Marshmallow on the Galaxy S6 is a welcome improvement

by: NiraveJanuary 27, 2016
1.9K

A key issue with Android is how long it takes older devices to get the latest update, but with Marshmallow, we’ve seen companies take a different approach. Like Sony and honor before it, Samsung isn’t known for being forthcoming with its software updates, but has opened a public beta for customers to test the update before it’s rolled out. After a few days with the update, what’s new and how does it impact on the Galaxy S6 experience?

For more info on Samsung updates, read our Marshmallow update roundup

Like most phones, I found the Galaxy S6 to be great at launch before it began to slow and show signs of struggling after a few months. The biggest difference with the Marshmallow update has to be the performance, with the handset appearing to be much smoother than it was running Lollipop. Naturally though, the performance will drop after a a period of usage but the initial experience is definitely positive and, from memory, better than my experience with the Galaxy S6 Edge when it first came out.

Throughout the update, Samsung seems to have made an attempt to adopt Material Design with varying degrees of success. While the flatter icons and a consistent UI language between third parties, Google and Samsung apps are definitely impressive, there are some changes that are garish and unnecessary. As a long-time Galaxy user accustomed to TouchWiz, these two changes are my biggest pet-hates about the update, but some of you may find them acceptable.

Galaxy-S6-Marshmallow-Beta-AA-(12-of-12) Galaxy-S6-Marshmallow-Beta-AA-(9-of-12)

The first is that the UI changes are now overly white, even things like the notification menu that were absolutely fine on Lollipop. The second is that Samsung has bought back the dreaded “squircles” and the white background on the home screen icons reminds me of early versions of Huawei’s EMUI. It’s completely unnecessary and to be honest, it looks downright ugly. It’s a classic example of a company trying to make something better, but actually reinventing the wheel and making it much worse.

The notification menu has had some welcome improvements, not least with Samsung allowing you to swipe down to access all the quick settings. You can also scroll the initial quick settings bar like you could in Lollipop so this should appease most users. At the bottom of the notification drop down is a shortcut to Notification settings, where you can now turn off or turn on notifications for individual apps. It’s not all great though as you can’t remove Quick Connect and the wasted space does get quite annoying.

Gaiaxy S6 vs in video:

The Marshmallow update also signals a closer partnership between Google and Samsung and this has likely been one of the factors behind the new user experience. One of the biggest new features in the update is Now on Tap, which brings contextual information to your fingertips that is related to whatever’s displayed on your screen. From first use, Now on Tap certainly works well enough, and it’s refreshing to see that Samsung hasn’t tried to replace Now on Tap with a feature of its own making.

The camera has also been updated in Marshmallow and finally, you can now shoot in RAW format using a Galaxy S6. In the latest Android 5.1.1 update, the RAW option was grayed out so it’s good to see that Samsung has finally enabled a feature that many people have asked for. The updated camera also loads much faster and the delay between taking consecutive pictures has been reduced as well.

Galaxy S6 family in reviews:

Alongside the changes in the camera, the Marshmallow updates also brings with it Doze mode which is meant to offer significant standby time improvements. Over the past few weeks, the battery has been somewhat impressive with average battery life with minimal usage around 2-4 days. While this isn’t on par with other flagships that have bigger batteries, the performance gain is almost 40% and no doubt, Marshmallow plays a large part in it.

Overall, the Marshmallow update brings several big changes and features to the Galaxy S6 and not least, the performance gains certainly make it a worthwhile update. However, like all user experiences on mobile, the changes aren’t all for the better and there’s no doubt going to be a few elements that some users won’t be pleased with.

All things considered, the Marshmallow update is certainly a welcome one and the Galaxy S6 is a much better smartphone for it. What do you think of the Marshmallow update for the Galaxy S6 and are you running the beta? Check out all the screenshots and the video above and let us know your views in the comments below!

  • The icons aren’t ugly. If anything, they are better than the ones on my Note5 but the boarder around non Samsung apps is a bit ugly but that can be turned off in the settings.

    • Phillip

      So change them ….duh

  • Miguel Ferreira

    Is the background app reaload issue fixed?

    • Hamza Ali

      Yes I’m running Marshmallow beta and multitasking is so much better now more reloading!

      • cowboysfanzz

        More reloading????

        • Hamza Ali

          No more reloading stupid auto correct lol

      • Rod

        A video demonstration would be nice.

  • Marius Tomas

    that notification bar….god.. white? seriously? then make it better something dark with some transparent background or better take original Android look for that notification drawer……. they need new software designer really ah sigh….

    • Simon Neirynck

      use the theme store to change the look as you like. Nothing is set in stone

      • Marius Tomas

        I know I am usually using it. But sometimes it’s really hard to pick a good theme or depending from my mood when I wanna run away from same old look for a moment . In the end it would be nice to have UI.from Samsung which actually look good :)

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          The themes are either too cartoonish or just like the useless apps in playstore (

          • Marius Tomas

            Indeed : there is some good paid ones but I don’t wanna pay everytime ha-ha I at least expect to get good UI bu owning the latest flagship. I think many people expecting that :D

          • Avieshek Rajkhowa

            Yes, I expect the same after buying a flagship phone, otherwise it’s a joke around my friends

          • saksham

            try the Material Design theme … it suits best !

        • McLaren F1P1

          Try Grace Ui from HS! It feels better than any stock ui! It’s as if it was always the stock ui! It’s paid now! Was free few weeks back!

          • Marius Tomas

            It looks really cool but somehow lack of colours and that .material colours. Well its matter of taste. What I personally find annoying that many even paid themes are using one colour. It makes it look boring sometimes.

          • Try Rotox or nevlex.

        • Badouken

          Just download the Material Design theme from the theme store, they even have a dark version. Tis what I use on my work S6!

    • recruta

      The color background of TouchWiz was black in the time of the Galaxy S4, so I’m pretty sure that Samsung has changed to light colors because of custumer’s opinions.

    • Xiomi

      I actually like it more than the ugly teal one.

  • mixedboi85

    wonder when at&t will release this update ??

  • kong

    icon packs is a BIG NO!

    • Moks

      So what if you dont like it? You can easily change the icons by using the theming app. Just a few clicks and then its gone. Not really that hard

      • Mircea Marius

        True… I really dont get those ppl.

    • LarryH77

      Emoji packs would be a big yes. At least 90% of users hate their emoji, even worse than Google’s awful blobs.

      Anyone in the Beta program please complain about the ugly, outdated emoji.

  • Mark Corlson

    Those icons are horrible.

    • Simon Neirynck

      just use another theme and it will be fixed

    • Phillip

      Every thing you don’t like can be changed so why make a big ass deal about nothing

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    Any new wallpapers

  • Holla

    Hi Nirave, is it finally possible to use Google Now for voice dialing (via Bluetooth) instead of S Voice?

  • Hamza Ali

    Your running an older version of marshmallow Samsung has updated to 6.0.1 and it’s even better.

  • Alicemad

    You are reviewing the first 6.0 Beta and not the latest 6.0.1 which come with extra additions and improvements. On 6.0.1 you can remove the white bubbles under the icons and have the classic icons. Speed and animations are improved too. To all those who are crying about the grey status bar you can change it with a free skin you know but whining is easier I guess. I personally much prefer this TouchWiz over anything else. That teal color everywhere made me sick. The grey/white matches easily with any combination of icons/wallpapers while the teal not. Also good riddance to the shadows under everything. This flatter TT pleases me a lot.

    • Alicemad, has the fingerprint reader in your opinion changed to the better/faster? ?

      • Alicemad

        Much faster. There are videos on YouTube comparing the Fingerprint reader between the latest beta and 5.1.1.

    • Francisco

      Good the squares are optional. I like the touch wiz launcher but I was about to change it for the Google Now Launcher because of those squares

    • Doombots

      Amen.

      I can’t believe the amount of moaning about icons and the colour schemes. This is Android!

      Step #1. Download new theme from Theme Store and apply. Addresses light colour scheme.
      Step #2. Replace TouchWiz with Nova launcher.
      Step #3. Download free icon packs from Play Store. Addresses lame icons.

      or

      Step #4. Ignore Steps 1-3 and bitch in the comment section.

      • r4ymonf

        >implying that you can replace “TouchWiz”

        • Doombots

          Skin, not replace.

          • r4ymonf

            > Replace TouchWiz

        • Joe

          You could install a custom rom if you want to get rid of TouchWiz altogether.

          • pjtpjt

            Not on the Exynos based S6.

          • TheDude

            Why not?
            You can root it and change roms, not everyone cares about KNOX….

            For example in my country Android pay/Samsung pay/ anything else that could rely on KNOX doesn’t work, and by the time they actually start rolling it out, the galaxy s10 would be out….

          • pjtpjt

            Exchange roms to what? More Touchwiz roms?

          • TheDude

            Are you saying there’s not a single AOSP based rom for the s6? That sounds absurd.

            My s3 i9300 (with the exynos SoC) has plenty of AOSP/AOKP/CM based roms , hell I’m running CM13 right now.
            I don’t see a reason for the s6 to have none.

          • pjtpjt

            Exactly. At the moment cm13 is on the “well it boots” level. The difference between your S3 and the S6 is that people got fed up with Samsung’s closed architecture, and gave up developing for it. Hell, there’s even no official cm13 for the Snapdragon Note 3, because of the lack of Marshmallow binaries for the Note 3. It will never work perfectly, then why bother.
            So the S6 will get updates for 18 months, then you can throw it away.

        • viruzth

          why would you bought Samsung device in the first place?

          • r4ymonf

            Samsung devices aren’t that bad provided there’s CM for your specific device.

        • roguedoge

          there’s no greentext here m8

          • r4ymonf

            so?

      • Ismail Akram

        Better not to buy S6 or not to take that update? steps you told are really hassle. thanks for your information.

        • Doombots

          A hassle? Sounds like you’re just lazy. Glad you opted for #4

        • ScarySquirrel

          It would take no longer than 5 minutes to do the three steps mentioned above. Are you really that lazy?

          • Ismail Akram

            lazy you can call me. but its more I don’t like to do these things.. that’s why I stay away from custom launchers.. they never feels like stock no matter what.. beside If I’ve to choose a launcher it would HTC launcher.. at least I can rearrange apps…

      • Luke Perry Glover

        I use googles launcher, and the nexus theme. :P

  • Rob

    Swipe down settings is something that’s been there. RAW support is provided through third party apps. Nothing here is new and it appears the phone the author is using is a dud, as mine’s been smooth and fast since I got it, which also implies they may be running some crapware on their phone that is certainly helped by the update. I still don’t have Marshmallow, because Sprint won’t get off their butts and push the update.

  • Luka Bulatović

    Great article. I had doubts about performance and I’m very glad to hear that it’s OK. I don’t see why would they make notification panel white on an AMOLED screen… And before anyone says it, I don’t want themes… Except Material design of course :D
    Most OEMs including HTC, Sony, Motorola, and somewhat LG (at least colors) have adopted stock-ish notification panel. It would be great to see Samsung do the same.
    But the most annoying thing is Samsung’s emojis… Why would they change the stock ones with even worse ones? Ok, maybe not worse, but why change?

  • Victor Creed

    Look at all that white UI. Shame

  • Cowen K. Gittens

    To me, it looks beautiful. My opinion

  • William

    i was eagerly waiting for the update in January…let’s hope they don’t release it in March

  • cowboysfanzz

    Not a fan of the white and grey look. Looks….boring. thank God for themes and nova launcher! !

  • AbbyZFresh

    Those bubble icons are already starting to piss me off.

    • Kazahani

      Nova Launcher. Problem solved.

    • Shivam Chatak

      You’ll be able to turn if off in 6.0.1 its optional

  • McLaren F1P1

    Grace ui, black marble, weyo themes! Better than any stock ui! Unleashes the true power of the Sam ui!

  • Brian Abbott

    I am with Rogers. It could be a long time before I get Marshmallow. I really am waiting to see if Marshmallow will make my S6 a better phone.

  • Benni Bennetsen

    How do i get the update

  • Francisco Pineda Amaya

    And how’s the battery life aside from the stand by time? Screen on time and average battery life on your usage?

  • Can’t you afford a microphone for your videos? You sound far away…

  • Daggett Beaver

    You didn’t cover what I consider to be one of the most important issues: Does the fingerprint scanner use Google’s code now, or Samsung’s. That will make a difference in which fingerprint-enabled apps will be compatible.

    • Therealestmc

      Good question. It would be nice if Samsung could find a way to make it support both code. That would be a huge win for Samsung.

  • jdawgnoonan

    I think that the notification bar/panel looks much better than it did before.

  • current OS 5.1.1 lollipop drains battery like hell when i use wifi but when i use data all the time its gives ok performance. wifi turned on wont give me more then 12hrs of use when I simply lock the phone not even touch it, its just horrible :(

  • Beryl Perez Gonzales

    why theres no update here in the UAE

  • Scott A. Hanson

    How much system space does Marshmallow take vs Lollipop?

  • mcdonsco

    Here’s to hoping it was just an oversight not allowing quick connect to be removed from the notification shade. Absolutely hate that and immediately disable it on any samsung phone I get (currently note 5).

    Looking forward to MM.

  • Raul Acevedo

    Material Design’s whiteness is the primary reason to root your phone and theme it with Layers or a Cyanogen Theme Engine ROM… And why I switched to the Nexus line and away from the dev-unfriendly Galaxy series. Material’s white everywhere thing is just plain ugly.

  • Victor

    The thing is I dont have it yet.

  • nathan118

    Your mobile page is ad filled garbage.

  • Tom Boss

    Have to tried to download and install the Google Dialer and Contacts apps?

  • Olamyde♥♡♥♡

    Been using my S6 edge since it was launched and the phone hasn’t slowed down yet. It’s such a terrific phone and your comment about it slowing down after the first few months are really debatable

    • Major Sceptic

      Yes I think these slow downs are the exception rather than the rule I think, , I’ve had Samsung phones for 3 years and both of my devices run faster now than when I bought them new, the only reason i can think of them slowing down is the user doesn’t maintain his device,
      even my old note 2 was faster in its old age than it was when I bought it new.

  • Hari

    How about multi tasking ? Is it improved? Or still the apps getting reload when you open from multi tasking window?

  • Wella Agudelo

    Will the RAM management improve with Marshmallow?

    Thanks!

  • saksham

    i dont know why people complain about ram management … well at least in the indian s6 edge version i dont have much bloat on it and i always have about 2 gigs of available ram ( shown in smart manager )….. about 7 apps ( google apps and facebook ) can run in the background and upto 3 high graphic level games

  • saksham

    is there any added features to the edge version ?

  • Marshal Pilgreen

    Can anyone verify if the marshmallow update allows 3rd party music apps like Spotify to pass along music titles to show on honda head units?

  • Can’t wait for adoptable storage on my S5.

  • Mohit Hiralal

    Liking the color scheme of the notification panel

  • Rob

    Still haven’t seen a Marshmellow update on Sprint for my S6 Edge.

  • Samsung is top dog

    9 hours on 21%?!?!??! I cannot wait for the update on my S6

  • Roman Sama

    Why i cant take images in RAW format even though i have updated my gs6 edge to marshmallow. There is an option for Raw image in settings but i cant activate it its not highlighted …what should i do now?

  • Deep Jain (DJ)

    Camera got too drop in image quality after updating ?

  • Deep Jain (DJ)

    Camera got drop in image quality after updating ?

  • T off the New

    Less than pleased with this. The update gave me a double lock screen. I had a pin for work security reasons and the update added a “swipe to unlock” screen right before the pin screen… I’ve tried and searched all over for a way to remove the swipe screen. The white background is harder to read, and “quick connect” always visible in the drop down is irritating.
    Any solutions to any of this?

  • Al

    It is pretty amazing how well my S6 functions now. Since I’ve had it the last week or so:

    1. Battery life has gone through the roof. Prior, I’d barely make it to 3pm on a charge. With the new improvements, it’s been excellent for the size of the battery. Depending upon usage, its questionable if it’ll make it throughout the entire day, but I’m not worried about it as much.

    2. Everything is smoother. Scrolling is smoother. Apps open and close quicker and smoother. The overall operation of the phone is better.

    3. I use a Material Design theme from the Theme Store. While I like the new TouchWiz, I do think it is too light. I prefer darker themes and wallpapers.

    It feels like a new phone to me now. I considered getting the S7 but decided not to. The S6 has a lot of life in it and takes anything I throw at it like a champ. Right now, the only reason I would get anything else is if I am bored and cash burning a hole in my pocket.

  • Meny Venegas

    NO! those marshmallows are ROASTED! it is NOT a “welcomed improvement”! I had to replace my phone last week after the update for a “refurbished” phone after having used it for only 3 months. This is BS! Marshmallow update is still at a very early stage and it will not be stable at least for a while. My screen flickered pink, and it had glitches and lags on my phone, and I wasn’t able to download from the app store. So far I’ve been happy with Samsung products, and have shunned away from the overpriced Iphone, but recently I’ve been tempted to switch sides. It sucks.

  • Amy Z

    For all those saying to just change the theme – is there a theme that looks like the default, but changes the pull-down back to what it was? Because that’s all I want and I’d rather not search hundreds of themes to find that. Or keep trying and resetting. I don’t need all the flash and pizzazz of all these custom themes, just he basics, minus the annoying white/gray crap. Thanks. I can customize everything else w/o a theme, fonts and colors included, why not this? It’s a weird thing to not be able to change under “display”. I shouldn’t need a theme for this small piece. I don’t know why it annoys me so much, but it does.

  • Riley

    I really enjoy marshmallow on my s6 and one major things I realized is the crazy extension of my battery life. Some apps used to drain my battery like crazy but now it lasts a lot longer with those apps. With just that feature I totally recommend upgrading without a doubt.

  • Verona Padayachee

    Hi there, is there any way to block the drop down settings when your phone is locked on a Samsumg Galaxy S6? It is too easy to change those settings when the phone is locked!!

  • Dana Fleming

    Everything is white… too white and with grey or blue text and boxes … light grey/light blue. There isn’t enough contrast. I find I’m actually squinting in some apps. Grrr don’t love this whitewashed change. Totally unnecessary.

  • Islam

    I like the old android 5.1.1 lilipop update because it had special effects and clock widget had shadow. Old themes worked better with old android 5.1.1 update..
    I really liked my old themes but marshmallow update spoilt them