So consider the S6 phones complete reboots of Samsung's top-end Galaxy, a back to the drawing board approach that has resulted in the most visually stunning devices Samsung has ever produced. Where the 2014 S5 looked almost identical to 2013's S4, the S6 and S6 Edge have all-new designs that look and feel significantly different than the older Galaxy devices.
Samsung’s lead designer on the project says the company spared no expense when it came to materials that they could use in the new phones. The front and rear glass panels are Gorilla Glass 4, and the metal frame is significantly nicer than the plastic used on Samsung’s prior phones (and even the metal frame used in the Note 4 and others released late last year). With Samsung competing in the high-end market against Apple and HTC, both of which use premium materials in their devices, it’s important that Samsung shows it can hang. For the most part, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge do.
MICROSD SLOTS, REMOVABLE BATTERIES, AND WATERPROOFING WERE SHOWN THE DOOR
SIMILARITIES TO THE IPHONE 6 ARE UNDENIABLE
Design considerations and copycat accusations aside, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are sure to be great phones in their own rights. Samsung made them 2mm narrower than the S5, which doesn’t sound like much but does wonders for one-handed maneuverability. In my brief time with the two phones, performance was quick and snappy and it was easy to access all of the phone’s features with just my thumb, something I haven‘t been able to say for Samsung’s earlier devices.
Perhaps most impressive is the new camera. Samsung says it has listened to criticisms levied against its past cameras and has improved the S6’s camera to address them. It’s exceptionally quick, can be launched from anywhere with an easy double-tap on the home key (Samsung says it starts up in 0.7 seconds, and I have no reason to dispute that claim), and takes sharp, well-exposed photos. It also has automating focus tracking for moving subjects, a first for a mobile device. And Samsung claims that the infrared sensor on the back of the phone used to measure your heart rate can also pulls double duty to improve white balance quality when taking photos. I have a feeling it will see far more usage assisting the camera than it will measuring heart rates when the S6 hits stores. Most of those claims will need further scrutiny once we have a review unit of the Galaxy S6 to test, but my first impressions with the camera are really good.
Samsung is also announcing a version of the Gear VR that will work with both the S6 and S6 Edge. It’s 15-percent smaller than the Gear VR for the Note 4, and it has improvements such as USB charging. Samsung is still calling it an "Innovator Edition", which means it’s not really designed to be used by everyday consumers. (Presumably, consumers will still be able to buy it pretty easily, however, just like the Gear VR for the Note 4.) I wasn’t able to test the S6’s Gear VR, so we’ll have to wait and see if it’s an improvement over the older model.