Whenever we hear the term “plus” as part of a smartphone name, we already have an idea of what we can expect: a larger version of a device that already exists. The Galaxy S6 edge+ is pretty much just that, a bigger S6 edge.
Samsung has added a couple of improvements that may make those that were on the fence about the S6 edge, jump over to the side of the edge+, but overall, the company may have been better off leaving this form factor in the smaller size it was first in.
If you’ve read our Samsung Galaxy Note5 Review already, you’ll notice a few similarities and comparisons made in the review below. We did our best to point out the distinguishing factors between these two devices as they are almost mirrors of each other overall.
[section label=”Hardware and Design” anchor=”Hardware and Design”]
Hardware and Design
If you’ve seen the Galaxy S6 edge, you already know what the S6 edge+ looks like. If you didn’t have a point of reference to tell their respective sizes apart, it would pretty hard to distinguish the two – that’s how identical they are in design. The S6 edge+ features the same beautiful mix of metal and glass throughout the device and the same curved edges along its display. That display, a 5.7-inch QHD AMOLED screen, unfortunately looks thinner than the Note5’s at first glance due to this specific design. That can bum out some people, but honestly, it wasn’t a real deal breaker to me because it’s just so nice to look at (more on that below).
I’ve only had one real complaint with Samsung’s design, and it has to do with its home button. The horizontally long home key feels like it’s too close to where the display starts, and the fact that sticks out and isn’t flush to the rest of the hardware doesn’t help either. I’ll find myself hitting the home button to exit out of an app and when I go back into it, I’ll see that I accidentally hit a menu, or opened a message right before I exited it. It happened more than a few times to the point that I feel like there should be more space between the edge of the screen and the home button in future devices.
The Galaxy S6 edge+’s back is flat, which not only makes its camera bulge stick out a little more than the Note5’s but it also doesn’t make it as easy to hold. I didn’t drop it once while using it, but I was constantly in fear of it falling out of my hand and breaking. Maybe my hands are just too small, but overall, it wasn’t that good of a device to keep on hand. The slick and glossy back doesn’t help either, as it will always make you think twice before readjusting your grip. Like the Note5, the S6 edge+ just isn’t a one-handed device.
Like previous Galaxy smartphones launched this year, the S6 edge+ has quick charging capabilities when coupled with the charger that comes in the box. Samsung promises a 30% to 40% charge in 15 minutes when using its default Fast Charging feature, and it does indeed fill up your battery that fast. This is definitely the future of battery technology, so it’s definitely great to see Samsung taking the next step going forward. By the way, the S6 edge+ also offers wireless charging capabilities. It won’t charge as fast as it does when it’s connected, but that’s still an option if you so desire to use it.
[section label=”Display and Sound” anchor=”Display and Sound”]
Display and Sound
The S6 edge+’s display will go down as one of the best and maybe the most unique of 2015. The curved edges on both sides of the glass make it incredibly noticeable from pretty much any direction. You’d think that this eccentric design would be enough to make this screen stick out from the rest, and then you turn it on, and you’re blown away.
The edge+’s display checks in at the standard QHD definition of 1440 x 2560 pixels. This brings its sharpness to an absurd 518ppi. You will obviously have no chance at seeing individual pixels on this display, so don’t even try. Colors look insanely vibrant. Blacks look blacker, reds look redder. As with the last few Samsung devices though, this SuperAMOLED display tends to oversaturate at times, which some people will absolutely love, and others may not be fans of.
In direct sunlight, the S6 edge+’s display performed surprisingly well. AMOLED screens generally suffer from poor visibility in this type of lighting but the edge+’s brightness overcame even the harshest sunlight.
The one aspect I’d take the S6 edge+’s display over the Note5’s is in media consumption. Watching movies, videos, or looking at pictures on the edge+ is just such a great experience. The curved display does a couple of things to make this better, in my opinion. For instance, they can almost makes the side bezels completely disappear when you’re watching a movie, and since you don’t have to hold the phone in the perfect angle to get a good view, you can put it on the table and keep on watching for any reason.
The display is also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. Thankfully, I haven’t drop my edge+ yet, but if I do, it’s nice knowing that a tough glass is protecting it.
In terms of sound, the Galaxy S6 edge+ features a single loudspeaker on the bottom of the device. It does the job, but like with the Note5, it’s nothing to write home about. It’s loud enough to talk on speakerphone and may listen to some tunes while you do other stuff, but you can tell sound quality wasn’t a priority for Samsung when they designed this device.
[section label=”Software” anchor=”Software”]
In terms of software, the Galaxy S6 edge+ runs pretty much the same version of TouchWiz that comes pre-loaded on the S6, S6 edge, and Note5 with the exceptions of a few features and the addition of others.
The S6 edge+’s TouchWiz supports not only People Edge (like the S6 edge) but also comes with App Edge. The latter feature is pretty much the same thing as People Edge, but instead of contacts popping up, you have a selection of 5 apps. What it is is basically a floating tab that you can place on their edge of your device that when swiped on will bring in a little side menu with a list of people or apps – thus the names People Edge and App Edge. The idea is pretty cool, even if you end up just using it once to show your friends, and then never opening it again.
The S6 edge+ also brings Live Broadcast feature that Samsung introduced on the Galaxy Note5 as well. Basically, Samsung and YouTube partnered up to let S6 edge+ and Note5 users broadcast directly from their camera apps without having to use a secondary app or service to do so. You simply sign in to your YouTube account the first time you go to live broadcast, and you’re on your way to sharing some cool videos with whomever you’d like. This feature will particularly be useful for those that like to broadcast to their subscribers in real time, or simply don’t want to have to go through the hassle of recording a video and then having to use the YouTube app to wait for it to be uploaded. I’m glad to see this feature make its way to the S6 edge+, and hopefully we’ll see it made available on the regular S6 and S6 edge.
Another cool little feature is the Information Stream that can be accessed on the edge of the screen when it’s off. You can open up this feature by rubbing horizontally along the edge of the device. In the Edge Screen settings, you can also have the Information Stream start up and close automatically at whatever time of night you want. This is specially handy because it’ll work as a night clock when you set it to charge before going to bed. This is probably one of those gimmicky features that you could do without, but it’s fun, so why not add it?
Aside from those few specific features, the S6 edge+ is pretty much just a giant S6 edge in the software department too. It doesn’t come with an S-Pen, which is a real bummer. If Samsung decides to do a refresh of this device next year, they should really consider adding an S-Pen to it, and bring over some of the features that we love from the Note5. I understand the decision to make them have two separate identities, but that’s just a personal wish for next year.
[section label=”Camera” anchor=”Camera”]
Samsung has done a fantastic job with the cameras on their four flagship devices this year. The Galaxy S6 edge+ is no exception here at all. It takes phenomenal shots in pretty much any lighting, and while it does tend to oversaturate photos a little in certain conditions, the response is always “wow” when you see the end result.
The edge+’s main camera is a 16-megapixel shooter with OIS and it also has a 5-megapixel selfie camera on the front. The rear camera supports the standard HDR, and allows you take slow-motion and ultra high-res video. It features ridiculously quick autofocus that render images as sharp as any other smartphone camera in the world. Samsung’s flagship cameras perform so well that I’m confident enough saying that they outmatch the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in overall quality. It’s that good.
The new Camera app has received a few software improvements like Selective Focus which adds that nice DSLR blur effect to your shots. If you want to mess with how the camera functions a little more, Samsung’s Pro Mode lets you control exposure, and other specifics. Add to the typical geotagging, and panorama features and you have the entire package in one device.
An underrated aspect about Samsung’s camera has to do with how you launch it. A simple double tap on the home button and the camera app immediately opens. This shortcut is available from any screen, in any app, and is even possible when the phone is locked. Of course, if the latter is the case, you won’t be able to access other pictures or share the ones you take unless you unlock the device first.
Both the Note5 and edge+ feature the same camera so the pictures below apply to both:
[section label=”Performance and Battery Life” anchor=”Performance and Battery Life”]
Performance and Battery Life
Even though its running a pretty crappy Android skin in TouchWiz, the Galaxy S6 edge+ flies in and out of apps. This is all thanks to its Exynos 7420 processor that’s built in to the device. Samsung decided to go with its in-house chip for its 2015 smartphones over the Snapdragon 810, and it seems like the decision paid off. Coupled with 4GB of RAM, it’s almost impossible to notice any hiccup when using the phone heavily or multitasking. Like with the Note5, I’d love to see this device running stock Android at some point. I’m sure without all of Samsung’s bloatware it would somehow be even faster.
The Galaxy S6 edge+ features the same size battery as the Note5, but for some reason it lasted longer than its gigantic counterpart. On heavy usage days, the edge+ held up for around 15 hours. On lighter days, the edge+ lasted a full 24 hours before needing to go back on the charger.
[section label=”Wrap Up” anchor=”Wrap Up”]
Ultimately, the Galaxy S6 edge+ is the perfect flashy device. It’s beautiful to look at, but cumbersome to use on a regular basis. Those that want a device that’s unique and stands out from the sea of iPhones and S6s will love the edge+. However, with competition coming from all corners, Samsung may have priced this device a little too high for some people. At most retailers, this phone will be between $770-$820 off-contract. That’s anywhere from $50 to $100 more than the Note5 – a difference that aside from the curved display can’t be explained. The bottom line is unless you’re 100% sure you want this phone, pocket the extra money and get yourself the other Samsung phablet instead.