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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.



(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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