Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: A Metal & Glass Fusion
The Galaxy S5 was awarded our Android Smartphone of the Year. Aditya Nair finds out what its successor, the Samsung S6 Edge, has in store for cellphone photographers.
Until last year, I wasn’t really a fan of Samsung phones. That is, till the launch of the Galaxy S5. As a cameraphone, the experience was nothing short of spectacular. An incredibly good 16MP sensor, blazing fast AF and weather resistant to boot. The last of which I am a huge fan of, both because I enjoy shooting in the rains and I have, what I describe as, an acceptable level of clumsiness. The only negative was the plastic design, which the company has finally changed with the S6 and S6 Edge.
Beautiful Design, but Functional?
The metal-and-glass build and curved screen make the S6 Edge a very good looking phone. Simultaneously, the new 1440 x 2560px Super AMOLED screen is one of the most colour accurate screens I have used. The S6 Edge uses Corning Gorilla Glass 4 which is supposed to be the toughest available glass. However, given the extra screen space, I was absolutely terrified of dropping the phone, Gorilla Glass or not. Using sliders on apps like Instagram isn’t as easy with this screen. Sometimes, the screen was unable to recognise that I was sliding my finger across. It can also become difficult to make fine crops when a part of the image that you are cropping enters the curved edge of the screen.
To make it slimmer, it is also a unibody phone, which means memory is inbuilt and you can’t swap the battery. However, the Samsung is quite quick to charge and can be charged wirelessly as well.
A Phenomenal Shooter
The S6 is a superbly specced phone with a number of great features. It boasts of arguably the best cellphone sensor (16MP) and lens (f/1.9) combination in a smartphone (as rated by DxOMark, which we have to agree with), and optical image stabilisation. With realtime HDR, you can see the boost in dynamic range before you shoots. AF has been improved with the inclusion of fast AF tracking as well. On the video front the camera can shoot 4k video at 30fps, Full HD at 60fps and HD video at 120fps. OIS, HDR and AF tracking for video, however, are restricted to 1080p30 video and below.
Two major flaws for mobile photography enthusiasts are the lack of a dual LED flash and RAW capability. The S6 Edge sticks to a single LED flash, which results in colour tinges, especially when shooting in artificial light, and for the most part, makes using the flash useless for photography. Despite running Android 5.1, which by allows RAW capability, the S6 doesn’t allow you to shoot RAW yet (whether a future update will allow it remains to be seen). In addition to being able to exploit the phone’s superb sensor to its full potential, allowing RAW would mean that you aren’t beholden to the JPEG algorithm that Samsung runs, which results in over saturated images and aggressive softening. You are also limited to ISO 800 which is unfortunate. Noise performance at ISO 800 is very good and another stop or two ISO would have still yielded usable results while further improving low light capabilities.
Is it for You?
With the S6 Edge in hand, I travelled through the summer heat of Mumbai and Jaipur, misty weather of Pelling, for a photo walk organised by Samsung, and the monsoons of South India, with practically no trouble at all. While we rave about the Xiaomis of the world for offering phenomenal specs at cheap prices, this phone offers a level of finesse that makes it a worthy purchase.
|CAMERA FEATURES||OIS, good Selective Focus and Panorama modes||24/25|
|IMAGE QUALITY||Excellent image quality, very good in low light, limited to ISO 800||28/30|
|VIDEO QUALITY||4k, AF tracking, HDR and OIS for Full HD video||14/15|
|HANDLING||Metal and glass build, very sturdy||13/15|
|SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS||Very quick, no shutter lag, some difficulty with sliders||14/15|
|AT A GLANCE|
|SPECIFICATIONS||64GB inbuilt memory (32GB, 128GB available as well), Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57, 3GB RAM, Rs. 64,900|
|WHAT WE LIKE||The new design, camera module and accurate screen colours what we dislike The single LED flash, no RAW or weathersealing|
|WHAT WE DISLIKE||The single LED flash, no RAW or weathersealing|
|WHY BUY IT||Very few phones can compete with this phone’s camera capabilities, looks and all round finesse|