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Tech Review: Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge

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The iPhone has met its' match.  Samsung launched the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge this month.  Is it worth your money and should you pay the extra $100 for the Edge?  I had a week to put both phones to the test.

For my review I tested the S6 on Verizon and the S6 Edge on Sprint.

s6 in hand backHardware

The S6 and the Edge are nearly identical on the inside.  Both have a 64-bit Octacore processor.  It sounds fancy, right?  Just know that it is fast.  They also have a 16 megapixel camera on the back that takes the clearest pictures and HD video I have seen on a smartphone yet.  Frankly, I was creeped out at how many wrinkles I could see on my face!  Both the front and back are made of glass, the edge is a grey metal.  It feels solid and high-end.  The 5.1" screen is QHD which essentially means it has a resolution of 2560 x 1440.  It's crisp, bright and crystal clear.  You'll also notice the heart rate monitor is back from the S5.  It's under the flash on the back.  When it comes to hardware the S6 and Edge are the cream of the crop and you can tell when you pick it up.

edge side screenWhat's the big deal about the Edge?

The difference is, it curves around the sides.  I makes the phone feel sleeker, slimmer and even lighter.  It adds a wow factor above and beyond what I got with the S6.  It's not just the glass that curves around the edge but the actual screen.  You can also slide your finger along the edge to see your current notifications without turning the entire screen on.  If your phone rings and it's face down on a surface (but really, who puts their phone face down?) it can glow along the side with various colors for different contacts.  Finally - you can turn on a clock during nighttime hours that shows a very dim clock along the edge while it's charging on your nightstand.  This is a great use of the curve!  It's perfect while the Edge is sitting on a wireless charger.  Oh yeah... about that... read on.

woodpuckWireless charging

The Galaxy S6 and Edge are the first phones from Samsung or Apple to include wireless charging out of the box.  Best of all, it's compatible with both of the competing wireless charging standards.  This means nearly ANY wireless charger you buy will likely work with the S6 and Edge.  Set your phone on a charger and it starts juicing up.  No cords, no plugs.  It's a long time overdue.  I've been using wireless charging for about 2 years on other phones and am thrilled to finally see it going mainstream.  Companies like fonesalesman.com have been creating great chargers and offer fun options for new S6 owners.  My favorite is the new Woodpuck.  IKEA also just announced a line of furniture with wireless chargers buit-in.  This is one feature you may not hear much about but if you buy a wireless charger base, it'll end up being your favorite feature of the S6.

Software

Samsung begin scaling back on it's Android tweaks with the S5 and it continues with the S6.  This makes me happy.  You'll notice less software bloat on the S6 than any Galaxy before it.  It feels closer to the stock Google Android experience.  Frankly, the most bloat on the S6 comes from the carriers although I was happy to see neither Verizon or Sprint went to crazy pre-installing apps.  I would prefer 0 but we're getting closer.  Baby steps.

Network performance

The S6 screams on both networks I tested it on, Verizon and Sprint.  Each will bring their own software additions.  You may find some useful, you may not.  Sprint's network has recently improved dramatically in Denver.  It was evident with the S6 Edge.  Download speeds tested at 20-30Mbps from my office in downtown Denver.  I always suggest you find a neighbor and an office mate who has a service you're thinking about buying.  Find out how it works for them at your home and at work.  Every network has strong spots and weak spots and your best bet is to find the service that works best for your life.

Conclusion

The Galaxy phones are among the best, if not the best.  I won't argue the iPhone/Android debate because it's not worth it here.  In terms of hardware, the new Galaxy phones are slick, well built and packed with top-tier specs and extra goodies like a heart rate monitor and wireless charging.  If I'm being picky, I do have a few concerns about the S6 and Edge.  First, the glass on both sides worries me.  How badly will it scratch and how easily will it break?  Also, this is the first Galaxy that has a non-removable battery and no SD card slot.  Big deal?  Not for me but some might not like that lack of flexibility.

Ok, I'm done being picky.  This phone is awesome.  I love the Edge.  It's unique and feels smooth.  It may not be worth the extra $100 but the WOW factor is awesome.

Expect to pay $200 for the Samsung Galaxy S6 on most carriers with a contract, $300 for the S6 Edge.  Most carriers are offering payment plans or lease plans that get you into these phones for $0 down.

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