The Galaxy S6 edge+ is a device that puts us in a funny position. You'd think that considering that it is almost identical to the new Galaxy Note5 (except for its curved display and lack of an S Pen) that we'd have the same issues with it as we have with the Note5. However, the lack of a removable battery or microSD slot, doesn't bother us as much on the S6 edge+.
The difference is that the edge+ is not building on a legacy of a previous series of devices designed and built for enthusiasts. Although it is true to say that each successive generation of Note gained a wider audience, at the core the Note brand was built by what can be termed "power" Android users. The fact that Samsung decided to ditch two key features in the Note5 is a betrayal to those passionate users.
The edge+ doesn't have that problem because it is simply just a larger version of a new category of curved screen phones started with the Galaxy S6 edge. A phone that also doesn't have a removable battery or microSD slot. For those of you who liked the design of the original edge, but want something with a bigger screen, your ship has come in.
We'd also like to add, before someone points it out in the comments, that we do remember that there was also a Note Edge, too. However, that was more of a limited production concept device, rather than a widely available phone, so it doesn't count.
At Samsung's Unpacked event last week, we got to go briefly hands-on with the S6 edge+. Read on to hear more thoughts on it and watch our video.
|Products||Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+|
|Display||5.7-inch SAMOLED @ 2560x1440 (518 PPI)|
|SoC||Samsung Exynos 7420|
|CPU Core||ARM Cortex-A57 (4x @ 2.1GHz) + ARM Cortex-A53 (4x @ 1.5GHz) [big.LITTLE]|
|GPU Core||ARM Mali-T760MP8 @ 772 MHz|
|Memory||4 GB LPDDR4|
|Storage||32 GB, 64 GB|
|Battery||3,000 mAh, non-removable|
|Front Camera||5 MP, f/1.9|
|Rear Camera||16 MP, 1/2.6" Sony IMX240 Exmor RS or Samsung S5K2P2 ISOCELL, 1.12μm, f/1.9, PDAF, OIS, automatic HDR, object tracking autofocus, LED flash|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.2 LE, NFC, 4G LTE (Cat 9), microUSB 2.0|
|Special Features||Multi Window, fingerprint scanner (touch), Samsung Pay, Quick Launch camera, wireless charging (WPC 1.1 & PMA 1.0), Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0|
|OS||Android 5.1.1 (TouchWiz)|
|Size||154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm, 153g|
Since this will be the third article covering the new phones that Samsung just launched, we won't go into much detail about the edge+'s internal specs. Suffice to say it uses the same Exynos 7420 SoC as the S6 edge (and Note5), and only differs from it internally by having more memory (4GB), a bigger screen and a bigger battery (3,000 mAh). Even with these duplicated specs, the edge+ is still the most powerful large-screen phone current available (along with the new Note), thanks to the fact that the Exynos 7420 is currently the most powerful mobile SoC on the market.
So why are we OK with the S6 edge+ having the same sized non-removable battery and lack of internal storage, but knocked the Note5 for the very same thing? Well, to be blunt, we feel the mainstream user who is going to be interested in the edge+ isn't going to be as concerned by the lack of these features.
That kind of user, the one who makes up the majority of smartphone users, is not one of us. They aren't the hardcore phone geeks who push their devices to the limit every day, and find that they are out of juice before noon. They also aren't going to pack their phone's storage with episodes of some long out of circulation and obscure anime. The 3,000 mAh battery of the S6 edge+ and 32 or 64 GB of storage is going to be more than sufficient.
Samsung has also incorporated both wired and wireless fast charging on the S6 edge+ and claim that you can wirelessly charge it fully in only two hours. This impressive charging speed (for wireless) is due to it support the WPC's new Qi-based 15-watt fast charging technology.
Just as its internal specifications are almost the same as its smaller brother, the S6 edge+'s external design is almost the same. It is as if Samsung simply took the S6 edge's schematics in its CAD software, hit the enlarge button, and simply typed "112 percent." Although we're half-joking, the S6 edge+ really does look indistinguishable from the S6 edge. You could call that unimaginative, but seeing as the S6 edge is a gorgeous slab of mobile technology, perhaps it was smart not to mess with success.
One of the issues we had with the S6 edge was that the curved display meant that its sides were thin strips of metal that made the phone hard to pick up and uncomfortable to hold. This issue continues with the S6 edge+, and perhaps the one reason Samsung should have deviated from the "make it like an S6 edge, but bigger" plan.
The top of the S6 edge+ has just the SIM card tray, and on the bottom is the USB 2.0 charging port, single speaker and headphone jack. As we noted in the Note5 hands-on, we wish that Samsung would recognize that people do appreciate stereo speakers on their phones. We'd have also perhaps liked to have seen a USB Type-C port for charging, too.
Just like the specs, we won't go into great detail about the camera other than to say that, again, the S6 edge+ uses the same hardware as its smaller relative. Also making a return is the camera bump. Although we realize that the combination of sensor and optics to enable all the features like OIS means a larger camera module, we do think that an increase in girth to reduce the bump wouldn't hurt. No one is going to complain if a phone as big as the S6 edge+ was a few millimeters thicker.
The Galaxy S6 edge+, like the Note5, runs Android 5.1.1 with a new version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI. This update has new icon designs with rounded corners that match the curved aesthetic of Samsung's current generation of phones. They do look nice enough, but they won't play well visually with the icons of many of the other apps on your phone that will be square.
Because the S6 edge+ does not have an S Pen, none of those new pen-related software features of the Note5 are found on it. What Samsung has done is update the edge screen features. On the original S6 edge there are four elements to what the edge screen could do -- edge lighting, People edge, Information stream and Night clock, and you can read how they work in our Galaxy S6 edge review. The addition to the S6 edge+ is App edge, which lets you assign your five favorite apps to a vertical menu that can be accessed by swiping in from the edge of the screen. You can see this in action in our video above.
Both the S6 edge+ and Note5 have ultra-high quality audio (UHQA), which you can read more about in our preview. You can also stream this audio over Bluetooth to compatible headsets, such as the new Level On Wireless headphones.
Pricing And Availability
|Carriers||U.S.: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon WirelessCanada: Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Wind Mobile, and Videotron|
|Colors||U.S.: Black Sapphire and Gold PlatinumCanada: Black SapphireRest of World: Black Sapphire, White Pearl, Gold Platinum, and Silver Titanium|
It does appear as though, initially, North America will lose out a little in the color choice stakes. We only get the black and gold phones here (and in Canada, only the black). In other markets, there is also a silver and white S6 edge+, which can be seen below. The S6 edge+ will be available on a wide variety of carriers in both Canada and the U.S., listed above.
In the U.S., the 32 GB Galaxy S6 edge+ is $350 with a 2-year contract, and the 64 GB model is $450. Outright, the Note5 starts at around $800 for the 32 GB model and $900 for the 64 GB, depending on what carrier you choose.
In Canada, the S6 edge+ jumps in price considerably. The 32 GB model is $460 with a 2-year contract, and the 64 GB model is expected to be $560. Outright, the Note5 starts at around $950 for the 32 GB model and an insane $1050 for the 64 GB, depending on which carrier you choose.
New Edge, Samsung's Best Big Screen Phone?
In contrast to our thoughts about the Galaxy Note5, we think the Samsung has hit a bullseye with the S6 edge+. Even though it's simply an enlarged S6 edge, we think that it is probably the best large-screen phone for the average phone user. It has the most powerful mobile SoC and one of the best cameras found on any phone, wrapped in a beautiful glass-and-metal body with a unique-looking dual-curved display.
However, it is not going to be a phone for everyone, and it isn't a phone we'd recommend for power Android users looking for their new big screen device. We also think that perhaps the new Galaxy Note5 isn't that phone either. It will be interesting, then, to see which Android OEM steps up to the plate and makes a true successor to the Note 4.
Alex Davies is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware and Tom's IT Pro, covering Smartphones, Tablets, and Virtual Reality. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.