The next generation of Android’s biggest selling smartphone is here and with it comes a sexy new stable mate: the Galaxy S6 Edge.
After months of leaks and endless speculation about what the differences between the two models will entail, it is time to separate fact from fiction. So if you’re in two minds about which new S6 will suit you best then read on:
Displays – Straight Or Curved?
The standout difference and biggest talking point about the new models is visual:
- Galaxy S6 – 5.1-inch flat panel, 2560 x 1440 pixels, Super AMOLED display
- Galaxy S6 Edge – 5.1-inch curved panel, 2560 x 1440 pixels, Super AMOLED display
From a purely superficial perspective the subtle curve to the Galaxy S6 Edge gives it a clear advantage: it simply looks cooler. It also means the handset is the first to have no bezel on either side and this makes it slightly thinner than the Galaxy S6 as well.
That said the curves do bring some additional functionality dubbed ‘Information Stream’, ‘Night Clock’, ‘Edge Lighting’ and ‘People Edge’. The first two were on the Note Edge and, as their names suggest, scroll information or the time along the edge. Meanwhile People Edge is triggered by a swipe from the top right side and brings up most frequent contacts while Edge lighting can tie calls from those people to a colour which lights up on the side of the phone when it is face down
Yes none of these are revolutionary (and I doubt many will place the S6 Edge face down just for the side light), but it will no doubt be opened up to third parties and has the potential to be really innovative as time goes on.
Then again those bowled over by the S6 Edge also need to consider three practical factors: how prone will those sides be to accidental touch input in-hand, will the glass edges make the handset less durable and how much protection can cases realistically offer? We’ll know more once we get both handsets in for review.
Aside from the curves, both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge have identical main screens and, as expected, they step up to native 2k panels from the 1080p resolution seen in the Galaxy S5. Those happy to squint at their screens may just about to make out the benefits here, but the real difference will come from the enhanced brightness and contrast levels both phones bring.
Samsung arguably produced the best smartphone displays seen in any phone last year and both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge look set to carry this on.
Design – Positive But Polarising Changes
Durability is also a wider question for both models. As part of an extensive redesign process (dubbed ‘Project Zero’) the big risk Samsung has taken is giving both phones glass backs.
For Samsung stalwarts the impact is threefold. Firstly the risk of damage to the backs (despite the use of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4) which rarely occurred with the removable plastic backs of previous Galaxy phones. Secondly, the backs are no longer removable which means the end of the Galaxy S line’s long history of swappable batteries and micro SD expansion slots.
Thirdly Samsung has also confirmed neither the Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge will be waterproof. Pragmatists will have their hands up in despair.
The compensation for these losses is both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge represent a significant step up in the quality of build materials from past generations.
The headline act is the shift to unibody aluminium chassis. This is a familiar path. HTC kicked it off with the HTC One range, Samsung hinted at its plans with the Galaxy Note 4’s metal frame and Apple leapt aboard with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus after toying with the idea in the original iPhone 2G.
Visually comparisons between both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge can certainly be made here with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus but (while Apple’s lawyers may disagree) what is far more interesting for potential Samsung owners is the company has stepped up to address one of the longest running criticisms of its devices: they feel cheap.