Samsung Galaxy S6: Early impressions

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Gizmag shares some early thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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The Galaxy S6 is Samsung's most aggressive step forward yet in the mobile space. Though we aren't ready to publish our full review, we have some early thoughts on our experience of using the GS6.

We've seen some outstanding smartphones in the last six months or so – to the degree that a solid all-around phone like the HTC One M9 felt like a disappointment. We're still forming our impressions of the Galaxy S6, but we can assure you that "disappointing" isn't going to be on the list.

The Galaxy S6's build is both an exciting step forward and a little concerning. It's beautiful: made of glass on the back and aluminum on the sides. To compare it to the Galaxy S5's build (with its dimpled plastic back and plastic sides) would be a joke. On a design level, it's in a completely different echelon from every other mobile product Samsung has made.

But its aluminum edges, particularly the top and bottom (above), look a lot like those of the iPhone 6. Its front and back, mind you, look nothing like Apple's flagship. It's more the rounded edges, along with the placement and styling of the charging port, headphone port and speakers that look very iPhone 6-esque.

The Galaxy S6 is pleasantly light in hand, especially for a premium phone. The screen size isn't enormous – this falls well short of being a phablet – but the 5.1-in screen is still 18 percent bigger than that of its rival/muse, the iPhone 6.

The screen quality is nothing short of outstanding. We've seen several Quad HD displays in the last year, and they all look awesome. But none of them were crunched into a display this size. Its 577 pixels per inch density is off-the-charts. Prepare your eyes for what's probably the best mobile display they've ever seen.

So far its camera is outstanding. It fires up faster than any smartphone camera we've used, jumping from sleeping phone to snapped picture in under three seconds. That's a mind-blowing result, and it's helped in no small part by the fact that you can quickly jump to the camera app by double-tapping the home button. The shot quality so far is also top-notch.

Overall performance is crazy fast too, and it's sitting at least on equal ground with other fast phones like the One M9 and LG G Flex 2.

Samsung sufficiently toned down its TouchWiz UI, while still maintaining the phone's own identity, distinct from the Android Lollipop that sits at its core. It doesn't look remarkably different from, say, the Note 4's software, but it comes preinstalled with far fewer Samsung apps (many of which were little more than bloatware).

The Galaxy S6's fingerprint sensor is another huge step forward. It's now touch-based (the 2014 Samsung sensors required a swipe from one direction). So far it looks like it's every bit as fast and responsive as Apple's Touch ID.

The Galaxy S6 is wireless charging-enabled out of the box, and our unit worked perfectly with a Qi charger we had lying around. Good thing Samsung added this, as you can't remove the battery cover in the GS6 (in older Galaxy flagships, you could buy a separate cover for wireless charging).

It's too early to comment on battery life, and that will be one of the mysteries we'll solve before running our full review.

From where we stand now, the Galaxy S6 clearly looks like one the best smartphones you can buy, and is a strong contender for the very top spot. Stay tuned for more, as we dig deeper.

The Galaxy S6 officially launches on April 10, retailing for around US$650 full retail (though that varies from carrier to carrier) and $200 on-contract.

Product page: Samsung

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