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Hands on with the new Samsung Galaxy S6, GS6 edge

Al Sacco | March 3, 2015
Today, Samsung officially announced its two latest smartphones, the Galaxy S6 (GS6) and Galaxy S6 edge, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. I couldn't make the trip to Spain for the company's big fête, but I did meet with Samsung last week in New York City, where it detailed both new devices and gave me hands-on time with them.

Samsung says it put a lot of effort into improving the cameras on the Galaxy S 6 phones. They both have 16MP (f1.9) rear cameras, with "smart" optical image stabilization (OIS) and auto real-time HDR, which apparently helps you take better selfies, if that's your thing. The Galaxy S5 also has a 16MP camera, but Samsung says the cameras on the GS6s are much better at capturing quality images in low-light environments. I didn't get to test camera quality, so I can't confirm that. I did try out a new feature that lets you quickly tap the home button when the device is asleep to open the camera function in less than one second, and it works well.

The Galaxy S 6 displays are gorgeous, as expected — Samsung is using some of the highest quality displays on the market in its smartphones and tablets these days. Both devices have 5.1" quad HD 2560 x 1440 Super AMOLED displays, at 577 pixels per inch (ppi). For context, the Galaxy S5 has the same size display at 432 ppi, which means the GS6 phones have 33 percent more pixels per inch. The displays are crisp and bright, and they're one of the best GS6 features.

The Galaxy S 6 edge is unique because it has not just one curved edge, like its big brother the Galaxy Note Edge, but two curved edges, one on each side. The curves make the device look particularly sleek, and "fluid," but they also make it feel kind of slippery in your hand — though a case with some grip could resolve that issue.

The GS6 has a 2,550mAh battery, while the GS6 edge packs a slightly larger 2,600mAh battery, both of which are smaller than the 2,800mAh battery in the GS5. I wasn't able to test battery life in the limited time I spent with the phones, but Samsung says a more efficient processor and a number of software enhancements make up for the lost battery capacity.

A "fast charging" feature means you can power up a dead device to full capacity in about an hour, using the power cord that comes with the GS6 devices, according to Samsung. And both GS6s have built-in support for the WPC and PMA wireless charging standards, so you don't need any sort of accessories or case to enable wireless charging. However, it takes significantly longer to charge the devices wirelessly; a dead GS6 will fully charge in about two-and-half hours, using wireless charging, according to Samsung.

About that processor ... the GS6 devices use "the world's first 14nm Samsung processor," according to the company. The processor differs based on the market it's sold in, but the LTE version for the United States is a 64-bit, 2.3 GHz quad-core processor. I rapidly opened a handful of apps and switched back and forth using the Android app switcher, with no lag at all. Both devices also have 3GB of RAM (LPDDR4).

 

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