Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ Review: Absurdly Large Android at Its Finest

by Reads (640)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Service, Warranty & Support
      • 9
      • Ease of Use
      • 8
      • Design
      • 10
      • Performance
      • 9
      • Value
      • 9
      • Total Score:
      • 9.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Incredible performance
    • Beautiful build and display
    • Added features like fingerprint and heart rate sensors function well
  • Cons

    • Edges don’t prove to be all that useful
    • Humongous (even if that’s the point, it can be impractical)

Quick Take

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ may be absurdly large, but that’s the point. As long as you’re comfortable with the size and acknowledge that the edges really aren’t anything special, this is otherwise an Android handset at its finest.

As Samsung is wont to do, it has introduced yet another variant to its current lineup of smartphones, this time bringing us a supersized version of its most recent (and unique) model: the Galaxy S6 edge+. Obviously, it sports a massive display, but what else does it bring to the table? Is it worth choosing over the regular Galaxy S6 flagship, or the smaller version of the Galaxy S6 edge? It all depends on what you’re looking for but – spoiler alert – if you do choose it, you won’t be disappointed by its quality.

Build & Design

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ has a great display.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ has a great display.

Everything about the S6 edge+ screams premium. Whether it’s the metal trim that runs around the edge of the phone, the champagne color (it is also available in black, for those who are looking for something a little less gaudy), or the flat back, every aspect of the aesthetic reminds you that this is a top-tier device. The glass backing, which gives the unit a nice sheen, also adds to the phone’s fancy looks, but it comes at a small price: it’s not particularly grippy and it makes the handset a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. It also hurts that the unibody design means that there is no removable back for battery access.

But the upside is that the S6 edge+ sports a sleek, futuristic look, and a big part of that is how thin it is. It may be a monster in terms of its 2.98-inch width and 6.08-inch height, but at 0.27 inches thick, it’s exceptionally lean. Speaking of which, it’s also surprisingly light at only 5.4 ounces, but not so light that it’s left feeling cheap.

That all said, yes, it is absurdly large, hence the “plus” moniker. For people with weird little baby hands like myself, one-handed use of the phone is more or less impossible if I want to maintain any sort of hold on the phone. But I imagine that it’s big enough that even people with normal-sized hands might find the experience to be somewhat uncomfortable.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ glass back is a smudge magnet.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ glass back is a smudge magnet.

While this is where I would normally rail against the obnoxious trend of smartphones becoming increasingly large, that wouldn’t be entirely fair given that in this case being massive is kind of the point. And besides, there is a choice available here, what with the regular S6 and S6 edge. Sure, they’re also on the larger side, but the S6 edge+ is targeting a specific audience: those people who want something gigantic and just can’t get enough real estate for their displays, no matter how comically large it makes their phones. And while the Galaxy Note5 fits that bill, it’s other selling point is the S Pen, which some users may not want.

So it’s hard to knock the S6 edge+ for being huge because people who buy it know what they’re signing up for, and that means that they don’t mind if it looks like they have an HD antenna stuffed in their pocket when they’re carrying it.

There’s a fair amount going on here in terms of the buttons and ports. The left edge of the phone houses two buttons for volume adjustment, while the right side is where the power/standby button is found. The device’s physical home button is located directly below the display and also serves as a fingerprint sensor. To the left and right of the home button are capacitive window and back keys, which is somewhat unconventional given that most Android handsets these days use on-screen buttons for navigation. Above the display you’ll find the phone’s front-facing camera, light sensor, and notification light.

The only feature on the top edge of the phone is the nano SIM card tray (which requires a pin to eject), and the bottom of the phone plays host to the 3.5mm headphone jack, a speaker, and a micro USB charging port. Finally, the back of the phone is where you’ll find a slightly raised area – on an otherwise completely flat back — for the camera’s lens, alongside of which there is a small area that houses the camera’s flash as well as a heart rate sensor.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ has sloped edges, which look great, but don't offer much utility.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ has sloped edges, which look great, but don’t offer much utility.

Regardless of any reservations you might have about the 5.7-inch OLED display of the S6 edge+, it’s difficult to deny its beauty. Sporting a blistering resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, the display keeps both text and images looking sharp. The brightness and contrast are excellent as well; leaving the brightness on auto was more than sufficient at all times (though the max setting was certainly impressive), and I never had any trouble seeing it outdoors, even in direct sunlight. Colors are crisp, if a little overly saturated at times, and all in all this is a wonderful-looking screen.

The one thing that isn’t all that special, however, is the very feature that gives the phone its namesake: the sloped edges. While they do give the display a nice edge-to-edge look (see what I did there?), by and large they amount to little more than a gimmick as far as their usefulness is concerned. We’ll get into this more when discussing the phone’s software and how exactly you can make use of the phone’s edges, but suffice to say that they won’t change your life.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ has a speaker, microUSB 2.0, and audio jack on the bottom

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ has a speaker, microUSB 2.0, and audio jack on the bottom

Packing a 2.1GHz octa-core Exynos processor under the hood, the S6 edge+ is a powerful piece of hardware. We never encountered any performance issues in terms of speed or crashing during our testing, which is precisely what we want to see from a top-tier, flagship device. Other specs include 4GB of RAM and a solid 32GB (or 64GB) of onboard storage, which is welcome considering that there is no microSD card slot for expandable memory. The phone is also equipped with fast-charging technology, but unfortunately this was not something we could test since our unit came with an international charger.

But it isn’t all about speed and a crash-free experiences. Other aspects of the performance were a little spottier. The “information stream” feature, for example, which displays a single line of information along one of the device’s edges after a quick back-and-forth swiping gesture, was not terribly responsive. It usually took two or three gestures before the information popped up, and then it often failed to detect up- or down-swipes to scroll through the different types of information (time/weather/battery life, notifications, and news updates).

It’s also worth noting that the slanted edges of the screen resulted in a great deal of accidental screen taps and button presses for me. In some cases, it was just a matter of me trying to rest my thumb on the edge of the device, only to find that I was still interacting with the screen. In other cases, I was trying to reach across the massive display, only to have the palm of my hand touch the slanted edge and accidentally perform an action.

On the whole, though, the S6 edge+ offered a pretty polished experience. The fingerprint and heart rate sensors worked nearly flawlessly. I rarely had to re-enter my thumbprint to unlock my phone, and the heart rate sensor never had a problem tracking my information. It was especially fun to use the latter to reject calls when the phone was face down; holding one’s finger over the sensor for two seconds automatically declines the call and sends a follow up text saying that you’re busy, and the feature works without a hitch.

Software

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ apps edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ apps edge

The Galaxy S6 edge+’s sloped sides may make it look cool and unique, but they’re only as useful as the software that utilizes them. As it turns out, that software isn’t particularly useful.

The most prominent uses of the edge feature are edge contacts and edge apps, which are precisely what they sound like. After swiping along a small tab that points inwards from the slanted edge, the rest of the display is thrown into soft focus and the user is presented with five circles aligned vertically along the edge of the screen, which are reserved for five contacts of the user’s choice. Swiping left or right across those circles brings up another five circles for apps of your choosing.

The problem is, at a certain point it could be just as quick – if not quicker – to navigate traditionally. If you just unlocked your phone and you’re looking at your home screen that has a shortcut to one of your preferred apps, you simply tap it and you’re there. Using the edge, meanwhile, would require to swipe in (a gesture, for the record, that isn’t always properly detected), swipe again to get to the apps list (if that wasn’t the last page you left up on the edge), and then tap to launch the app. One could argue that it’s maybe useful if you’re already in another app, but again: it’s the same number of actions. Swipe in and select your app, or hit the home button and select your app. The edges may seem cool on the surface, but if you stop and think about it, they’re really not all that helpful or time-saving.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ contacts edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ contacts edge

In terms of the contacts, the edge will glow a certain color if one of the contacts is calling and the device is face down. The color depends on which “slot” is calling. Once again, it’s cool, but not that helpful.

It’s not unlike some of the other features that Samsung has thrown in as part of their kitchen sink approach where the coolness tends to outweigh usefulness. Remember how I said it was fun to reject calls using the heart rate sensor? Notice how I said “fun,” and not “useful.” After all if you have your phone out on the table, it’s causing a disturbance if it rings at all, and you’re still being rude by interacting with your phone when you shouldn’t be.

Another frustrating aspect of how the edges are used is with regards to the aforementioned info stream. See, the way the edges work is that you can only “assign” the edge to one side at a time. So, things like edge contacts and edge apps will only ever be accessible on the left or the right, but never both. The reason this is important is because the info stream only works on the side to which the edge is currently assigned.

This means that if the wrong side happens to be facing you while your phone is on the table, you’ll have to turn it around first before sliding your finger across the edge to access the info stream. Let’s face it: at a certain point, you’re putting in too much effort to avoid just picking up your phone and turning it on. It’s also an odd choice because it almost entirely defeats the purpose of the phone having two sloped edges, and it makes me wonder if maybe Samsung had the right idea with the first edge model that only had one sloped side. After all, without being able to have both sides active at the same time in any capacity, the only remaining reason for this design is so right- and left-handed people can choose the side that’s more comfortable for them.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ TouchWiz

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ TouchWiz

Much of the other software choices that you’ll see here prove to be a little more useful, however. Though we were unable to test it given that it has yet to launch, the Galaxy S6 edge+ will feature Samsung Pay, which will be the company’s NFC payment offering that also works with traditional card-swipe terminals. The phone also has the ability to do video broadcasts through YouTube Live and supports SideSync 4.0, Samsung’s software that allows you to control your phone through your PC (anything that allows me to type on a real keyboard instead of my phone’s on-screen keyboard is OK by me).

While I should mention that the phone sports “Ultra High Quality Audio,” which is Samsung’s way of saying audio upscaling for apps like YouTube or Pandora, it can be difficult to hear the difference in quality. It’s not like the audio quality sounds bad, but I tried listening to the same videos on the Galaxy S6 edge+ and my current phone (a second gen Moto X) and I had trouble identifying any discernible difference in quality. Then again, I’m not an audiophile, so maybe I’m just ignorant.

Again, given Samsung’s typical kitchen sink approach, the company has piled its many new software offerings on top of some of its existing gesture/UI software. Features like flip (or cover) to mute, palm swipe to capture, and Smart Stay (display stays on as long as you’re looking at it) return here, with some being useful and some not. There is now also a Flipboard-powered newsfeed located to the left of the first home screen — not unlike HTC’s BlinkFeed – and hopefully you like it, because it can’t be disabled (though users can download and opt for the Google Now home-screen experience, which is similar).

As for the rest of the preloaded software, the good news is that Samsung really took it easy with the bloatware. Beyond a few redundant additions (like a link to its proprietary app store, native non-Google music and video apps, S Voice when all Android phones these days are equipped with voice commands in Google Now, etc.), the preloaded apps are limited to only those that are either basic and/or useful. In fact, out of the box there are only two pages of apps – with only two apps on the second page – loaded onto the phone. And many of them are actually useful, like the full suite of Microsoft Office apps, Samsung’s S Health fitness app, and, of course, Google apps like Chrome, Maps, YouTube, etc.

Camera & Battery Life

The Galaxy S6 edge+ is equipped with a 16-megapixel camera that performs well, even if it’s not the highlight of the phone. Pictures come out sharp and shooting in poorly lit environments results in only a mild amount of noise, but the biggest drawback seems to be that colors are dull and not at all saturated. In one of our test photos, for example, the deep red leaves on a plant came out looking flat – almost pinkish or pastel in nature.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ sample picture

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ sample picture

Overall, the battery life of the Galaxy S6 edge+ is solid, with a single charge carrying me for two and a half days. My testing on the whole was intensive, but I was especially surprised by how aggressively the last 10 percent hung on and how much effort it took just to get it to shut off. At any rate, the unit was definitely put through its paces, as those two and half days included a full hour’s worth of streaming video from YouTube, two commutes’ (to and from work) worth of web browsing, multiple photos taken/edited, and other general testing and experiments with the phone’s software.

The thing is, the unit is equipped with a rather large 3,000 mAh battery, so one might be tempted to think it should last for even longer. But the whole reason it has such a high capacity battery in the first place is to support its equally massive screen and high-powered hardware, so it all tends to even out.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S6 edge+ is the embodiment of Samsung at the top of its game. With its beautiful build and powerful hardware, it’s more than worthy of the flagship title. To top it off, the hardware is supported by secondary features (thumbprint and heart sensors) that perform smoothly, as well as a strong software showing.

As is bound to happen with Samsung’s kitchen-sink approach, however, there are a few misses here, the most significant being the lack of utility behind the device’s trademarked edges. Nevertheless, it’s hard to hold these shortcomings against the phone, given that that they mostly don’t detract from the phone’s premium experience in any way. At worst, they’re harmless additions that are fun to mess around with but ultimately will not change your life. The only downside is that it costs a little more, but hey, that’s what the Galaxy S6 is for (and if the size is your qualm, that’s what the regular Galaxy S6 edge is for).

The size may be too large for my tastes, but if you want a supersized phone and you’re intrigued by the edges, this is definitely the phone that you want.

Pros:

  • Incredible performance
  • Beautiful build and display
  • Added features like fingerprint and heart rate sensors function well

Cons:

  • Edges don’t prove to be all that useful
  • Humongous (even if that’s the point, it can be impractical)


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