Samsung Galaxy S6 review
|Review: March 2015|
Last updated March 2015
In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy S6 brings premium metal-and-glass looks to Samsung's winning formula of a high-spec Android smartphone. The S6 features a stunning quad-HD AMOLED screen, an 8-core processor, enhanced cameras, Android Lollipop and a wealth of other features. The only things holding it back are the lack of expandable memory, and the rather average battery life.
Samsung launched its flagship phone for 2015, the Galaxy S6, at MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona in March 2015. As expected, the S6 closely follows the design of the Galaxy Alpha, with a metal chassis instead of the all-plastic design of previous S series phones. The company also announced the Galaxy S6 Edge, a version with curved edges to its screen, based on the Galaxy Note Edge phablet.
A new style for Samsung
The Galaxy S6 is the thinnest Samsung smartphone ever - just 6.8mm thick. Made with a seamless metal and glass body, it's clear that Samsung is trying to emulate the success that Apple has achieved with its iconic iPhone design.
The S6 is a good-looking phone, and much nicer than the plasticky S5. The rear of the phone is glass, and the frame and edges are metal. Samsung has finally delivered a premium look, while retaining the signature Samsung style. We adore its slimness, its light weight and its sleekness, and the design is a welcome move forward, but we're not 100% happy. We don't like the way that the camera lens projects from the rear of the case, and we still don't think that Samsung has caught up with the iPhone 6, the HTC One M9, or even the Sony Xperia Z3 on style. The S6 Edge adds more, but a quick show of hands at S21 still ranked it behind the iPhone 6 and the M9 for looks.
The phone features a 5.1 inch Super AMOLED screen with an amazing quad-HD resolution, and this screen is a key selling point of the phone. The 1440 x 2560 resolution produces an incredibly high pixel density of 577ppi. It's an unbelievably sharp display, that's also richly saturated and with the exceptional dynamic range that we've come to expect from Samsung's AMOLED screens. The screen is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. It's one of the most impressive screens you'll see on any smartphone this year.
Like the Galaxy S5, the S6 supports fingerprint recognition (enhanced to make it simpler and more reliable to use), and includes a heart rate monitor too. A new speaker position, on the bottom of the phone, improves the audio experience compared with the S5.
The phone will be available in a choice of Black, White, Gold and Blue.
The cameras used in the phone are exceptional too. The rear camera uses a 16 megapixel sensor with auto HDR, and includes optical image stabilisation and a very large f/1.9 aperture for markedly improved low light performance. The 5 megapixel front camera is perfect for the selfie trend.
Digital Versus conducted a series of tests, comparing the S6 against the iPhone 6 Plus, and concluded that the Samsung was the clear winner for indoor photos, while the iPhone had a slight edge in outdoor tests.
The S6 launches with the latest version of Google Android - version 5.0.2, codenamed Lollipop. This brings a wealth of updates to the user interface appearance.
The phone also incorporates Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface enhancements, which will be familiar to anyone who's used a Galaxy phone previously. Touchwiz has been made less intrusive in this release, and that's a welcome change. The S-Voice system supports voice control through natural language commands.
Quad-core was so 2014. A flagship phone for 2015 must be fitted with an 8-core processor. The Galaxy S6 uses Samsung's own 64-bit Exynos 7420 processor, which has a twin quad-core configuration and is a match for the Snapdragon 810 used in the HTC One M9. Four cores run at 2.1GHz and four at 1.5GHz. There's also a Mali-T760 GPU and a huge 3GB of RAM available. This set-up produces blindingly fast responses and gives the phone the power to run the most demanding 3D games that will be released this year.
There's been a significant change when it comes to memory. The S6 has dropped the ability to add a microSD memory card. Instead the storage capacity is fixed, and the phone comes in three versions - 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. This is a problem, as 32GB may prove to be limiting for some users, while the higher capacity versions cost significantly more. HTC made this mistake with the original One, and quickly corrected it with the One M8 and One M9. We wouldn't be surprised if Samsung turn out to regret this particular design decision.
Samsung hasn't missed anything out when it comes to connectivity. The S6 is a 4G phone, with support for 3G and 2G networks too. For positioning, it supports GPS, Glonass and Beidou. You'll also find support for Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, NFC and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The device has a micro USB port, a 3.5mm audio jack, an infrared port, and support for MHL and ANT+.
As well as the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, the phone includes a huge array of sensors - an accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, compass and barometer.
The battery in the S6 is actually slightly smaller than that in the S5, and smaller than rival phones from other manufacturers. This can't be a good thing, even with the energy-saving promise of the Exynos processor and the AMOLED display. We think that battery life will be around a day for many users, and that might prove to be frustrating. The battery is not replaceable either.
Samsung is pushing the wireless charging capabilities of the phone, which it sees as the future. Fast charging enables the phones to last for up to 4 hours from just 10 minutes of charging.
Release date & pricing
The Black and White versions of the 32GB model will be the first to launch, shipping from 10th April 2015. The Gold Platinum version will ship from April 15, with the Blue Topaz version coming later. The 64GB and 128GB models will also ship later.
The sim-free price for the basic 32GB model is £600, and it's available free on contracts from around £43 per month, which is the same as the HTC One M9. We expect this price to fall as the year progresses.
Conclusion - the best Samsung yet
Make no mistake. We love the new Galaxy S6. It's the best in the Galaxy S series so far. The move away from an all-plastic design is the right move, and we love the superslim form factor. But Samsung is playing catch-up to Apple and HTC and hasn't caught up yet. Both the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9 beat the S6 when it comes to looks, although in different ways. The iPhone beats the S6 when it comes to superslim minimalism, and the M9 beats it with macho metallic oomph.
Inside, the Galaxy S6 offers all the best that tech can offer - Android Lollipop with Samsung's TouchWiz and S-Voice enhancements, a superb camera, an extraordinary screen, and an ultrafast 8-core processor.
We're less happy with the 32GB of memory. The 64GB and 128GB versions will be released later and will cost more, and we'd much rather have had a microSD card slot, thank you.
But taking all these things into account, we'd still pick the S6 over the HTC One M9 or the iPhone 6. Why? It's not one single thing, but the whole package. We think it has the edge over the competition. But only just.
Samsung Galaxy S6 features include:
- OS: Android Lollipop with TouchWiz user interface
- 16 megapixel camera with LED flash, f1.9, autofocus, optical image stabilisation, digital zoom, UHD 4K video recording
- 5 megapixel front camera with 1080p HD video recording
- Display: Super AMOLED, 16 million colours, 1440 x 2560 pixels (5.1 inches) capacitive touchscreen
- Music player
- Integrated handsfree speaker
- S-Voice natural language commands and dictation
- GPS, Glonass, Beidou positioning
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging, email
- Processor: Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
- Memory: 32GB, 64GB or 128GB, plus 3GB RAM
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth, micro USB, 3.5mm audio jack, NFC, infrared, MHL, ANT+
- Sensors: Gesture Sensor, Fingerprint Sensor, Heart Rate Sensor, Hall Sensor, Accelerometer, Geomagnetic Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Light Sensor, Barometer, Proximity Sensor
- LTE 4G, HSPA+, EDGE / GPRS
- Size: 143 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm
- Weight: 138g
- Battery: 2550mAh battery with wireless charging
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Samsung Galaxy S6 user reviews
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Average rating from 20 reviews:
Reviewed by Lewis
on 15th Jan 2016
TouchWiz = Rubbish
Bought the phone. Had it a day. Took it back.
Phone was seriously buggy. Used far to much ram that apps wouldn't run as they should.
Got a Nexus 5X as a replacement. We'll see how this runs.
Reviewed by Benny Fitz
on 26th Oct 2015
This is a serious good phone, I love it. It can handle anything I make it do, I have a lot of power consuming games, no worries for the S6.
The camera is unbelievably good, better than me DSLR, best of all is lollipop, the vibrant colours and easy ui is a pleasure to use, looking forward to seeing Marshmallow ui in the future, if I was poor, I would sell my Grandmother to buy this phone.
Reviewed by Mark Ward
on 30th Sep 2015
When you are investing on a smart phone, you naturally want to the best in the market. Galaxy S6 from Samsung is a great buy for several reasons like 5.1" Quad HD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED display. It is extremely slim and light. RAM of 3GB, and storage of 32, 64 or 128GB.
Reviewed by Hassan
on 4th Sep 2015
Reviewed by Mike Pollard
on 6th Aug 2015
Had this for about a week,and for all its new styling cant get along with it at all, biggest disappointment the sd card slot, and trying to upload 30gb of music to the cloud was a nightmare, would have taken a lifetime, also the omission of the sort apps alphabetically option when sorting your apps, very long winded moving them manually. After having the S2 then the S4 which I loved, have decided to give the HTC M9 a go. All parcelled up and ready to go back to Vodafone for my replacement. A quick one to finish with,, forget the ;wireless; charger you still have to have the base unit plugged in and it takes longer to charge the phone and as my wife put it,, more clutter in the house,, stick to the wire its a lot easier and quicker! Any offers for 4 unused cases and a wireless charger!!!
Reviewed by skimm
on 22nd Jul 2015
Can't believe I fell for the hype...it's the same old Samsung, poorly made, unreliable, call dropping, app freezing utter piece of pants. Should have stuck with htc, this really is an awful phone!
Reviewed by Jonesy
on 9th Jul 2015
64GB in Platinum Gold. After a month's use, I am seeing it's strengths and only a few weaknesses. I upgraded from the HTC One X, and waited a long while for something that met my 5 Key benefits:
1. Quality build / slim etc
2. Great camera
3. Good battery
4. Size (not too big - around 5inch screen)
5. Fast hardware/software combination
I read review after review, and checked out friend's phones, the iPhone 6, LG G4, Sony Z3+, HTC One M9 and others, and after much deliberation I went with Sammy.
1. Quality build. 5/5 The phone is a good weight in the hand and instills confidence. It's also slim and ergonomic enough for one handed use, and it is noticeably a nicer phone to look at that any of the other phones I was deciding between, except the iPhone. My only concern is that it is slippy. If there's even the most minute incline, you'll see the phone slide.
2. Camera. 5/5 After using the HTC One X for three years, the GS6 was always going to be ahead, but it surprised me that it wasn't as much as I thought, but I think that's more down to the strength of the camera experience on the HTC which was excellent. BUT, the S6 was noticeably better in large-print and PC, and actually easier to use, even after 3 years of HTC use. I noticed very quickly that the photos were sharper, cleaner, more accurate and the HDR, panorama etc features were just so much better than any other phone camera I've seen or used, and even better in almost all scenarios compared with my friend's iPhone 6 Plus, which
really showed it's weakness when we had a night city-scape shot with friends in the foreground. The iPhone 6 Plus was either too dark without the flash or too flash on the people in the foreground negated the night city-scape background. The S6 on the other hand showed no such weakness and produced some excellent shots.
3. Battery. I was worried about this, as my wife has the Sony Z3 compact and regularly gets two days use out of it,and often even three. But after our holiday where I got to closely observe our phone-use habits, I realised that the battery performance is only marginally better on the Z3 compact in real terms usage, and I am still awaiting my update from android 5.0.2. to fix my "RAM problem".
4. My HTC One X was the perfect one hand use size, so going bigger was big ask, and waiting for the right phone wasn't as big an ask for me. The iPhone came close as did the Z3+, but I problems with both of those phones in other areas. I have quickly got use to the S6, which is fine to hold - no problems. In fact, the S6 more than makes up for a few extra mm's with quick links to the camera and loads of other features other phones just don't have
5. The hardware / software combo makes the phone snappy - and that all we need isn't it. Yeh, there's a little needless bloatware, but they nearly all have that, and there's still plenty of room for your own apps.
Camera, health monitors, screen, speed, build, looks, and is probably the best phone right now
Slippery, not as customisable as the stock HTC experience, not waterproof, no stereo speakers, protruding camera
Not perfect, but it's a very good phone!
Reviewed by june
on 23rd Jun 2015
it's a lovely phone let down by the lollipop software which is full of bugs. Battery life has got a bit better with the last update the 5.1.1 update is being rolled out so hopefully that will fix some problem's. i see there has been a price drop from 599 down to 479 in cpw sim free that's the problem with many android phone's the price drops like a rock so when you try to sell you loss a fortune apple keeps there value much longer. due to buggy firmware it's 4 star.
Reviewed by Rob
on 15th Jun 2015
I have now had this phone 6 weeks upgrading from a Samsung Galaxy S3. I got the black 32GB and cannot fault the phone at all, moving information across devices was easy with the Samsung smart switch app. The screen is great and very detailed. The camera really is brilliant especially at night it really comes into its own and the double tap to open is very quick and convenient. There are lots of features on the camera however I just use it in Auto mode. The virtual shot features are great however the images cannot be viewed on other phones or PC. The fingerprint sensor is perfect and makes unlocking the phone so easy; itís very reliable and works almost every time. Speaker quality is very loud, I rarely have it at maximum volume as it's not required.
I was concerned about the battery life how I was pleasantly surprised to see it could easily last a working day (I regularly got 17 hours) with medium to sometimes heavy use. I use the phone for Calls, messages, internet and some games. If the battery is running low, as has been mentioned before, the phones fast charger is impressive, easily putting the charge from 20% to 70+% in less than half an hour. On the battery screen it shows you how much charge in hours is remaining and how long when charging to full charge.
The look of the phone is excellent and the size of the phone is good however I did feel it was difficult to hold (due to the thinness). After a purchasing a thin gel case off Ebay for 99p the phone feels much more secure in hand, it makes you think Samsung should of made the phone slightly thicker, thus increasing battery size and reducing the camera hump (which although not ideal as the phone rest on it, hasnít been any more an issue) . There are certain features of android which I would like to see return compared to my Galaxy S3 such as the calendar Widgets with the To Do Lists. One thing I have noticed is the memory, I have the 32GB and after six weeks its at 51% used. I don't have much music on the phone and around 600 photos. It's not a huge issue for me but I would definitely recommend the 64GB to others to avoid a situation where you're deleting photos or music.
Overall the phone is great and I have suffered none of the issues others have mentioned. Regarding Wifi or battery, however I have sometimes dropped calls indoors. But this doesn't detract from a very reliable, fast smartphone. I would recommend it to anyone.
Reviewed by chris
on 27th Apr 2015
the downfall of this Phone is the battery it just isnt good enough i am also haveing wifi drop out when i look in wifi it doesnt show any routers turn wifi off and on and they appear again. i have it on 14 day approvel so will use it another few days and see how it goes. i still have my note 4 which returns super long battery life. if you want a phone to last all day with mid to heavy use dont buy the galaxy S6. sorry due to wifi and battery its 3 star.
Reviewed by Dave
on 20th Apr 2015
Have had the Galaxy S6 for just on a week now ,I love the feel of this phone, it is for me the perfect size and feels like a much better quality build than the S4 and S5 which I have also owned. I have also used over the last few years the Iphone 5S and the LG G3. I would easily put the S6 above any of these phone except for two issues I have, battery life is terrible and reception/signal is a lot lower than I have had with my other mobiles , I have not changed my carrier and have not moved to anywhere remote yet. Where I used to get 3 bars of reception at home on my Lg G3 I am now getting one with the S6 with the odd drop out. The battery life on the LG G3 was just average but I could always get it through a full day, but now with the same usage on the S6 I am looking at putting it back on the charger by mid afternoon. I was aware that the S6 had a smaller battery than earlier models but was not expecting it to be so poor. With better battery life and reception this would easily be the best phone I have owned.
Reviewed by mike
on 13th Apr 2015
got mine today its an iphone 6 wannabe battery life isnt great samsung have reduced the battery size which was a big mistake. its a nice phone but not sure if i will keep it the battery is a big concern plus it cant be removed. the screen eats up the battery thats for sure.
Reviewed by ian cooke
on 11th Apr 2015
I dont understand why people are complaining about the memory and battery on the s6. It will be launching a 128 gb model, more than enough for anyone. The battery life is more than a day, and it only takes 10 minutes to charge it enough to last an extra 4-6 hours. This really is a top top handset, beautiful to look at and the highest spec of any mobile on the market.
I got this handset yesterday and what a phone. So glad I cancelled my HTC ONE m9 order and waited on the Samsung.
People are writing reviews about phones they have never touched. How they have such expert views without actually handling a phone, I don't know.
Reviewed by Michael Taylor
on 3rd Apr 2015
No microSD card, no removable battery and a camera lens that sticks out a mile away. The back is a fingerprint magnet and the new metal finish makes this handset very fragile. Not recommended.
Reviewed by Nick
from London, England
on 28th Mar 2015
Usual s21 ball ocks when a new phone is released which makes the iPhone look ridiculous and behind the times. S21 criticisms like no removable battery or expandable memory...oh and inferior design to the iPhone 6 and htc no...what are they on? I've held both the s6 and s6 edge and all I can say is WOW! The edge in gold looks like a bar of gold...it's gorgeous...they are both gorgeous phones. [Editor's reply: Thanks for your commentss, Nick, but we said we prefer the S6 over the iPhone 6 and One M9, so I think we agree with you. We like the Edge even more.]
Reviewed by bootruss
on 28th Mar 2015
Please don't write a review before either it's released or you've never used it! It's not a discussion forum! [Editor's comment: bootruss, although we don't normally allow reviews prior to a phone's release, we have opened this up for reviews because there are already S6's in all the shops that you can try out for yourself.]
Reviewed by Tris
on 5th Mar 2015
I like the edge much better. It actually brings something new to the table. Sad to say I will never buy one for one simple reason. No sd card slot. I always thought about a galaxy s, but alas not now. At least they started it at 32Gb unlike rotton apple. I will stick with my nokia 1320 for now. It has a little more life........ and a sd card
Reviewed by Mark
on 3rd Mar 2015
I'm an HTC user, and have been since the Desire first appeared. I have the M7, and love it apart from the camera. Didn't see much in the way of improvement with the M8, and now the M9 is same-old same-old. Samsung did that with the S3/4/5. Now the S6 seems to be the cutting edge. Surely 64GB is ample storage? I've never seen the point in more than 32GB to be honest. Removable battery? Surely a power bank is a much
Reviewed by Freddie
on 3rd Mar 2015
Perfect? I personally think they've gone backwards taking out the removable battery and micro SD slot. Don't they realise not everyone wants
Reviewed by Mark
on 3rd Mar 2015
Why do the manufacturers always miss one vital component out? The S6 would be the perfect device, but for the fact that it doesn't have stereo speakers with decent audio.