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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is born of that new philosophy. That’s not to say it’s all about style. For the eye-watering price of A$1198/A$1295 contract-free we would hope not.

Just like the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge the 5.7-inch phone is a solid all-rounder and needs to be considering its key competitor, the iPhone 6 Plus.

The Edge+ is also the big-screen phone European Samsung fans will have to live with in lieu of the Galaxy Note 5 – Samsung has no plans to sell the Note 5 outside of Asia and the US at the moment.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ Design – The best looking phone ever looks even better
154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm, 153g, Aluminium 7000 frame, Gorilla Glass 4

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ makes you feel like disappearing down an underground cavern while keeping a close eye out for tricksy hobbitses. It is precious. It is achingly desirable. It is futuristic. Slap it down on any beer stained pub table and it will make every other phone look old school.

The main allure comes, of course, from the unique, curved dual-edge display. There’s nothing else like it, apart from its smaller sibling the S6 Edge. It’s streets ahead of the Note 5 and iPhone 6 Plus when it comes to sex appeal.

An aluminium alloy frame is sandwiched between the tough Gorilla Glass 4 screen and back. It’s an upgraded version of the metal on Samsung’s previous phones and should help it avoid the (in our experience unfounded) Bendgate furore caused when the latest iPhones were released.

One thing it hasn’t managed to resolve is quite how easily the rear glass attracts greasy fingerprints. It’s a problem the S6 and S6 Edge also suffers from and it’s not too bad on the Sapphire Black version we’re testing here. Opt for the new silver coloured Edge+, though, and be prepared to regularly look like a cricketer getting ready to bowl.

Samsung has finessed the S6 Edge+ in some ways. The frame now has a fine tapered edge along the top and bottom and the curved screen seems to fit a little closer around the corners than it does on the smaller S6 Edge.

Not only is the Galaxy S6 Edge+ a stunner, it’s also brilliantly crafted.

Looks aren’t the be-all and end-all of design – ease of use is also key. The Edge+ doesn’t excel here.

For a start it’s a big phone, and that comes with its own set of challenges. Using a phone with a 5.7-inch screen is tricky to do one-handed, particularly when trying to reach the top corners. Your other hand will need to get involved sooner or later.

It’s an issue compounded by the curved screen. Yes it’s great to look at but you will, sometimes, find yourself wishing you had a little more frame to grasp. The bottom of your thumb can also interfere with the screen when stretching to tap an awkwardly positioned icon.

The S6 Edge+ is not too uncomfortable, but neither does it feel as welcoming as the curvier iPhone or Note 5 – the latter conforms to your palm making it super comfy.

Whether these issues turn you off the S6 Edge+ depends entirely on how much you value its aesthetics. Sometimes beauty demands sacrifice. The huge screen will also be worth a little one-handed juggling for many.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Screen
5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 2,560 x 1440 resolution (Quad HD), Curved edges

Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen technology is one of the best you can get on a phone or tablet and the super-sharp, Quad HD S6 Edge+ makes the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus pale in comparison, literally. Colours pop and blacks are deep – this is the best screen you can get for watching movies on the go.

If we’re being very picky we’d say the screen could have better viewing angles. Whites get a blueish tint to them when you’re not looking at the S6 Edge+ straight on.

Samsung suggests the curved screen adds to your viewing experience, it doesn’t. The curves distort the picture slightly and reflect light, but since it’s just the top and bottom edge it’s not too noticeable. While the Note 5’s flat screen would be our first choice for watching videos on, the Edge+ comes a close second.

Adding to the multimedia credentials of the Edge+ is a decent (for a phone) speaker that’s both loud and clear at top volume. It lacks depth, but we’d happily watch a few episodes of our favourite series without headphones if we had to.

Plug a set of cans into the 3.5mm jack and things get even better. Samsung has added a dedicated clock to the S6 Edge+ to minimise sound distortion as well as upscaling. This aims to improve the quality of compressed audio, like MP3s.

It works too. A bit more fullness and timbre is added to proceedings, high-hats are sharper and everything is tightened up a little. Nothing seems to be lost and it has an overall pleasing aural effect. Once I had tried it out of few times I decided to keep it on.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Performance

Quad-core 1.5GHz with Quad-core 2.1GHz Exynos 7420 processor, 4GB RAM, Mali-T760MP8 GPU

It’s no surprise that Samsung has chosen to go with it’s own 64-bit Exynos processor rather than the more commonly used Quaclomm chips seen in competing phablets.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 has been used in a few flagships – most notably the HTC One M9 – and hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory. Purported issues with overheating (some of which we’ve experienced first hand) mean Samsung probably made the right choice opting against it.

Just like the Snapdragon 810 the Exynos 7420 in the Edge+ uses ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture.

This allows a ‘big’ quad-core CPU (2.1GHz) to be paired with a ‘little’, low-power quad-core (1.5GHz). Smaller tasks like browsing the web and listening to music use the little quad, which drains less juice. Intensive tasks, like 3D gaming, use the big quad.

The S6 Edge+ has the same processor that the S6 and S6 Edge pack but adds an extra gigabyte of DDR4 RAM – bringing it up to 4GB and matching the Note 5.

It’s a beast of a phone in every respect.

In our benchmark tests the Edge+ blitzes the competition. It scores an enormous 25,043 in our gaming test using Ice Storm Unlimited on 3DMark – that’s 7,000 more than the iPhone 6 Plus and almost 3,000 more than the smaller S6 Edge.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Software
The S6 Edge+ uses Samsung’s TouchWiz UI skin over Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. We’re not big fans of TouchWiz in the TrustedReviews office, but Samsung has managed to make the latest version much better.

Long gone are the days of lag and hefty dollops of bloatware and TouchWiz is now on par with most other Android skins. We’d still prefer the look and feel of unadulterated Android though.

Still the S6 Edge+ is accessible, if you’re not an Android native, and comes with a few Samsung apps preloaded. Some are more useful than others.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Apps

S6 Edge+ S HealthS Health is one that’s been around for a while, but Samsung has been constantly upgrading it. Thanks to the sensor next to the rear camera the S6 Edge+ can track your heart rate, blood oxygen and stress (although I’m dubious of the latter as there’s no explanation of how it actually works) as well as steps.

Smart Manager looks after the health of the phone. Here you can zap all the naughty apps eating away at that hefty 4GB of RAM as well as check the internal storage, battery and the built-in antivirus’ status. It’s also where you can get to Knox, Samsung’s enterprise-level security system aimed for those wanting their work safe and secure.

Microsoft apps such as Word, Excel and Skype also have a folder but aren’t preinstalled, you’ll need to do this yourself if you want to do it.

Then there’s a calendar app called S Planner and Samsung’s irrelevant competitor to Google Voice, Siri and Cortana called S Voice. None of these are particularly useful.

Aside from multi window that lets you use two apps on screen at the same time, one app that does merit looking at is SideSync 4.

SideSync lets you connect you Samsung phone to your PC. Until version 3 this was limited to Samsung laptops, but SideSync version 4 not only works with any PC (Windows XP and above) it also comes with Mac support. It’s like Apple’s Continuity except you can use it across platforms.

Aside from being able to copy and paste directly to and from your phone and PC you can also run a windows with your phone’s screen virtualised on it. That’s right you can play your Android games on your PC!

As awesome as that sounds SideSync is limited when your phone connects to your computer via Wi-Fi – you can also connect via USB. In our tests the connection proved stable (barring the odd PC app crashing) but there is some lag between actioning something and it actually happening. So maybe don’t try tense and precise platformers.

Of course SideSync isn’t about playing Angry Birds on your PC, it’s about productivity. As such it’s a hugely useful tool and lets you get on with work while replying to texts and even taking calls without having to take yourself away from your work.

It’s Samsung’s biggest software coup when compared to other Android phones.

The S6 Edge+ doesn’t replace the Note 5 like for like, but it’s your only option if you live in Europe and want a brand new, large-screen Samsung.

Unlike the Note you don’t get the S Pen, what you get instead are Edge apps – apps designed to take advantage of the curved display. In general, we found the apps are a poor substitute for an S Pen, but not entirely without merit.

S6 Edge+ edge displayWhen the screen is on you can flick your thumb over a tab on the edge to bring up your five favourite contacts, if you’ve had a message or missed call you can view these too. Swipe again and contacts are replaced with your five favourite apps. It’s a neat, if not earth-shattering feature.

With the screen off you can activate the edge by giving it a swift up and down swipe. This gives you access to the “Information Screen” – a ticker with feeds you can choose. This can be the weather, steps you’ve walked or latest news and you can swipe through multiple feeds.

It’s a good way of getting information tactfully while in meetings but it does have a delay. When you start using it you’ll think it needs multiple swipes to activate but actually it just takes a couple of seconds to wake up.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Features

Edge apps, Fingerprint scanner, Heart rate sensor, Samsung Pay, 32/64GB storage

The fact the S6 Edge+ isn’t a Galaxy Note means it doesn’t come packed with the features you’d expect from a big Samsung. The major omission, when compared to the Note 5 it’s looking to usurp in Europe, is the S Pen.

The S Pen digitiser stylus on the Note is a feature loved by many, but it’s not something you can use with the Galaxy S6 Edge. If, like me, you’ve never really taken to Samsung’s little pen then you won’t miss it much. However if you like doodling, hand-written notes, working with spreadsheets or just like to keep your beautiful Quad HD screen fingerprint-free then you will.

Just like the S6 and S6 Edge, neither of the Samsung phablets have expandable storage via microSD and you can forget about a removable battery. Oddly Samsung has also decided to remove the IR blaster from these phones, even though the smaller handsets have this feature.

Of these omissions the expandable storage is the biggest loss. Since the S6 Edge+ only comes with 32GB or 64GB options it’s more limited than the smaller handset that can be bought in a 128GB configuration. If you like to store tonnes of stuff on your phone then this is a problem.

So what do you get? Well there’s the aforementioned health scanner and a good fingerprint scanner – although it’s not quite as consistent as some others.

Hidden inside the home button the scanner can be used to securely lock your S6 Edge+, but is also a key component of Samsung’s Apple Pay rival, unsurprisingly named Samsung Pay.

Samsung Pay will be hitting the world later this year and works in a similar way to other tap-and-pay systems. However, Samsung has an ace up its sleeve.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ also supports magnetic secure transmission (MSG) as well as NFC. NFC only works with newer credit card readers whereas MSG works with any strip-card reader. Samsung reckons this will cover 90% of the US, whereas Apple Pay will only work with 10% of payment terminals.

Being a top-of-the-range phone means the S6 Edge+ comes with 4G (superfast Cat 9 in some regions, slightly slower Cat 6 in others), dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and a gamut of internal sensors that track movement, altitude and proximity.

Still Samsung’s obsession with beating the iPhone like for like – screen, camera, design – has led to a phone that lacks the features that made Galaxy phones so popular in the first place. The lack of microSD support being a pill too bitter for many Samsung fans to swallow.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Camera
16-megapixel sensor, f/1.9 rear camera with optical image stabilisation; 5-megapixel, f/1.9 front camera; 5 minutes of 4K video; 60fps 1080p video; Video stabilisation

The S6 Edge+ has the same camera as the S6, S6 Edge and Note 5 and that’s no bad thing. It is one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone – perhaps only the LG G4 edges it in a head-to-head.

One of the best things about it is Samsung’s camera app, which opens quickly and lets you capture the moment with a minimum of fuss. This is exactly what the iPhone 6 Plus excels at and the S6 Edge+ is almost as good at capturing high-quality photos without spending ages tinkering.

S6 Edge+ camera photos 11Focusing and shooting is incredibly fast, even in HDR mode – this takes several photos in quick succession and merges them into a better image. It’s exactly what you want from a pocket camera.

If you do like to get a bit more hands on with your photos then you can go into Pro mode. This lets you change a huge range of settings from focus to white balance and ISO.

We find it’s not quite as easy to use as the manual settings on the LG G4, but it’s not far off.

Of course, the app also lets you add a range of filters for all the instagrammers out there. The S6 Edge+ also has an effective Bokeh app, called Selective Focus. Another nifty feature worth mentioning is Virtual Shot. This is like panorama in reverse. Select an object and rotate the camera round it and you get a little 360 degree video of it.

The app is only worthwhile if the pictures taken are any good, and thankfully they are. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ has a very good camera indeed. In fact is has two of them.

The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor that excels in low-light. It’s perfect for embarrassing drunken selfies in suspect bars. If you’re into that sort of thing, that is.

Both cameras also come with – software-based – video stabilisation. The aim of this is to reduce some of the waviness taking video with an OIS phone causes. It does eliminate some of this effect, but don’t expect to have beautifully smooth video if you’re hand isn’t steady.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Battery
3,000mAh battery, Fast-charging, Wireless charging

One of the concerns with the smaller S6 and S6 Edge was that their batteries are a bit small. In testing they last a day but not much more. Samsung has upped the size of the battery in the S6 Edge+ to compensate for the larger screen and the results are good, but not outstanding.

In our standard test where we play an onboard video on loop with the phone in flight mode (so nothing else is drawing juice) until the battery dies the S6 Edge+ managed a massive 13 hours, that’s more than an hour longer than the iPhone 6 Plus.

In more usual day to day usage I found myself regularly returning home after a day at the office with around 60% of the battery remaining, sometimes more, but rarely less. This is better than the smaller Samsung phones, but we find Apple’s phablet lasts longer in real world use, as does last year’s Galaxy Note 4.

Turn on power saver mode and things do get better. You can get two days out of it, if you’re careful. The great thing about this mode is that you don’t really notice any performance hit – it still feels plenty fast and responsive.

If you really in a bind the Edge+ also comes with ultra power saving mode. This strips back all functionality and leaves you just the ability to make and receive calls and texts. This can let you eek out a couple of extra hours when you need them most.

Fast charging comes as standard with the S6 Edge+ and it works. It charged from 0 to 100% in just 1 hour 45 minutes. Samsung claims wireless charging has also been improved – it’s 27% faster on the Edge+ compared to the normal S6 and S6 Edge.

Galaxy S6 Edge+ – Call quality
Call quality on the S6 Edge+ is very good. The internal speaker is loud and clear enough but the phone comes with an “Extra loud” mode when you’re on a call. Tap the icon for this and and the voice on the other end gets turned up to 11, although it doesn’t improve the sound quality.

Connectivity is solid too, on par with other flagships we’ve tested recently. I experienced a couple of dropped calling in low signal areas, the exact same thing happens using the iPhone 6 and LG G4.

Should I buy the Galaxy S6 Edge+?
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a great phone. If money is no object and you want your phone to be big and stylish then there’s no competition – this is the phone to get.

It’s smaller brother is a lot cheaper, is largely the same and has a couple of extra features, like the IR blaster and 128GB storage option, though. Battery life is also lower, but of the two this is the phone we’d recommend.

Both phones lack features you’d expect from an Android. They’re not crucial but might be important to you. If so you could be better off looking elsewhere entirely. The LG G4 is an obvious candidate. It doesn’t have the looks of the Edge+ but is a very good phone. Then there’s the Moto X Style, which will be on sale soon. Both offer large screens, decent specs and are far cheaper than the Edge+.

Then there’s the iPhone 6 Plus. This is the phone the S6 Edge+ is built to go head-to-head with. In most areas the S6 Edge+ manages to be a little slicker, and the customisation options of Android and TouchWiz let you personalise the S6 Edge+ to your liking a lot more.

Still if you really love hassle-free mobile use the iPhone 6 Plus is easier to handle, both in terms of software and hardware.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ proves that beauty is more than skin deep. A hefty price tag, lack of some features we’ve come to expect and a few issues with its ease of use means it not quite perfect, though. But my is it pretty.