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Hands-on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Introduction, design, screen and interface

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s a phone that makes me annoyed the S6 is even being created at all.

I get that Samsung thinks this is a phone for the early adopters, that the added expense the next level screen technology will be prohibitively expensive at a time when the brand needs to get the basics right.

I guess I understand that… but hold this up down the pub and people will be desperate to take a look at your new SpacePhone. If Samsung had wanted to make a big splash with its flagship handset this year, the S6 Edge would have been the one to throw the spotlight on.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

It’s essentially just the Samsung Galaxy S6 but with slightly bent edges. It’s 7mm thick, so fractionally less thin than the main version, but it’s also lighter and has a 50mAh larger battery. Take that, spec fans.

Design

I’ll admit, the S6 Edge is ever so slightly less ergonomic to hold, as where the curved edges taper into the chassis is a little sharp, where the S6 is smoother and nicer to use in that respect.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

But this is a very light phone, and is primarily screen across the front. It manages the very clever trick of being able to fit a massive screen (5.1-inch) into a frame around the size of an iPhone 6, which should settle the need for many to decide between a compact handset and one with a larger display to play with.

The camera protrudes slightly from the back, as Samsung has packed in an advanced sensor and didn’t want to compromise on the specs to get to a thin, flat back.

This does mean it wobbles on the table a little, but it’s barely noticeable… I’ll be keeping an eye on whether that scratches in our full Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

But the main thing you’ll feel when you pick up the Edge is just how premium it feels. Its curves blend perfectly with the chassis, and the combination of metal and glass really works well to convince that you that this phone is worth paying for.

It’s going to be expensive, so elements like a translucent back in a variety of colours really help sell that ideal.

Screen

The display is something to behold. It’s definitely the next generation compared the Galaxy Note Edge, for instance. That phone looked lopsided and the ‘spine’ screen looked like it was tacked on later.

With the S6 Edge, both sides of the screen are more subtle, not quite reaching to the bottom of the chassis to make it seem like the whole front is just well-designed.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

It’s also very impressive that this phone manages to pack QHD resolution into the smaller display and bend it at the sides. Although you could ask what those curves are actually for beyond a headline grabber.

It’d be a fair question to ask too. The Galaxy S6 Edge has a great screen, and things like being able to control the video player without having have the controls wipe across the main display are cool but not necessarily game changers.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

This is a phone that does have some reasons to use the curved edges, but perhaps not enough to convince you to spend more than just buying the main Galaxy S6.

TouchWiz

It’s still here, but Samsung’s overlay has at least been refined. Plus it comes with some nifty abilities to make use of the curved sides of the Edge.

For instance, when the phone is flipped on its front the sides will glow a specific colour when one of your favourite contacts calls in, so you can see who it is without having to turn the Edge over.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

It’s basically the same as having a notification light on the back, which doesn’t sound that exciting when you say it in such a way.

However, sliding from the edge of the screen does allow you to get access to your favourite people anywhere in the phone, and apparently pick up things like missed calls and messages from the same people.

I assume the same touches from the Galaxy Note Edge will make their way over to this phone – this means being able to control your music at the side while still using the phone to browse Facebook, for example.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

The TouchWiz interface has been cleaned up to be a little flatter and easier to use, with fewer menus and dialogue boxes to annoy you. It’s still too garish and cartoony, but it’s done some growing up in the last year.

Camera, battery, specs and verdict

The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is again refined (well, if you consider this a sort of sequel to the Galaxy S5). It’s got a 16MP camera with f1.9 aperture sensor, so it’ll have a very fast sensor with good ability to draw in light in darker situations.

The interface here has been well improved, as instead of a sea of icons users are greeted with fewer pictures and more words to help explain what you’ll be tapping when trying to get a snap.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

The front facing camera is wider than before but has the same decent low light abilities, allowing you to improve your narcissism whenever you fancy. However, unlike the Galaxy S6, it seems that there’s no ability to touch the heart rate sensor on the back to take a selfie… although that might just be a glitch in the software I tried.

Battery and specs

Samsung’s gone big on the specs for this phone, as it’s got something to really shout about with the curved screen. There’s no Qualcomm chip here (at least, that’s what I deduced by being told it was a ’64 bit chip’ for the first true 64 bit OS).

Rumour has it that this is Samsung’s own-brand Exynos octacore chip running things, and backed up by 3GB of RAM it’s certainly a powerful beast.

I’ve still yet to find out clockspeed, but under the finger it felt slick and smooth. Then again, coming from the Galaxy S5 recently anything feels fast in comparison.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Like the S6 it comes without a microSD slot (or removable battery) but the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge does have the same faster RAM and memory on board, which were apparently key factors in the slowdown before.

To make up for that lack of expansion, Samsung is offering a 32GB / 64GB / 128GB to those that fancy a different package and that’s combined with a lot less bloatware so the overall space you have free is much improved.

The battery life could be something of a concern here, I’ll admit. While that extra 50mAh of life (ramping it up to 2600mAh) doesn’t sound like much, it could be crucial to this phone lasting a day. It’s got a lot of pixels to power in a very tightly packaged body… this could be disastrous if Samsung hasn’t optimised it properly.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is one of those phones that sets a line in the sand for smartphones. It makes curved edges viable, offering them in a phone that doesn’t look bonkers just for the sake of it.

It won’t sell anywhere near as well as the standard S6, simply because it will very likely be more expensive and users are always reticent to try something new when there’s no proven need for it, and rightly so.

Hands on review: MWC 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

But this is the phone we all hanker after secretly, something that looks premium yet futuristic. And if the battery life holds up well, the combination of form and high end specs could see the Galaxy S6 Edge being something of an underground hit.

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