Mobile Technology

Samsung Galaxy S6: Early impressions

Samsung Galaxy S6: Early impre...
Gizmag shares some early thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gizmag shares some early thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View 11 Images
Retail packaging for the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
1/11
Retail packaging for the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Cracking open the GS6's packaging (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
2/11
Cracking open the GS6's packaging (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Back of the white Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
3/11
Back of the white Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The GS6 will run $200 on-contract (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
4/11
The GS6 will run $200 on-contract (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The GS6's 5.1-in Quad HD display looks spectacular (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
5/11
The GS6's 5.1-in Quad HD display looks spectacular (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Galaxy S6 juicing up on a wireless charging pad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
6/11
The Galaxy S6 juicing up on a wireless charging pad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Galaxy S6 weighs 138 g (4.87 oz), a good number for a phone this size (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
7/11
The Galaxy S6 weighs 138 g (4.87 oz), a good number for a phone this size (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The GS6 has a 16 MP rear camera that fires up incredibly fast (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
8/11
The GS6 has a 16 MP rear camera that fires up incredibly fast (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The lush Quad HD AMOLED display on the GS6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
9/11
The lush Quad HD AMOLED display on the GS6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gizmag shares some early thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
10/11
Gizmag shares some early thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The aluminum edge of the GS6 looks great, but it also looks like Samsung's designers had an iPhone 6 sitting on their drafting table (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
11/11
The aluminum edge of the GS6 looks great, but it also looks like Samsung's designers had an iPhone 6 sitting on their drafting table (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View gallery - 11 images

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 aluminum edge of the GS6 looks great, but it also looks like Samsung's designers had an iPhone 6 sitting on their drafting table (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The aluminum edge of the GS6 looks great, but it also looks like Samsung's designers had an iPhone 6 sitting on their drafting table (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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 weighs 138 g (4.87 oz), a good number for a phone this size (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Galaxy S6 weighs 138 g (4.87 oz), a good number for a phone this size (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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.

The GS6's 5.1-in Quad HD display looks spectacular (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The GS6's 5.1-in Quad HD display looks spectacular (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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.

The lush Quad HD AMOLED display on the GS6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The lush Quad HD AMOLED display on the GS6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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 juicing up on a wireless charging pad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The Galaxy S6 juicing up on a wireless charging pad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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.

Retail packaging for the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Retail packaging for the Samsung Galaxy S6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

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

View gallery - 11 images
8 comments
Brian M
Just from the specs as far as I'm concerned its a failure the two great 'buy me' features of the S5 have been removed
* Waterproof and * Removal battery
and nothing added that warrants an upgrade.
Sampharo
Why would Samsung bow down to becoming a copy of the iphone, in the nasty areas that actually pissed off most users at Apple and made them loyal Android fans?
Premium design and feel does NOT mean they had to sacrifice the sd card and ability to access the battery.
Now it REALLY looks like it's copying the iPhone, and they added the following crappy problems: 1- No battery removal (deal-breaker for many people) 2- No removable SD Card (deal-breaker for me and many more people) 3- No longer waterproof (WTF?!) 4- As fragile as the iPhone (glass front and back, here comes the heart attacks and the sad facebook photos of cracked phones just like we were joking about the iPhones)
The plus side is yet a faster CPU and an even higher resolution, answering questions that nobody asked.
Major fail, Samsung, and right now you can't afford this nonsense.
Simons Engineering
Beautiful phone & solid features... but a dead battery still makes the phone a paperweight. Note I'll have to loan my phone to S6 and iPhone 6 owners. I hour the airports double their power ports... domestically. Without a SIM slot, it's still a brick internationally (or pay silly domestic carrier international rates).
Kevin Stagg
Not having access to the battery is no big deal if you can get a 50% charge in 30 minutes.
If you can get 32GB minimum storage and that's not enough space? Take out the pron and upload to dropbox instead. Download when needed. In terms of Music? LIsten to pandora. No taking up of your storage.
Everybody needs to take a deep breath. Like it or not - this is where everything is headed.
phissith
I hate to admit it but SD is not a good way to store your stuff. I can see why Samsung remove it. The SD just crashed on me and took all my data with it.
RESISTANCE
It's very odd to see a tech company go backwards with a product and actually remove features that consumers really need/want. I totally agree with Sam above:
1- No battery removal (total deal-breaker for me)
2- No removable SD Card (total deal-breaker for me)
3- No longer waterproof ? ? ?
4- Way too much bloated crapware is still loaded on the phone.
There are still significant software/useability problems with the OS. These issues need to be addressed. By removing all of the great features that made the Samsung S5 great, you have a $650 beautiful looking brick.
So Samsung, pay attention for the Samsung S7:
Add the SD card storage slot back in Make it waterproof again like the S5 Cut down/out on the bloatware/crapware. And if you have to add it in, make it so it can be removed easily without having to root the phone and void the warranty Bring back a removable battery Fix/tweak/repair the user interface problems Keep the incredible good looks of the S6 Provide better built in malware protection No more "soggy diaper" rear battery covers Keep the new camera. The one on the S5 is horrible and totally sucks
There are reasons that Android has a larger market than the iPhone. Don't imitate them, continue to be original.If I wanted an iPhone, I would have bought one, and not a GalaxyS5.
Make sure you get lots of feedback before you release it to the market.Tech companies are only relevant when they listen to the people that are buying their products.
Michaelangelo
I think every one is missing the point. It's a powerful phone just like the others. I use the Samsung, the iPhone 6+ and the HTC.. I am obviously missing something because none of these phone have let me down. None are hard to use, in fact they all feel very similar. There is nothing I can't do on any of them apart from changing fonts etc which I feel is a waist of my time. I think the iPhone Camera is the best out of the three and I am not going to time an app how long it take to fire up, if we are talking micro second measures in time, well, I still don't care. The iPhone-Samsunge-etc fight is quite base and out dated. They all perform amazingly well. Buy what you want, use what you want and get on with it.. don't forget to look up now and then, there is a life out there just passing you by as you gaze deeply in your phone.
Terry Penrose
Totally agree with Sam Helmy, Samsung has dropped the ball with this one in such very basic areas. Try again Samsung, bring on the GS7