By Paul Gorski
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge on loan to me from U.S. Cellular is arguably the best phone Samsung had released until this August. The S6 Edge has a 5.1 inch screen–Samsung recently released a larger version of this same phone; that one might be better by some folk’s accounts.
I am not a big fan of Samsung phones for a variety of reasons, but the Samsung S6 Edge impressed me on three counts. First, it is fast, probably the fastest phone I have ever tested. This phone loaded apps and web pages quickly, even over slow 3G Internet connections. Swiping through pages and screens was silky smooth. No wait, no delay. I was impressed.
Second, the S6 Edge has a great camera. Great color, terrific auto zoom, and at 16MP, a front-facing camera that will capture more detail than you are likely to need. I took pictures (as a passenger) from a car moving at 30 mph and the pictures came out clear, crisp with virtually no motion blur. Again, I was impressed.
Third, the 5.1 inch screen is as clear, sharp and vibrant, after some adjustment, as a smartphone screen gets. Out of the box the screen is set for auto brightness and the default setting is much too dim and does not do the screen justice. I turned up the screen brightness. You would think increasing the screen brightness would shorten the battery life; it did, but only 30-45 minutes so over the course of the day. That’s a trade-off I’d be willing to live with.
Of course, none of these features address how good a “phone” the S6 Edge is. Cell phone coverage at my home is weak for all the major carriers, and only phones with good antennas have decent reception. Previous Samsung phones have had no voice or data signals at my house, but the S6 Edge had good voice coverage and intermittent data coverage. So, not perfect, but better call service. That is a plus.
I was going to complain that the phone shipped with an old version of Android, version 5.0.2, but just moments before I was to submit this article, I received a notification that v5.1.1 was available for download. I held off on the review until I applied the upgrade.
The upgrade to v5.1.1 was quick and painless. Samsung felt obligated to change the icons for many of the default apps, which is a shame because the new icons are harder to read and not very clear as to what app is which. Ohwell, win some, lose some.
Another oddity: after the v5.1.1 upgrade, as the phone lay idle on tables, desks, pockets, it would periodically wake up and start “speaking” apparently responding to conversations as if they were voice commands.
The “Edge” in S6 Edge refers to the curved edges of the screen, which can be setup to display text messages and other information. I do not like these curved screen edges, nor did three other people that I had hold the phone. These edges allowed me to feel the layers of glass, the metal frame, and the phone backing, for an uneasy gripping experience. That said, an owner of the same phone said she loves the curved screen and uses it just as television commercials promote, to view text messages while the phone lays flat.
Samsung die-hards are disappointed the this phone does not have a user replaceable battery, nor does it support removable memory cards. That’s too bad, as the camera takes large, high-quality phones. More memory would be welcome. You may purchase the S6 Edge with 32 or 64GB of storage; upgrade to the 64GB model if you will be taking many photos. Unfortunately, non-removable batteries and elimination of storage card slots is the future of smartphones, as manufacturers design slimmer phones with longer battery life.
The S6 Edge has been a popular model for Samsung, so much so that Samsung has increased production of the S6 Edge and has just released a version with a larger screen. You’ll find both models and all the detailed specifications at U.S Cellular’s website.
If you stop by a local U.S. Cellular store, mention that you read about the phone in The Rock River Times.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.