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Galaxy S6 first look: Inspired by the iPhone 6, but no mere clone

Galen Gruman | March 2, 2015
The new flagship Samsung Android smartphones are surprisingly elegant and thoughtfully designed.

The example Samsung showed me: When a favorite contact calls or texts you, a notifications bar appears at the edge with their photo, and you can see, without phone directly in hand, that a favorite person is trying to reach you.

That might be nice, but what I like most about the Galaxy S6 Edge is how it feels in my hand. Thanks to the curved edge, it's more comfortable to hold than the Galaxy S6. It's not that the S6 is uncomfortable, but the S6 Edge is more comfortable. It's the same experience for an iPhone 5s user moving to the more rounded iPhone 6.

The Galaxy S6 feels right
The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones are narrower than the Galaxy S5 or S4, and with the reduced size, they're more comfortable to hold. More important, it also allows easier operation, as more of the screen falls within range of your thumb when using the smartphone in one-handed mode. Although they're slightly larger, thicker, and heavier than an iPhone 6, they have bigger screens, and they still beat the old Galaxy S5's dimensions.

The two Galaxy S6 models have a glass back -- which I missed terribly when Apple launched the metal-backed iPhone 5. Glass is warmer and softer to the touch, so it feels more luxurious. The S6's glass back has a feathered edge, which means there's a slight curve at the edges and it fits like a glove -- same as the iPhone 6's curved metal back.

There's something softer about the glass in the S6: It feels more like a high-quality resin, but without the risk of yellowing over time. Whatever Samsung did, it's a sensuous treat.

A breakthrough screen shines in its details
The Galaxy S6 models are not only a bit narrower, but also slightly thinner than the Galaxy S5. But you'd expect a new smartphone model to be thinner, right? More interesting is the S6s' screen, which seems to be more natural in its color tones than previous Galaxy models. Previous models often had a cartoonish set of overly vibrant colors.

The Galaxy S6 smartphones' 5.1-inch, quad-HD screen packs a ridiculous number of pixels, which I usually dismiss as a gimmick for the spec-obsessed. In this case, you can see the difference: The S6's screen provides very clear text and image detail. If you remember the wonder of the original Retina display in the iPhone 4, the Galaxy S6 makes a similar leap in image clarity and sharpness over the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6 in a cursory comparison.

The Galaxy Note 4 introduced the quad-HD screen to Samsung's lineup, but the Galaxy S6's version feels sharper, at least as a first impression. (I did not have a Note 4 with me to directly compare.) That extra sharpness and resulting clarity may be due to a new antireflective material used in the S6's screen and the brighter backlighting.


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