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Samsung Galaxy S6 Android Smartphone
Samsung Galaxy S6 Android Smartphone

Samsung’s Best Next Big Thing was announced at Mobile World Congress in March and now the best Galaxy smartphone is available to everyone. The S6 has a 5.1” Quad HD Super AMOLED screen running the newest Android Lollipop software and has top of the line specs. It is designed to be thinner while including wireless charging, tri-band 4G LTE Spark network capability and so much more.

Overview

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Android 4G LTE ready smartphone reaches to the edge of consumer electronics engineering. The model I tested came with tri-band 4G LTE and access to the Spark network. The new S6 is unlike any of the Galaxy series smartphones before it. The battery is sealed in between a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and on the back. Finally, a brushed metal band surrounds it with two antennas slotted on the top and bottom and a camera that extends from the back.

Disclosure: I received a loaner Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone for review. I have not been compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos are courtesy of Samsung.


Samsung Galaxy S6 Android Smartphone Unboxing


Samsung Galaxy S6 edge Android Smartphone Unboxing by Bill Cody @VegasBiLL

Glass is a good non-conductive material that lets in more cellular signal; it has less resistance for wireless charging and provides for easier Google Wallet transactions through NFC. Gorilla Glass 4 felt great and in orders of magnitude better than the screen on the Galaxy S4. It is one of only a few phones that I have not added a screen protector to. Though, a case to protect its back glass and camera is recommended.

The Galaxy S6’s metal band is slightly raised on each curved corner to protect its glass on both sides. An all-encompassing metal band is designed to create a nice feel from the front and back. It is similar to how the iPhone 6’s glass transitions to its metal back. Samsung was smart to add metal protection on each corner, but designing it with a glass back was surprising. Glass backs on smartphones break often as seen many times with your friend’s use of their cracked and almost incomprehensible screens.


iPhone 6 Hands-On

Screen brightness on the S6 tops many premium smartphones on the market. It automatically adjusts the backlight, color and contrast based on ambient conditions. Or you can alter vibrancy to your liking with a manual control option. Taking photos in multiple lighting conditions, including subjects backlit by harsh sunlight, was easy and ended up being properly exposed via an auto HDR mode.

Lollipop 5.1 is preinstalled and other smaller firmware updates are already available from most carriers. All features worked well after an initial small firmware update. Its Samsung Exynos 7420 octa-core processor comes with 1.5GHz quad-core CPUs and 2.1GHz quad-core CPUs, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage in the entry-level model. More on what the other models of the Galaxy S6 have to offer later in this review.

Unleash your creativity and track your health with various Samsung branded apps. There are various other Samsung and Sprint app offers when initially setting up the smartphone. An upgraded TouchWiz user interface is included that slightly changes the way stock Android icons and menus work.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is capable of adaptive fast charging, which is extremely helpful as its battery is no longer removable. An Adaptive Fast Charger was included in the box. It can charge the phone at 5V with 2.0A or 9V with 1.67A of power. The latter, Samsung says, offers up to a four hours of use on a 10-minute charge.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Fast Charging
Samsung Galaxy S6 Fast Charging

Quick Charge 2.0 portable batteries are now on the market, one being from Aukey, and that battery will offer a fast charge for the S6. Qi wireless charging is another handy method to charge this smartphone. After weeks of heavy-use testing, it seems that the battery charges faster wirelessly than other smartphones with adapted Qi wireless charging add-ons.

Photographers will enjoy the 16MP rear camera with optical image stabilization and automatic HDR. The 0.7 second launch to photo ready time via a double tap on the home button made it easier to snap photos with than any iPhone I have ever owned. Until Apple decides to allow for the camera app to launch via double tap of the home button, this is the device I will use for taking photos and video.

Since receiving the Galaxy S6 a month ago, I have taken 3,000+ photos and hours of video. The on-screen camera button is so fast, it sometimes takes a photo too quickly. Geo tagging of photos worked even while in-flight and the Android Lollipop software is capable of grouping photos based on where they were taken relative to each other.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Exquisite Craftsmanship
Samsung Galaxy S6 Exquisite Craftsmanship

Selfies are the craze for social networks like Instagram. Samsung gets it and has created two new cool ways to take selfies with the S6’s 5MP front camera. A wide selfie mode expands the capability of a normal front facing camera to include all of your friends into the shot. This mode allowed me to take a selfie at the California Science Center with the space shuttle Endeavour. The space shuttle is so huge; it requires a panoramic mode like wide selfie to fit it into one shot. The second feature that helped me to take easier selfies was the heart rate sensor on the back of the phone next to the LED flash. Tap it once in selfie mode and the photo is taken immediately. This is helpful as fingers are usually in that position around the back of the smartphone for these types of photos.


Video recording on smartphones is emerging as a contender to photos on social networks with the advent of faster 4G LTE networks. There are multiple video modes on the Galaxy S6 including UHD 3840×2160 (4k), QHD 2560×1440, FHD 1920×1080 (60fps), FHD 1920×1080, HD 1280×720 and VGA 640×480. If one selects to record video in anything above FHD resolution, HDR (Rich tone), video effects, video stabilization, taking photos while recording and tracking auto focus goes offline. The resolution of the video recorded after zooming in 1.5x was acceptable. With only 32GB of storage available on the entry level model, a 64GB or 128GB model is necessary if one needs to continuously recording video in 4k.

I was testing this smartphone at a recent all day event. The lady behind me watching what I was doing with it was impressed enough to ask me about the camera and screen. She was using a Motorola DROID Turbo with a 21MP camera. The photos and video from the Galaxy S6 were noticeably clearer and generally less fuzzy. The screen on the S6 looked to have a brighter screen too. Some of the S6 and S6 edge smartphones come with a Samsung image sensor while others come with a Sony sensor. A code can be entered into the dialer, which will tell you if you have a Sony sensor built into the smartphone.

This model of the Samsung Galaxy S6 came with access to the tri-band 4G LTE Spark network. After multiple speed tests in many western states on the network, I discovered results from 2.25Mbps to 18.76Mbps down and 4.14Mbps to 12.62Mbps up. The hotspot functionality was the easiest to enable that I have used on any smartphone. If it were not for the pre-installed location based automatic WiFi launching software, the experience would have been flawless.

Calls were ok in multiple test environments, however I did experience a few dropped calls and data outages. Your experience with data speeds and calls will rely on where voice and Spark network upgraded towers have been rolled out. A WiFi network at home or the office connected to a speedy DSL or cable connection can be used for WiFi calling and SMS on the S6. Enable it in the connections settings area to get started. HD Voice comes pre-installed for higher quality calls, but that only works when connecting to another smartphone with HD Voice, on the same network.

Transferring content between NFC and Bluetooth enabled Android smartphones has become easier with the Galaxy S6 and Android Lollipop. A family member has a Galaxy S6 edge and we did several tests with Android beam. It allowed for photos to be sent securely over Bluetooth by tapping each phone on the back and then from there, it takes about 30 seconds per photo.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Super AMOLED Display
Samsung Galaxy S6 Super AMOLED Display

This Galaxy S6 has access to the speedy tri-band 4G LTE Spark cellular network with a rated limit of 120Mbps, a 577 pixels per square inch 1440×2560 resolution screen, 3GB of RAM, 5GHz and 2.4GHz a/b/g/n/ac Multiple In and Multiple Out MIMO WiFi, a Gorilla Glass front and glass back. This many feature upgrades from the Galaxy S5 shows where build quality has improved, sans any water resistance. Its top of the line features, easy to use Android Lollipop software and upgraded TouchWiz UI leaves you with the smartphone to beat in 2015.

Final Thoughts

At various prices from carriers, $648 with access to the tri-band 4G LTE Spark network sans contract, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a wonderful premium purchase for someone who wants a super fast camera that takes top quality photos and 4k video. The Spark 4G LTE network is fast, even compared to other flavors of 4G LTE networks, while in big cities. Step outside of a big city or into a large facility without 4G boosters and the smartphone reverts back to a 3G mode.

I noticed the 3G symbol show up a few times while on several road trips to and from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Having the option to use a WiFi connection, as a cell site, is a nice feature for when signal inside of the home or office is lacking. Only one other carrier offered that until now.

Having the hotspot functionality ready to go in this smartphone made it easy to share the connection with my MacBook, smartwatch and an iPad. The screen and metal band that surrounds this phone has a premium feel, which is a welcomed 180-degree design change from previous Galaxy models.

The screen is super bright and the photos it takes are nice enough for your best Instagram uploads. The pixels per square inch and screen resolution easily bests the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The Galaxy S6 is my favorite smartphone so far this year and it is Samsung’s Best Next Big Thing.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pros:

  • 5.1” Quad HD Super AMOLED Screen
  • Octacore 64-bit Samsung Exynos 7420 CPU
  • Qi Wireless Charging
  • Adaptive Fast Charging (Up to four hours In 10 Minutes)
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • High Contrast Screen
  • 16MP Sony Imaging Sensor With LED Flash
  • Wide Selfie Mode
  • Tri-Band 4G LTE Spark Network Capable

Cons:

  • Non Removable Battery
  • Smaller Battery Than Galaxy S5
  • Not Water Resistant
  • Camera Extends From Case
  • No MicroSD Memory Card Slot

One Response to “The Galaxy S6 Is Samsung's Best Next Big Thing”

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