Samsung Galaxy S6 (32GB) review: Simply, the best Samsung Galaxy

Can it turn Samsung's smartphone business around?

Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Expert Rating

    4.75 / 5

Pros

  • Metal and glass body
  • Leading 577ppi screen
  • Powerful computing innards
  • Good battery life
  • Great 16MP rear- and 5MP-front cameras
  • Improved finger scanner
  • Light TouchWiz software

Cons

  • No expandable storage
  • Battery is non-removable

Would you buy this?

And yet battery life remains impressive. We have been testing the Galaxy S6 for six days as of the time of writing. We measured its longevity with the battery saving mode both enabled and deactivated.

Our shortest recorded battery life was the result of having the screen brightness set three-quarters to max, having the power saving mode deactivated, and involved the smartphone being used heavily. GPS was enabled and our multiple social networking accounts, along with two email accounts, were synchronising automatically. These conditions are the least economical and caused the Galaxy S6’s battery to drain in 14 hours — by far our shortest result, and it was an outlier compared to the rest.

Turning off the autosync and the GPS, while lowering the display to half prolonged battery life to 22 hours. Setting the screen brightness to half is still more than enough for everyday use as it is of such a high standard.

Good Gear Guide found enabling the ‘power saver’ mode would extend the battery life further to 28 hours before needing a charge.

Read more: LG confirms G4 camera ahead of Samsung Galaxy S6 launch

The overall average was approximately 24 hours of battery life per charge. In comparison, HTC’s One (M9), which has a lower resolution 1920x1080 display and a larger 2840 mAh battery, recorded an average battery life of 18 hours. Apple’s iPhone 6 fluctuated between 17- and 25-hours of battery life.

Charging the battery should be quick with the manufacturer claiming the smartphone supports fast charging. Good Gear Guide received an overseas production model of the Galaxy S6 and it did not come with the fast-charge adaptor. We will update this review once local stock of the smartphone becomes available to provide some insights on charging time.

We did measure how much time it would take an ordinary microUSB charger to replenish the battery. Charging the smartphone from five per cent to full took 90 minutes.

Built into the smartphone is a wireless charging pad supportive of two popular standards: WPC and PMA. Using an inductive charger to replenish the Galaxy S6’s battery takes more time. We tested this feature using a generic WPC charger and it took approximately three and a half hours to charge the smartphone from flat to full. This method of charging also caused our Galaxy S6 to heat up.

A custom CPU and why expandable storage is missing

Samsung credits the performance of the battery in part to the processor. The Exynos 7420 processor used was developed by Samsung and it the first chipset to be used in a smartphone that is built on a 14nm fabrication process.

The chipset is similar to that of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 in that it uses ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. It is composed of two quad-core CPUs: the first is clocked at 1.5GHz, while the second runs at a more powerful 2.1GHz, and it will alternate between the two depending on how much computational power is needed. Graphics are handled by a Mali T760 GPU from ARM and it shares 3GB of RAM with the Samsung processor.

Overall performance improvements are noticeable. Older Samsung smartphones were hampered by lag when switching on the screen or tapping the multitask button. A moments pause always held the smartphone back, and this was even the case with phones as recent as the Galaxy Note Edge.

Hit the power button on the Galaxy S6 and it takes virtually no time for the screen to turn on. Everything happens with the sense of immediacy that should characterise every flagship. The only time there is a sense it is playing catch up is when the Galaxy S6 is set to “Power Saving”, as it limits CPU performance.

Good Gear Guide tested the CPU and GPU performance of the Galaxy S6. It achieved a score of 22,083 using 3DMark’s Ice Storm Extreme, which was fractionally more than the 21,967 achieved by the HTC One (M9) and the 17,462 scored by the iPhone 6 Plus.

Capacitive buttons still line the bottom of the smartphone so that they don't take up space on the 5.1-inch screen
Capacitive buttons still line the bottom of the smartphone so that they don't take up space on the 5.1-inch screen

Missing from the Galaxy S6 is an expandable memory slot. Samsung made the bold decision to ditch microSD support in favour of beefing up the internal storage. The Galaxy S6 is offered in options of 32, 64 and 128 gigabytes of memory.

Company executives claim the smartphone’s next-generation UFS 2.0 storage delivers faster transfer speeds, which would have been let down by slower microSD cards. We compared the transfer speeds of the Galaxy S6 to that of the HTC One (M9) by reading and writing files between the two smartphones and a PC.

Three files were used for this test: a 112MB music album, a 2GB, 1080p movie and a 9.3GB, UHD movie.

The Samsung smartphone achieved faster transfer speeds, though the differences were negligible. Copying the 2GB movie from the Galaxy S6 to the PC took 1 minute and 14 seconds, which was 9 seconds faster than that of the One (M9). Hardcore Samsung fans may not find the 9 second difference more valuable than having the flexibility of expandable storage.

Has Samsung spoiled another good phone with cumbersome TouchWiz?

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Read more on these topics: Android, samsung, TouchWiz, Galaxy S5, Lollipop, Galaxy S6
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