Samsung’s newest phones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, go on sale in a few weeks.
I’ve been playing with the S6 (the one without the curved screen) for about a day. That’s hardly long enough to write a full review, but it is enough time to give you my initial impressions of the device.
This is Samsung’s most important phone launch ever. The company’s sales have tanked over the last year as it struggles to compete with other Android phone manufacturers that make devices just as good as Samsung’s phones, but sell them for half the price.
Samsung’s big challenge will be to prove to the world that the Galaxy S6 has enough key differentiating factors to choose it over one of those cheaper Android phones. Based on what I’ve seen so far, that’s going to be a tough sell. That doesn’t mean the Galaxy S6 is a terrible phone, but I do think it means Samsung’s best days as king of the smartphone world are likely behind it.
Anyway, here are my initial thoughts on the Galaxy S6:
It looks a lot like the iPhone.
There’s no denying it. Samsung may have ditched plastic in favour of metal and glass to build the Galaxy S6, but it’s very clear it was influenced by the design of the iPhone. I think The Verge’s Dan Seifert said it best a few weeks ago shortly after Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S6. The phone looks like the iPhone 4 and iPhone 6 were mashed together into some sort of Frankenstein device.
Samsung’s big pitch behind the Galaxy S6 was that it took design seriously this time. Unfortunately, it didn’t choose a very unique design. Some of you will probably say that’s tough to do because all smartphones look the same these days. I disagree. HTC’s new One M9 is gorgeous, and has its own unique design.
The fingerprint sensor is perfect.
The Galaxy S6 has a new fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. You use it to unlock the phone without a passcode. Eventually, it will be used to authenticate payments with Samsung Pay, the company’s answer to Apple Pay. (Samsung Pay won’t be available until this summer).
The fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S6 is perfect. Unlike last year’s Galaxy S5 fingerprint sensor, which required you to swipe your finger across it just right, the Galaxy S6 fingerprint sensor works when you simply rest your finger on the home button. I’ve unlocked my Galaxy S6 with my fingerprint more times than I can count over the last day, and I haven’t gotten an error once.
The software is cleaner.
Samsung is famous for packing in a bunch of unnecessary software extras that you don’t need. This time, Samsung tossed a lot of that stuff in favour of a cleaner, simpler user interface. Menus are easier to navigate, and standard apps like email, calendar, and messaging look modern and accessible.
The camera is good.
I haven’t done extensive tests with the camera, but what I’ve seen so far is good. What I’ve enjoyed most is how the camera is always on, so you don’t have to wait for it to boot up when you launch the camera app. This means you can take photos quicker than you could before.
Wireless charging is a welcome addition.
The Galaxy S6 has built-in wireless charging that works with any standard wireless charging pad you buy in stores. (Of course, Samsung has its own wireless charging pad too). I’m shocked more phones don’t have this.
It has one of the best screens I’ve ever seen.
Samsung makes the best smartphone displays, and the one on the Galaxy S6 is no exception. The screen is 5.1 inches, slightly larger than the 4.7-inch display on the iPhone 6. It’s also technically sharper than the iPhone 6 screen, but some people will argue you won’t notice a difference.
My gut reaction: The Galaxy S6 is a good phone, probably the best one Samsung has ever made. You’ll like it as long as you like Android. My only big complaint (so far) is that it looks a little too similar to the iPhone.
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