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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Hot curves or just a gimmick?

Posted: 02 Apr 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung? smartphone? Galaxy S6 Edge? Android?

As a Samsung flagship smartphone, Galaxy S6 Edge is expected to be a premium device, not to mention the novelty of the curved glass that wraps around from the main display to both edges of the phone. While this article is not in any way meant to be a review, Samsung sent me a review model and I took the device with me for a test drive to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on March 26 to try out the camera, one of the major selling points for the S6 line.

Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge is a lovely, powerful smartphone. Sweetened with Android 5.0 Lollipop, it's a pleasure to use.

After I return my reviewer's version of the Galaxy S6 Edge, I may just buy one for Android mobile app development, once it becomes available in the US on April 10.

If I do end up buying an S6 Edge, I doubt that I'll employ it as my primary phone, however. I've been using an Apple iPhone 6 for the past few months and have been happy with it. The Galaxy S6 Edge is certainly comparable to the iPhone 6, but I don't see a compelling reason to switch.

I've only had a day to play around with it, so what follows is my initial impression. I consider myself a user of both iOS and Android, for those who accept such heresy.

The Galaxy S6 Edge is beautifully crafted and comes in a variety of colours. Its curved screen makes it appear as if it offers more physical screen space than the iPhone 6. But in practice, only the flat portion of the screen is usable for touch interaction, making the input area essentially the same. Still, the curve creates a pleasant sense of depth.

Galaxy S6 Edge

(Image: Thomas Claburn)

Aesthetics have to be accompanied by usability and there I find the Galaxy S6 Edge falls short. These are minor quibbles, because only small differences set the S6 Edge and the iPhone 6 apart.

I found the swipe required to access the camera from the lock screen to be easier on the iPhone 6 than on the S6 Edge. On the iPhone, your thumb doesn't have to travel very far to access the camera; on the S6 Edge, your thumb has to travel further, requiring more deliberate effort to traverse the required swipe distance. It's not exactly a hardship, but UI refinements are measured in millimetres.

Also, the amount of time it takes the screen to return to sleep mode after pressing the Home button, six seconds for the S6 compared to nine seconds for the iPhone 6, is just a bit too short. I often found the S6 dropping back into sleep mode before I had the opportunity to interact.

My biggest complaint is that there's too much software on the S6 that I didn't ask for. When I swipe left from the home screen, there's an ad for T-Mobile TV and the ABC show Once Upon A Time. Not wanted. Swipe left again and there's Flipboard. The Facebook app, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp have all been pre-loaded, as have Microsoft OneDrive, OneNote and Skype. Lookout's security app also comes pre-installed. After tapping on one of its notifications, I was presented with a screen to sign up for the company's paid subscription service.

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