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Featured Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

August 28, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Samsung first showed off curved displays a few years ago at CES. In 2013, both LG and Samsung put out their first curved smartphones in the Galaxy Round and the LG G Flex. The Galaxy Round stayed in South Korea and it didn’t sell too well – that could also be because it stayed in South Korea. Fast forward to 2014 when Samsung announced the Galaxy Note Edge. Where we had one side, the right side, curved. It was pretty cool, and there was some software that took advantage of that curve, but not a ton. In 2015, Samsung announced the Galaxy S6 Edge, which had both the left and right side curved. Not only did it bring some pretty awesome features like People Edge, but it felt really nice in the hand and even felt a bit smaller than the normal Galaxy S6.

Now Samsung has made the Galaxy S6 Edge+, which is a larger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge, as you’d expect. Samsung fixed a few of the issues that users complained about on the Galaxy S6 Edge, the big one was the sharp edges on the left and right where the glass meet the edge of the phone. The edges are now smoother and even more comfortable to hold. Samsung also gave us much better battery life. Always a plus there. But aside from those two things, and it being a larger display – 5.7 vs 5.1 inches – what else is new in the Galaxy S6 Edge+? Well let’s find out in the full review.

Specs

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The specs on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ are very similar to the Galaxy Note 5. We’re looking at a 5.66-inch 2560×1440 resolution Super AMOLED display. Now this is a curved display, which gives the device the “Edge” name. It’s powered by the Exynos 7420 octa-core processor along with 4GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery that is non-removable. On the camera side, there’s a 16MP camera this is the same sensor as what the Galaxy S6 had. There’s also a 5MP front-facing shooter. For storage, there is 32GB of storage on our model, there is also a 64GB model available. This time around there is no microSD card slot, and Samsung has decided against offering a 128GB model. Even though there was a 128GB Galaxy S6.

On the connectivity side, we’re looking at WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS and GLONASS. We also have microUSB 2.0 here, so no USB Type-C on the Galaxy S6 Edge+, but I’m sure we’ll see that next year for sure. The dimensions on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ are 154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9mm, along with weighing in at about 153g.

Video Review

Hardware

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The build of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ isn’t really all that new. If you’ve held the Galaxy S6 Edge from earlier in the year, then you will be pretty familiar. We have a larger curved display here, measuring 5.66-inches diagonally. It is still a 2560×1440 resolution Super AMOLED display. One of the things that Samsung changed with the curved display this year, was they made the sides a bit more round and fluid with the panel. With the Galaxy S6 Edge, the sides were a bit sharp. Where the glass met the rest of the device. Samsung has made that a bit smoother and rounder this time around which makes holding the device much nicer in the hand. While the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a bit bigger than its predecessor, you can still almost one-hand the device. I am able to use the device with one hand for the most part. Especially when typing text message replies or email replies. That’s always one of my issues when it comes to larger devices.

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Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ looks pretty familiar on the back. With the glass back, the camera that sticks out a bit and the flash and heart rate monitor beside it. While many may not like the camera sticking out, it does serve a purpose. Now I’m not sure if this was the reason why Samsung decided to go with the protruding camera or not. But with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ being glass, it’s going to slide around a lot. With the protruding camera, it keeps the device from sliding around at all. So you don’t have your smartphone taking a suicide fall off of the table. The power button and volume rocker are in the usual places, the right and left sides respectively. They are in almost the perfect position too. What I mean by that is, you don’t need to reposition the device in your hand to press either button. Which is great, especially on a larger device.

While the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is going to be available in four colors, we are only getting three of those in the US. There’s the Black Sapphire, White Pearl, Platinum Gold and Titanium Silver. Unfortunately, the most popular color – the titanium silver – is not making its way over to the US. At least not yet.

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It’s really hard to find any faults with the hardware on the Galaxy S6 Edge+. It feels great in the hand, it’s not entirely slippery and it looks amazing. I’m not usually a fan of the gold colors on smartphones, but the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has changed my tune a bit. After spending about a week carrying around this gold Galaxy S6 Edge+, I actually really like the color. If the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a bit too slippery for you, you can also opt to throw on a case or grab a skin from SlickWraps.

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Again, Samsung has went with the bottom-firing speaker on the Galaxy S6 Edge+. It’s an okay speaker but not great. When having the Galaxy S6 Edge+ sitting on a table and watching a video in YouTube, the speaker is pretty good. It gets somewhat loud without distorting the sound, but it’s nothing compared to Boomsound. However, when holding the device and watching a video or playing a game, it’s another story. Because of where the speaker is situated, your hand is usually over the speaker. Making for muffled sound.

Display

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The curved display here looks amazing, still. Outside of the software features made for the curved display – which we’ll get into detail about a bit later on – I really like how everything just falls off the sides of the device. Go watch a video on YouTube, and you’ll see what I mean. At a QHD resolution the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has 518 pixels per inch, which makes everything on the display look really crisp. This is not only great for multimedia but also for reading ebooks. With the crisper text, it makes it easier to read.

Aside from the deeper blacks that the Super AMOLED panels that Samsung use, the company has also done a great job at getting the screen brightness to go really low, but also very high when outdoors. There are a number of smartphones that is almost impossible to see the display outdoors. The Moto G 2015 is a good example of that actually. When outdoors, even on an overcast day, it’s pretty tough to see the display, even at full brightness. While the Galaxy S6 Edge+’s display isn’t that tough to see. Sometimes you don’t even need the brightness turned all the way up.

So not only does the curved display look gorgeous, but it also works really well. Every once in a while I run into the issue where my finger is touching the display and registering an extra touch. But it’s not as often as you’d think. And after a few days, you get used to holding it a bit different, so that you aren’t accidentally registering a touch on the display.

Performance

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Inside, we have the Exynos 7420 processor, which is paired with 4GB of RAM. Giving it an extra gigabyte of RAM over the Galaxy S6 Edge, but keeping the same processor. On the Galaxy S6 Edge, the processor performed like a champ. I can’t recall a time where it really felt sluggish. And the same goes for the Galaxy S6 Edge+. Now what the Galaxy S6 Edge did have was some issues with RAM management. Where it would have to redraw apps quite quickly. And with 3GB of RAM, that shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t with 4GB of RAM either on the Galaxy S6 Edge+. But it seems to happen. Now it’s not as aggressive as the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge were, but it is still there. With the Galaxy S6 Edge+ you will notice that it does need to redraw apps every once in a while, but it’s still very quick at doing so. So for most people this shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, it’s so quick I doubt that any “normal consumers” would even notice it. Just us tech geeks here.

When gaming on the device, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ works pretty well. Playing graphics intense games, and the processor kept up. Loading up games, it was about as fast as any other processor out there. Always a great thing to hear. All in all, the performance on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is top notch. Which is definitely a great thing for those looking to spend $700+ on this new device.

Fingerprint Sensor

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While the Fingerprint Sensor is not new to Samsung devices, it has gotten updated a bit over the past year. What was once a swiping sensor, is not just a touch sensor. Of course, that also is not new. But it still works great. I’ve been using it on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ for unlocking my device, as well as logging into LastPass. Additionally, you can use the Fingerprint Sensor for logging into your Samsung account as well as some websites, although that only works in Samsung’s browser and not Chrome. You can, however use the fingerprint sensor for apps like PayPal and Samsung Pay. Now Samsung Pay is not yet available in the US, so we were unable to try it out, unfortunately.

Call Quality & Data Speeds

The variant that Samsung sent over to us is the United Arab Emirates variant, so it’s not completely optimized for US networks. But we were able to connect to T-Mobile’s LTE network (albeit briefly, we spent most of our time on HSPA+). Data speeds matched what we normally see on other unlocked phones on T-Mobile. Call Quality was pretty good. Didn’t get a lot of dropped calls – although that would be more on the network than the phone – and those on the other end said we sounded great.

Storage

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In our hands is the 32GB model of the Galaxy S6 Edge+. Out of the box, we were left with just about 25GB of storage. Almost identical to what the Galaxy Note 5 had out of the box. When it comes to 32GB smartphones, this is about the normal amount of space left over for the user out of the box. So not much we can complain about here. The 64GB model will likely have around 58GB of usable space when you take it out of the box. So if 25GB is not enough, you may want to opt for the 64GB model, as there is no microSD expansion this time around.

Battery Life

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On the Galaxy S6 Edge+, the battery life has been pretty stellar actually. You might remember that with the Galaxy S6, it was pretty bad. And for most of us, it wouldn’t even last a day. But with the Galaxy S6 Edge+, it’s mostly lasted me a full day. There have been a few times, where I got to around 2% at about 10pm and needed to plug it in early. Otherwise, I was quite happy with the battery life.

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Even if the battery life isn’t quite up to snuff for you, Samsung has included some great ways to charge your phone quickly and top it off before heading out for the night. They’ve included Quick Charge again. Now it isn’t Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0, but it does work with Quick Charge 2.0 compatible chargers. I plugged it in at about 2% and it told me it would be full charged in under 2 hours, and it actually was. Really nice to be able to fully charge a 3,000mAh battery in that short amount of time. Samsung also included Qi Wireless charging. I know, I know, Qi Wireless charging is usually really slow. But Samsung has added the faster Qi Wireless charging standard in the Galaxy S6 Edge+, which means you can fully charge your device in just over 2 hours. Without plugging it in. Making Qi a pretty convenient feature for charging up.

Software

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We have Android 5.1.1 along with Touchwiz here. And honestly, there’s not a whole lot that has changed compared to the Galaxy S6 Edge from earlier in the year. Similar to the Galaxy Note 5, we have some new icons for the Phone, Contacts and other built-in apps on the Galaxy S6 Edge+. There was a time, not that long ago, where Touchwiz was slow and laggy. This year, Samsung has redone the skin and made it much lighter. On the Galaxy S6 Edge+, it’s very smooth, and fluid. Something we want from every device. One thing, however, that I would like to see changed, is getting rid of the folders in the App drawer, or allowing us to create folders in the app drawer. Here we have a folder for some – not all – of Google’s apps. As well as one for Microsoft’s apps and one labeled “Tools” which only houses My Files, Voice Recorder and Samsung Gear. There’s no way to get rid of those folders without installing a third-party launcher. This is actually something that LG does too, and it’s been present in the LG G3, and G4.

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One of the changes that Samsung made in the software this time around was to People Edge. On the Galaxy S6 Edge, you could swipe in from the edge, and have access to about 4 or 5 of your contacts. You can assign them, and they all get a specific color. There’s blue, green, yellow, orange and purple. Tapping on their picture, opens a sort of pop up that allows you either call them or send them a text message. Now, here’s another critique, it would be nice if we could choose which app it uses to message the person. In its current state, you can only text them through the Samsung Messaging app. Which isn’t a bad looking app, but some of us use Hangouts, Facebook Messenger or another app to text our friends and family. Same thing with calling people from People Edge. Now I understand that there’s not a lot of us that use Google Voice, but it would be a nice feature to have here.

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What Samsung has added to People Edge is App Edge. So now you swipe in from the edge, and then swipe again and you have 5 apps there that you can choose. These are basically shortcuts. Now as you can see in the screenshots above, I used the Calculator, Gmail, Twitter, Fitbit and Instagram as my shortcuts. Now I can quickly tap on the calculator and be taken into the calculator and do some quick math. Samsung also changed the way People Edge and App Edge shows up. So now you can use it from anywhere in the device. Whether you’re in Tinder, Facebook, the Settings app or anything else. Just swipe over from the Edge and you’re there.

There’s even more you can do with the edge. Related to the People Edge, if you have your Galaxy S6 Edge+ face down on a table, you can have it light up when someone calls you. Now if it’s one of the five people in your People Edge, it will light up the color you have assigned to them. So you can easily know who’s calling you, without picking up the phone. Information Stream has also made a come back. So on the edge of the Galaxy S6 Edge+, you can have a ticker of news from Yahoo, as well as having Twitter’s trending topics floating across, your S Health stats and much more. There’s also the night clock feature, where you can use the edge as a clock at night, and have it running all night long. Now this may not sound like an interesting feature, but it’s actually pretty cool, if you lay your phone on a bedside table. With the edge of the display, you can see it from your bed. Pretty nifty.

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Themes are still around, and I’ve actually been using the Material Design theme by Samer Zayer on the Galaxy S6 Edge+. It looks really nice with this display. You can go into the theme store and pick up some new themes pretty easily. Some are paid and some are free. However, Samsung should add the ability to search for themes in there. It would be a big help, I think.

Camera

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Samsung has been killing it in the camera department for a few years now. And they’ve done it again this year. While Samsung did kinda do what Sony does, and gave us the same camera as the Galaxy S6, it’s still a fantastic camera, that is waiting on the competitors to catch up to. We’re looking at a 16MP ISOCELL sensor on the back (although, evidently some models are shipping with a Sony sensor). Which has been taking some amazing pictures, during the review process. You’ll be able to see those pictures in the gallery at the bottom of this post. Additionally, you can see the full resolution shots on this Google Photos link.

The interface is quite the same as the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and Note 5. It’s pretty minimal, with the gallery, video, shutter, camera toggle and mode toggle buttons on the right side, or the bottom depending on if you’re in landscape or portrait. At the top, or the left side, you have access to your settings, as well as the resolution, flash, timer, HDR and effects. As far as modes go, we have Auto, Pro, Selective Focus, Panorama, Video Collage, YouTube Live Broadcast, Slow Motion, Fast Motion and Virtual Shot. Of course, you can download more from the Galaxy Apps store. These include Sports Shot, Surround Shot, Food shot, Dual camera, shot & More, rear cam selfie, and many others. My favorite mode here is the Pro Mode, and that is because you are able to adjust the exposure, white balance, ISO, shutter, focus and more. Additionally, these all update in real time. Making it easier for you to get the best possible picture from the Galaxy S6 Edge+.

Something else that has been all the rage lately is shooting raw. Some smartphones can do it, and so can the Galaxy S6 Edge+. If you tap on the gear icon at the top of the camera interface, you’ll see an option to “Save as RAW file”. However this can only be done in Pro mode, unfortunately. What this does, is it saves the photo without any compression. So you are essentially getting the raw picture without any post processing. Which you can then take to your computer and edit in Lightroom or wherever you want to edit pictures. It’s a great feature, especially for photographers and photo enthusiasts.

We do have 4K here. Now 4K resolution really doesn’t matter unless you’re watching on a 4K display, but it does look really nice. Something I really like about the video on the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is that it refocuses really quickly. Great for moving around while taking video and such. 4K video also produces large video files. I took a 33 second video, and the size was around 188MB. Now for comparison, a 33 second video in 1080p (1920×1080), the file size was about 67MB, about a third the size of the 4K video. Once more, in 4K you are limited to shooting just 5 minutes of video at a time. Now this is likely due to the camera heating up the processor, but also due to the space needed to keep recording in 4K.

The Good

  • The Galaxy S6 Edge+’s display looks just plain amazing. If you haven’t watched a video on it yet, do so. You’ll see exactly what I mean.
  • Battery life is much, much improved over the Galaxy S6 Edge from earlier on in the year. That right there is a big enough reason to upgrade, in my opinion.
  • Samsung hit another home run with the camera, which they’ve been doing a lot lately. It even takes some pretty fantastic pictures in low-light and at night with just street lights on.

The Bad

  • The price is pretty steep. Depending on where you are and which carrier, you’re looking at around a $800 price tag, which is about $200 more than most smartphones.
  • The titanium silver color isn’t coming to the US. I know that’s a bit petty to complain about, but the titanium silver looks amazing!

Final Thoughts

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Everyone fell in love with the Galaxy S6 Edge earlier this year, and with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ everyone have fallen in love again. It’s a beautiful looking device, but it’s not all about the looks here, as Samsung has packed the device to the gills with high-end specs including the Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery. Despite putting in a smaller battery this year, Samsung still found a way to get amazing battery life. While Samsung did take out the microSD card slot and the removable battery, I still feel comfortable in saying that this is a fantastic upgrade for Samsung users. Whether you’re coming from the Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge or even the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Samsung has really made a turn around this year with their four flagships, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. Between upping their build quality, and also improving Touchwiz and making it less heavy as well as getting rid of a ton of features and such that users were not using. Samsung used to be the king in Android – well they still are – but began to lose some market share thanks to all the competitors emerging, mostly in Asia, and they have upped their game. Which is a great thing for customers and users.