Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review: Samsung supersizes its sexiest phone's screen -- and price tag
Editors' note (March 28, 2017): Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, the follow ups to 2016's excellent Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Priced at $750 (£689 and AU$1,199), the Galaxy S8 features a beautifully curved 5.8-inch screen with an ultra-narrow bezel; facial recognition as an alternative way to unlock the phone; and Samsung's nascent Bixby voice assistant. The S8 Plus costs a bit more -- $850, £779 or AU$1349 -- and comes equipped with a larger body and battery, but is otherwise identical.
Samsung has instituted an eight-point battery test on its new phones in an effort to reassure customers that it has addressed the issues that plagued its exploding Note 7 last year. To see how the Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge stack up against their predecessors, check out CNET's side-by-side comparison.
The original Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ review, published in August 2015 and updated since then, follows.
The 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Edge+ isn't just a larger version of the 5.1-inch Galaxy S6 Edge, but it's close. It has basically the same hardware guts as the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 including a strong 16-megapixel camera, 4GB of RAM and an octa-core processor of Samsung's own design (that means it has eight computing chips for completing tasks). Like its brethren, the Note 5, S6 and S6 Edge, the Edge+ has a snazzy metal-and-glass design and omits the popular removable battery and microSD card slot found on its predecessor. The Edge+ also lacks the Note 5's signature stylus, leaving potential buyers a choice between inviting curves or scribble-friendly practicality.
With the introduction of the current generation of Galaxy phones in March 2016, Samsung fans need to take a close look at the new lineup. A CNET Editor's Choice, the Galaxy S7 delivers the goods in spades with a polished design, awesome camera, long battery life, microSD slot, and water resistance. And the supersized Galaxy S7 Edge, an Editor's Choice in its own right, comes equipped with an even bigger battery and screen, a curved screen with "edge" software navigation, and a sky high price tag.
That noted, the Edge+ remains a cool-looking phone that belongs in the canon of prior-generation smartphones. Buyers craving a phone with waterfall sides and a large, bright screen who can find the S6 Edge+ at a discount should consider it. Everyone else should move on and choose between the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
Editors' note: What follows is the original review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.
Where can you buy it, and for how much?
The phone comes in gold, silver, black and white, though different regions may carry different colors. Prices vary by retailer and country, but the Edge+ costs more than the Note 5 overall.
Design and build
- 5.7-inch display; 2,560x1,440 pixels (518 pixels per inch)
- Metal and glass construction
- 6.1 by 3 by 0.3 inches (154 by 76 by 6.9mm)
- 5.4 ounces (153 grams)
If you're familiar with the Galaxy S6 Edge's curved screen and thin edges, you already know this supersized Edge+'s shapely silhouette. The glass (and display technology underneath) wraps around the left and right edges and meet along the back of the spines.
What's more important than the interesting shape is the fact that the curved sides look beautiful, and seems to make this feel like an entirely different, far more sophisticated, phone than a straight-sided one. The screen seems more immersive than the Note 5's, the curvature pulling you into the action of what's on the display. Maybe it's still some of the novelty, maybe there's a deeper psychology at play. Strangely, the effect is more pronounced on the smaller Edge+, possibly because this phone is personally a little large for my hand.
At any rate, the Edge+ feels slimmer than most at its narrowest part (the middle), but a little inherent sharpness along the sides makes it easy to grip. The comparatively thicker corners round out to help carry through the themes of curviness and physical dimension.
Despite the wraparound sides, the screen measures a full 5.7 inches, all of which is fully usable and viewable (unlike the original Note Edge, which had an always-visible strip of navigation screen that you couldn't turn off). Above the screen, you'll see the 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a cluster of sensors. Below it sits the physical home button and integrated fingerprint reader, with its two touch-sensitive sidekicks, the Recent and Back buttons. Press and hold the home button to launch Google Now.
Flip over the Edge+ to find a smooth, reflective backing and 16-megapixel camera mount, flash and heart-rate reader. The camera module does slightly pucker out, but that's also because the rest of the phone is so thin and flat.
Buttons and ports dot the Edge+'s metal frame, starting with the power/lock key on the right, the micro-USB charging jack and headset jack down below, volume rocker on the left, and SIM card tray along the top. There's no removable backing (or battery), and no space for a microSD storage card.
We get neutral colors for this series: black, white, silver and gold, though not every region may sell every color.
What you can do with the edge screen
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- New Apps shortcut
- Customizable position for "edge screen" tab
Those curved sides are fun to look at, but they aren't merely for show. Two previous designs -- 2014's Edge and the S6 Edge from earlier this year -- gave Samsung the chance to experiment with things you can do on a narrow vertical display. It's forced functionality, but one that makes more sense this time than before.
First, let me reiterate that the special display hides from view until you pull it out, so most of the time, you don't see it. When you do want to summon the edge display (which you can now do from any screen, not just the home screen, as was the case with the original S6 Edge), you grab a slim onscreen tab that tastefully lies low on whichever side you put it, and swipe to reveal the full menu.
There are now two revolving screens to swipe through by default. The first is a shortcut hub for five of your go-to contacts. You can see their missed calls and texts, and tap their names to reach them by phone, text or email. Swipe again and a different shortcuts menu appears, this time one you can customize for your favorite apps.
The settings menu also lets you turn on a newsfeed, so you can see various alerts and news headlines in the sidebar as well as through the customary notifications tray up top. The benefit here: the edge screen's longer window lets you see more text, without expanding the alert the way you would with the notifications shade.
Flexibility means you can place this edge display on either left or right sides of the screen, and can now also position its menu-opening tab anywhere along that strip. I put mine near the bottom of the screen to make it easier for my shorter thumbs to grab.
The Edge+ also keeps one of my favorite secondary features in this curvy family: the night clock that dimly glows from the strip to tell you the date and time.
Get to know the hardware inside
Samsung bestowed the Edge+ and Note 5 with the same internal specs, all laid out below. For full details and camera test, read my Note 5 review .
- 16-megapixel camera
- 5-megapixel front-facing camera
- 4K video resolution
- Samsung Exynos 7 octa-core processor (2.1GHz quad-core, plus 1.5GHz quad-core chips)
- 32GB/64GB storage options
- 4GB of RAM
- 3,000mAh battery (nonremovable)
- No microSD expansion slot
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Automated content-syncing to other screens
Do we need a bigger S6 Edge?
The Edge is expensive, and it's that curved screen you're paying for. That already limits buyers, and rightly so. The Edge display, while neat, doesn't offer anything novel or ultraconvenient that you can't live without.
Do we even need a larger S6 Edge version? Sure, why not? But I'm not sure we need it right now alongside the Note 5 and only a few months after releasing the S6 Edge and S6. I see this bigger Edge+ as Samsung's way of trying to turn around a period of slumping sales, especially since it couldn't keep up with S6 Edge demand.
If you're debating which of the quartet to buy, it shakes out like this: Get the Note 5 if you want the latest and greatest with that multitasking stylus; the Edge+ if you thirst for a larger screen but don't need a stylus (and don't mind paying the extra price); the smaller S6 Edge if you love the dual-curve design and a more pocket-friendly size; and the Galaxy S6 if you're looking for an all-around premium Android handset.
Buy it or skip it?
If you're intrigued by a curved-screen phone, the Edge+ has all the hardware you need to take great photos and enjoy viewing videos, pictures and articles on that extra-sharp, clear screen. It's fast and that edge display does give you features you won't find on most phones.
However, if saving money is a priority, and if you couldn't care less about fancy design, skip the Edge+ and shop for something else instead.
There's no shortage of competition for handsets whose screens measure over 5.3 inches, and many are priced a lot better than the Edge+, creating fierce competition. In this landscape, the curved Edge+ is a novelty.
Apple's iPhone 6 Plus and LG's G4 -- both with 5.5-inch screens -- are the logical comparisons. The G4 shares the Edge+'s Android version and camera and battery specs, though it has a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (that's six cores, by the way). Unlike the Samsung phone, LG's big phone can boast a removable battery and a microSD card slot that can accommodate cards of up to a mammoth 2TB (terabytes) of data.
Apple's iPhone 6 Plus is just about a year old, which means it's due for an upgrade, so it's hardly fair to compare the Edge+ against an older model. If you're interested in the 6 Plus at all, it's best to hold off on preordering the S6 Edge+ until you can fully scope out the competition. You won't have to wait long, either -- credible rumors peg Apple's next iPhone announcement hitting the second week of September.
I also expect great things from Motorola's forthcoming 5.7-inch Moto X Pure, which includes a 21-megapixel camera and options to customize the body colors and materials. It also starts at $400, £279 and AU$1,990 ( for the Style), which is significantly less than the curving Edge+.
Another Android "deal" is the 5.5-inch OnePlus 2, which comes with a nice 13-megapixel camera, fast octa-core processor, equivalent battery, metal frame and Kevlar and wood backings (these cost a bit extra), for a lot less. The 64GB version, which I recommend, comes in at $390 (roughly £250 and AU$535). The major downside here is that you'll need to score an invitation to buy the phone directly from OnePlus -- your carrier and retail stores won't stock it.