Samsung Galaxy S6 review

Alex Kidman 30 November 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 review

Samsung’s premium smartphone cuts down on the bloat for a better experience.

In the premium smartphone space, Samsung and Apple duke it out for primacy. Apple only releases a single device update annually, but Samsung typically has two bites at the premium cherry with its larger phablet Note devices (and this year, the larger Samsung Galaxy Note S6 Edge+), alongside its more regular sized device in the Galaxy S range. 2015’s entry is the Samsung Galaxy S6.

Here are the essential specifications for the Samsung Galaxy S6:

SamsungGalaxy S6
Screen Size5.1in
Resolution1440x2560
Display density577ppi
Storage32/64/128GB
Weight138g
ProcessorQuad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
Rear Camera16MP
Front Camera5MP
Battery2550mAh

Upsides: Why you’d want the Samsung Galaxy S6

  • Good processor performance: The Galaxy S6 was one of the first "flagship" smartphones released in 2015, but it has held its ground in performance terms over the year, even as we’ve seen competing flagship products come to market. In day to day use, this means it’s a quick performer for basic smartphone tasks. In benchmark terms, here’s how the Samsung Galaxy S6 compares to a range of popular premium handsets:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
  • Samsung’s launcher is less obtrusive: The Samsung Galaxy S5 was loaded with additional software that you probably didn’t want or need. Samsung listened to its customers, and while the Samsung Galaxy S6 does run the Touchwiz launcher developed by Samsung, the overall impact and difference from stock Android is barely noticeable.
  • Sharp, fast camera: Again, it’s testament to how well the Samsung Galaxy S6 has held up given its early 2015 release that its camera is still one of the best you can get on any smartphone, with notably quick focusing.
  • Good battery life and power management: The Galaxy S6 packs in a 2550mAh battery, which is on the smaller side for a premium handset. It’s quite intelligent in how it sips at that power, however. Using Geekbench's inbuilt battery test with the screen dimmed, the Samsung Galaxy S6 acquitted itself well:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321

    Samsung’s provided charger with the Galaxy S6 will give it a recharge rapidly, and it also supports both the Qi and PMA wireless charging standards, so power is easy to supply to the handset.

Downsides: Why you might not want the Samsung Galaxy S6

  • No more waterproofing: The Samsung Galaxy S5 was one of only a handful of handsets with IP-rated waterproofing, meaning you could have it accidentally drop into water without near instantly killing it. The metal body design of the Samsung Galaxy S6 didn’t apparently allow for that same level of protection, which means it’s worse in this respect than its predecessor.
  • Slippy metal back: Previous Galaxy phones had a plastic back, which didn’t look as good but provided a level of hand grip. The Galaxy S6’s metal back is noticeably slippy, so a case is a must to avoid accidental drops.
  • No removable battery: The Samsung Galaxy’s predecessors also had removable backs and batteries, so you could swap in a battery if you ran out of charge, or easily replace it down the track if it developed problems holding a charge. That’s also gone thanks to the metal body design.
  • No expandable storage: It is feasible to include a microSD card slot on a smartphone, as HTC showed with the HTC One M9, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 doesn’t offer easily expandable storage.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

Samsung has a lot of smartphones on offer, but only a few premium options. If the larger size and style of the Note 5 or Galaxy S6 Edge+ don’t appeal to you and you want a premium handset with a few bundled extras, the Galaxy S6 is a good fit.

Coming essentially first in the 2015 premium space means that there’s a lot of competing handsets you could consider at the Samsung Galaxy S6’s outright asking price, whether you fancy the Google Nexus 5X or its sibling the Google Nexus 6P and its very clean Android interface, the actually waterproof Sony Xperia Z5 or any of the mid-to-premium handsets from makers such as Huawei or Oppo.

Where can I get it?

The Samsung Galaxy S6 can be purchased outright or on contract from a wide variety of carriers in its 16B, 64GB or 128GB variants, and quite often appears in our cheap smartphones round ups. Because it's been superseded by the Galaxy S7, it can also be picked up on some cheaper plans as well.

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