Review: Samsung Galaxy S6

Galaxy smartphones go high-end with greatly improved displays and casing

The  Galaxy S6: wireless charging is built in, although you’ll have to shell out extra for the charging pad. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The Galaxy S6: wireless charging is built in, although you’ll have to shell out extra for the charging pad. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

 

It’s getting harder and harder for smartphones to impress us these days. But the Samsung S6 does a pretty good job. The Korean electronics giant has raised the stakes, introducing not just one but two new smartphones bearing the Galaxy moniker: the S6 and the S6 Edge.

The Galaxy S6 is what you’d expect from Samsung – big display in a fairly standard design. The S6 Edge, however, has a whole other take on things. Samsung’s other major release has a curved screen and technology to take advantage of it.

We got the Galaxy S6 to preview, and even though it lacks the instant “wow” factor of the S6 Edge, it’s still an impressive handset. The Android Lollipop device ticks all the right boxes, from the display to the camera, and sorts out a few of the issues that its predecessor, the Galaxy S5, suffered from.

The good

The display on the Galaxy S5 was impressive, but Samsung has done a bit of tinkering with the S6 here too. It’s still Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) and 5.1 inches, but the resolution is higher, bringing it to 577 pixels per inch versus the S5’s 432ppi. Now, most people won’t be able to tell the difference, but the display on the S6 is undoubtedly crisp, clear and of a very high quality.

That makes it better for viewing your photos on. Samsung has bumped up the front facing camera to five megapixels, making it better for taking selfies with (if you’re into that) and video chat. The rear facing camera stays at 16 megapixels but it’s got optical image stabilisation instead of digital, and an f1.9 aperture, which allows it to let in more light.

Speaking of its predecessor, the S6 has kept a couple of things. It still has the heart rate reader built into the back of the device so you can add that data into S Health, Samsung’s health-management app.

The fingerprint reader is still there too, although it has been greatly improved. No longer will you have to swipe over it again and again in a futile attempt to unlock your phone, before eventually giving up and putting in your password.

The charger has been given a shot in the arm, which is great for those of us who sail close to the red line on too many occasions. You can give the S6 a 10 minute charge and it will be enough to get you through four hours of use; about half an hour will get you more than two thirds of the battery charged up. Plus wireless charging is built in, although you’ll have to shell out extra for the charging pad.

The not so good

No more popping in a new memory card when your phone’s internal storage is close to bursting point; if you want extra storage space, you will have to shell out for the higher capacity phone. You may need it if you want to shoot 4k videos on your phone.

In saying that, it’s a route that most smartphone makers are taking these days, and the S6 comes with a choice of either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB capacity.

But it’s disappointing that Samsung has chosen to do it, given that other phone makers – HTC springs to mind – have managed to keep that failsafe. It also seems to have lost its IP67 dust and water resistance rating, so be careful where you drop this one.

The rest

Verdict