Samsung Galaxy S6 Review: Bringing Sexy Back

Samsung has made some big improvements to not only its Galaxy S6's internal specs, but the phone finally has the premium look fans have been begging for. Is it just another pretty face or is this the droid you were looking for? Our review.

21

Samsung has once again released a new Galaxy S device this year, although the Galaxy S6 appears to be making a huge departure from the Galaxy S5 and previous models. Instead of offering improved internal specs within an overall plastic shell, Samsung decided to improve the aesthetics of the phone as it now resembles a modern-day iPhone more than a Galaxy S device. Unfortunately, those changes come at a cost as the phone no longer supports microSD cards nor can its battery be removed. Still, after spending some time with the Galaxy S6, I couldn’t help but feel this may be the best Galaxy S phone Samsung has created to date.

Trendsetter

For years, fans of Samsung phones have been pleading to make their premium devices have more of a premium feel to them. Galaxy S phones have had some of the most advanced internal specs for years, but they’ve often looked less than impressive with their overall plastic body. Thankfully, the Galaxy S6 features an improved, yet familiar, design. Those familiar with the Galaxy S phones will feel right at home with its Home button placement, volume rocker, and power button, although much of everything else has been changed for the better. The front and back of the Galaxy S6 is made of Gorilla Glass 4 while the sides have a matte aluminum alloy frame with a slight groove to assumably help with gripping. Samsung has moved the majority of the S6’s ports to the bottom as you’ll find its 3.55mm headphone jack, microUSB port, and speaker there. The back of the phone is kept pretty bare, except for its protruding 16MP camera and LED flash. The S6 feels great in the hands as I’m able to comfortably grip it with a single hand with the bend of my thumb and my index finger land comfortably on the power button and volume rocker, respectively. I also enjoy how it feels when making a call as I barely notice its weight while I’m holding it to my ear, and the groves on the frame make gripping comfortable.

With the change in its body, Samsung unfortunately doesn’t allow for users to pop in a microSD card to further expand its storage nor can the battery be removed. I often expanded the storage of my phones considering I take a lot of pictures and videos, although I very rarely needed to remove my battery unless I needed to perform a hard reboot. I also carry an external battery pack with me when I travel, so a removeable battery isn’t a big deal to me, especially if it means I can carry an attractive phone like this one. During my time with the phone, I noticed its 2550 mAh battery didn't last as long as I've been used to with the Galaxy Note 4's 3220 mAh battery, which is to be expected considering the size differences. But after responding to a few emails and social networking a bit, the battery dropped from 95% to 85% in around 30 minutes. Thankfully, the Galaxy S6 can recharge its battery very quickly as a few minutes of charging raised it back to 95%. 

Speed Demon

Galaxy S devices often offer the cream of the crop in terms of internal specs. The Galaxy S6 is no different as it features Samsung’s Exynos 7420 chip that has eight cores: quad cores running at 2.1GHz and an additional set of quad cores running at 1.5GHz, 3GB of RAM, a Super AMOLED display which delivers a 1440 x 2560 resolution, and a choice of 32, 64, and 128GB of internal storage. I was loaned a 32GB model and during my time with it, I didn’t get close to its limit considering I use it mainly for pictures, videos, podcasts, and games. Games, as you’d expect, takes the most amount of storage, so if you heavily game on your phone, you may want to consider a larger storage option since there’s no microSD support.

As with the majority of new phones over the past decade, the Galaxy S6 offers an improved camera when compared to its previous iteration. The S6 features a 16MP rear-facing camera that can take photos up to 2988 x 5312 pixels, has both optical image stabilization and autofocus, and has an LED flash and heart-rate monitor. The camera can be directly accessed from the lock screen, and photos can be taken by either pressing the on-screen camera button or the physical volume buttons. As far as the camera software, it isn’t as vast as the Galaxy S5’s by default as Samsung has kept it pretty lean. Fortunately, for users who need to have certain features like Beauty Face, Dual Shot, or create an animated GIF, there’s an option to head into the Galaxy Store to download those and additional camera modes. I’m able to change a shots effect on the fly, set a timer and flash while I’m taking my shot, and can change additional settings, like picture and video size, if I need to.

Samsung’s defining moment

Samsung made some drastic changes to the Galaxy S6 as it no longer is waterproof, doesn’t allow for its battery to be removed, and doesn’t have expandable storage. But neither does the iPhone and it’s been selling extremely well with very similar options, albeit running different mobile operating systems. In fact, for years, Samsung has been mimicking Apple's iPhone every chance it gets, and this year's model seems to be the most apparent as the majority of people wouldn't realize this was a different phone unless it was pointed out.

The Galaxy S6 may be Samsung’s defining moment into a future where it offers less options to make the ones it decides to include that much stronger. With top-notch internal specs, an improved camera, and extremely attractive body, the Galaxy S6 will turn heads when it’s spotted in the wild and will keep the conversation going when people realize there's brains behind this beauty.

Senior Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 28, 2015 2:00 PM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Samsung Galaxy S6 Review: Bringing Sexy Back

    • reply
      April 28, 2015 2:04 PM

      they took away the microSD card capability AND the ability to change the battery? aesthetics.. bah!

      • reply
        April 28, 2015 5:54 PM

        I'm more posted that the OK Google hotword detection got removed. It's why I'm posting from an m9, even though I was all set to get an s6 last night.

        • reply
          April 28, 2015 5:55 PM

          Posted = pissed.

        • reply
          April 28, 2015 10:29 PM

          Google broke it in a Play Services update the other week. It was there at launch then Play Services updated and magically it was gone and nobody wants to take the blame for it.

      • reply
        April 28, 2015 6:15 PM

        Yeah, that stuff sucks ass. I love my Galaxy S4, but I guess when I upgrade I'll be going with something else. :-/

        • reply
          April 28, 2015 10:10 PM

          Yeah I'm in the same situation. I'm holding out hope that the note 5 will have a removable battery and micro sd.

        • reply
          April 29, 2015 5:52 AM

          Also in the same situation. My contract is up in Aug, but I'm not sure what I'll do. The S4 still does everything and hasn't started to feel bogged down. Yet. But, I don't think think Sprint will roll out Lollipop for it, which I think I'm okay with from reading some of the headaches that come with it and older apps.

          I'll probably have to wait until Sept for all the announcements for the year and then decide in like November when everything's available.

      • reply
        April 28, 2015 6:34 PM

        Where is abrasion to post a lengthy diatribe against samsung for changing their ways?

      • reply
        April 28, 2015 6:40 PM

        AND it's not waterproof. I don't know how they could make it a unibody and botch the waterproof bit.

        • reply
          April 28, 2015 7:09 PM

          I don't think I there is anything in life that I care less about than if a cell phone's lines are symmetrical.

          • reply
            April 28, 2015 7:19 PM

            Yeah it's a piddlyshit complaint, but the article is titled "bringing sexy back" and they don't care what an entire side of the phone looks like.

            Really though design is incredibly hard. The bottom of the MBP is smooth. The bottoms of most laptops aren't. Besides the removable battery thing the reason the MBP bottom is smooth is because they worked on it for many years, working through all the reasons laptop bottoms aren't smooth (vent covers, screw locations, etc.)

            The reason crown molding (moulding?) exists is because for a long time it was really hard to make a 90-degree angle in building things and this smoothed it over. It persists for decorative reasons.

            Samsung's phones don't have symmetry because they either haven't decided it's important enough yet or because they haven't had time to work through all the reasons things are half-millimeters off.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 6:53 AM

        Wasn't it Google that wants to get away from using microSD cards in Android phones?

        • reply
          April 29, 2015 6:56 AM

          [deleted]

          • reply
            April 29, 2015 7:18 AM

            The reason engineers gravitated to larger RAM for internal storage is speed. The Micro SD cards just can't access as fast as internal memory. Of course, I see no sound engineering reason that you can't also include a Micro SD slot, but removing it does allow for smaller, thinner, lighter, "sexy" designs like this one.

            And I absolutely intended to put that word in quotes there because this phone's look does nothing at all for me, I'm more apt to go to dx.com or gearbest.com and grab another Chinese phone before upgrading to this.

          • reply
            April 29, 2015 8:01 AM

            To what alternative? iOS is the same, and I assume Win10 Phone will be too. BB doesn't do SD I don't think. So, what then?

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 6:56 AM

        [deleted]

    • reply
      April 28, 2015 6:07 PM

      [deleted]

    • reply
      April 28, 2015 6:17 PM

      no sdcard and no removeable batter are deal breakers. i can maybe deal with the battery thing, but the SD card is NOPE.GIF for me.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 5:12 AM

        supposedly those features will be in S6 Active. So yeah. Wait for that

        • reply
          April 29, 2015 5:54 AM

          But it's also going to be a slower chip. Sucks any way you look at it. So wish they'd stop looking at Apple and just be their own brand. But, I get that the market hasn't been kind to them for just holding out on sd card and removable battery. Then again, the S5 didn't really do they any favors.

          • reply
            April 29, 2015 8:09 AM

            Why exactly do you need the removable sd card? I'm talking your actual real-world use case.

            • reply
              April 29, 2015 8:23 AM

              Well, part of the problem is I'm with Sprint and their network is just terrible. So, I my active listening selections from Google All Access. I also keep several movies and tv episodes on my phone for the kids in case they need some distraction. Since the signal is usually 3g (I live in Dallas so you'd think I'd get better 4g, but not with Sprint) I can't always stream consistently. Plus, if I weren't on Sprint, then I'd have to worry about blowing past the data cap. SD card removes that worry. Too bad Netflix won't allow local playback.

              But, also, my S4 only has 16gb of internal storage and more than 50% of that is eaten up by bloatware. I wanted to play X-Com, but unless I uninstalled just about everything off my phone I couldn't clear enough space. Being able to move local music, movies, audible downloads, etc helps to keep internal storage available.

              Yeah, most of this would be a non-issue if internal storage was in the 32-64gb range. But, the S4 only came with 16gb and it's just not enough; especially with bloatware.

              Looking at my phone.
              system memory (min space required to run the system): 6.28gb (so, not really quite half, but 40% is still a huge bite).
              cached data: 1.2gb - which is probably a combination of temp files from various apps to actual cache stuff from browser, music, etc.
              used space: 7.54gb - and I don't really have much in the way of large games.
              under apps
              apps: 15.53gb - biggest app is Google Play Music with 554mb. This doesn't include anything that's on the sd card it looks like. Biggest game on the phone is Battleheart Legacy @ 367mb. the 15gb includes all the bloatware you can't uninstall.
              pics: 780mb - guess I need to comb through this and see what hasn't uploaded or moved over to the sd card.
              audio: 380kb
              downloads: 11.62mb

            • reply
              April 29, 2015 8:24 AM

              The point is that 16gb just doesn't go very far. in face, it's like Samsung designed it specifically with using a SD card in mind to augment internal storage. Too bad Android doesn't permit more of the app to be moved to the SD card or I could get bigger games on my phone without having to drop multiple smaller apps/games to do it.

              • reply
                April 29, 2015 11:54 AM

                My counterpoint would be that buying an S6 (what this thread is currently complaining about) comes in a minimum of 32 gigs, which alleviates all of these problems listed, plus the internal memory will always be higher performance than an external slot, plus you don't have to deal with memory management in 2 locations. The actual end-user experience with more internal memory is better in nearly every real-world use case than with removable storage. Not all, but most, and the difference isn't enough to actually mourn.

                There's a reason that android has made using external storage more and more difficult over time.

    • reply
      April 28, 2015 6:29 PM

      What are some good screen protectors/cases for the S6? My friend got one and I was gonna get him a little set for his birthday.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 6:20 AM

        Fwiw, I've never used a screen protector and my phones are always flawless. For cases, it depends on their opinion on form vs function. I get tpu slip on ones for the shock absorbing qualities, but they are bulky and generally unattractive.

    • reply
      April 28, 2015 10:35 PM

      The Shack is reviewing phones now?

      • reply
        April 28, 2015 10:38 PM

        why not, it plays games

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 5:04 AM

        Yes, sir! I have some other mobile devices I plan on reviewing, so stay tuned!

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 5:08 AM

        Also, we've been writing about phones for months, so reviewing them should be a no brainer.

    • reply
      April 29, 2015 6:28 AM

      Wtf is all this 'no SD card=dealbreaker' talk? What are you people putting on your phones? Pics? Back them up to onedrive or Dropbox. Music? Get a streaming service like spotify. Porn? I think we all know the answer to that one.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 7:05 AM

        so no pics or videos on your phone I take it Chadg? any kids?

        • reply
          April 29, 2015 7:11 AM

          Yeah, plenty of pics and vids. But my S6 Edge automatically uploads everything to Onedrive so I can delete the big stuff.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 7:06 AM

        I imagine I'm on the fringes, but I've spent a considerable amount of time and money to make my driving music sound good. Not audiophile magically delicious, but I much prefer local flac to compressed streams, and that takes space.

        I have my entire collection on Google Music and Amazon as well, but it seems like a waste to take stuff that's mastered really well (Steely Dan, etc) and make it much worse.

        More to the point, I think the pissiness about the lack of card storage is maybe less about the storage and more about the lack of options, as well as their charging $100 more for an extra 32GB.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 7:11 AM

        I used to need an SD card for music back before Google Music got their shit together.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 7:47 AM

        Having lots of internal space is a necessity for travel as roaming charges are horrendous, so can store some music/videos locally.
        Also, I'm not a huge fan of the whole "steam everything" concept. Seems pretty wasteful.

        • reply
          April 29, 2015 7:48 AM

          Wasteful of what? Are we running out of bandwidth?

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 7:50 AM

        I'm fine with no SD card as long as the internal storage is 32 gigs+. On my phone the OS takes up 8 gigs so if it just ships with 16 having only 8 free would be pretty tight.

        • reply
          April 29, 2015 7:51 AM

          That's what I have is the 32gb. Probably won't use half of it.

      • reply
        April 29, 2015 8:03 AM

        Mostly it's to hold movies for the kids. Can't always count on decent signal to stream, plus that just eats your data plan. So, local storage is the best solution. And, I'd rather not have to tote around one of those wireless hard drives. I have't seen one that's just a killer solution.

    • reply
      April 29, 2015 9:21 AM

      So its an IPhone now. So why should I buy the Samsung is it $100 bucks?
      Cause that's about the only reason I see for picking one up now.

Hello, Meet Lola