Samsung's best phones

Samsung Galaxy S6

To say that Samsung's new Galaxy S6 smartphone is its best phone ever is not to slight the previous five versions, but to recognise that after so many attempts, Samsung has finally figured out what is important to consumers.

There was never any doubt that the company could make great phones, as evidenced by its highly successful Galaxy line of devices. But over the years, some thought that Samsung never really did its best.

For example, there was its famous insistence on using plastic for the rear cover, a major bugbear. Then there was its over-reliance on the TouchWiz user interface and indulgent addition of phone and camera features that not many consumers found useful.

All these are now gone, replaced with far superior components and a streamlined user interface, in a major design overhaul.

Instead of plastic, the S6 uses an aluminium unibody frame around the 5.1-inch screen, and Gorilla Glass 4 panels on the front and the back.

The presence of glass reflects light off the metal frame. The shimmering white, black, gold and blue add a glossy sheen to the device.

Naturally, the gold version looks great, but I am a bigger fan of the blue, which will only be available here later on.

The phone is filled with small useful touches. Instead of fully rounded sides, there is a thin flat surface that covers a portion of the sides, making it easier to grip.

The volume buttons on the left side, and power button on the right, are tiny slivers of metal that are easily pressed when needed, and do not jut out conspicuously.

The 3.5mm jack, USB charging port and lone speaker at the base of the device sit just under the Home button, below the display.

The fingerprint sensor on the Home button has been upgraded. Instead of a swipe, users need only put a finger on the button to trigger the biometrics.

Of course, hardware sacrifices had to be made to accommodate the new design. The biggest is the use of a fixed battery, for which some users have blasted Samsung.

Remember when all laptops had removable batteries? The easy availability of battery packs now allows users to have slimmer, more portable devices, without having to worry about battery life.

To compensate for the removal of the microSD card slot, Samsung has bumped up the internal memory, so that even the basic unit offers 32GB of memory, instead of 16GB as in other flagship phones.

Waterproofing, which the S5 offers, has been sacrificed in the S6. But given Samsung's penchant for variants, a Galaxy S6 Active with waterproofing is likely on the way.

Still, if some of what I describe is reminiscent of Apple's iPhone 6, it is because there are similarities. But there are also enough differences that make the S6 stand on its own.

For one thing, it offers built-in wireless charging on both PMA and Qi standards, so users who have invested in wireless charging set-ups can use their existing charging cradles with the S6.


Samsung has stripped away much of its TouchWiz UI, but did not remove it completely.

As a result of a new tie-up with Microsoft, the software giant's OneDrive and OneNote apps are pre-installed in the S6. But Samsung apps such as Kindle and Galaxy Life, as well as camera features such as Dual Camera and Beauty Face, do not come pre-loaded on the S6.

Samsung has also heeded the cries from consumers and removed some lesser-used menu options from the phone. To be honest, I cannot tell you what they are, because I do not miss them at all.

The only one I do miss is the option to categorise my app drawer alphabetically. This, sadly, has gone. As I have eight pages of apps on my previous Android device, I really need an option to keep them sorted.


Known for using a mix of its own Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon chips for flagship phones, Samsung has decided to use only its Exynos quad-core chips in the S6.

This is an interesting choice for two reasons. First, Samsung made chips for earlier iPhone models, so why did it never use its own processors exclusively before?

The other is that the 64-bit architecture for Android is new, so until developers create apps to make use of this architecture, there is no way to compare the performance of the Samsung and Qualcomm chips.

For that, we will have to wait until later in the year.


If you have never appreciated the sharp, vibrant colours of Samsung's Amoled screens, the one on the S6 will change your mind.

The S6 is the second Samsung device to use a QHD display. The screen size - smaller than the Galaxy Note 4's - means the S6 has a higher pixel per inch density, so everything looks much sharper.

There is no describing the clarity of reading text off the display, or watching videos and viewing images on the screen. Yes, some colours are dialled up artificially, but the overall effect is a pleasant one that does wonders for most of the content you will view on the device


If I were to credit Samsung for only one thing on the S6 though, that would be its amazing camera.

I have gone on record stating that the 16MP camera on the Note 4 trumps that of the iPhone 6 Plus, and have been met with some disbelief. But the S6 has removed all doubt.

Samsung has taken the already impressive camera of the Note 4 and added enough performance tweaks so that it beats any other smartphone's camera.

Users can activate the camera at any time by pressing the home button twice in quick succession. This minimises missed shots which may happen if one has spend time turning on the camera.

Colours are sharp, with a greater emphasis on details. The use of the f1.9 aperture also produces brighter images in low light conditions, with less grain in the overall image.

And even if you insist that the iPhone 6 Plus does better at colour reproduction, you cannot deny that added details from the S6's 16MP lens easily beat what the 8MP lens of the iPhone 6 Plus can deliver.


These days, a 2,550mAh battery is insufficient for any phone, especially one with a power-hungry QHD display.

On top of improving battery consumption with hardware and software tweaks, Samsung's implementation of its power-saving and ultra power-saving mode, which prioritises battery life over CPU performance and display colours, is a boon to users who want to remain contactable.

It has also added a quick-charge feature that works with the provided charger. In just 10 minutes, a quick charge can pump in enough juice to keep the S6 going for four hours.

In reality, the device charges faster when it is almost depleted. Once it gets half full, it takes a longer time to fill the remaining 50 per cent.

With 10 per cent of power remaining, a 10-minute charge brought it up to 26 per cent. That might translate to four hours for a casual user. However, with social networks, e-mail and calls running, two hours of use is a safer estimate.

Samsung's Galaxy S6 is elegant on the outside, powerful on the inside, and most definitely the best Android phone available in the market right now.

(32GB) $998, (64GB) $1,148 and (128GB) $1,288
Processor: Samsung Exynos 7 64-Bit Octa Core Processor (2.1GHz Quad Core + 1.5GHz Quad Core)
Display: 5.1-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) Super Amoled, 577ppi
Operating System: Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop)
Camera: (Rear) 16MP with f1.9, Smart OIS, Auto HDR and LED Flash, (Front) 5MP with f1.9 and Auto HDR
Memory: 32/64/128GB, 3GB RAM
Battery: 2,550mAh (Fixed)

Features 5/5
Performance 5/5
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 4/5

Overall 5/5

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

So what is the difference between the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 edge variant with the world's first dual-edge display?

How about between $150 and $170, depending on the storage option picked?

I am not trying to be facetious here, but curved screen devices such as the LG G Flex 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Edge have yet to make a difference to the way people use their smartphones. From the looks of things, the S6 edge is not going to change that anytime soon.

The S6 edge is the best looking phone in the market. Even without any life-altering features, it is worth the price of admission.

Its curves accentuate the overall design, putting its carefully crafted Galaxy S6 cousin in the shade.

The dual-edge display means that the left and right edges of the screen curve towards the rear of the phone. The earlier Note Edge curved only on the right side.

A dual-edge display makes the device symmetrical, and easier to hold in your hands. Your fingers now naturally follow the curve of the Galaxy S6 edge display as you hold it.

Everything else about these two devices is identical, from their aluminium unibody frames and Gorilla Glass 4 panels, to the biometric sensor and metal buttons.

Aside from black, white and gold, the Galaxy S6 edge also comes in green. But this model will only be available later on.

One visual difference is with the way you read off the screen. As we normally read from left to right, users will notice a slight curvature in any text starting too close to the left rim of the screen.

Add to this the reflection of the curved metal frame above and below the screen, and it makes you want to turn the phone slightly, or move the position of the on-screen text, to compensate for the curve.

The same goes for photos, as the curve delivers an illusion of distortion where none exists. This takes some getting used to.

Like the Note 4, the S6 edge has an information display that can be activated when the phone is on standby, to show details such as time, weather, and battery capacity. Missed calls, SMS messages and e-mail notifications can be added.

Users can also choose to have this information bar appear on the right or left edge.

Colour-coded caller ID, tagged to five favourite contacts, is a useful addition. Each of the five can be assigned a colour so that calls from the famous five will cause the edge to flash in the appropriate colour.

When in a meeting, you can put the phone face downwards and still see the colourful notifications, but without distracting all and sundry with a flashing screen.

But almost every other curved screen feature that was introduced on the Note 4 Edge has disappeared.

Incoming calls now appear in a pop-up window on the main screen, not the edge screen.

In camera mode, controls no longer appear on the edge, but clutter up the main window as usual.

In fact, there is no longer any distinct separate edge screen on the main window, so users cannot swipe the edge screen to bring up another set of touchscreen menus.

While I did use several of the Note 4's curved screen features, their removal from the S6 edge barely matters. Splitting the smaller 5.1-inch screen here into a main and edge screen makes little sense.

Does this make the S6 edge less desirable than the S6? Actually, the reverse is true.

The reduction of features fits in with Samsung's goals of stripping things down to the essentials. Minus the old frills, the S6 edge is a prettier version of an already impressive phone.

Even with reduced features for its curved screen, the Galaxy S6 still packs in enough to satisfy all users.

(32GB) $1,168, (64GB) $1,298 and (128GB) $1,448
Processor: Samsung Exynos 7 64-Bit Octa Core Processor (2.1GHz Quad Core + 1.5GHz Quad Core)
Display: 5.1-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) Super Amoled, 577ppi with Dual Edge Display
Operating System: Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop)
Camera: (Rear) 16MP with f1.9, Smart OIS, Auto HDR and LED Flash, (Front) 5MP with f1.9 and Auto HDR
Memory: 32/64/128GB, 3GB RAM
Battery: 2,600mAh (Fixed)

Features 5/5
Performance 5/5
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 4/5

Overall 5/5

This article was first published on April 15, 2015.
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