Finally, it’s here.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has been talked up ever since last year’s S5 failed to live up to expectations and brought Sammy back to Earth with a bump.
As the company’s new headline device, much is riding on the Galaxy S6.
As well as taking on Apple’s all–conquering iPhone 6, it’s also trying to see off an increasingly impressive array of Android–packing rivals.
We’ve put the Galaxy S6 through its paces, played with its fanciest features and carried out our daily smartphone business as if it were our own.
So, what’s the verdict? Read our full Samsung Galaxy S6 review and find out.
Looking for a review of the Galaxy S6 Edge instead? We put Samsung's 'other' new smartphone through its paces here: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review
Slip the Samsung Galaxy S6 from its box and you’ll notice that things have changed. A lot.
Gone is the nasty, cheap–looking plastic which saw its predecessors blasted as dated and ugly.
In comes a sleek metal and glass finish that’s reminiscent of the iPhone 4, and none the worse for it.
As with all Android phones, set up is as easy as loading up your Google account details, although Samsung will encourage you to set up a separate account to get the most from its proprietary services, such as S Health.
If you’ve come this far, it’s worth the slight hassle to get the most from your new mobile.
The overall impression is of a top end phone from Samsung that finally meets modern expectations.
Our only complaint would be that the device feels a touch slippery in the hand.
On more than one occasion we nearly lost our grip while taking photos.
Take our advice and snaffle a case. It’ll keep it safe and stop your fingerprints smearing the rear of the device too.
As mentioned, the Galaxy S6’s design is a cut above anything else we’ve seen from Samsung.
It feels way more hefty than older Sammy handsets, with a reassuring weight that screams quality.
That glass rear plate is a blessing and a curse.
It looks way sharper than the ruggedised plastic of old, but whip off the plastic coating and your fingerprints will be all over it in seconds.
The metal frame makes the S6 feel a lot more sturdy and less like it’d be prone to cracks and breaks after long term use.
The camera lens’s protrusion, however, is significant, way more so than on the iPhone 6.
This obviously accommodates an improved sharp shooter, but it does compromise the overall feel of the phone.
Going for a fully enclosed body and binning off the removable battery found in older Galaxy S models has caused consternation among some fans, but the added solidity this brings to the Galaxy S6 is, for us, worth it.
However, compared to the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9, the Galaxy S6 isn’t quite the design colossus it wants to be.
It’s definitely Samsung’s best ever, but when the competition is so stiff, it’s no surprise it comes up just short in this regard.
The Galaxy S6 is absolutely laden with top end features to entice new customers.
The hottest is surely the camera.
The rear–facing snapper comes with a massive 16-megapixel sensor, featuring optical image stabilisation and auto HDR.
We took it out into the back garden for a spin and reeled off some close up shots of plants and flowers.
Despite our photography skills being some way short of David Bailey standard, we were bowled over by the quality, especially on that eyeball–stroking Super AMOLED screen.
The greens and whites popped out and the sharpness was nothing short of outstanding.
For our money, it takes pictures every bit as good as the iPhone 6, a device which has set the standard for smartphone imaging in 2015.
The screen, as we mentioned, is spectacular. Fire up HD video on YouTube and Netflix and we defy you not to be impressed by the deep blacks and crisp detail of the colours.
We watched an episode of Better Call Saul and couldn’t get over the quality.
One of the big changes from the S5 to the S6 is the fingerprint scanner.
Gone is last year’s swipe effort and in comes a very Touch ID–like home button.
Set-up is breezy and features as part of the start-up ritual.
Just lift and touch your chosen finger on the scanner, the device giving you a percentage until its completed scanning.
While it does work, it did feel a little clunky.
On three or four occasions over two days, we were asked to input our pass code when it didn’t recognise our fingerprint.
This despite repeated use. This could become a major snag when Samsung launches its mobile payments service later this year and is a problem we found hugely annoying.
Battery life too, left a lot to be desired.
We powered up one morning with 23% juice left, watched Blur’s Go Out video on YouTube, downloaded two apps and browsed the web, only to be left with a mere 9% twenty minutes later.
Admittedly, this was not in power saving mode, but that is very poor, especially compared to the iPhone 6.
Samsung’s power save and ultra power save tools are, however, very smart. The latter, in particular, caught our eye.
Drop the device’s screen to grayscale and hold back on apps and it promised to give us another 15 hours on just 9% battery.
Android 5.0 is the OS of choice here, but it’s Samsung’s take on it that is the real story.
While the usual menu flourishes and colours are in evidence, the real headline grabber is the ace Easy Mode, which pares things back to the basics and is ideal for those who prefer a clean look and less cluttered home page.
S Health remains a bit of a niche tool, much like its Google and Apple rivals.
We are still of the mind that Samsung and other Android partners would be better off sticking with the Big G’s own version of the operating system.
It makes things easier and ensures updates can rollout in a more uniform manner.
Ease of use
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a delight and breeze to use.
From the swift set up to the easy handling thanks to that sharp design, this is a phone that hardcore tech nerds and smartphone first-timers alike can get on board with.
Samsung has finally turned a corner. This is its best ever smartphone and one previous Sammy fans should move heaven and earth to own.
- Screen: 5.1–inch, Super AMOLED, 2560 x 1440 pixels
- Camera: 16 megapixels rear facing with optical image stabilisation, auto HDR and 4K video - Recording. 5 megapixels front–facing camera.
- Storage: 32, 64 and 128GB options, no microSD slot
- Weight: 138g
- Dimensions: 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm
- Software: Android 5.0 Lollipop, Samsung TouchWiz UI
The Samsung Galaxy S6 handset we reviewed was supplied by Tesco Mobile