Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Same edges, similar body, soaring price

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Samsung is fearless when it comes to trying new things, a characteristic aided by the company’s deep pockets. We’ve seen countless devices from Samsung over the years that are unusual or the first of its kind. This company isn’t afraid to see a product underwhelm before revamping it and coming back with something even better. Samsung’s use of displays with curved edges is a perfect example. The Galaxy Round from 2013 was the first sign of Samsung trying to buck the trend of conventional displays. It had a display that was curved down the center. Hardly any attention was paid to the Galaxy Round, but the following year, with the Galaxy Note Edge, the company moved to implementing a display with a single curved edge to provide extra information. The issue was that it provided little reason to be chosen over the Galaxy Note 4. Then the Galaxy S6 Edge came along in early 2015 to show that, yes, curved edges can be part of a mainstream device.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ builds upon its young predecessor by being bigger and better in every way. It’s basically the result of merging the original Galaxy S6 Edge with the more recent Galaxy Note 5. Samsung created a device that has the size and strength of the Galaxy Note 5 while maintaining the look of the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Note: Pieces of this review are taken from the Galaxy Note 5 review (but also edited) due to many of the same components being used.

Design

The original Galaxy S6 Edge measures 142.1 x 70.1 7mm and weighs 132g. This plus-sized version raises those figures to 154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9mm and 153g, making the Galaxy S6 Edge+ larger and heavier than most of today’s flagships. It’s pretty much the same size as the Galaxy Note 5 while being way lighter. As with that Samsung flagship, the company has done an excellent job dissipating the weight throughout the body of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ — it’s not a top- or bottom-heavy phone. In use, even for someone with smaller hands like myself, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is easily manageable in one hand because the side bezels are pretty much nonexistent and the height of the phone isn’t all that different from other devices like the LG G4.

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Metal and glass rule the day here. The front and back of this phone feature smooth scratch-resistant glass, being met with sharp metal at every edge. Where there is not metal, there is glass. And where there is not glass, there is metal.

Pick up the phone and you’re met with a cold, solid piece of hardware that sits perfectly in the hand. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ screams premium.

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My sole gripe with the design of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is how uncomfortable the phone is to hold. The dual-edge display takes up a lot space on the sides. Samsung wasn’t able to replicate the Galaxy Note 5’s curved sides. Like the back’s edges, the edges on the front where the display and sides meet dig in to your hands and fingers. There isn’t any avoiding that unless you hold the Galaxy S6 Edge+ with your fingertips, obviously an impractical thing to do. Samsung’s only solution that I can think of would be making the device thicker to provide extra space, and I highly doubt that would go over well with consumers.

Regarding buttons, ports, and visible components, this doesn’t differ very much from any Samsung phone you’ve seen within the last eighteen months. Below the display is a narrower-but-taller home button (which is also a fingerprint scanner) with Samsung’s capacitive buttons that illuminate when used. Sadly, Samsung still believes that the Recents button belongs on the left and the Back button belongs on the right. Who knows if this will ever change. Spin around to the back of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and you’ll see a cutout to the right of the camera that houses the LED flash and heart rate monitor. On the top of the phone, the SIM card tray is accessible. The bottom of the Galaxy S6 Edge+, though, is busier than any other part of the phone. It has the audio jack, micro-USB port, and speaker.

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What’s missing that buyers of Samsung devices have come to expect? A removable battery and a microSD card slot. The design of the Galaxy S6 Edge+ limits users to the battery and internal storage that ships with the phone.

You can pick up the Galaxy S6 Edge+ in Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Silver Titan, and White Pearl. Color options may depend on your carrier.

Hardware

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ features a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED dual-edge display, Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, Mali T760MP8, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, a 16MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a 3000mAh battery (non-removable), a fingerprint scanner, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.2.

Bands:

4G LTE (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 27, 20)
HSDPA (850, 900, 1800, 1900)
GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900)

Performance

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Both display size and display resolution are identical to the Galaxy Note 5. Samsung is continuing to go with 5.7 inches and Quad HD (2560×1440) resolution. From afar, the crispness can be matched by phones that have Full HD (1920×1080) resolution, but bring the Galaxy S6 Edge+ closer to your face and that Quad HD resolution never gives away a single pixel. The 5.7 inches gives a lot to look at, especially if you want to run multiple apps simultaneously with Multi Window.

The display, which is of the Super AMOLED variety, is also vibrant. It offers incredible viewing angles and impressive color reproduction. Looking at the display from almost any angle does not mean that quality is lost. Whites shine and blacks are deep while other colors pop, giving the Galaxy S6 Edge+ a display with depth. Items on the home screen — app icons and text — look as if they is lifting off of the display, for example. Throw in the dual-edge design and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ has an infinity-like display. Content seems to be flowing to the sides and spilling over, an illusion that I’ve never seen executed on any other device.

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Samsung clearly benefits from designing its own displays because this one is awing at all times.

The only thing odd about using the Galaxy S6 Edge+ as a multimedia beast is that the speaker on the bottom is pretty weak. If it gets covered, the sound is essentially muted. Samsung should have put another speaker on the other end of the bottom.

Once again, Samsung is using its very own processor after Qualcomm sent the mobile industry into panic mode, causing many companies to look at other options. Samsung, like it does with displays, makes processors; therefore, abandoning Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 series was easy. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ uses Samsung’s go-to processor for 2015, the Exynos 7420. This time the strongest Exynos processor to date has been paired with 4GB of RAM.

The Galaxy S6 started to change the perception of Samsung’s devices being sluggish. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ (like the Galaxy Note 5) proves that slowdowns are a thing of the past for Samsung flagships. An octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and software optimization puts this phone as one that performs with speed, avoiding speed bumps or hiccups in the process. I was jumping between Hangouts (with multiple accounts) conversations and Minecraft: Pocket Edition as Samsung’s Milk Music streamed in the background; to my surprise, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ was not batting an eye. Then I put Hangouts and YouTube on the screen at the same time with Multi Window and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ held its ground.

It really satisfies me that performance on Samsung devices is finally where it should have been years ago. Do what you want with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ because it probably won’t slow down.

Battery

Let’s just get it out of the way: the battery encased within the Galaxy S6 Edge+ cannot be removed. Samsung’s faithful were upset when the company made the same decision for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. But if you want to have beautiful phone made of high-end materials rather than cheap plastic, you have sacrifice something. So the 3000mAh battery inside is all you get to work with.

Perhaps the inclusion of Fast Wireless Charging makes up for the smaller, non-removable battery. Samsung’s Fast Wireless Charging Pad powers the Galaxy S6 Edge+ up to the top of its capacity in about 120 minutes. With the included wired charger, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ charges to completion in less than 90 minutes. Using another charger means that the Galaxy S6 Edge+ will take hours to charge.

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What really matters, though, is how long the battery lasts. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is fine-tuned to carry you during the day. A typical day for me includes sending and receiving many emails, chatting on Hangouts, tweeting a lot, playing a lighter game like Threes or Game Dev Story once or twice, and maybe watching videos on YouTube for a few minutes. I would start my day with 100% 8:30AM and start to get antsy for a charger by 10:00PM. It makes me doubt that there is such a concern among consumers about non-removable batteries. If the hardware manufacturer does the proper software optimizations, a device can get by with respectable battery life.

Software

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Very little has changed on the software side compared to other Samsung devices released this year. Here, Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay is based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. Although still not as attractive as stock Android or HTC’s Sense, TouchWiz is better than ever before. It now feels like a mature user experience instead of looking so rough and technical. Samsung flattened everything to basically move closer to (but not match) Google’s Material Design guidelines. This translates to Samsung-made apps such as Calendar, S Health, S Note, Milk Music, Samsung Pay, and Voice Recorder being aesthetically pleasing.

Note: Read our review of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge for in-depth analysis of the software due to the Galaxy S6 Edge+ being practically identical in this area.

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Samsung didn’t choose a dual-edge display for beauty alone. This phone’s unique design serves a purpose. With People Edge and Apps Edge, Samsung allows you to store contacts and apps in a slideout menu at one edge of the display. A small tab (seen above) requires just a little flick to bring out the menu. In People Edge, selecting a contact brings up actionable icons for calling, messaging, and emailing. Apps Edge launches the designated app immediately. When the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is inactive, Edge Lighting will illuminate the display to inform you of incoming calls or other notifications. Each of these features are helpful and they do add value to the Galaxy S6 Edge+. How much value do they add? That depends on your needs.

Camera

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A flagship phone deserves a flagship camera. Both rear and front-facing cameras from the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge return months later for the Galaxy S6 Edge+. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as the Galaxy S6 takes decent pictures. When taking pictures with the 16MP rear camera, you’re able to choose between Auto and Pro modes. I kept the Galaxy S6 Edge+ on Auto because I’m not one to delve into camera settings and become a Master of Photography. Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ takes amazing pictures that are always sharp due to optical image stabilization (OIS). The camera also proved to be impressive under low-light conditions.

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No one questions the quality of Samsung’s cameras anymore. It’s only a matter of stacking them up against Apple, LG, and Sony’s cameras to see where Samsung places. I compared the Galaxy S6 Edge+ with a friend’s iPhone 6S Plus and found that the latter was more accurate and less washed out. But compared to other Android phones, this phone only has the LG G4 to truly worry about.

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And those of you who record a lot of video on mobile devices will appreciate that the Galaxy S6 Edge+ can record in 4K. Keep in mind that there is no way to expand internal storage and 4K content takes up a tremendous amount of space.

Closing

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Probably the biggest concern for Samsung with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is giving consumers reasons to purchase it. Is the dual-edge display, the only clear differentiator here, enough for the company to sell millions of units? Because the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are both very similar to and, more importantly, cheaper than the Galaxy S6 Edge+. Even the brilliant Galaxy Note 5, which has added value coming from the S Pen, is cheaper than the Galaxy S6 Edge+. This phone is crowded by the very company that makes it. Competition is already fierce from the likes of Apple, Motorola, LG, and HTC this fall. Samsung injecting another device into the market seems like a bad idea; however, remember this is the company that doesn’t mind if an idea doesn’t work. The company will make changes and come back with something better than before. For now, the Galaxy S6 Edge+, especially given its price, shouldn’t be viewed as a true flagship.

[Samsung] [Amazon] [Best Buy]


About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.