March 1, 2015
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Samsung has just announced their newest curved-screen smartphone, the Galaxy S6 Edge, here at MWC 2015. This device launched alongside its standard-screened counterpart, the Galaxy S6. While the two devices feature very similar specifications, there are some notable changes made with the Edge. What new features does this new phone bring to the table? Are the enhancements merely gimmicks, or are they truly innovations? We’ll find that out, and more, in our hands-on and first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Design and build

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The big news with Samsung’s latest flagship offerings is the move away from the plastic build material to a more premium look and feel. With an aluminum frame and glass back reinforced by Gorilla Glass 4, these devices now offer the high-end quality that many have been wanting for a long time from Samsung. It’s easy to tell that this is still a Samsung device though, as you do have the tactile home button up front, integrated with a fingerprint scanner, and flanked by capacitive back and recent apps keys. The overall aesthetic will remind you of previous generations, only in a more refined body.

Of course, like its namesake, the Note Edge, the Galaxy S6 Edge earns its name from a curved display edge. But unlike its larger sibling, there isn’t just one, but rather both sides of the display feature curved extensions. In terms of handling, the edge will definitely take some getting used to, especially with the curve now on both sides. But the comparatively smaller size of the S6 Edge will make handling the phone much easier, not to mention that the curve’s angle should make the phone less cumbersome than the Note Edge.

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The 3.5mm headphone jack, speakers and USB port can all be found at the bottom of the device, which, like the S6, has plastic inserts to let radio waves through. Due to the screen curve on both sides, the power button is moved up top, though the volume rocker is on the left hand side like always. The change in power button placement may take some getting used to, especially because this is a pretty big device. The camera and flash modules have been completely redesigned, but due to the glass back panel, there are a few compromises to be made. The back of the device is completely flat aside from the camera module that protrudes out. This could be a problem when placing the device on a flat surface, especially if you aren’t using a case.

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Since Samsung went all-out on build quality this year, users will have to make a few other compromises with this handset. For starters, the back isn’t replaceable, so you won’t be able to switch out the battery when it runs out. Additionally, Samsung didn’t make room for MicroSD card expansion either. These are two main features that normally set Samsung apart from the competition, so Samsung die-hards will likely not take this change very well. Fans of the waterproof design from the GS5 should also note that this doesn’t make a return for the Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge.

It’ll be interesting to see how fans react to all of these changes to accommodate the premium build quality, but as far as the look and feel in the hand goes, there’s no denying that it’s a big improvement.

Display

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Save for the edges, things are mostly identical between the S6 and the S6 Edge. When it comes to the display, the Edge also features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in an impressive pixel density of 577ppi. As is always the case with Samsung displays, you get deep blacks, bright and vivid colors, and great contrast, brightness, and viewing angles. If things aren’t to your liking, there are quite a few display modes to choose from to cater the experience to what suits you.

As is the story with the GS6, not everyone is going to feel that QHD is necessary for a device with this display size, but then again many felt that way with Full HD and yet today it has certainly become the norm.

Hardware

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Again like the S6, the Edge iteration also packs an Exynos 7420 processor backed by 3GB of RAM. Samsung flagships are always on the cutting edge when it comes to power, and things are no different this time around. Along with an improved experience on the software side of things, performance should be of no issue for this smartphone. You’ll also now have the option in choosing between 32/64/128GB of on-board storage, but as mentioned, it is not expandable any further. Although, it’s nice to see Samsung ditch the 16GB baseline option to accommodate for removal of expandable memory.

The fingerprint scanner is present on the S6 Edge, though it’s been largely improved since we last saw it on the Galaxy Note 4/Edge, and is now of the touch-based variety. The S6 Edge also has a heart rate monitor, found at its usual spot below the camera module.

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When it comes to the battery, the S6 Edge packs a rather small (but still bigger than the S6) 2,600mAh battery. While the battery capacity might result in some concerns, especially with it now powering a Quad HD display, the new Exynos processor is said to be quite frugal in its power consumption, so things might actually not be that bad when it comes to battery life. To help make up for lack of a massive battery, the  Samsung has added fast charging capabilities, claiming that users can get up to two hours of video playback after only 10 minutes of charging the device and a full charge in about 80 minutes. Furthermore, the S6 Edge supports multiple forms of wireless charging standards (WPC and PMA), which will allow you to use most charging pads.

Camera

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The Galaxy S6 Edge comes with a 16MP rear-facing camera with smart optical image stabilization (OIS), and a 5MP front-facing camera with a 90-degree wide-angle lens, which will be great for all you selfie lovers out there.

A few notable improvements have been made to the camera on the software side of things, including the ability to double tap on your home screen to launch the camera app, claimed to happen in only 0.7 seconds. The rear camera has a new feature called “tracking autofocus”, which tracks moving objects in the frame, such as moving cars or kids. The camera app comes with all the features we’ve come to expect from Samsung devices, along with a revamped HDR mode. The new Auto HDR Mode now automatically turns itself on when the camera thinks it needs it.

Software

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On the software front, the Galaxy S6 Edge is running Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, with Touchwiz on top. Touchwiz, for the most part, looks just about the same from previous generations, with only a few Lollipop-related changes added in. The good news is that the number of pre-installed apps has been cut drastically, meaning less bloat out of the box. There’s also a brand new theme system that will allow you to change up the look a bit if you don’t like the default icons and style presented by Samsung’s default experience.

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As for the curved edges, unlike the Note Edge, the curves are more about aesthetics and less about special features. However, hat’s not to say they don’t add anything to the experience. The edges offer two basic features, with the first being the ability to assign different colors to up to 5 contacts, and you can know who is calling from the glowing edges, even when the phone is placed face down.

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The edges can also now show you your notifications (calls, texts, and more) even with the case is closed.

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Samsung is also launching their new mobile payment platform called Samsung Pay. Due to the company’s recent acquisition of mobile payment platform LoopPay, many features from the LoopPay platform will make their way to Samsung Pay. The payment system incorporates NFC, barcode, and MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) technology that is slated to work with 90% of retailers’ POS systems. It won’t be available until Q3 2015, and will release in the US and Korean markets first. We’ll definitely have our full review up before then, but we’ll be sure to test Samsung Pay in great detail when it becomes available to the masses.

Specifications

Display5.1-inch Super AMOLED
2560 x 1440 resolution, 577 ppi
ProcessorExynos 7420
RAM3 GB
Storage32/64/128 GB
Camera16 MP rear camera with OIS
5 MP front-facing camera with 90 degree wide angle lens
ConnectivityWiFi a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS + GLONASS
NetworksLTE cat 6 300/50
Battery2,600 mAh
Fast charging
WPC and PMA-compatible wireless charging
SoftwareAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Dimensions142.1 x 70.1 x 7.0 mm
132 grams
ColorsBlack, white, gold, green

Gallery

 Wrap up

The Galaxy S6 Edge will be available in Black, White, Gold and Green. Samsung hasn’t released pricing details or availability information quite yet, but we’ll be sure to update you when the information surfaces.

So, there you have it, our hands-on and first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge! This device is a huge change from the Note Edge and S5, though many will agree that these changes are for the better. Be sure to stay with us for our full review of both the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in the coming weeks. Also, Android Authority will be here at MWC 2015 all week, so we’ll continue to bring you the best coverage from Samsung and all other OEMs attending the trade show.

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