Friday, 20 March 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Hands on



While there are plenty of brilliant smartphones coming in 2015 - the HTC One M9 being one of them - it's the iPhone 6 that Samsung is looking to claw some ground back against, and it's used the most powerful tool in its arsenal once again: raw power.

This is one of the best specified phones on the market, with 3GB RAM, a (likely) Samsung own brand octacore chipset inside (although Sammy has yet to confirm this to us) and 32GB / 64GB / 128GB flavours to choose from.

Combine that with a complete retooling of the way this looks and you can see that Samsung is fighting back - but is the new conglomerate of smartphone power working well as a package?

Design

We're pretty sure that if you asked any of the Samsung phone team what they wanted to improve with the Galaxy S6, you'd hear the word 'design' mentioned time and again, such is the power that idea embodies in the smartphone market.


It's no surprise we love the HTC One M8 and iPhone 6, as both have beautiful bodies atop decent specs. Samsung's gone one better with the Galaxy S6, bringing a gorgeous combination of metal around the edge and Gorilla Glass 4 front and back for impressive strength should you drop this creation.

The more impressive thing is that Samsung has taken the best the market has to offer from each camp and fused it into one handset. It's got the large 5.1-inch screen of its contemporaries in the Android market, and yet put it in a frame that's barely bigger than an iPhone 6.

Although we probably shouldn't mention the Apple part of the comparison... a quick peek at the band and speaker placement of the phone shows something... erm... a little similar to what Cupertino has made of late. We're hoping that's just an engineering trick, and we're not going to be dragged back to watching the two tech titans slug it out in the courts again.

Display

The screen on the Samsung Galaxy S6 is, according to the brand, one of the sharpest on the market. That certainly sounds plausible, given it's got a QHD resolution but smashes it into a tiny 5.1-inch size, giving it an eye-slicing 577ppi. The screen is also capable of insane brightness, with a high-power outdoors mode automatically activating when it gets a little bit too sunny.


Samsung's used its own proprietary Super AMOLED tech for this new display, and as such the blacks and whites look well balanced and crystal clear. The high-res naysayers might say that at this size it's almost impossible to tell the difference in sharpness between a QHD and 1080p display... they may be right, but the video of Iceland preloaded to show off the phone looks just stunning.

Features and performance

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is all about redifining simplicity AGAIN for the brand, after the wilderness years brought about through hand-waving gestures on the Galaxy S4.

With that in mind, Samsung tells us that it's simply trying to go back to basics: make a camera with low light sensitivity (check, thank you f1.9 aperture front and back) for the 16MP and 5MP sensors on each side, put a really powerful core in there, slim down TouchWiz to make it seem less childlike and improve the overall gloss of the device.


Well, that's all there, present and correct. The heart rate monitor has moved slightly (and can now be used to fire the camera for your selfie moments when you realise the world simply MUST know where you are and how much fun you're having) and the fingerprint sensors survives the complexity cull too.

The latter has been overhauled too: it's now an Apple-esque touchpad option for improved accuracy. The swipes of before have gone (although this has yet to be properly confirmed by Samsung... gotta love prototype models) which should mean people actually use the fingerprint technology on board for once.



The battery is the only thing that's got us a little bit worried here. The 2550mAh option is a LOT smaller than the 2800mAh power pack of last year, and with that QHD screen to power we could get a little close to the wire in terms of power drain.

Fingers crossed that Samsung's new components and efforts into its own chip pay off and we don't need that extra power... it's hard to see that being true though.

Verdict

Samsung's back, and it's with a real bang. Most of the criticisms we had in years gone by have been eradicated (more metal, better construction) although TouchWiz could still do with a complete overhaul.


The specs of the Galaxy S6 are out of this world, and the overall package is hugely impressive. Massive question marks hang over the battery life of this new option from Samsung, and the price has yet to be dropped from on high (that could be something that'll make you gasp the second you trot into Carphone Warehouse) but right now there have to be some pretty enthusiastic high fives going on in Seoul.
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