With the S6 Edge+ Samsung is really posing a simple question: is a 5.7in screen better than a 5.1in one? Almost everything else about the larger smartphone is the same as the S6 Edge, making the screen the big differentiator.
Samsung is far from new to big smartphones. It practically invented the phablet category with the first Note in 2011, and has released a series of supersized smartphones under that brand ever since. This year is no exception: the Note 5 launched alongside the S6 Edge+, but it isn’t coming to Europe immediately.
Instead Samsung’s phablet of choice is just an enlarged version of its curvy S6 Edge. And happily for Europeans, this is no bad thing.
The screen is stunning. A 5.7in quad HD AMOLED that’s vibrant, bright and crisp. It is easily as good as the S6 Edge’s screen and one of the best available. Some will see its saturated colours as a bit garish but many will like how they’re noticeably more vibrant than the LCD displays as used in the OnePlus 2 or iPhone 6 Plus.
Despite having a big 5.7in screen (phablets generally start at 5.5in), the S6 Edge+ is one of the thinnest phablets available both in depth and width. Compared to the smaller S6 Edge the 5.7in device is 0.1mm thinner, 5.7mm wider, 12.3mm taller and 21g heavier. Compared to Samsung’s chief rival Apple and its iPhone 6 Plus, which has a smaller 5.5in screen, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is somehow 3.7mm shorter, 2mm thinner and 19g lighter.
The narrow width is aided by the curvature of the screen and makes handling it a lot easier. It’s surprising how much easier it is to wield compared to something like the Note 4, Nexus 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
The aluminium edges and glass back are the same as the smaller S6 Edge – they feel of premium quality and well-built, surpassing that of the Note 4 for instance. The glass back will become scratched over time, like any glass-backed smartphone.
The metal band around the phone has hard lips which makes them easier to grip, but the large phone size and curved screen makes it difficult to hold without touching the screen with your palm.
This isn’t an issue for the most part as Samsung’s software is good at preventing accidental activation. Only in a particularly intense game of Shooting Stars did I notice my palm causing interference.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is one of the most manageable phablets to date, but is still a big smartphone.
Screen: 5.7in quad HD AMOLED (518ppi)
Processor: octa-core Samsung Exynos 7420
RAM: 4GB of RAM
Storage: 32/64GB; no SD card
Operating system: Android 5.1.1 “Lollipop” with TouchWiz
Camera: 16MP rear camera with OIS, 5MP front-facing camera
Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, wireless charging, Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS
Dimensions: 154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9 mm
The S6 Edge+ has the same insides as its smaller S6 Edge cousin: Samsung’s own octo-core Exynos 7420 processor, which performs very similarly. The S6 Edge+ is one of the fastest smartphones I have ever used.
It has an extra gigabyte of memory with 4GB of RAM in total, which helps with multitasking.
The phablet also has a larger battery, but very similar battery life to other versions of the S6, lasting about a day per charge. I consistently got home from work with 35% battery left. Both charging via cable and wirelessly is fast – a full charge via cable and a compatible charger such as the one in the box takes under 90 minutes.
Some of the edge screen functionality, such as displaying a colour to indicate who is calling along the edge when the screen is face down is not compatible with wireless charging, as it only works through the back cover.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ runs the same version of modified Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, called “TouchWiz”, as other S6 variants. It works well, although isn’t quite as slick as the standard Android experience.
A variety of Facebook and Microsoft apps come pre-installed, but can be disabled. Most of Samsung’s apps, including S Voice, can also be disabled or more downloaded from the Samsung app store. For more information on the software see the Galaxy S6 Edge review.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ also has split-screen multitasking – allowing certain apps to run side-by-side on the screen at the same time. For the apps that support it, such as Twitter and Chrome, it works well in landscape orientation though less so in portrait. It’s a feature originally seen on Samsung’s Note series and not yet widely available.
In addition to displaying contacts with “People edge”, the curved screen edges can display five apps on a slide-out panel on the left or right-hand edge for quick access from any app or screen.
The 16-megapixel optically stabilised camera is the same as the Galaxy S6 Edge and as such is one of the best available on any smartphone. It shoots fast, has a decent array of features, captures good detail and colour and can produce photos with a narrow depth of field for pleasing bokeh effects.
Low light performance is good and the camera can be quickly launched by a double tap of the home button, even when the screen is locked.
The front-facing 5-megapixel camera is solid for selfies, although Samsung’s “beauty” features should be used sparingly lest you end up looking like an alien with gaunt face and big goggly eyes.
The fingerprint sensor is one of the best available, recognising my thumb more than 95% of the time without a second reading. It can be used to unlock the phone and authenticate purchases, as well as unlock third-party apps such as LastPass.
This phone is not in Nigeria yet, but we are strongly looking forward to it. Be rest assured that we will keep you posted as soon as it is released here!