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Galaxy S6 deep-dive review: Samsung's shining star

JR Raphael | April 6, 2015
With its Galaxy S6, Samsung finally delivers a phone that's both powerful and premium. Could it be the device for you?

The S6 marks a long overdue move away from Samsung's shoddy back-of-phone speaker setup and instead has a single speaker on the device's bottom edge. Audio played from the device is loud and sounds reasonably good; it's somewhat hollow and nowhere near the level of quality you'll get from HTC's BoomSound setup or Motorola's dual front-facing speaker configuration, but it's quite serviceable and a massive leap forward from Samsung's previous efforts.

Performance, storage and connectivity
The Galaxy S6 uses Samsung's own Exynos 7420 octa-core processor along with 3GB of RAM. And while past Samsung flagships have suffered from lag and jerkiness despite their impressive-sounding internals, the Galaxy S6 is consistently smooth and snappy. From app-loading to Web browsing and multitasking, I've yet to encounter anything that hasn't felt fast and responsive.

Battery life on the S6, however, could be better: On most days, I've reached dangerously low levels of power before the end of the night, usually with around three hours of mixed-use screen-on time (news-reading, social media browsing and so forth -- nothing out of the ordinary or particularly resource-intensive). Some days, I managed to push it a bit higher than that, but not by much -- and other days, I didn't even make it to the three-hour mark before seeing the dreaded "low power" warning.

On the plus side, the Galaxy S6 does support wireless charging -- both the popular Qi standard and the less common PMA protocol -- so you can always plop the phone down on a charging pad or wireless battery pack to juice it up midday. The S6 also utilizes Fast Charging, which allows you to gain up to four hours of extra battery life with just 10 minutes on the charger. The phone ships with a Fast Charging wall adapter and is also compatible with any Quick Charge 2.0-compatible accessory.

It's worth noting that the Galaxy S6's battery is not removable -- a change from past Samsung devices. If you're among the power users who enjoy being able to carry spare batteries and swap them out on demand, you're out of luck with this year's flagship.

Another previously standard Samsung element absent this go-round is an SD card slot for expandable storage. The Galaxy S6 ships with a choice of 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal space; pricing varies from one carrier and payment plan to the next, but you're basically looking at about a hundred bucks extra for each step up from the base 32GB level. And remember, you'll end up with less usable storage than what those numbers suggest. On my 32GB review unit, about 24GB of space was actually available after factoring in the operating system and various preinstalled software.

 

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