Samsung S6 EDGE – Game Changer or Flawed Beauty?

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Samsung’s certainly doing what it can to get noticed in the smartphone arena, not that this seems particularly necessary. After delivering all-metal bodies in the A5 and A3 for those who crave a sleeker shell it’s now thinking outside the box with the S6 Galaxy EDGE, a device that aims to take aesthetics to a new level by wrapping the screen around the side bezel.

It’s a beautiful looking device and will certainly appeal to those who like to turn heads with their mobile, but we’ve seen too many examples of form prevailing over function in the past to want to rush out and buy one quite yet. Going by the specs sheet at least, this doesn’t seem to be the case here. An uber-powerful Octacore 2.1GHz processor and 3GB of RAM runs the thing and the 1,440 x 2560 resolution of the 5.1” display, boasting a whopping 576ppi shows that it’ll probably be needed. A 5MP front camera and 16MP round the back is as much as you’ll probably ever need, but with no microSD slot you’ll have to make do with up to 64GB of in-built storage.

We’re sure everyone would want to get hands-on with the EDGE, and luckily a fair few have. Let’s see what they think.

PCPro describes it as a “stunner”, offering a range of photos but admitting that “it’s impossible to precisely replicate in a photograph just how the metal catches the light and shimmers as you move it around.”  Those curved edges importantly offer an ideal compromise in terms of a big screen and comfortable size, with it feeling very comfortable for one-handed use, and the only downside is that the battery is no longer (easily) removable and there’s no microSD slot, and sadly also no apparent waterproofing or dust resistance like the S5. Display-wise there’s some questions here as to whether it needed to be quite so high resolution, but first impressions were positive nonetheless.

“The S6 Edge’s screen certainly looks great subjectively, with bright, vibrant colours and perfect contrast”

and with Gorilla Glass 4 ensuring that extra curved area will have to take a hell of a pounding to result in serious damage we could be looking at one of the best on the market. Finally it looks at the camera, which is one thing that doesn’t seem to have undergone any major revisions, retaining the same 16MP as the S5. Some welcome tweaks should improve the overall experience though:

“The aperture is larger at f/1.9 (the S5’s was an f/2.2 snapper), and the S6 Edge now has optical image stabilisation, which should improve the sharpness of images shot in low light. It also boasts a new quick launch feature: double-click the home button and the camera app will launch in a claimed 0.7 seconds.”

Round the front the 5MP is a welcome upgrade over the previous 2MP, and with object-tracking autofocus added to video it seems as though Samsung has done enough to deliver on this front again.

KnowYourMobile certainly doesn’t hold back in its praise for the new handset, lauding the fact that the specs are up there with the very best but reserving its biggest plaudits for the display. According to tests done of the EDGE and standard S6 by Display Mate, “these are the BEST smartphone displays on market. Bar none.” Everything from pixels per inch and resolution to colour accuracy, brightness and contrast wowed the judges and it’s impressive to say the least that Samsung has somehow improved on the excellent Galaxy Note 4, when other manufacturers may have sat on their laurels.

Elsewhere it goes into detail on some of the additional features, like Samsung Pay and an improved fingerprint sensor. The former runs via the latter, using the sensor for authentication, and the whole process (on paper at least) appears to work very well.

“Samsung Pay does seem to have some advantages over Apple Pay. Namely it does not rely on NFC alone. Samsung Pay also works with MST, which allows you to use contactless payments even at cashier terminals that lack NFC—such as ones that only take swipe cards.”

Finally, TechRadar is similarly in love with a phone that it describes as “a bit bonkers” but with a screen that looks amazingly next generation.  It’s a very tidy design, managing the clever trick of being able to fit a 5.1” display into a device that’s about the same size as the iPhone 6, and though the camera does protrude from the back, which affects the overall aesthetic slightly, nobody could argue that this isn’t an uber-premium device. The display is similarly lauded, being described as “something to behold” and it seems clear that Samsung has nailed this part of the design, which will be its main selling point.

Moving on to operation, TouchWiz has been improved and offers some nice features that’ll help users take advantage of the USP.

“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.”

It’s a shame that features from the Galaxy Note Edge, such as being able to control music while browsing the web won’t make it to the S6 due to the refined design but the ability to see notifications like time and weather from the sidebar when it’s asleep will still be present, and no doubt a raft of apps will open up possibilities even further.

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It seems pretty clear that the unanimous verdict for the EDGE so far is along the lines of “wow”. But most are hesitant to suggest it’ll be a real game-changer, at least not right away. The biggest stumbling block here will be the price, which hasn’t been confirmed in the UK yet but in Europe is reported as €849 SIM-free for the 32GB model. Ouch. Couple this with the fact that as gorgeous as it is we’ll only really get an idea for how well the display works and feels for day-to-day use when it’s undergone some full reviews and it seems like there’s still work to be done to convince the mainstream market.

Visit Samsung to find out more.