As usual, Samsung has gone for OLEDs for its flagship models, which this time are protected by Gorilla Glass 4. Measuring at 5.1 inches, the displays are the exact same size as the previous Galaxy S5 model (test in connect 6/2014). However, they provide a much higher pixel density of 1440 x 2560 pixels due to the Quad-HD resolution. The 577 ppi this achieves makes them an absolute record breaker in the smartphone sector.
Phenomenal image quality
In the settings under "Screen mode" you can choose from four image modes. We got the best results by using "Adaptive display", which allows the front sensor to automatically control brightness, colour, and focus.
The Samsung displays achieved a whole new level in the visual test, revealing a brilliance you would hardly believe possible. The screens of both Galaxy S6 models, with their almost tangible image quality, really set the bar and are currently the best in this group by far.
Test results with weaknesses
Looking at the test results, however, does show that there is still room for improvement, even for such great displays. The contrast value is very low, measuring under 1:10 in very bright conditions. In conjunction with the brightness, this value is an indicator for particularly good readability in bright conditions. The brightness of the Galaxy S6 Edge reaches up to 378 cd/m2 with full-screen white, which is a very good result for an OLED display. We were not able to measure the 600 cd/m2 promised by Samsung even once.
Samsung has used the best of its best ingredients for its flagship models, which also goes for the technology. The Galaxy S6 duo boast all current connectivity standards, including the particularly quick LTE Cat 6, ac WLAN, and Bluetooth 4.1. Only the USB 3.0 port, which the Galaxy S5 still had, is missing here.
Quick 64-bit CPU and quick memory
The cherry on the cake is the in-house octa-core Exynos 7420 processor. The 64-bit CPU is the first mobile chip to be built with 14 nM technology and offers four cores with 2.1 GHz and four cores with 1.5 GHz for less demanding applications. To add to this, Samsung has splashed out on a particularly fast 3 GB LPDDR4 RAM. This combination delivered a monumental performance in our test as they occupy the benchmark results in the table.
About the quick memory: the UFS 2.0 user memory amounts to 32, 64 or 128 GB depending on the model, but the Galaxy S6 models do not have a memory slot included. The 32-GB test model offered nearly 25 GB of free storage, which is quickly filled with some music, videos, on-board navigation, and a few games. If you're the sort to have lots of data and apps then you'd better go for the 64 or 128 GB version. It's a shame for Samsung that there was no 128 GB version available during our test period, because that would have had a positive impact on their points haul.
- Attractive, flat design
- Brilliant OLED display with Quad HD
- Great finish, beautiful materials
- Octa-core CPU with 3 GB of RAM
- Almost 25 GB of internal storage
- Outstanding 16-megapixel camera
- Well-made user interface
- Comprehensive features with
- very impressive fingerprint sensor
- High price
- Memory cannot be upgraded
- Fixed battery
- Casing not dust and waterproof
Performance off the charts
When it comes to everyday performance no one will go wanting as it started apps and functions practically without delay. Multitasking functions like Samsung's Multi Window, where the user can use two applications alongside one another, also ran without a hitch. Gamers are going to be very pleased too, although the display edges of the Galaxy S6 Edge did bother us with some games as the soft buttons slipped into the bends - this needs patching. Gamers would be better off going for the normal Galaxy S6.
The user interface of both Galaxys comes with the latest version in UX design. Samsung has done a lot of fine-tuning, which has made using the phone much easier and happily purged the range of operations for some functions.
Less is so much more here!
This means there are new fonts and simplified, distinct icons to discover as well as colour schemes for individual functions. Contacts shine a bold green, messages in a rich yellow, etc. This lets the user see immediately what part of their Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge they are in. In addition, the options for the individual features have been reduced to their core function, giving the phone a very neat look.
A lot has been done to the main menu in particular, as there are now very few pre-installed apps from third parties, while the other functions are very clearly arranged. The range of obligatory Android programmes, aka Google junk, is already collated into one folder; only a few main features like the Play Store or Maps are openly available in the menu. This makes everything visually clearer. A shout out goes to the reworked settings menu too as a new colour structure provides clarity.
The edge brings more functions
The Galaxy S6 Edge also offers additional functions for the area around the edge of the display. The user can determine in the settings menu under "Edge screen", whether the left or right edge of the display is used. This makes special functions easy to use for left-handed people as well. In this area you can activate a night clock and set an information stream with numerous topics as your standby screen. Lastly, you can get into the phone from standby mode by swiping up and down again, allowing you to scroll through the functions.
Samsung's cameras have been among the best of what the smartphone market has to offer since the Galaxy S4. The 16-megapixel cameras of the Galaxy S6s are no exception here. Quite the opposite: Samsung has used an optical image stabiliser and tracking autofocus for the first time. The autofocus allows you to select a particular area of a moving image and it will follow this area and keep it in focus. There is also a large aperture to capture lots of light and to provide a good image quality even in poor lighting conditions.
The interface has been trimmed down to nine modes. In addition to the Automatic mode, which works very well indeed, there is now a Pro mode, letting experienced users change every possible setting imaginable. The "selective focus" is great too, because after snapping a photo it lets you decide what part of the image should be put in focus. Videos can be produced in 4K resolution maximum by the Samsung models, while they now have a time lapse and slow-motion feature. The user can even decide which parts of the video should be played at what speed after shooting. You can also activate the HDR function in real time for photos and videos.
Outstanding image quality in every situation
The lightning-fast response of the camera in practical use is impressive. A simple double click on the home button fires up the camera and it is ready to go in a matter of milliseconds in any situation, even from standby mode. The Samsung camera demonstrates this speed again with its extremely short triggering and focus times, making it unrivalled in the smartphone sector.
However, at the end of the day it's not the functions that matter, but rather the picture quality, which is without a doubt sublime. In good lighting conditions, we have yet to find a better smartphone camera at the moment. The photos impressed us in the test with their focus, true-colour, and enormous depth. The pictures are good even in poor light.
Samsung has given the S6 duo some exciting energy features. The smartphones can now charge super quickly with their special chargers. After five minutes of charging our test device was already on 8%, and after 15 minutes it had reached 26%. That's some real pit stop charging. You can also see how much time is remaining until the battery is fully charged in the info bar, which is a really handy feature. In addition to the quick-charge function, the Galaxy S6 models are equipped with hardware to allow wireless charging and support both WPC and PMA standards.
The Galaxy S6 Edge just edges ahead with battery life
Barely any weaknesses were shown by the S6 duo in our lab tests, lasting up to 7:45 hours in practical mixed usage - a great result. The Galaxy S6 Edge was just able to pull ahead of its sister model, which was also the case with talk times that were very high across the board for both phones. The same goes for the sending and receiving capabilities, although the S6 Edge did falter a little in the UMTS network and the S6 more so in the GSM network. Acoustic results were not perfect either, but still made a slightly above-average effort. All in all they passed our lab tests with flying colours.