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?

TouchWiz, only overhauled

TouchWiz has long let the hardware of Samsung smartphones down. One of the biggest improvements to the Galaxy S6 is that the previously cumbersome overlay has been radically overhauled. The dialer is now stock. The messaging application is stock. The task manager is stock. Toggles are also stock. Few things aren’t stock.

The camera, music player and video player are all Samsung’s own, but each one benefits from significant refinement in both functionality and design. The homescreen, the settings menu and parts of the notification blind are custom. The remaining majority is vanilla Android, with any changes extending the already functional operating system.

TouchWiz is significantly easier to use and, what’s more, it’s pretty. It’s as pretty as the smartphone’s exterior. Samsung has turned its weakness into one of its strengths.

1. The dialer; 2. Messaging app; 3. Task manager
1. The dialer; 2. Messaging app; 3. Task manager

1. Music albums; 2. Music folders; 3. Photo gallery
1. Music albums; 2. Music folders; 3. Photo gallery

1. Battery life; 2. Settings menu; 3. Finger scanner
1. Battery life; 2. Settings menu; 3. Finger scanner

Also approached with a simple mindset is the finger scanner. Former renditions dictated smartphones to be held upright only. Doing otherwise meant the phone would not recognise scanned fingers.

Samsung has not improved the finger scanner as much as it has started from scratch. Registering fingers takes a little more time. The end result is a finger scanner that can recognise a finger press in almost any direction.

There’s no more swiping from top to bottom. That method has been ditched for one that reads stationary fingers. Reading a finger and unlocking the smartphone can be done in one uniform motion, and although it is not the best finger scanner on the market, it is a great improvement. People who buy a Galaxy S6 will want to use the finger scanner to protect the smartphone.

One of the best set of cameras

The same diligence has been applied to the Galaxy’s two cameras. Both are high in resolution and have a wide f/1.9 aperture, while the rear camera benefits from optical image stabilisation. It is a 16 megapixel, UHD capable shooter, while the 5-megapixel front camera can record videos at 1440p.

There’s a reason why Samsung doesn’t mind the bulbous rear camera interrupting the otherwise seamless back. And that’s because the company has confidence in its photographic capabilities.

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge here

Photos taken with the 16-megapixel camera are bright in colour, have a wide dynamic range and are rich in detail. Take a photo under good lighting — or even decent artificial lighting — and the photo will be sharp as image noise is kept to a minimum. Tonal gradations are more evident when photos are taken at night, or in environments where light is scarce, though the Galaxy S6 still outperforms most rivals in these conditions.

A crop at 100 per cent of the photo above
A crop at 100 per cent of the photo above

A crop at 100 per cent of the photo above
A crop at 100 per cent of the photo above

A panorama photo taken with the Galaxy S6
A panorama photo taken with the Galaxy S6

The front camera is just as impressive as it boasts clear photos at high resolutions. The 4:3 aspect ratio when shooting at 5 megapixels means fewer people can fit in a selfie. A wider 16:9 ratio makes it possible to squeeze four or five people in, though the photos will be taken at a lesser 3.8 megapixels. Samsung has gone one further by allowing the heart sensor to double as a shutter key.

The camera interface has been overhauled to combine Samsung’s features in an easily digestible fashion, and accessing its settings menu brings with it the familiarity of stock Android. Stand out shooting modes include the ‘Pro’ mode, which houses granular imaging settings, and the ‘Panorama’ shooting mode.

What's missing from the S6 and the verdict over the page

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