- Gorgeous design
- Spectacular QHD display
- Exceptionally fast performance
- One of the best cameras on the market
- No water or dust resistance
- Battery life is average for this class
- Front-facing camera is too
- Curved screen has little practical value
The Galaxy S6 Edge takes everything great about the excellent Galaxy S6 and puts it in a more elegant package. If you have money to burn, it's the high-end Galaxy phone to get.
The Galaxy S6 Edge is Samsung’s stab at turning a Galaxy phone into a luxury item. It shares the same top-of-the-line specs and build materials as the standard Galaxy S6, but bends that flagship by gently rounding out the sides of its display. It may not sound like much, but it’s a change that undisputedly makes the S6 Edge the fresher and more charismatic of the pair—impressive, considering how great the Galaxy S6 already looks and feels. At the same time, its curves don’t add any significant functionality to the regular Galaxy S6, even though it costs $100 extra.
So is the more striking build worth the higher premium? Let’s take a closer look. We’ll note that many of our thoughts on this device can be found in our Galaxy S6 assessment—since the two phones are so similar, we won’t repeat ourselves too often. For now, though, here’s our take on the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is available on the five major carriers for $300 with a two-year contract or $700-815 unsubsidized.
Build and Design
Although the Galaxy S6 Edge bears a different shape than the Galaxy S6—at least on the front—its dimensions are almost identical. It’s only 0.2 millimeters thicker (7.0mm compared to 6.8 mm) and it weighs 6 grams lighter (132 g compared to 138 g). Neither of those differences can really be perceived when you hold both phones in your hand, but that’s not much of an issue, since you get a comfortably compact phone either way.
Like its flatter sibling, the Galaxy S6 Edge features a coat of Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and back, with a metal trim around the edges. Since it offers the same rear design as the Galaxy S6, it mostly evokes the same feelings of solidity and chilliness. It’s a highly pleasant device to hold. It’s also one of the first Galaxy devices to genuinely feel worthy of being called “high-end.”
The curved edges only magnify that feeling. It‘s hard not to be impressed with the simple engineering of the Galaxy S6 Edge at first glance—as was the case with the G Flex 2, bending the display without making the phone feel any more unwieldy makes the S6 Edge feel more like something from the future. Smartphones can often feel boring in their homogeny, but little flourishes like this bring back that sense of awe that’s unique to good tech. Even if it’s not particularly useful, it’s something weird, and that’s appreciated.
The important thing to point out that the rounded parts of the screen don’t actually reach the very edges of the phone, meaning that the device still has metal rims on both sides. It’s a less dramatic effect than the bend on the Galaxy Note Edge, and it’s more manageable as a result. The left side holds the volume rocker, and the right side holds the power key, per usual. The upper and lower edges are slightly raised above to the screen, providing a modicum of protection from possible scratches when the phone is placed face down.
The upper side also includes an IR transmitter, the secondary microphone and a nano-SIM card slot (which the regular Galaxy S6 has on the right side). The lower side looks a great deal like that of the iPhone 6—again, just like Galaxy S6—and includes a 3.5-mm audio jack, microUSB hub and dotted speaker perforations. The lens of the 16-megapixel camera on the back is raised compared to the flat surface of the back cover, meaning you’ll never be able to really lay the phone down completely straight. The LED flash and heart sensor are located next to the camera.
The Galaxy S6 Edge’s body cannot be opened, again like the regular model, which means the battery cannot be replaced. Similarly, there are no microSD card slots. Both of these omissions are unfortunate, but they aren’t all that devastating when it comes to actually using the device. We’ll be optimistic and suggest that all of this points towards less cumbersome solutions for increasing battery life and storage capacity in the future, but power users will likely be disappointed with where things stand now. What’s less digestible is the phone’s newfound lack of water- and dust-proofing; that was one of the saving graces of the Galaxy S5’s design, and losing it here makes the phone more vulnerable to ordinary accidents than it should be.
Aside from it being curved, the Galaxy S6 Edge’s display is identical to that of the Galaxy S6, meaning it’s fantastic on all accounts. The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display carries a QHD resolution (1440 x 2560 pixels), which results in an exceptional pixel density of 577 ppi. That’s way more than what’s technically necessary from a screen this size, but it makes the screen supremely and consistently sharp either way. Beyond that, the panel brings superb contrast and wonderfully vivacious colors. They come slightly oversaturated by default, but if their boldness becomes too bothersome, you can set them to be less intense. All the other praise we’ve heaped on the Galaxy S6’s display applies here as well.
The modified shape of the panel does have some effect when you’re actually looking at it, but it isn’t drastic. Only a handful of pixels are actually bent, so only a partial amount of games, websites, photos, keyboards, and other onscreen objects are sloped at an angle. (There isn’t any separate toolbar-like row of apps off to the side by default, as was the case with the Note Edge.) It doesn’t seem natural at first, but it’s far from a shortcoming—again, the curves aren’t overwhelming in the slightest, so nothing feels like it’s being warped when it spills over to the sides of the screen. It’s easy to get used to.