The Galaxy Note series is no longer the face of Samsung’s phablets. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is. And depending on where you stand in terms of design, the phone’s two curved screen edges are either cool in your book or totally lame and not worth the $100 premium over the Galaxy Note 5’s flat screen.
There is no doubt in my mind the S6 Edge+, which sells for around $800, exists only to throw down with the iPhone 6 Plus, the most powerful phone Apple’s ever created.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is essentially a larger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge. The S6 Edge+ was designed to beat the iPhone 6 Plus into the ground with better and faster specs, and a design that dazzles and surprises.
It’s the right strategy. When any company, big and small, wants to make a premium phablet worthy of your hard-earned money, it has to innovate in a way others can’t. Samsung seems to have settled on curved screen edges as its show-stopping feature.
If you’re the getting-work-done type, the S6 Edge+ is not for you — the Galaxy Note 5, with its S Pen stylus, is the phone you want. Samsung says the S6 Edge+ is designed more for people who like to watch videos, but I disagree; I say it’s designed for the fashion-conscious and types of people who are tired of being a drone and having a phone that looks like every other phone.
The flashiest phablet ever
The S6 Edge+’s thin metal frame and glass back are still as futuristic-looking and premium-feeling as its little brother’s. Compared to the iPhone 6 Plus, the phone’s got a bigger screen, but it’s shorter and not as narrow, which I loved because it’s easier to pocket and use with one hand.
Samsung’s industrial design has come a long way since the original Galaxy Note days. It’s hard to see how Samsung can make a prettier phone next year that’s not just thinner and lighter. The only design peeve I have with S6 Edge+ is how glossy the glass back is — it attracts skin oils, smudges and fingerprints like crazy and can make the phone look real grimy.
The 5.7-inch display with 2,560 x 1,440 (Quad HD) resolution is beyond stunning. It’s one of the best phone displays I’ve ever seen. It’s bright and colors look amazing… but those two curves come with downsides.
The curves are great conversation starters on the subway and in cafés, but they distort the content on the screen too much. Text appears warped on the edges, fullscreen videos roll off the top and bottom and on light-colored backgrounds, and the entire screen looks like it’s bending into itself. The curved edges also make reflections even more noticeable.
Power, power and more power
As detailed in my hands-on, the S6 Edge+ is a powerful phone — Samsung’s most powerful, in fact. The Galaxy Note 5 is its only equal.
Sandwiched between the metal frame and glass front and back is an octa-core Exynos 7420 processor and 4GB of RAM. That’s one of the fastest processors in any phone and the boatload of RAM ensures Android 5.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz runs at peak performance all the time. Unlike Mashable Tech Editor Pete Pachal, who noticed some occasional freezing while reviewing the Galaxy Note 5, I didn’t experience any software issues on the S6 Edge+.
The entire OS is incredibly responsive, apps launch quickly, scrolling through more than 50 suspended apps in the multitasker is smooth and jitter-free and 3D games like Batman Arkham Origins, Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8: Airborne load and run like nothing.
I still prefer stock Android and dislike TouchWiz with a passion, but I can live with it. I tested the UK version in the U.S. with a T-Mobile SIM card, so the phone didn’t have any carrier bloatware on it. I can’t be sure if the U.S. models will be the same, though. For what it’s worth, the T-Mobile GS6 and GS6 Edge we reviewed had a bunch of T-Mobile junk pre-installed.
And speaking of pre-installed apps, the phone comes with an entire folder of Microsoft apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype. Unfortunately, you can’t remove these.
The fingerprint sensor, which works with with a tap like the iPhone’s TouchID sensor (and not a swipe like on the Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge) works really well. In some cases it’s even better than the iPhone’s sensor.
The cameras are the same ones in the S6 and S6 Edge — 16 megapixels on the back and 5 megapixels on the front, both with f/1.9 apertures for knockout low-light photos and serious depth of field. They’re the best smartphone cameras money can buy, and DxOMark, the industry standard for camera and imaging ratings, agrees.
The back camera shoots 4K-resolution video, which looks good, but as always I’d recommend just sticking to 1080p full HD resolution video because the phone tends to get hot when you’re shooting at 4K.
Like the Note 5, the S6 Edge+ has a sealed 3,000 milliamp-hour (mAh). Power users will mourn Samsung’s decision to go with non-swappable batteries for its phones, but I didn’t mind. I consider myself a power user and I’ve never missed a swappable battery on the three iPhones I’ve owned. It’s not really an issue when battery packs and cases are so cheap these days.
For the most part, the battery is solid and can last 10-12 hours of normal usage with well-managed settings that reduce power suckage.
Samsung also allays battery fears with fast charging and fast wireless charging, which charges the S6 Edge+ from 50% to 100% in about 30 minutes and from 0% to 100% in about 2 hours, respectively. You will, however, need to have a fast charger and fast wireless charger ($80 from Samsung) to get the quicker charging times.
The thing that may disappoint you are the two storage options: 32GB and 64GB. There’s no 128GB model like there is for the GS6/GS6 Edge. To me, that doesn’t make sense, especially since there’s no microSD card slot and as a media-focused device, people are going to want to have as much storage as possible. My personal phone is a 128GB iPhone 6 and I’m already down to my last 10GB of storage. Hopefully Samsung will offer a 128GB model later or Incipio will make a version of its offGRID battery case that adds back the microSD slot back.
Edgy enough yet?
Our biggest gripe with the S6 Edge when we reviewed it was that its edge features didn’t do anything particularly useful to justify the extra $100 over the flat S6.
The S6 Edge came with two exclusive features: People Edge and an Information Stream. The former displays shortcuts to five of your favorite contacts and the latter is basically a bedside clock that shows the time, weather, news headlines from Yahoo News and notification alerts. Neither of the features were as useful as the Note Edge’s curved screen, which at least let you add app shortcuts.
The S6 Edge+ still has both of those features, but it’s also got Apps Edge, which shows shortcuts for up to five of your favorite apps and works exactly like People Edge with a swipe in from curved screen edge. And since it’s accessible from anywhere (on the lockscreen, homescreen or within an app), it’s extremely convenient.
It still not as versatile as the Note Edge, which lets you add way more app shortcuts and customize the panels with different items like news from CNN, but it’s a step in the right direction.
From a strict design perspective, there is nothing else like the S6 Edge+. It’s the supermodel of phablets, but for me, it just doesn’t do enough. Apps Edge is neat, but it’s still too limited.
Personally, I like the Galaxy Note 5 and its curves on the backside more. I also feel the new S Pen features (especially the offscreen memo) are more useful than Apps Edge or Peoples Edge, but if you absolutely must have a big phone that doesn’t look like every other big phone, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is the best choice out there.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
Sleek design • QuadHD resolution is stunning • Blazing fast performance • Best-in-class cameras • Fast charging and fast wireless charging • All day battery life
Curved edges make phone harder to grip • Distorted content on edges • Limited must-have Edge features • Expensive
The Bottom Line
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a beautiful, powerful premium phablet, but its limited curve features aren’t worth paying extra for.