Written in accordance with our Reddit-inspired review policy.
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 line of phones has been ridiculously popular this year, with many people opting for the regular S6 over the Edge or the latecomer, the Edge Plus. But we love a phablet, so we wanted to take the biggest, highest-spec S6 for a test drive. Is the priciest phone in the S6 universe worth its money? Is that curvy screen actually useful for anything? Here’s our Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus review.
1. The handset
- 154mm x 76mm x 6.9mm
- Gold Platinum, Titanium Silver, Sapphire Black, White Pearl
This is one of the most beautiful phones Samsung has ever made. Considering just two years ago, they were putting out plasticky, pockmarked phones like the S5, this is a quantum leap forwards.
A lot of the beauty of this handset comes from the screen, which we’ll come to shortly – but even in black, the handset manages to be considerably better looking than most of its rivals. It’s pleasantly cool and smooth in the hand, and the Sapphire Black colourway has an oil-like duochrome sheen that photos can’t do justice to.
While it’s obviously a pretty big phone (they don’t call it the Plus for nothing), it’s surprisingly slim and light. In fact, without a case, this is a real slip of a phone – in both senses. It can be pretty hard to keep hold of at times, but we’ve found the official Samsung case (yes, the obnoxiously sparkly one) helps.
The power button is on the right edge, although its functionality overlaps somewhat with the large home key at the bottom. Either can be used to turn the screen on, but the home key houses the fingerprint sensor, so you’ll need that if you use prints to lock your phone. The home key is a proper physical button that presses all the way in, and you can double-tap it to start the camera in well under a second, which I now can’t live without.
The two volume keys sit on the left edge, which means you don’t mix them up with the power button (unlike on some phones), and screenshots are taken with a combo of the home and power keys rather than involving volume. The sim tray (nano, single sim, no microSD) is on the top edge, with the headphone port and USB micro-B charging port on the bottom edge – this phone doesn’t have the new USB C connector found on competitors like the OnePlus Two and Nexus 6P.
2. The speakers
The S6 Edge+ only has one speaker, sited on the bottom edge much like the HTC One A9.
Despite being on its lonesome, the speaker puts out loud, clear sound with good bass. It doesn’t sound thin or tinny, though quality can vary depending on what surface the phone is on and whether the bottom end is touching something. Sometimes we found sound got noticeably worse if we had our hands near the bottom of the back panel.
Overall, though, this is plenty good enough.
3. That. Screen.
- Quad HD (2560 x 1440, 518 pixels per inch)
- Dual-curved Super AMOLED
- Gorilla Glass 4
The display is the big selling point of this handset, and oh boy is it a beauty. I am obsessed with it. Switching back to this phone from any other always causes a few seconds’ pause while I’m reminded just how breathtaking this display is. The double curve, the brightness, the depth of colour, the clarity – this is hands-down the best screen I’ve ever seen on a phone, including Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium 4K one. Technically Sony’s packs more pixels, but this manages a level of beauty that’s hard to beat.
As with the original Edge, the curved edges of the phone lend a vignette effect to videos and photos, and just generally everything looks better on this handset. You can view the screen at any angle without noticeable darkening, and the watery default background moves to adjust as you do, which is a nice touch.
The screen is coated with Gorilla Glass 4 (as is the back), which means it should be extra-resilient to cracks and scratches – but I managed to put a pretty big scratch in mine within a few days of having it, and I don’t even know how. So bear in mind that it’s not foolproof, and though Samsung say the screen’s tough as nails, that curve is inevitably going to make it weaker in drops. Get a good case, buy insurance and treat it like your baby – you wouldn’t want anything to sully that stunning display.
If you have a mobile VR headset like the Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard, this is the best phone to use it with. It looks amazing. And looking amazing is the entire point of this display. People constantly ask why the Edge and Edge Plus have a curved screen – “what’s it for? What does it do?”
IT LOOKS GOOD. That is it.
This is not a bad thing. Apple constantly make products with features that are purely aesthetic. Yes, there are a few features that use the curve but if we’re being honest, they’re pretty pointless. It’s there to look awesome, and it absolutely nails that.
4. The hardware
- Exynos 7420 octa-core processor (4x 1.5 Ghz and 4x 2.1 GHz)
- 4GB RAM
As you’d expect from those specs, hardware performance on this device is superb. I’ve experienced next to no lags, no crashes, and no frustrations. App switching is butter-smooth, intensive games and applications are no problem, and everything runs exactly as it should. I’ve noticed the handset getting a little bit warm a couple of times, but not to any great degree. This is how a flagship phone should perform.
5. The software
- Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Samsung come in for a lot of criticism when it comes to software. This is because handsets prior to the S5 came crammed with bloatware and pointless features, with unhelpful tweaks and ugly design changes that aimed to make Android more “Samsung” and only succeeded in making everyone buy Motorolas. Thankfully, they’ve learnt their lesson and more recent phones – including this one – are much, much better.
Unfortunately, the stigma remains. Samsung’s version of Android is known as TouchWiz, a terrible name which, when uttered in front of tech fans, will elicit a reaction similar to saying “tofu” in McDonald’s. But realistically, TouchWiz barely exists anymore. Yes, you still get bloatware (most noticeably the ‘Galaxy Gifts’ package that app creators fall over themselves to be included in, even though no one uses it) but it’s almost all removable, and the UI changes to Android are honestly really subtle and not negative.
Try telling this to anyone who had an S4, though, and you’ll get precisely nowhere. I argued with someone this week who claimed “Samsungs are gummed up with awful software” and, when pressed, couldn’t come up with anything better than “it’s slightly more colourful than stock.”
Well yes. It is.
Big, hairy deal.
What might be a bigger deal to you is the availability of Android updates. At the time of writing, the S6 Edge Plus is still on Lollipop with no word on a Marshmallow update. Google’s Nexus phones get new versions of Android first (Marshmallow came out in October), and everyone else has to cross their fingers. The bigger manufacturers generally get updates quicker than the more obscure ones, but if waiting months for the newest version is going to drive you mad, you might prefer the Nexus 6P.
6. The storage
- 32GB or 64GB storage
- No MicroSD slot
The S6 and S6 Edge come in three sizes: 32, 64 and 128GB, but the S6 Edge Plus doesn’t have the largest version. It did briefly appear on the Samsung site before the phone launched, but subsequently disappeared, never to return. It’s not clear whether that was just a mistake, or a 128GB version was planned and then pulled.
Still, 32 and 64 are both good options (thanks for not pulling an Apple and starting at 16GB with no expandable storage, Samsung) and, as ever, we’d recommend you get the higher one if you can afford it, since there’s no microSD slot to add more storage later. That’s disappointing, but not surprising – lots of manufacturers are going the same way.
7. The selfie camera
- 1440p video recording (WQHD)
The front-facing camera on this phone is excellent, and it’s our first choice for super-important selfies (of which we take many, obviously). But don’t just take our word for it.
When we needed to upload a photo to the US Embassy website for a visa, we submitted 8 different selfies taken on the Nexus 6P. The website’s automatic controls (robots, we hope) rejected every single one for “poor illumination.” Then we took one selfie in the same room under the same light on the S6 Edge Plus, and the website accepted it instantly.
That’s right, the 6P got zinged by a robot. Score one, Edge Plus.
Beauty Mode can be a bit over-smoothing on this phone, but it was nice to see it again after missing it on the Nexus 6P. Honest selfies can be too honest sometimes!
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus selfie camera samples:
8. The main camera
- 16 MP
- f/1.9, OIS, LED flash
- 4K video recording
The camera on this phone is phenomenal. The lens covers a wider area than most phones, which means you see more of the scene, and colour reproduction, clarity and light are all excellent. Photos taken on this phone look amazing on the screen, but don’t disappoint you when you transfer them to a PC or view them close-up. The samples speak for themselves.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus camera samples:
9. Battery life
- Fast charging
- Wireless charging
This is the sad part. Battery life on this phone is not what it should be. Granted, the battery has that giant, bright, beautiful screen to power, but it should still do better than this.
Using this as my main handset, it rarely lasted into the evening. However, the bright side is that it charges up again very quickly. The included cable offers fast charging that powers up the phone from empty to full in 90 minutes and the built-in wireless charging means it’s easy to set it down on a power mat while you’re at home or work and keep it juiced up. Wireless charging takes a little longer, though: about two hours for a full charge.
The S6 Edge+ supports two wireless charging standards: Qi and PMA, which means you’ve got a huge range of wireless charging accessories to choose from. I rather like the Ikea charging furniture range, which is compatible.
An hour’s screen-on time at max brightness will cost you 20% of your charge – the same as the considerably cheaper OnePlus Two. The Nexus 6P, which has the same-sized screen, only lost 12% charge in the same test.
It’s not a disaster, but it is the main downside to this phone. It just doesn’t have the stamina of some of its competitors. It’s been a common complaint with the S6 line, and Samsung seem to realise that, because they’ve made a range of matching power packs.
10. UK price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus is available now directly from Samsung for £629 for the 32GB and £719 for the 64GB. It’s also available from Carphone Warehouse, Amazon UK, EE, O2, Vodafone, GiffGaff and others.
This is a truly amazing phone, and easily our favourite Samsung ever. It’ll be a hard act to top when we see the next set of Galaxy phones in February, but we’d like to see some battery life improvements on its successors.
Almost everything about this phone is amazing. The design, the cameras, the screen, the screen, the screen. Hardware is great, software is good (though we’d have liked Marshmallow by now), and despite what everyone says about Touchwiz, the experience is top-notch.
The only downside is the battery, and even that’s not too bad. In short, we love this phone. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you spring for it – just be sure to get a case and insurance. That screen is too beautiful to break.
TL,DR: our conclusion in emojis