I’m a firm believer in technology. It doesn’t care for fashion or trends or appeal. It cares only about simplifying things. Making it better. Evolving to outgrow the old norms and become something even better. Take a look at the internet itself. How it’s changed over the years and we’re now ready for Web 3.0, even though we haven’t the slightest clue of what it really is.
The day your choices don’t evolve with the changing times, you start walking a road to being obsolete.
Technology brands, however, aren’t as simplistic. They are built by people, for the people. And not just people who love technology, but all kinds of people. Hence, brands do care about fashion and trends and appeal. How else can you explain a strangely curved phone that doesn’t really solve any issues but is aesthetically pleasing, sexy even?
No matter how you describe the Galaxy S6 edge+, it certainly holds your attentions once you lay your eyes on it. But is it just hype or is there more under that surface?
Build & Design
Made completely of metal with Gorilla Glass 4 for protection, the S6 edge+ is a bigger Galaxy S6 edge from the outside. Not much is different, the style, the angles at which the screen bends, the aesthetics are the same. It doesn’t inspire the most amount of confidence when held in hand, though. I always kept thinking “it’s about to slip any minute now, am I holding it right?” Most users will probably want to use it with a case or a skin, just for this reason alone.
Another good reason to use a case or skin will be to hide the smudges and fingerprints. The phone attracts these harder than Miley Cyrus attracts absurdity. The button placements are good, though, I liked how nice the lock/power button felt on the right panel felt; though I would’ve liked the volume buttons to be a little lower on the left. The Home button is bang in the center and doubles as a fingerprint reader too, which is faster than previous Android devices that I’ve tested.
Because of that 5.7-inch screen size, however, the phone does feel quite awkward to use on a daily basis. The S6 edge+ also felt a bit top-heavy to me, though it could just be the way I hold phones. You can still disregard these little nitty gritties once you stare at the gorgeous QHD Super AMOLED display on this phone. It’s utterly brilliant. Outdoor legibility in direct sunlight, viewing angles, contrast – it gets top marks on everything.
Hardware & Performance
On paper, the 64-bit Exynos 7420 chipset powered S6 edge+ with 4 GB of RAM and adequate graphics card to run every game on the Play Store sounds like a winner. And it is. And for a change, heating isn’t an issue either. Somehow Samsung has managed to get this hardware working for them in such optimal fashion that even when you’re pushing your car in Asphalt 8 in its highest settings and going at it for more than 40 mins, only the area near the lock/power button feels warm. Everything else is well under control.
Samsung had also highlighted that the internal storage is made by them, a variant of the UFS 2.0 technology which was first adopted by Toshiba in 2013. This not only enables the phone to run games and media without breaking into a sweat, but also handles installations of new apps optimally.
Software: Disadvantage TouchWiz
Even though Samsung has decided to curb its enthusiasm with the barrage of TouchWiz goodies, there still is a lingering of that familiar feeling. You cannot escape TouchWiz on Samsung phones, even though the powerful hardware is really trying its darnest to make you forget that. Android’s latest OS, Lollipop v5.1 is running the show behind, but the additions of TouchWiz clearly stand out more.
What perhaps will make most people forget TouchWiz on this phone – is the Theme Store. Samsung users can now completely change the look and feel of their phone, even though it still very much is TouchWiz UI overall. Some additions over the S6 edge are nice features like SideSync, which I’ve already written about. And with awesome features like multi-window, triple tap to shrink screen and minimizing various apps – the S6 edge+ has more to cheer about than frown upon.
Helped largely by a 2560 x 1440p screen, the 5.7-inch display estate is excellent for watching YouTube videos, browsing images and even browsing in general. The display especially is great, with deep blacks and a pleasing level of whites.
Music via the speakers is okay, largely because of the placement- at the bottom with the microUSB charging/data syncing port. This placement is particularly bad when you start playing with your phone in landscape mode, with your finger accidentally covering the entire speaker grille. The audio output is not disappointing though, with adequate details and enough volume for the casual song you want your friends to listen to. Music via the earphones is good, not as loud, but plenty in detail and excellent tonal range.
Which brings us to the curved edges. Do they really add anything as far as functionality is concerned? Not really. Even though the edges can be used to pull out your favorite contacts and apps, plus a few additional goodies like adding RSS feeds when using it like a nightstand watch, there really isn’t much that comes to the fore. Don’t get me wrong – those edges ensure that the S6 edge+ still gets more eyeballs on it than any other phone I’ve tested, but that’s what its main USP is. The looks, not the purpose.
Another familiar comrade is that awesome 16MP rear camera, which is borrowed from the S6 and S6 edge. For the edge+ however, it’s also got an IR white balance sensor, which was first seen on an LG G4. But let’s put all that aside and simply admire the images that this camera can take.
Double tap the Home key and camera app launches itself and is ready to click. All you need to do, is point – and shoot. The 16MP IMX240 Sony sensor takes over, processes the image – and the end result is always the same. Beautiful. Seldom have smartphone cameras managed to impress me as much as the S6 edge+ camera did. No matter the lighting conditions.
The only place where I can be a little critical is when there are loads of different textures and objects in a wide angled shot, the image processing does tend to over-sharpen the image a bit. The same is true for video too. Speaking of, there is naturally 4K video recording on board and it’s quite good. But it can’t make use of the digital stabilization, which works only on 1080p videos captured at 30fps. Bummer!
There are plenty of modes to choose from and even a Pro mode which will give you manual control over almost everything plus the option to download more from the Samsung Galaxy store. I toyed around with a few of them and they are fun to play around with, but nothing mind-blowing or quintessential.
The front-facing 5MP camera is great too, has quite a lot of features including wide-selfie, which we had first seen on the Galaxy Note4.
Can it Handle Anything?
The Exynos 7420 chipset developed by Samsung themselves runs on four Cortex-A53 CPUs cores at 1.5 GHz and four Cortex-A57 CPU cores at 2.1 GHz. This is complemented by the Mali-T760MP8 GPU and 4GB of RAM as standard configuration. Storage is the only variant with no room for microSD card slots. But getting back to the main question – can it handle anything?
The short answer is – yes. It can handle intensive gaming, 4K video recording for a while, multitasking with dozens of apps and games running in the background and more. It manages to pull through all of it without slowing down, heating or showing any signs that it’s had enough. What’s the down-side, then? Battery.
Battery life remained my biggest concern throughout the 2-week intense testing period of the S6 edge+. Sure, it’s got great features that Samsung has thrown its way, some features that have workarounds, but it’s all come at the cost of battery life. On my typical usage, if I get anything close to 4 hours of screen on-time, I say it’s great. With the S6 edge+, I got only about 3 to 3.25 hours on average, at best. On one bad day it was no more than 2.5 hours.
Please Note: Then screenshots of battery life are of different days, simply to indicate that it wasn’t average for just 1 or 2 days, but consistently the same.
So, the gist really is – sure, it can handle anything. But, it won’t last that long. Of course, there is a power saving mode. Yes, it’s got that Ultra power saving mode too. Quick Charge? Check that too. Wireless charging with quick-charge? Sure, why not. But a power outlet isn’t always available. And most people would hate to carry around a portable charger if their phones can’t even last one whole day of average usage. I’m one of them.
So, Should You Buy One?
The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ isn’t an easy smartphone to recommend. For lesser dough, you can pick up the S6 edge with almost the same amount of goodies, save the Live YouTube broadcasting and a few other features. For the same size and (almost same) asking price, you can also get the Galaxy Note5 – which has curved edges on the back, making it much more ergonomic to use. But it doesn’t have the looks. The S6 edge doesn’t have the bigger display.
If you can live with an okay-ish battery life on a device that looks like it belongs on a runway, then by all means, go buy the S6 edge+. It’s not a practical every day phone for practical people, anyway.