Samsung’s Galaxy S6 reviewed

Overall, however, the Galaxy S6 camera is a stunner, and it’s one of the first times we’ve been hugely impressed by the efforts of the engineers working in Samsung’s mobile phone camera department, producing a smartphone camera we’d be happy to use from day to day.

And beyond it, there are so many positive reasons to admire the Galaxy S6.

Without a doubt, this is Samsung’s best phone to date.

Image sample from the Samsung Galaxy S6's rear camera.
Image sample from the Samsung Galaxy S6’s rear camera.

But it’s not perfect, and while Samsung has certainly had several years to bang out new products that constantly get better, the Galaxy S6 has a few misses that are very easily noticed.

The most important of these will likely reveal itself to be the battery life which unfortunately is just mediocre, and pretty much unchanged from what we saw in the Galaxy S5.

Last year, we could only hit a maximum of a day with the Galaxy S5, and this year in the Samsung Galaxy S6, we’re seeing much the same, with phone calls, music playing, web surfing, social networking, messaging, emails, the odd game, and the general mish-mash our day entails revealing roughly that one full day of service, and less if you’re a power user.


That’s not a fantastic result, though it is in line with what another 2015 flagship appears to be offering, so we can’t imagine Samsung will talk this up as a failure, but rather consistent.

No removable battery doesn’t help this, meaning you can’t just slip in a fresh battery if you want to gain more life, though Samsung has made things a little easier with fast charging, which can bring your battery back from the dead more speedily, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find a USB charger these days since microUSB is the standard.


That said, we argue that you shouldn’t have to, and a phone should be able to survive the full day, at least, especially if you’re being asked to hand over at least a thousand bucks for the privilege.

If you’re used to a day of battery life with charging in between, you won’t likely be bothered by this, but those of you expecting more, either look elsewhere or bring a microUSB cable or battery bank where you go, because you’ll probably need one. We keep one in our luggage at all times.

You’ll also find a few software quirks, such as the built-in file explorer having a few problems talking to on-the-go microUSB to USB thumb drives, with our test to get our photos from one side to the other (from phone to USB drive for use in a computer) crashing the file exploring app, though we suspect this will be one of those bugs Samsung will rush to fix.


Likewise, the fingerprint reader can be a little troublesome, not always getting a good read, even though the technology is vastly improved on the swipe mechanism Samsung used last year.

At least this year you can simply hold your finger or thumb on the home button instead of dragging it across, but it’s still not perfect, and even the fingerprint setup needs some refining, with a drawn out process that isn’t quite as user friendly as Apple’s (it gets close) often making you wonder what you’re doing wrong.

We’re also curious why the backup password can’t be more simple than requiring letters and numbers, because it would be much easier if you could just throw in a simple four digit passcode if the fingerprint scan doesn’t read your finger properly — something that isn’t your fault — rather than deal with six characters made from a combination of each.

The fingerprint setup is easy enough, though it can take a little longer if you're using a thumb, and the requirement of letters in the backup password can be a little annoying.
The fingerprint setup is easy enough, though it can take a little longer if you’re using a thumb, and the requirement of letters in the backup password can be a little annoying.

But our other big problem beyond the battery stems more from how this phone appears to evolve, and that is by forgetting the steps of its predecessors.

We’re not going to be the only review that bangs on about this, but it’s a little surprising to see two of Samsung’s biggest features from the past year or two (at least) missing in action on its 2015 handset.

Take the water-resistance, which Samsung clearly did take because it can’t be found on the Galaxy S6.

Last year, when Samsung rolled it out to the Galaxy S5, we were excited.

Not because the S5 felt cheap in our hands, with a plastic body and faux-metal trim, but because it featured an IP67 rating, meaning dust and water were no longer the natural enemies of the smartphone, or this specific smartphone.

You could drop the phone in a pool and wash it off with water, and it would still work, or even use the phone while cooking, get it all floured up, and wash it off without any repercussions. Awesome.