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The wait is finally over for long-time Galaxy fans who have been dreading for a phone that will put an end to the flimsy, plastic look of Samsung’s flagships. Despite possessing monstrous specs and insane hardware, Galaxy phones fell short of that premium feel that diehard fans crave and yearn for over the past five reiterations. But now, the Korean tech giant introduced the revitalized Galaxy S6 together with its curved brother, the S6 Edge, last March 2015 which sports a blazing fast, homemade 14nm Exynos chipset and eye-candy externals. The S6 ditched the utilitarian plastic feel and replaced it with a sleek aluminum unibody covered with glass to produce an exceptional construction.

The handset which I have reviewed is the Gold Platinum Samsung Galaxy S6 Duos which comes with an adaptive fast charger, a new Fettuccine earbuds, and some warranty stuff out of the box. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charger included. The Philippine version supports a nano-sim with dual-sim capabilities, yes, you read that right. The question that pops to the public by now is, aren’t dual-sim phones, cheap? As Samsung said on their ad, it’s the first premium dual sim phone that they have produced, and I could not agree more. The metal unibody covered with glass makes it look and feel premium on hand. Let us now look at what the S6 has to offer.

Design

Samsung has gone beyond my expectations when it comes to the S6’s design. Although I admired the Note 4’s faux leather with aluminum integration, these were not as premium when put side by side to the S6. Samsung’s bold decision to change from plastic to aluminum is the key selling point to its design that probably won many skeptics over. The employment of Gorilla Glass 4, which coated the front and back metal body uniframe, means that it will be more scratch resistant. It comes in 4 colors, Gold Platinum, Black Sapphire, Blue Topaz, and White Pearl.

The S6’s power button is on the right side together with the nano-sim slot. On the left is the volume controls and at the bottom is where the improved speakers, charging port, and 3.5mm jack for headphones are found.

Interface

I have been a cynic of the Touchwiz interface because previous versions of the ecosystem on the Galaxy series were pretty much bloated, thus producing these “micro-lags” and occasional hiccups. But this year, Samsung reduced the interface volume by 40%. What’s nice about the trimmed down Touchwiz is that it does not come with pre-installed camera settings, applications, and “gimmicks” like Air gestures and the like. To be honest, I don’t really use them everyday. It’s good for show but we can live without it by all means. For those who hate Touchwiz and just want to relish the immense hardware currently being offered by the S6, there are a lot of Launchers on Google’s Playstore and a bunch of themes from the Samsung store as well.

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Storage

Some have mourned over the death of the expandable storage. But according to sources, memory cards allegedly slow down the boot up of most phones, hence the infamous Android technical hitch. Despite the removal of the microSD storage, Samsung redeemed itself by offering 32GB for the base model and adding a 128GB variant. In addition, a 100GB One Cloud storage is bundled with the S6.

Battery and Charging

Can’t go to your favorite study place for the block exams because you’re waiting for your phone to charge? The S6’s adaptive fast charging has got you covered. It reportedly charges up to 50% in just 30 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes for a full charge which survives about a day in moderate use. I got about 2 days with minimal usage, just texting, making some calls, and occasional WiFi. With intense usage, like using WiFi, LTE, graphics intense games like Dungeon Hunter 5, FIFA15, and some Candy Crush on the side, I managed to last about 8-10 hours.

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Fast charging from 10% to full charge in just 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Samsung sacrificed the removable back and battery for the design. I know that the non-removable battery is a major drawback for some folks who have spares or worries that the battery might get worn out. But to be honest, I don’t really mind. I don’t change my battery every month, yet alone every day and by the time the battery’s worn-out, you will probably be buying a new phone. There’s also a wireless charging option and is compatible with most chargers in the market.

Camera

To say that the S6 has a good camera is an understatement. It sports a 16.0 MP autofocus, autoHDR, optical imaging stabilization (OIS) with f 1.9 aperture rear camera and a 5.0 MP front-facing camera.

Have tremors and shaky hands? No problem. Thanks to the OIS and AutoHDR on the S6, these fast moments will be captured with no sweat in stunning quality. In other Samsung phones, pressing the home button key twice will open the S voice, but in the S6, it is a shortcut that will open the camera in just 0.7 second making sure that you will not miss a moment. Also, camera modes have been reduced but there is an option to download them in the settings. Voice controlled gestures like “shoot,” “cheese,” and “capture” are still present. I’ve tried using different voices and accents (British accent worked the best), and it worked perfectly fine, even the typical promdi Tagalog accent.

 

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Sample shots from the S6’s camera

Features: Gimmick or not?

As a medical student, the S6’s heart rate sensor is probably one of my favorite features. I found it very useful and not just for show. It measured my heart rate accurately. I got 81BPM manually and the S6 recorded 81BPM as well. It also measures SpO2 and stress levels. Cool, huh? I’m not quite sure about the mechanism on how it measures stress levels, but I’ll definitely try it during exams week and I better get 110%. Aside from these, it keeps track of the calories ingested, glasses of water consumed, and even the cups of coffee you took for the day, perfect for a typical medical student. In addition, it also doubles as a selfie button by just tapping on the monitor.

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S Health heart rate monitor interface

The fingerprint scanner is a major upgrade versus the S5’s, wherein you need to slide down which is not very easy to perfect. This year, it took notes from Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner which is very convenient and a little less complicated. It was a breeze using the scan and it performed accurately.

Other features include ultra-power saving mode and the infrared remote control which can control almost any TV out there.

 

Pricing and Availability

The Galaxy S6 comes with a suggested retail price of Php35,990 and Php41,990 for the 32GB and 64GB variants, respectively.

 

Conclusion and Verdict

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a premium phone worthy of being their flagship bearer. Despite the gorgeous body and stunning display, having no removable battery, no expandable storage, and no waterproof certification made me confused on what my stand was with this phone. But when I weighed all the pros and cons of the S6, I can probably say that the S6 is the phone to beat this year, along with the S6 Edge. With the new Exynos chip, crisp display, speedy interface, snappy camera, and jaw-dropping design, I can safely say that the S6 and S6 Edge are the reigning Kings of Android this 2015 (so far). Whether you’re a fandroid or an iSheep, I bet that you want to try this phone out for sure.

 

Summary:

  • The good…
    • Sleek, premium, metal with glass and metal body
    • Blazing fast performances
    • Adaptive fast charging
    • Trimmed down version of Touchwiz
    • Improved fingerprint scanner
    • Superb camera
    • 32GB internal storage as entry level
  • The bad…
    • No more microSD card slot
    • No more waterproof certification
    • No more removable battery
    • Very expensive
    • Fingerprint “magnet” body

 

Specifications from Samsung’s website:

  • Height: 5.64 in
  • Width: 2.79 in
  • Depth: 0.27 in
  • Weight: 138 g
  • Size: 5.1 inches
  • Build: Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Front and Back
  • Sim: nano-sim (dual-sim)
  • Display: Quad HD Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen 16M colors
  • Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels (~577 ppi) à the highest ppi in the market
  • Chipset: Exynos 7420
  • CPU: Quad-core 1.5 Ghz Cortex-A53 and Quad-core 2.1 Ghz Cortex-A57 à Octacore
  • GPU: Mali-T760MP8
  • Memory: no card slot
  • Internal memory: 32/64/128GB, 3GB RAM
  • Camera:
    • Rear: 16MP 2988 x 5312 pixels, Optical Image Stabilization, Autofocus, LED flash, AutoHDR
    • Front: 5MP, 1440p@30fps
  • Video:
    • 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, 720p@120fps
  • Connectivity
    • WLAN: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
    • Bluetooth v4.1
    • 4G/LTE
    • GPS
    • NFC
    • Infrared port
  • Features:
    • Heart rate monitor
    • Fingerprint scanner
    • Wireless charging (Qi/PMA)
    • Adaptive fast charging
    • Download booster
    • Ultra power saving mode
    • Infrared remote control
  • Battery: non-removable Li-Ion 2550 mAh
  • Colors: white pearl, black sapphire, gold platinum, blue topaz
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop