Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Night At The Museum - InformationWeek

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3/29/2015
12:06 PM
Thomas Claburn
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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Mogwaidtd
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Mogwaidtd,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2015 | 12:39:10 PM
Mis-info - user error
Your post's first quip, is a user error. If you double tap the home button from anywhere, even if the phone is off the camera fires up extremely quickly. Most other reviewers say faster than an iPhone 6. 
Mogwaidtd
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Mogwaidtd,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2015 | 12:44:16 PM
Bloatware
Not justifying the bloatware, but at least you can hide, disable, or delete them. There are a lot of useless Apps on my iPhone, and that list grows, and I have no choice only to fire up my phone and find new Apps installed on my iPhone all the time. But instead of being able to hide, disable, or delete, I have to maintain a folder called "useless crap" that I dump everything into. 

You fail to mention a few positives, the best looking screen on the market, blazing fast speends, NFC that works at many many many more locations than Apple Pay, and OIS that the i6 does not have. Not to mention a better battery, etc... if you ask me I'm moving from the i6 to the S6 (even maybe the gimmicky Edge - has slightly better battery and screen performance than the S6).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
jameswatson3
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jameswatson3,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2015 | 9:47:09 PM
Swiping camera icon?
I stopped reading when you compared how long it took to swipe open the camera app from the lock screen on the iphone and S6. You do realize no one would ever do this on an S6 right?

I doubt I'll be buying one but the simple S6 innovation of opening the camera app with a double-click of the home button has to have even Apple going, "Why didn't we think of that?" It is such obvious common sense for the most time-critical app on the device to have the quickest hot key.

You will see this feature on the iphone 6s or 7 without the slightest doubt.

 
jhumphries483
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jhumphries483,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2015 | 11:28:28 AM
Re: Swiping camera icon?
Me new to iphone and too was tryin to get rid of all these apps I dont use - now I get it create a junk folder and dump them all into it - nice thanks sir
anon5108489684
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anon5108489684,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/30/2015 | 3:09:37 AM
Camera
I think he forgot to mention the double tap home for the camera...
ANewNickname
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ANewNickname,
User Rank: Strategist
3/30/2015 | 12:19:47 PM
Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
I can't wait to get rid of my Galaxy S5. This thing is infested with a ton of stuff I don't want and can't get rid of without rooting, and Verizon has made rooting almost impossible, from what I hear. The S5 is noticeably slower since I bought it, and noticeably more loaded with this junk. I'm switching to an adult phone -- the iPhone, but am faced with the 6 vs 7 decision. Don't know if I can wait long enough to even see what the 7 will offer.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 10:31:14 AM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
Bloatware is a fact of life, the Apple 6+ comes with bloatware as well.  The only smartphone sans bloatware is a Nexus but I'm not sure how long this will last.
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 11:56:33 AM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
I'm not impressed with either the i6 or the S6. Is there anything comparable that might still have a removable battery or sd card slot, and wouldn't cost a month's salary?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 12:05:55 PM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
Sorry there are none unless you are interest in a WinPhone.  The best Android smartphone on the market with replaceable battery and SD card is the Note 4 except you'll need that check book.  Motorola may also have some choices in their older models with prices that won't break the bank but their specs fall short.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 1:17:00 PM
Re: Crapware/bloatware/ spam... whatever you call it, it's become a dealbreaker for me.
Note 4 huh?  I have been considering upgrading my Note 2 - how does the Note 4 compare size-wise?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 1:44:23 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.
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.
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
4/3/2015 | 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.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
3/30/2015 | 3:56:42 PM
Where's the specs?
Nice review but what about the specs -how much memory? is it expandable? To what size does it expand? Ports on the phone? Not info included in the review to be very practical. 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/30/2015 | 4:31:03 PM
Re: Where's the specs?
Eric Zeman wrote about the specs so I didn't. There's a link to on the first slide...
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
3/30/2015 | 6:08:32 PM
Boxing Day vs. unboxing day
I guess I thought Tom was a Francophile. Then on slide 2 he comes up with a pun on Dec. 26 in England, which of course is Boxing Day. Why do they call it that? It's the day you box up the gifts you don't want and send them back to the store.                  
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2015 | 12:24:02 PM
Features of slight
I've got a Note 4 which shares many functions and features with the S6.  The swipe for camera on the lock screen is exactly one inch.  Holding the phone in my right hand its a piece of cake to use my right thumb to open the camera function.

No getting away from bloat ware.  Apparently the author is okay with the bloat on Apple iPhones as he accepts them because they are from Apple?

Setting up my wife's iPhone 6, I dropped it on first touch taking it out of the box.  Luckily it was on a thick carpeted floor.  It's very slippery when dry.

I'm not happy with mini-USB connector for chargers but its not Android's or Samsung's fault.  I'd rather have a standard connector than a proprietary one every day of the week.

Low light pictures are a challenge for most smartphone except the Sony Z4 or HTC M9.

Personally I love both phones.  The iPhone 6's UI is easier to learn and use for my wife.  However once the Android UI is learned,  I prefer it.

 
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