Samsung’s Galaxy S6 reviewed

Samsung Australia even took advantage of the dust and water resistance with its advertising slogan “made for Australia”, a play on the idea that our rugged landscape and water-loving people could have a phone that survived where they went.

But this year, that resistance is gone, and you’ll want to be as careful as possible not to drown the Galaxy S6, not to drop it in the dust or mud or cake mix, and make sure never to drop a beer on the phone, because it’s just not rated for liquids anymore.

It is apparently tested to make sure it doesn’t bend against your backside, because in the wake of Apple’s bendgate where several iPhone 6 Plus models did just that, warping the frame, that is apparently now important, though we’re not sure why both can’t have been thrown in, especially since Sony is still using water- and dust-resistance in its similarly built glass and aluminium smartphones.


The other thing missing is a bigger deal for Android users, and a big one for Samsung, and that’s the omission of a microSD card slot.

There is no way to expand memory in the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, a change in the past five or six years of thinking since Samsung started making an iPhone competitor with Android.

Yes, one of the features that Samsung has championed since practically the beginning is gone, without so much of a reason or explanation.


Granted, Samsung isn’t the first Android manufacturer to kill off the microSD slot, and HTC has certainly dabbled with it in the 2013 HTC One before quickly returning to microSD slots the following year, while Google’s own Nexus smartphones and tablets have also skipped out on the memory format for its own OS-flagship devices.

But things are different for Samsung, and you have to imagine that the public expects Apple’s biggest competitor to keep its insistence that upgradeable memory matters, so does it?

We’re not sure.

For some, it’ll definitely be a big deal, and we’ve certainly gone beyond the 16GB limit on some of our smartphones, such as the Xperia Z3, which currently has a 32GB card inside, or the Galaxy Note 4 with a 64GB card inside. Others, however, may find that opting for a larger amount of storage from the beginning makes more sense in the long run, going with the same philosophy Apple has been relying on itself for yonks.

It’s even possible this decision is guarding Samsung against hacking issues, something the Galaxy S6’s built-in security platform Knox may seek to prevent, while also making it even easier for Gear VR apps and movies to install without knowing your way around the Android folder and file structure.

With all of that said, it would have been nice to see the microSD on this handset.

Previously, Galaxy owners have been afforded the opportunity to easily upgrade their phone in a pinch if they have wanted to, with 16GB phone owners being able to add 128GB of storage via the microSD slot for less than $150. It could happen the day they bought the phone, or it could happen six months or a year later; the point was it was in their control, and by removing the microSD, that’s no longer a choice, and Samsung is essentially forcing people to guess their storage requirement needs.

On a 32GB phone, you’ll probably see closer to 24GB available to you out of the box, which isn’t a lot, more or less forcing your hand to the 64 and 128GB options.

Frankly, it would have been nice to keep the microSD around for all of them, because with bigger apps and games appearing, and 4K video support on the phone, and 16 megapixel JPEGs on the Galaxy S6 being stored at around 7MB per file, well, let’s just say you’re going to want plenty of storage capacity.

Images on the Samsung Galaxy S6 take up anywhere between 4MB and 7MB of space each, so this test showing off several of the art effects on the S6 camera has taken up a good 20-30MB of space. Seriously, a microSD slot would have been welcome.


Without a doubt, the Galaxy S6 is Samsung’s best smartphone yet, and it could even be a contender for phone of the year. We have no doubt that people will love it and the it will be one of the better phones this year, but it’s still not perfect, and even removes a few things fans of the series will remember with fondness.

Things like the semi-ruggedisation are gone, and things like the microSD slot have been forgotten, replaced with the expectation that you know how much you’re going to consume when you first buy the phone, a suggestion that more or less encourages everyone to spend big and get the largest size out of the box.

Some manufacturers practice this on a regular basis, with Apple doing this since it first conceived the iPhone, and Google joining in with its Nexus products.

Samsung resisted, though, at least until now, where it’s asking people to do the exact same thing.

If you’re not bothered by that, and you’re after what is essentially among the best performance in everything else except the battery, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 ticks all the boxes, and possibly then some, with a phone that feels great in the hands, offers exceptional viewing, fantastic mobile performance, wireless charging, decent security, and a camera that really does perform beautifully.

But if you have to have a microSD slot, then you might want to wait, because the 2015 smartphone wars are only just heating up, and we’re sure LG and Sony will have something new along any moment now.

UPDATE (April 17): We’re checking on something at the moment, because the Australian version of the S6 Edge does not have auto-rotation on the gallery, despite this review model supporting that feature. The review model of the S6 was an international variant, so we’ve put a question into Samsung to find out why this feature is still here (since it’s hardly a feature) and if there will be a patch to fix this, because it’s one of those annoying issues Aussies shouldn’t have to see, given other people around the world don’t have to.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Built very well; Feels great in the hands; Superb screen; Very fast to use; A fairly clean bloat-free user experience; Excellent camera, and one of the better smartphone cameras we’ve seen; Fingerprint sensor works most of the time;
Battery life really only hits a day; Removable battery is gone; No more upgradeable memory; No more water-resistance; Camera app “pro” mode lacks aperture and shutter-speed control;