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Samsung Galaxy S6 edge smartphone review – courageous design and high build quality

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Samsung needed to come up with something special this year with its hero smartphone – the Galaxy S6 – and not only has done that it also released a second device – the Galaxy S6 edge.

The feature that sets the device apart is the curved left and right edges of the screen.

And like the Galaxy S6 – the S6 edge has a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display and 16-megapixel camera.

Also under the hood is an octa-core processor – made up of a quad-core 2.1Ghz processor and 1.5Ghz processor and running Android’s latest 5.0 Lollipop operating system.

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The screen is incredibly sharp thanks to its quad HD resolution of 2560 x 1440. Icons, images apps and videos really pop on the screen because of that sharpness.

As far as design goes, Samsung has really pushed the envelope here.

In a world where smartphones are all starting to look the same Samsung has courageously offered something different.

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The curved edges of the screen look gorgeous but we feel they have more aesthetic appeal than actual functional value.

The profile of the S6 edge also looks impressive especially along the curved edges of the screen.

On these edges there is still enough room to place the volume up and down buttons on the left edge and the on/off/lock key along the right edge.

The SIM card slot – the device uses a nano SIM like the iPhone – is located along the top edge.

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The bottom edge of the S6 edge looks remarkably like the iPhone 6’s bottom edge with an identical placement of headphone jack, charging port and speaker made of machined holes in the chassis.

In terms of build quality the S6 edge is a massive advance on last year’s Galaxy S5 which was often criticised as being too plastic.

This time out Samsung has gone all out with metal and glass to give the device a high quality look and feel.

The S6 edge screen is ringed with a metal frame with glass panels front and back.

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The back panel is almost flat with an ever so slight curve near the edge.

The curved edge of the screen on either side meets the back panel at a sharper angle than you’re normally used to feeling on a smartphone.

As a result that comfortable and pleasing feeling in your hand isn’t quite there. It feels angular and sharp instead of smooth and seamlessly curved.

But nonetheless it’s that curved screen that’s going to grab your attention. It is unmistakably eye-catching.

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No that’s not an iPhone 6

It’s not the first time Samsung has flirted with a curved edge on a smartphone.

The first was last year’s Galaxy Note edge which had one curved side that acted as its own independent screen where users could launch apps and receive notifications.

Unfortunately the S6 edge’s curved screen isn’t quite as functional. It’s a smaller screen than the Note edge to begin with and the main features are notifications and being able to see the time when the device is locked.

You can choose to use either the left or right edge for these notifications – you can’t use both.

Users are able to set up five people in colour-coded sections of the edge and whenever that person is calling or messaging the edge will glow in the colour they’ve been designated.

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You can set colour-coded contacts for edge notifications

So you have to remember the colour you’ve given to your contacts to instantly tell who’s calling or messaging you at a glance.

This works well if the S6 edge is face down on a table – the glow from the edge is bright enough to easily see.

There’s also fingerprint security via the home button that’s much better than the previous versions on the Galaxy S5 and Note edge which were almost unusable because you had to run your finger along the button with almost military precision.

Now all you need to do to unlock the device with your fingerprint is touch the home button. Much better, faster and more convenient.

There’s also a heart rate sensor – you put your finger over the flash to find out your BPM (beats per minute).

On the camera side, the S6 edge’s 16-megapixel shooter is excellent as is the 5-megpixel front-facing selfie camera.

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The main rear camera can also shoot 4K video with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 at 30fps (frames per second).

Battery wise, the Galaxy S6 edge lasted an entire day with heavy use. By late afternoon we saw the notification that we were down to 15 per cent and needed a charge.

But there is a power saving mode if you’re running low on charge and need to extend the battery life even further.

In fact, the whole battery management application is excellent. It tells you the estimated remaining battery time and the apps that are hogging the power.

And charging the battery is also quite fast and you’re told how long it will take before you can achieve a full charge.

But one feature you won’t see with the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is a memory card slot.

This device is sealed so you can’t get at the battery and you can’t insert a microSD card.

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There is certainly room for a microSD card slot along one of the edges – Samsung just chose not to include it.

Instead it is offering the S6 edge in three memory capacities – 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.

This is similar to what Apple does with the iPhone.

The lack of this feature may, in our opinion, turn people off the latest Samsung device.

One of the reasons customers bought a Samsung was because it wasn’t an iPhone.

But now that this device is closer to an iPhone in that regard, that choice may backfire.

And the S6 edge is not cheap. It’s more expensive than the Galaxy S6 and starts at $1,149 for the 32GB model.

VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is certainly a breath of fresh air when it comes to offering something different to your average smartphone.

The step up in build quality is quite obvious and the range of onboard features is excellent.

While the curved edge is nice to look at, it’s not a massive game changer in terms of functionality but you have to applaud Samsung for thinking differently and offering this device as one of its hero products of 2015.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Price: $1149 (32GB), $1299 (64GB), $1449 (128GB)