08 October 2015 10:33:47 IST

Samsung’s ‘edgy’ flagship becomes a phablet

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ packs a larger screen and battery than its predecessor, but the edge remains unconvincing

Less than half a year after the launch of the original Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung has launched an updated version of its flagship with a curved screen. The S6 Edge+ features a larger screen and a new design, but comes with essentially the same hardware specifications as its predecessor. The refresh is also accompanied by an attendant increase in price, which makes it one of the most expensive smartphones that isn’t studded with precious stones.

What hasn’t changed The Edge+ continues to be powered be the combination of four Cortex A57 and four Cortex A53 processing units paired with Mali-T760MP8 graphics on an Exynos 7420 chipset. The only upgrade from the previous generation is the increased RAM, taking it up to 4 GB.

For those not familiar with part names and numbers, it will suffice to know that these hardware specifications are most definitely flagship-grade. In exchange for the princely sum that you will fork over to Samsung, you will be exempt from ever experiencing the emasculating feeling of seeing an app or a game on someone else’s smartphone and finding out it doesn’t quite work right on your device. It will run anything you can find on the app store. It will even run several of them at once without skipping a beat. Then again, among the stratospheric company that the Edge+ keeps, anything less would be a major defect.

Another component that is retained from the outgoing S6 Edge is the 16 MP rear camera, which is arguably the best available on any smartphone today. The 5 MP selfie camera is no slouch either. The aforementioned argument will most likely be provided by iPhone enthusiasts, but no other smartphone comes close. The hardware component list is comprehensive and the camera software is not only jam packed with features but also lightning fast and easy to use. Headlining features that you might want to use or at least boast to your friends about include 4K recording on the rear and 2K on the front camera, built-in live broadcast functionality and simultaneous dual camera use.

The software package remains the same as well. TouchWiz isn’t the same bloated mess that early Samsung phones tortured unsuspecting users with, but it isn’t quite the soothing experience of stock Android either. Samsung continues to persist with its strategy of replacing existing Android functionality with its own apps– in some cases, this results in useful features such as the improved quick settings panel, but in most others (like the browser) it merely means another unused icon in your app drawer that cannot be removed.

What has changed The biggest and most visible upgrade that the Edge+ has received its phablet-class 5.7-inch display. The boost in size has done little to reduce the fantastic quality of the Super AMOLED panel which has a pixel density of 518 ppi. If you’re wondering how that compares to an iPhone’s display, you really shouldn’t, since the general consensus is that humans can’t really make out the difference beyond 300 ppi. The ridiculous number of pixels packed into such a tiny space translates into a screen that is ultra bright and sharp. Most screens these days can make HD video look great, but Samsung’s display turns even mundane things like Facebook and Twitter feeds into eye-catching visual experiences.

In the S6 Edge+, the display’s edges curve abruptly into the metal frame then merges with the flat, glass-backed rear. These edges provide functionality such as displaying notifications, quick access contacts and apps, and some information feeds that can be accessed on the lock screen. The reduced size of the edge compared to earlier implementations – such as on the Galaxy Note Edge, which had a much gentler curve – means that the feature feels rather gimmicky. And the fact that most of the features available through the edge could be implemented on a regular screen makes you wonder whether it serves any purpose other than providing Samsung’s marketing department with an extra bullet point to put on press releases. The edge screen’s tale of woes doesn’t stop there – the up-down gesture which invokes the edge from the lock screen is clumsy and fails frequently, and there is no way to scroll the information displays, forcing you to wait for the text to scroll at set intervals (with the caveat that if you wait too long, the edge display will timeout and switch itself off.) To summarize, the edge display will do very little to improve the quality of your life.

The only internal upgrade that the Edge+ gets in addition to the extra gig of RAM is a larger battery. In our testing, the 3000 mAh Lithium Ion unit proved good for a day’s usage and then some. With 4G always on, brightness set to 50 per cent (with auto on) and typical usage comprising of constant instant messaging and social media notifications, an hour of simultaneous music playback and gaming and about half an hour of talktime, the Edge+ usually got to the end of the day with about 15-20 per cent juice left. It also recharges from completely flat to full in under two hours, which means forgetting to plug in at night isn’t a deal-breaker.

Bottomline In the simplest of terms, the S6 Edge+ is an oversized Edge with more RAM and a stronger battery. With Apple recently launching the iPhone 6S (its Indian release is also imminent), this device represents Samsung’s attempt at fortifying its territory. Despite the name, the edge is not what makes this phone. The technology behind curved screens is exciting but its practical use remains iffy at best – or at least Samsung’s boffins haven’t figured it out yet. However, the rest of the hardware that makes up the S6 Edge+ is top-notch in every way imaginable. If you have a little more than half a lakh lying around and prefer Android to iOS, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a no-brainer.

Price : ₹61,000

Love : Display, Camera

Hate : Edge screen