Consumer Reports' engineers are already pouring over T-Mobile versions of the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone, the company's brand new flagship phone, and edgier sibling, the curve-screened Samsung Galaxy S6 edge. Our experts are checking their uber-sharp displays (577 pixels per inch), quick-charge battery technology, and other important features. They’re also considering how well they stack up against earlier Samsung Galaxy S models, which have occupied the top slots in Consumer Reports Ratings for several generations. While we’re waiting for those results, here are our some initial impressions of these intriguing devices. (For any copy editors out there: Samsung told us today that the phones are officially called the S6 and the S6 edge—no space between the S and the 6 and no capital "e.")
Look and feel
Looking at them head on, these phones—whose fronts and backs are made of ultra-tough Corning Gorilla Glass 4 held together by a polished-aluminum edge—look very much like the Galaxy S 5 they succeed. The power button on the Galaxy S6 models is roughly a half inch lower than it is on the S 5, and that makes it a little more difficult to reach. The sharper-looking Galaxy S6 edge also felt sharper. When reaching for app icons along the edge of the screen, I could feel the phone’s much narrower edges pressing into my palm.
These models have some of the multitasking advantages of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, including the ability to reduce the window size of open apps, such as e-mail and the Web browser, so they can be utilized simultaneously. You can access this feature by by sliding your finger down diagonally from the upper left corner of the screen. The feature works with most apps, though not with the camera.
The S6 edge, as you might expect, adds a few convenient tricks that exploit its curved screen. For instance, sliding your finger from the upper side of the display (left or right) pulls out a vertical stack of circles containing five of your favorite contacts. The circles of this feature, called People Edge, have different-colored borders, and the phone’s LED will flash the appropriate color when that a person calls you. Another feature road warriors will appreciate is Night Clock, which shows the time along the edge of the screen when the phone is flat on its back.
While the 16-megapixel main camera has the same resolution as the one on the Galaxy S 5, the camera on the S6 models adds an optical image stabilizer and a whole slew of new hardware and software enhancements that, Samsung says, will make it easier to take a good photo under low-light conditions. We’ll leave it to our image engineers to confirm that claim. But one of the first things most people will notice is how easy and quick it is to launch the camera: All it takes is a quick double press of the home button. Samsung says the camera is always on standby to snap pictures faster. We shall see.
Availability and price
Pre-orders for both phones, which ship with Android Lollipop (5.0), start March 27 at AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. The phones will be available on April 10. However, some T-Mobile customers might get them in their hands as soon as March 28. Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, and MetroPCS will carry the Galaxy S6 only.
Full retail prices start at about $600 for the 32GB Galaxy S6, and $700 to $730 for the S6 edge with the same capacity. Expect to pay several hundred dollars more for the 64GB and 128GB models. Colors include what Samsung calls Black Sapphire, White Pearl, and Gold Platinum.
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