Without a doubt one of the most anticipated and talked about Android devices ever, the new Samsung Galaxy S6 is about to get a worldwide release in April. The Galaxy S6 is the newest bet from mobile giant Samsung into the high-end Android marketplace, and as usual, the release has been preceded by a media and marketing blitz, and a lot of costumer interest. However, now that some of the reviews are already in, let’s see if the latest addition to the Samsung family lives up to the hype or if it falls short of the initial promise.
One of the most evident changes with the newest Galaxy S6 is, without a doubt, the overall design. With even die-hard fans going out of their way to criticize the plastics and somewhat tired design used in previous devices, Samsung has finally taken note and gone with a high-end look and material spec, opting for a unibody metal frame with a Gorilla Glass 4 backing. The choice is actually reminiscent of the popular Nexus 4, which also employed a glass back and had its design singled out as one of its most popular features. Apart from the materials themselves, the device also has a curved bezel for easier grip in the Edge variant, with the curved display, new speaker placement, and an overall change in terms of weight and component positioning. All of that doesn’t come without a cost, obviously.
The new materials and design of the device makes it so that some of the old features of the Galaxy S5 are no longer present, including not having MicroSD card support, no waterproofing of any kind, and no more swappable battery. Whether that is a small price to pay or a dealbreaker really depends on what your requirements are and what sort of expectations you have, but it’s worth pointing out regardless, especially when they are features that have been associated with the line of devices since the first generation.
In terms of specs, we’re also dealing with a remarkable device that does not disappoint. It uses the latest generation of the Samsung-designed Exynos SoC, with 8 cores (4 high-performance cores clocked at 2.1 GHz and 4 low-performance cores clocked at 1.5GHz) and 3GB of RAM. The core configuration may seem strange at first, but in fact manufacturers have been doing something similar for a very long time as a clever way to conserve power, which coupled with the new manufacturing process, serves to make the battery life of the Galaxy S6 something to envy. The display, as expected, uses a top of the line 5.1″ SAMOLED panel to conserve power and have a really nice contrast ratio, coupled with amazing black reproduction.
So, the device looks great on paper. We already knew that. But what do the reviews say? Well, the good news is that at this point, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is one of the most well-reviewed and well-received Android devices ever made. The reviews have been universally positive, and at this point the pre-orders have already broken all existing records for Samsung. The most frequent praises and points of interest in the reviews so far include the new fingerprint reader functionality, that has been said to rival that of the competition and vastly improve on the experience in the previous model, the amazing performance, the reliable and appealing design and overall feel of the device, and the new direction taken with TouchWiz, greatly limiting the amount of preinstalled apps and services compared to previous Samsung phones, even though things are still far from ideal.
One positive in almost every review that is worth mentioning is the camera performance, which some publications have gone as far as claiming it’s probably the best camera on any phone ever released. There are a ton of comparison shots with devices like the latest iPhone or the HTC M8 and M9, and things are looking really good for Samsung right now. The quality is truly top notch, and in comparison to the highest-rated cameras in phones right now, any shortcomings seem to be more attributable to things like calibration and user settings rather than hardware limitations. Image quality is at an all-time high, and in conjuncture with the latest advanced camera APIs introduced in Lollipop, the user will have more control over the final image than ever.
With all of the praise out of the way, it’s time for some of the criticisms that seem to be prevalent in the reviews. One of the most criticized aspects is actually something we have already mentioned, which is the fact that this latest generation actually has less hardware features in comparison to the older models, including the swappable battery, water resistance and MicroSD card support. Most of the reviewers have pointed this out as a negative, and that users that are used to these features will immediately notice their absence. Some have also criticized that despite Samsung’s promise to keep TouchWiz light and without bloat, things are still not quite there and it all could be much better. Overall though, reviewers and early adopters seem very satisfied with the device and feel like this is the stepping stone for better high-end devices on Android, and Samsung’s offering seems to be much better than anything the competition has been able to come up with in the Android space up to now. With the Samsung brand losing some of its steam in the market in the last few years, it’s nice to see Samsung make an effort to get back on the horse and remind everyone why Samsung is still synonymous with Android in a lot of people’s minds.