If you’ve been paying attention to any of my Twitter feeds, you probably know that I’ve been using this guy right here, the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge as my daily drivers for the past month or so. And we haven’t given you a full official review here on PhoneDog.com but you have seen the S6 and S6 Edge quite a lot here on the channel. So welcome to our long term after one month of real usage review of the Galaxy S6. These are actually one of the best reviews around because we’re actually talking about using this phone for an extended period of time. So welcome to the S6 Long Term Review right here on PhoneDog.com.
Samsung Galaxy S6 is a radical departure from the model that preceded it. It seems that Samsung has finally listened to the media and their users and have ditched the use of crappy materials. What we have now is a beautiful Gorilla Glass 4 coated metallic sides sliver of a phone that just feels as premium as the HTC One M8 and the Apple iPhone 6. But it still looks unmistakably Samsung, even with those iPhone 6-esque sides and speaker holes.
Though, the real story behind the S6 lies internally because the S6 is not only different on the surface but it’s completely different beneath the surface. Packed inside is a new Octa-Core Exynos configuration. And for the first time ever, it is being sold here in the US. It’s called the Exynos 7420, which packs together two Quad-Core chips, which is connected to 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal flash storage, and on the GPU side of things, Samsung has also moved over to an in-house Mali chip instead of your typical Adreno processor.
Samsung has also improved other pieces of hardware. For example, the new fingerprint sensor no longer requires you to swipe your finger. Also the camera has received not only a bump in sensor quality but also an addition of Optical Image Stabilization. Lastly on the side of hardware but more aesthetics, the Galaxy S6 just feels mega premium in the hand. Its metallic sides and glass front and back just scream levels of quality. And with a month of bare usage, we found zero scratches on any of the surfaces.
The next thing we were blown away by is the display. It spans 5.1 inches, which is the same size as the Galaxy S5 but it packs way more pixels. Its Samsung’s signature Quad HD or 2560 x 1440 resolution display and of course, it’s powered by Super AMOLED. The deepness of blacks and amount of color and saturation could blind someone but in a good way. I thought the Galaxy Note 4 had the best display last September but Samsung has again proved me wrong. The S6 has the best display on the market period. It’s the most vibrant display indoors and also the most outdoor viewable when you’re outside.
Next, let’s dive into the software. The Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Currently it’s running 5.0.2 but I’m sure 5.1 and later versions of Android will come very soon to the S6. On top of Lollipop is TouchWiz. And if you were here about a year ago, this is the spot where my reviews turn a little sour. Truth be told is, I’ve never been a fan of TouchWiz. And in my honest and personal opinion, I thought it ate up too much RAM and eventually slow down your device over a long period of time. I was a much bigger fan of stock Android and skins like Sense or even LG’s UX software.
Now, it’s a little different. Stock Android, while great, can get a little boring. HTC’s Sense is pretty plain these days and LG’s UX is great but not wonderful. TouchWiz, on the other hand, has improved a lot from last year. I think the experimentation phase of TouchWiz is now over and now they know the core functionality of what their skin should be. We are in the fine-tuning stage of TouchWiz, which means this year, it feels more mature and more finished than last year or any previous version of TouchWiz. Don’t get me wrong, it still makes those crappy noises and I turned that off before I even entered my Google password. And the colors are still a little too much for my liking. But the fluidity of the skin has improved by miles. Functionality of these things, like multi-window, have finally come into their own and I use them quite a lot. It just runs like modern software and that’s a beautiful thing.
This review can’t be all positive feelings and unfortunately, there are one or two things that still need fixing. The first thing is being the briefing screen to the left of the home screen. It’s powered by Flipboard but operates a million times slower than the standalone application. But apart from that nonsense, the experience was relatively speedy.
And speaking of speed, I should mention the performance. The S6 is fast. And that’s basically all you need to know. I’ve never ran into performance issues over the past month and everything has been performing like it was designed to. Two chips inside the S6 could definitely handle the amount of pixels this thing is pushing out without any issues.
The next piece of this review is all about the camera. You probably saw my S6 camera review and understand my position on this. The Galaxy S6 has the best camera on any smartphone period. Its 16MP sensor with OIS is absolutely crazy. Its HDR mode is amazing and it captures 4K UHD video and those 16MP photos, they’re all in 16:9 to fill up your TV screen and your phone. Samsung has really nailed the camera on the S6 and I’m really having a hard time switching back to any other phone because of that.
The last piece of the puzzle may be the biggest flaw of the S6 and also the reason why I didn’t mention it in the hardware section. Samsung has reduced the size of the battery to 2550mAh, that’s smaller than the S5 and about 50mAh smaller than the Galaxy S6 Edge. That has put a bit of a curse on the battery life. And on average, I’ve killed my S6 in a matter of hours, especially on travel days. I’ve killed the battery multiple times in a one-day trip to New York City a few days back. On my average to light usage days, I can manage a day of usage, which correlates to around 3.5 hours of screen on-time and about 5 hours of standby time before my phone completely dies. That’s not too bad because it’s quite common with any smartphone that I’ve used. And if you’re a tech head like me, you probably already carry an external battery and are already used to charging your devices throughout the day. Yes, I know it’s not a solution nor is it an acceptable solution for a problem like this but this is just a harsh proof of today’s smartphone.
But if any of that didn’t deter you away from this phone, then you really don’t need talking into. The Galaxy S6 is, by far, the best Samsung phone on the planet. Also, I think it’s the best smartphone now period. In my book, it beats the iPhone 6, the HTC One M9 and the more recent and recently announced LG G4. And that’s basically all you need to know about the Galaxy S6.