Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review - including benchmarks, battery tests and price comparisons

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is a gorgeous smartphone, but you pay a lot for those curved edges

4
Price when reviewed 
760

Update: We've added a full specifications comparison with the S6 at the bottom of the review, plus price comparisons from the major networks.

Of Samsung’s two new smartphones, there’s no doubt which is the more eye-catching. The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge not only has that fabulous shimmering glass and coloured metal rear, and silver metal frame, but also an exotic screen that curves along both edges. See also: the best smartphones of 2015.

It’s an exciting new look, and certainly desirable, but aside from this, is it any better than its flat-screened sibling? And is it worth the £160 premium you have to cough up over the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6?

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review - left side

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge review: design and practicalities

Physically, there’s little to separate the two aside from the curved screen. The S6 edge is very slightly thicker, shorter, narrower and lighter than the S6, but these are tiny differences, and not something you’ll really notice, even if you pick them up and compare them side by side.

The curved screen has a couple of implications for usability. The first is positive: the thinner metal frame surrounding the phone has a sharper edge bordering the screen, making the S6 edge less slippery to hold. The second is negative: when the phone is flat on a desk or table, the power and volume buttons are more fiddly to press, since they’re tucked slightly under that front edge.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge review: performance results and battery life

Internally, the two models are nigh-on identical as well. The battery is 2% larger in the S6 edge (at 2,600mAh versus 2,550mAh), but in all other respects it’s the same hardware. And this was very much reflected in the performance benchmarks we ran.

 

Performance results

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Samsung Galaxy S6

SunSpider

362ms (with stock browser)

355ms (with stock browser)

GeekBench 3 - single-core

1,451

1,485

GeekBench 3 - multi-core

5,233

5,282

GFXBench 3.1 - T-Rex HD (onscreen)

39fps

38fps

GFXBench 3.1 - Manhattan (onscreen)

15fps

15fps

We expected the battery life to be equally similar, perhaps with some small improvement, and again the S6 edge performed as expected.

In our video-playback test, where we set the screen to a specific brightness and play a 720p movie through the native movie player, the S6 edge consumed 5.5% of total capacity per hour, where the S6 used up 6% per hour. In the audio-streaming test, the edge nibbled through 3% per hour – pretty much the same as the S6 at 2.8%.

Proportion of total capacity used per hour

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Samsung Galaxy S6

Movie playback (720p, screen @ 120cd/m2)

5.5% per hour

6% per hour

Audio streaming over 4G (screen off, sync off)

3% per hour

2.8% per hour

These results indicate that the display may well be slightly more efficient on the S6 edge, but that the larger battery doesn’t have as much of an impact when the screen is off, or when the processor is responsible for most of the power drain.

In short, you may notice a difference in day-to-day use, but it won’t be huge. Both phones will comfortably get you through a day of moderate use, and longer if you keep the screen brightness and gaming time down.

The S6 edge’s display is also very similar. It has a lower peak brightness with auto brightness turned off, and slightly poorer colour accuracy, but you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference without a colorimeter.

Display quality

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Samsung Galaxy S6

Maximum brightness (manual)

323cd/m2

347cd/m2

Contrast

Perfect

Perfect

Colour accuracy - average delta E

2.06

1.47

Colour accuracy - max delta E

4.09

4.13

sRGB coverage

98.5%

98.6%

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge review: what does the edge screen do?

All of which leads us to the practical differences between the S6 edge and the S6. What exactly can you do with that curved display that makes it worth having?

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge review - bottom end

With the screen on, you might be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is all about. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, the S6 edge has no separate “edge screen” that sits off to one side of the main display; instead, what you’ll see most of the time is a standard display that’s slightly curved on either side.

People edge and edge lighting

That’s not to say the curves don’t bring extra features, though. Slide your finger in from the top-right or -left corner and you’ll see a screen displaying your favourite contacts.

You can use this screen to view missed calls, text messages and emails from these contacts, and quickly dial or send messages to them. It’s hardly a killer feature, however, and it’s awkward to activate with the phone in one hand.

Edge lighting is a related feature, whereby each contact has a different colour assigned to him or her. Turn the phone face down, and when a call comes in from any of those contacts, the edge lights up in that colour. It’s also possible to send a canned reply by tapping the heart-rate sensor on the rear. All clever stuff, but again it’s far from essential.

Information stream

The theme continues with the information stream feature, which oddly only makes an appearance on the S6 edge when the phone is in standby and the main screen is off. Give the curve a little rub with your finger and up pops your clock, missed call activity, weather, news headlines or whatever edge screens you have installed/activated.

You can navigate through these edge screens with a simple horizontal swipe, and manage which ones appear in the edge screen settings. We can’t imagine when we’d ever do this, though: surely simply picking up the phone and using it in the normal way is more efficient?

Night clock

Finally, the night clock mode shows a dimmed time and weather display on the edge when the phone is in standby at nighttime (the precise hours being customisable in the settings).

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge review: verdict

So, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge has slightly longer battery life, and a few extra features over the standard S6. It’s a touch easier to hold, too, and there’s no doubt it will spark more than its fair share of covetous glances when you take it out of your pocket.

But in every other respect it’s an identical piece of hardware: the features are the same as the S6, the camera produces the same great photographs and video, it’s just as fast, and the display

Is it worth paying more for? Perhaps if it were £50 to £100 more expensive. However, with the base 64GB edge costing £160 more than the base 32GB S6 model, it’s too much to ask.

Even if you step up to the 64GB S6, you’re still saving £100 over the edge, and the picture for contract prices is worse, with the S6 edge typically costing £10 to £15 per month more than the S6. That’s an extra £240 to £360 over the course of a two-year contract.

It’s a fabulous phone, but with so little practical advantage to owning one over the S6, we can’t say we’re that keen, especially when the standard Galaxy S6 is so much cheaper.

Price when reviewed 
760inc VAT from free on a £48.50/mth, 24mth contract

Samsung Galaxy S6 specifications

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge specifications

Processor Octacore (quad 2.1GHz and quad 1.5GHz), Samsung Exynos 7420 SoC Octacore (quad 2.1GHz and quad 1.5GHz), Samsung Exynos 7420 SoC
RAM 3GB LPDDR4 3GB LPDDR4
Screen size 5.1in 5.1in
Screen resolution 1,440 x 2560, 576ppi (Gorilla Glass 4) 1,440 x 2560, 576ppi (Gorilla Glass 4)
Screen type Super AMOLED Super AMOLED
Front camera 5MP 5MP
Rear camera 16MP (f/1.9, phase detect autofocus, OIS) 16MP (f/1.9, phase detect autofocus, OIS)
Flash Dual LED Dual LED
GPS Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes
Storage 64/128GB (UFS 2 flash) 32/64/128GB (UFS 2 flash)
Memory card slot (supplied) No No
Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2 MIMO) 802.11ac (2x2 MIMO)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1 LE, A2DP, apt-X, ANT+ Bluetooth 4.1 LE, A2DP, apt-X, ANT+
NFC Yes Yes
Wireless data 4G, Cat6 (300Mbits/sec download, 50Mbits/sec upload) 4G, Cat6 (300Mbits/sec download, 50Mbits/sec upload)
Size (WDH) 71 x 6.8 x 143mm 70 x 7 x 142mm
Weight 138g 132g
Operating system Android 5 Lollipop Android 5 Lollipop
Battery size 2,550mAh 2,600mAh

Price comparison

Availability 10/04/2015 10/04/2015
SIM-free price, 32GB £599 inc VAT
SIM-free price, 64GB £660 inc VAT £760 inc VAT
SMI-free price, 128GB TBC TBC
Contracts 32GB model, 24mth contract (data per month) 64GB model, 24mth contract (data per month)
Vodafone £49 upfront, £43.50/mth (4GB) £49 upfront, £48.50/mth (4GB)
EE £50 upfront, £43.49/mth (4GB) £150 upfront, £48.49/mth (4GB)
Three £49 upfront, £43/mth (2GB) £49 upfront, £50/mth (2GB)
O2 £70 phone, £46/mth (3GB) £90 upfront, £51/mth (3GB)

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