Looking back at the Samsung Galaxy S6

by: Lanh NguyenFebruary 9, 2016
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The official launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7 is less than two weeks away, and with the rumor train chugging along at full steam, we’re slowly but surely getting a clear idea of what to expect on February 21. However, before we move on to what is soon to be Samsung’s latest and greatest, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy S6 videos

The Samsung Galaxy S6 featured one of the most radical changes that Samsung has ever made to their flagship Galaxy S line, and with a quite a lot being new, there is some curiosity with regards to how the device has aged since its release last year. That’s what we find out, in this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 – now!

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The drastic changes Samsung introduced with the Galaxy S6 were seen right off the bat, with the company finally giving users what they wanted with a more premium metal and glass build. The use of these new build materials not only makes for a device that is still one of the best looking in the market, but also helps the smartphone hold up much better over time when compared to its plastic-clad predecessors. Of course, an additional $100 will get you the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with its unique curved edges to the display that spill over on the sides, and is personally the one I prefer.

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Granted, accusations of the design being “inspired” by one of its biggest competitors were flung around, and while there are admittedly some similarities, the Galaxy S6 is still a Samsung smartphone through and through, while also being a far better designed smartphone that year’s past. While many appreciated the updates to the design and build quality, it wasn’t without its detractors.

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The new design language did result in previously staple elements like expandable storage and removable batteries going by the wayside, which understandably caused quite the uproar among users who took advantage of these features. Obviously, the story is pretty much the same to this day, with users having to opt for for the highest 128 GB built-in option to alleviate any storage concerns, but that, did of course, require paying the resulting hike in the price point.

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With replaceable batteries no longer an option, users had to resort to fast charging or wireless charging to stay topped up. Both are fantastic features, the Galaxy S6 did lose some of its luster when you had to charge it multiple times a day. The Samsung Galaxy S6 didn’t offer a particularly impressive battery life when it was initially released, and that unfortunately holds true even today. However, this situation could potentially improve with the upcoming update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For now, if you are looking for a Galaxy S6 with good battery life, the Active iteration, with its much larger battery, is the way to go, but even its availability is limited by its AT&T exclusivity.

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Speaking of updates, the Galaxy S6 has received quite a few over the course of the year, including the official update to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The Apps Edge feature that was initially exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ also made its over to its smaller sibling, which was great news, given that this is the most useful Edge feature on offer. The update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is also slowly starting to make its way to users, A beta version of the software is also floating around for those who are interested, and Nirave has already given us a look at what this updated software package brings to the table.

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Samsung also made a lot of its improvements to the software experience available with the Galaxy S6, but despite that, it’s still not one of my favorites in terms of aesthetics. However, what was a welcome addition and one of the best parts of TouchWiz now is the robust Theme Store, and being able to cater the look of the user interface to how you want it does make the whole experience feel a lot more bearable.

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The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution remains just as gorgeous as it has ever been, and is another great example of how well this phone has held up, despite being one of the earlier flagship releases of 2015. This is still one of the best smartphone displays currently available in the market, and everything from reading text and watching videos to playing games continues to be as enjoyable as it did when the phone first came out.

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As far as performance is concerned, the Exynos 7420 has proven to be a beast of a processor, and in my experience, everything seems to be as snappy and responsive as it was initially. Applications and games continue to load smoothly, but the aggressive RAM management that has become a well known issue is still unfortunately still there. The fingerprint scanner also doesn’t feel as fast as before. That’s not to say that the fingerprint scanner isn’t as accurate or reliable as before, but when compared to the implementations found with the more recent smartphone releases, the Galaxy S6 does now feel a step behind.

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Of course, one of the best features of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is the camera. The 16 MP rear shooter is capable of taking amazing photos, and the Galaxy S6 camera can still be considered one of the best smartphone cameras currently available, which is certainly saying something, given how a lot of OEM flagships in 2015 featured camera experiences that were much improved in their own right.

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The camera is a pleasure to use, with its clean and intuitive software that certainly does not lack in features. Samsung also makes launching the camera a breeze, requiring only a double tap of the home button. I began to once again appreciate how convenient this shortcut was when I started to use the Galaxy S6 again, and a quick method to launch the camera like this is something that I’m hoping a lot more OEMs wills adopt this year.

So there you have it for this look back at the Samsung Galaxy S6! It may not have always been the case with Samsung’s flagship offerings, but the Galaxy S6 has certainly managed to stand tall against the test of time. The design and build quality are fantastic, the display is beautiful, the processing package continues to deliver, and what you have here is still one of the best smartphone cameras around. These statements are not usually easily made when considering a device that is a year old, and even more so in the case of previous Samsung devices. If nothing else, the Galaxy S6 is a testament to the fact that Samsung began to right the ship in 2015, and that is something we are hoping to see continue in just a few days from now.

  • selene6.23

    What theme do you have installed on the Edge? It looks very neat.

    I got my s6 last November and it works very very well so far. I optimized my apps and mostly use wifi instead of 4G so I easily get through a day without charging. When I’m busy and don’t have time for games or social media I can get 2 days on 1 charge. I also got so used to the fingerprint scanner that I sometimes instinctively try to unblock my Samsung tablet that way too, it’s not the fastest compared to Huawei or Apple but it’s not slow enough to get on my nerves.

    I’m looking forward to Marshmallow in hopes of even more manual settings for the camera and raw support.

    Overall s6 was a great investment. Judging by all the rumors s7 seems like another great flagship by Samsung and I’d probably get one if I had extra money to spare but for now I’m very satisfied with s6 and don’t feel the need to update.

    • Brandon Mount

      I switched from oneplus one to nexus 6 to S6 and I don’t know what the complaints are about battery life I easily get 4.5 hour SOT and never have to worry about charging more than once a day. Overall S6 has won me over from nexus, and except the oneplus I was nexus user since G1. Not a knock on nexus devices but S6 is very nice experience, I use action launcher. Everything ‘just works’ and the camera is really nice. I think I can skip a generation and keep the S6. I paid 439 for it new on ebay, great price for this device.

      • Amar, managing expectations

        “I paid 439 for it new on ebay”
        Now when was that ?

        I’ve had the 6p for a couple of weeks now. Lucked into some promotions and got it for $385. The experience is stellar…..but, I just can’t get over the size. Its just unmanageable at this point.

        • DEXTER DAVIS

          Try a note 5, much better bezel management

  • saksham

    when will marshmallow roll on the s6 edge ;_; ?

  • TheGCU

    You should never have to hope that a software update fixes battery life. This was a major screwup by Samsung. Only the Note series have decent battery life, because they have big batteries. Swapping batteries or using aftermarket extended batteries was such a great thing until Samsung killed it. And the lack of microSD slot means you’re gonna spend note on a phone with decent storage. Samsung only cares about good looking phones now, not good performkng phones, and that’s a shame. Looks like LG is the only real option anymore.

    • Inshaeql

      Laughed nice at this one.
      “Not good performing phones” hahahahhahaha.
      Still best performing android phones on market (exynos7).
      LG , i fallen for that talk and got G4 on release, its UI is constant stuttering out of the box, you can see this in every review on YouTube. After 2 weeks i traded it for S6 regular and to this day with android 6 now i never seen a single lag or stutter. Now i understand why sammy takes long on this android 6 because this beta i run now is so optimized i easily compete with iphone 6S in performance. Everything about my phone improved on this beta 6.0.1 , fingerprint speed matching iphone 6s now, even more fluid animations and UI and better battery life.

      You can troll previous sammy generations like this , i did too, but fuck it , they did stellar job on S6 and S7 will kick ass too (LG , HTC ,Cheap Chinese shits=dead). The sooner you jump on S6/7 wagon the better for you.

      • TheGCU

        I don’t need to jump on a bandwagon. It’s not a phone that I want, and I gave my reasons why. Your complaints have nothing to do with what I was talking about. It just doesn’t do what I want it to do.

        Fanboy much?

    • Eddie Hicks

      Not a good performing phone? I agree that Samsung should have stayed with expandable memory and removable battery, but the S6 and Note 5 are among the best performing phones available.

      • TheGCU

        I disagree. Bad battery life and a lack of expandable storage IS a performance issue, since other phones with those two features offer more usability to users. Those phones don’t perform as well as their predecessors. They’re faster, sure, but that’s not all there is.

        • Eddie Hicks

          OK, I get it to you they are performance issues. I read many reviews of smartphones and tablets of all makes and brands. Not once do I remember anyone referring to expandable memory and removable battery as performance items.

          • TheGCU

            They affect how I use the phone. How is that not performace-related?

          • Eddie Hicks

            No problem I get you. It’s just that you are the only person “I” ever heard consider them as performance features. Usually when I think of performance I Think of SOC, processor speed, screen resolution, etc.

          • TheGCU

            Those are just specs. They can look good on paper, but they don’t tell you how the device performs, what the user experience is like. Performance includes the whole experience of using the device.

    • Jacinta Quijana

      Agreed. LG is probably in my future. I was hugely interested in the Motorola X Pure, despite the lack of a user replaceable battery, but Motorola’s customer service issues are extremely troubling. Additionally, the screen sounds as though it’s excessively fragile, too.

  • veritas_ad_infinitum

    I may get an s7 if they smarten the F up and release the Goldmember version in North America first. Bad enough they released the Plus mere months after I paid a lung for the 64gb 5.1 in edge. They need to kill it for their North America launch in 2016. As much as I love my S6E, I need to believe in a company that doesn’t dick around its customers. S7 launching before my 2015 FLAGSHIP gets Marshmallow speaks volumes to Samsung’s commitment to past customers who are less than a year old. Not good.

  • Nopediboop

    “Journalists” wanted this metal and glass nonsense. I want removable batteries back

    • TheGCU

      Exactly. Users who wanted that just bought an iPhone instead.

      • Jacinta Quijana

        Agreed. My experiences with the Apple Touch convinced me I don’t want an iPhone. Fooling with my daughter’s has repeatedly reinforced that thought. Ours is a typically mixed family with both Apple fanatics & Android fiends. Currently, I’m firmly & happily ensconced in the Android camp. I say ‘currently’ because if at any time Android doesn’t meet my needs/wants I’ll look elsewhere, including towards (ugh) Apple. My loyalty is *EARNED* not *GIVEN*.

    • Jacinta Quijana

      And expandable storage…I’m not interested in phones without those features. Fortunately, my Galaxy Notes 3 & 4 are going strong.

    • Jacinta Quijana

      The Note 5 was only a week from release when I bought the Note 4. I simply wasn’t interested in it given the major steps back Samsung took with it so I happily opted for the Note 4 instead. I’m almost always a ‘latest & greatest’ customer but imo while the Note 5 was the ‘latest’ it didn’t come close to greatness.
      I’ve been happy with the plastic builds in the S3, S4, Note 3 & Note 4. My friend loved her S3 & really loves her S5. Another friend still has the original S which has been beaten to Hades & back but refuses to die, lol!

  • Emmet

    Why was Lahn awake at 5 in the morning to make this video?

  • Thessaly

    I love that LG has kept removable batteries and sdcards, conversely, I dislike that they’ve crippled their cameras by not including optical image stabilisation. The camera is a deal breaker (as has their various issues, re: tinny speakers and long bootloops).