two 5.7” phones.
If you are looking for a big phone, both handsets should definitely be on your shortlist. If you really care for a pen, the choice is obvious. If you don’t, the S6 Edge+ looks a bit better and is a little thinner (6.9mm vs. 7.6mm) and lighter (153g vs. 171g).