Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Once the best Android phone

Nathan Spendelow Katharine Byrne
11 Jan 2019
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It's expensive but the Galaxy S6 Edge was once the most powerful Android phone to date, and its gorgeous curves made it very desirable too


Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Performance and benchmarks

As widely expected, Samsung has ditched Qualcomm this time for the UK version of its flagship handset. Instead, everyone in the world is getting the same Samsung-made octa-core Exynos 7420 chip. With four cores running at 2.1GHz and another four running at 1.5GHz, it uses ARM's big.LITTLE design to improve both performance and battery life. This is the first smartphone processor to use a 14nm fabrication process, which means that it should run cooler and use less power. It's also among the first Android handsets to have a 64-bit processor, now supported in Android Lollipop.

Admittedly, the phone did get quite toasty when running our benchmarks, but it easily outstripped almost every other Android handset we've tested, including the 64-bit HTC One M9LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z3+. In Geekbench 3, for instance, it scored a massive 5,130 in the multicore test, making it by far the fastest handset I tested last year. To put that in perspective, that's around 1,500 points higher than the One M9 and Z3+, almost 2,500 points above the G4. It's also 500 points ahead of the ordinary S6.

The S6 Edge also proved itself the more capable gaming companion, as its huge 1,537 frames (or 25fps) in GFX Bench GL's offscreen Manhatten test is one of the quickest I've seen. The S6 wasn't far behind with its 1,429 frames (or 23fps), but even the Z3+ and One M9 could only manage scores of 1,194 (19fps) and 1,220 (20fps) respectively. This is still more than enough power to play even the most demanding games in the Google Play Store, including Blizzard's Hearthstone, but the S6 Edge should be able to cope with higher graphics options if you have the choice. 

The only area where the competition surpassed the S6 Edge was in our Peacekeeper web browsing tests, as the S6 Edge's score of 1,024 rather lags behind the S6's 1,257 and the Z3+'s leading 1,312. Still, web browsing was still incredibly smooth during day-to-day use and I had no problems scrolling or zooming in on news articles from the Guardian whatsoever. Either way, the S6 Edge is certainly one of the most powerful and quickest smartphones I've seen to date, which is a relief after the Galaxy S5's rather more rocky transition to Android Lollipop.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review: Android Lollipop and Touchwiz

Once again, Samsung has customised Android Lollipop with its TouchWiz interface. Thankfully, the company has taken the approach that less is more this time round, which means that most of the pre-installed applications have gone. Indeed, there are less than two pages of pre-installed apps in the app tray when you first turn on the phone, which is brilliant news for anyone who's suffered through mountains of Samsung bloatware on its previous handsets.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge app tray

^ For the first time ever, the app tray has just two pages of apps (and even most of these are still only download shortcuts).

This not only removes any excess clutter from the home screens, but it also frees up storage space. Even the Microsoft apps that are bundled (OneDrive, OneNote and Skype) are merely shortcut icons that you tap to install the apps. The 64GB version of the S6 Edge had roughly 52GB of space to spare, with 12GB taken up by the operating systems and pre-installed applications.

Samsung's take on Android Lollipop won't please everyone, but it's not that far from the norm either. You'll still find a fullscreen Flipboard app to the left of the main home screen, which acts as your main news feed instead of Google Now or HTC's BlinkFeed app, but the notifications and settings are quite different from your stock version of Lollipop. For instance, you don't need to swipe down twice to get both your notifications and settings shortcuts, and you'll find another batch of shortcut icons when you go into the main settings menu as well. Continues on Page 3

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