Before this week’s Mobile World Congress 2015 (MWC) in Barcelona, Samsung had its back against the wall. The company reported slumping sales of its flagship smartphone , and many believed its dominance in the smartphone world was coming to an end. But after Samsung’s latest smartphone release it’s clear that there are plenty of innovative ideas coming from the company.
Samsung launched two versions of its new flagship smartphone at Mobile World Congress: The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. The Galaxy S6 Edge has most of the same hardware as its “normal” Galaxy S6 counterpart, but the subtle difference is that on the Edge, both edges of the screen are curved. The result is the only Android phone that can go toe to toe with Apple on almost everything–including design.
The Galaxy S6 Edge isn’t the first curved screen that Samsung released. In November 2014, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note Edge phablet, which had the same slope feature, but only on one side of the phone. The Galaxy Note Edge was also noticeably bigger than the Galaxy S6 Edge (5.6 inches and 5.1 inches respectively), and generally speaking, it just didn’t look as good. Although the Galaxy Note Edge felt a lot like a gimmick, Samsung appears to have refined the idea for its flagship product.
It’s hard to believe that the Galaxy S6 Edge is in the same family as its predecessors, the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5, because they look so different. The Galaxy S6 Edge is constructed of much higher quality materials than earlier iterations of the Galaxy smartphones. The Galaxy S6 Edge uses Gorilla Glass 4 in addition to a metal frame (similar to the Galaxy Note 4) and a glass back. The result is a smartphone that glimmers (and smudges) much more than previous iterations. But, at least Samsung will no longer be the only phone maker with a plastic flagship product.
Underneath is an abundance of top-of-the-line hardware. One of the most impressive features of the Galaxy S6 Edge is its ability to charge up to 4 hours of use time in just 10 minutes. The device has a sealed back, which is a problem for some people, but we don’t think the decision will affect most users. In addition to the quick charging time, the Galaxy S6 Edge will ship with Samsung Pay– the company’s answer to Apple Pay. It has the same NFC technology that drives Apple Pay, but Samsung claims this will work on standard magnetic strips as well. Samsung Pay does not require any extra hardware and the company claims that more than 90 percent of U.S. retailers will be able to accept the new form of payment.
On the software side of things, Samsung is still using its custom version of Android, called TouchWiz, which many die-hard Android fans hate. To Samsung’s credit, they’ve simplified most of the menu screen in TouchWiz and even implemented many of the design principles featured in Android 5.0 Lollipop, such as material design, which makes the device feel more high-end and modern. New Android users will find it much easier to navigate the endless setting screens that have polluted Samsung’s smartphone navigation for so long.
After a short period testing the device, we feel safe in saying the Galaxy S6 Edge has earned our respect. It’s a beautiful looking device and includes some of the most powerful hardware available right now. Although we can’t firmly recommend it without spending a much longer time with the device, our first impression is that the Galaxy S6 Edge is the Android phone to beat.
- Android™ 5.0.2 (Lollipop) with TouchWiz
- Display: 5.1-inch QHD (2560×1440) 577ppi Super AMOLED with dual curved edges
- Octa-core 4×2.1GHz + 4×1.5GHz 64-bit 14nm Samsung Exynos processor
- 4 x 2GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz
- Storage: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
- RAM: 3GB LPDDR4
- Expandable: microSD™ expansion supports additional memory cards up to 128GB
- Battery :2600mAh (non-removable)
- 16MP, OIS, ƒ/1.9, auto real-time HDR, low-light video, high clear zoom, IR detect white balance, virtual shot, slow motion, fast motion, pro mode, selective focus
- 5MP, ƒ/1.9, auto real-time HDR, low-light video
- Ambient light
- Heart rate monitor
Popular Science is at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona finding the most exciting advancements in on-the-go technology. For more, see our complete MWC 2015 coverage.