Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum - InformationWeek
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3/29/2015
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Thomas Claburn
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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum

We took our review model for a whirl at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It's a great mobile phone, weighed down by unwanted apps.
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(Image: Thomas Claburn)

(Image: Thomas Claburn)

Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge is a lovely, powerful smartphone. Sweetened with Android 5.0 Lollipop, it's a pleasure to use.

Samsung sent me a review model and I took the device with me for a test drive to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on March 26 to try out the camera, one of the major selling points for the S6 line.

After I return my reviewer's version of the Galaxy S6 Edge, I may just buy one for Android mobile app development, once it becomes available in the US on April 10. (For more about the technical specifications, see Eric Zeman's review.)

If I do end up buying an S6 Edge, I doubt that I'll employ it as my primary phone, however. I've been using an Apple iPhone 6 for the past few months and have been happy with it. The Galaxy S6 Edge is certainly comparable to the iPhone 6, but I don't see a compelling reason to switch.

I've only had a day to play around with it, so what follows is my initial impression. I consider myself a user of both iOS and Android, for those who accept such heresy.

The Galaxy S6 Edge is beautifully crafted and comes in a variety of colors. Its curved screen makes it appear as if it offers more physical screen space than the iPhone 6. But in practice, only the flat portion of the screen is usable for touch interaction, making the input area essentially the same. Still, the curve creates a pleasant sense of depth.

Aesthetics have to be accompanied by usability and there I find the Galaxy S6 Edge falls short. These are minor quibbles, because only small differences set the S6 Edge and the iPhone 6 apart.

I found the swipe required to access the camera from the lock screen to be easier on the iPhone 6 than on the S6 Edge. On the iPhone, your thumb doesn't have to travel very far to access the camera; on the S6 Edge, your thumb has to travel further, requiring more deliberate effort to traverse the required swipe distance. It's not exactly a hardship, but UI refinements are measured in millimeters.

Also, the amount of time it takes the screen to return to sleep mode after pressing the Home button – 6 seconds for the S6 compared to 9 seconds for the iPhone 6 – is just a bit too short. I often found the S6 dropping back into sleep mode before I had the opportunity to interact.

My biggest complaint is that there's too much software on the S6 that I didn't ask for. When I swipe left from the home screen, there's an ad for T-Mobile TV and the ABC show Once Upon A Time. Not wanted. Swipe left again and there's Flipboard. The Facebook app, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp have all been pre-loaded, as have Microsoft OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype. Lookout's security app also comes pre-installed. After tapping on one of its notifications, I was presented with a screen to sign up for the company's paid subscription service.

If I want your software, I'll download it. I'm willing to accept Google's default apps because of its role in Android, and Samsung's apps because Samsung made the phone. Apps from other companies shouldn't be there.

Aside from my visceral dislike of uninvited marketing, I enjoyed my time with the S6 Edge.

On the following pages, you'll see unboxing photos taken with my iPhone 6. The remainder were taken with the S6 Edge. Though I did include one scene taken by both devices, this isn't meant to be a photographic quality comparison – these images were not taken under controlled conditions or with consistent settings. And they've been resized by our content management system, which alters image quality.

That said, I present to you Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge and a night at the museum.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2015 | 11:40:36 AM
Re: Bloatware
The solid state memory and lack of cards in the latest smartphones will certainly increase battery life. There are some companies who are now offering cases with additional batteries in them so you can really have extended use time.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
4/21/2015 | 1:58:23 AM
Re: Bloatware
@Li Tan: you are absolutely right, I think the problem is every smartphone except iPhone and few others are using android. To make their product unique these companies have to come up with their own customized OS with unique set of features and apps. Some of them get user attention but most of them remain unwanted which eventually becomes annoying for the user.  If removing these bloatware are not in the plan for these companies than there should be an option for the user to remove them personally.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
4/21/2015 | 1:52:04 AM
Re: Bloatware
@LinenSilkJute: I think in such contracts the phone company can offer a free phone on the subscription of a specific contract but they would charge extra if user wants to make some upgrades to their devices or will have to extend the contract. This if the benefit of customizable device that user would not have to wait to the end of his contract in order to upgrade the phone.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
4/17/2015 | 2:56:54 PM
Re: Bloatware
The unwanted software is a problem for smartphone but right now it's hard to solve it completely - you have to customize your smartphone in case you do not want some of the software.
LinenSilkJute
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LinenSilkJute,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/14/2015 | 12:09:08 PM
Re: Bloatware
@monii but it is. phones arent yet throw away items and especially in the uk where the cost of the phone forms part of your 2 year contract so you need to know that you can replace and expand well into 2 years of use.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
4/14/2015 | 2:41:45 AM
Re: Bloatware
@tjgkg: I am not sure if irreplaceable batteries or memory extension is really the future of the smartphones or at least for now. At one side companies are making these batteries etc. irreplaceable and on the other side Google has launched project ERA to make a customizable phone. If they become successful with their idea, I think we will be able to replace not only batteries or memory but everything in a smartphone.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
4/14/2015 | 2:13:10 AM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
@progman2000: as suggested by DDURBIN1 that first you have to be comfortable with the size of the phone. In your case as you have been using Note 2 for quite some time it seems that you have adjusted yourself with the dimensions. Note 4 is negligibly large so I don't think this will much be a problem for you.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2015 | 5:16:59 PM
Re: Bloatware
Well said. Android is just as good an operating system. The new Galaxy looks good and i guess we are coming to the time where there will be no replaceable batteries and expansion slots for cards. Maybe that improves performance and battery life but for my money you cannot go wrong with a Galaxy. Apple is a good phone but better hype.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/3/2015 | 5:13:41 AM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
The iPhone comes loaded with bloatware as well. And to call it an "adult phone" is condescending and incorrect. An adult would figure out that unwanted apps can be hidden and unused on Android. Whilst on iOS you have to put them in a folder. Both phones are top class and pretty much equal in all aspects. It is a matter of personal preference. If you are that unhappy you should get the iPhone immediately and not be concerned about the difference between 6 and 7 because you will not appreciate them.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 1:44:24 PM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
@progman200, When the note 2 came out I said "who'd want such a huge phone".  I predicted it to fail in the market as it being to cumbersome for a phone.  Well was I wrong or what?  What changed me?  I started watching lots of stuff on my phone (a Nexus) since I had no tablet as I started using the Xfinity TV Go and other mobile video apps.  With the Note 4 you kind of don't need a tablet and its easier to carry than a tablet.  Add to this my aging eye sight where I now require reading glasses. Be prepared to be overwhelmed with size though.  The Nexus 6 is even bigger.  Both are on the border line of being that "too cumbersome" for phone usage.
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