Samsung Galaxy S6 hands-on and first impressions

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We spent some hands-on time with the new Samsung Galaxy smartphones that were launched earlier today, and we have to admit, we got awed as much as the next techie person. The thing about the new Samsung flagship models is that everyone knew they were coming. Were they worth the wait?

Well, that’s kind of a big question. But for what it’s worth, here are our thoughts on the straight edge Galaxy phone revealed at Samsung Unpacked 2015, the Galaxy S6.

Look and feel

The Galaxy S6 is billed as something that’s more than simply another iteration of the model that came before it. And that becomes evident right away even based on the phone’s design alone.

Thinner than the previous model, the Galaxy S6 uses a refreshingly new back-to-back glass design and boasts a slimmer overall profile. Plus, there’s more metal used in its construction, which feels genuinely nice to the touch and easily exudes a premium feeling unlike the older Galaxy phone models that relied way too much on plastic.

The Galaxy S6 is light and fits in the hand perfectly, despite having a 5.1-inch screen. And even though its glass-covered back seemed too prone to fingerprint smudges, it’s also quick and easy to clean by wiping with any old piece of cloth.

Rear camera and battery compartment

Speaking of the back, the Galaxy S6 comes with a protruding f/1.9 camera and LED flash combo. Based on photo and video recording samples shown by Samsung during its Unpacked launch event, it looks like the Galaxy S6 will outperform many of today’s other flagship smartphones from other brands based on camera performance. The front-facing camera appeared to be brilliant as well.

The back is also covered with a layer of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 4, which is also said to have better shatter resistance than previous versions of the protective Corning product.

One consequence of the back-to-back glass design is a non-removable battery. It’s up to you to decide if this is unfortunate. The good news is, Samsung implemented some neat battery tech features that are meant to make up for it.

The Galaxy S6 has the ability to gain 4 hours of battery life from a quick 10-minute charging session. And the battery is also said to last longer with every full charge thanks to the help of Android 5.0, the pre-installed operating system.

If you’ll notice, the back of the Galaxy S6 features several holes apart from the camera sensor. One of these is the built-in heart rate sensor that can be activated simply by holding one of your fingers up to it.

First impressions

The octa-core Exynos SoC that powers the Galaxy S6 had no trouble sending us through the many screens in the pre-installed OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop. Even though the units on hand at the official launch weren’t ready for retail, the animation was and UI transitions appeared so smooth that they might as well have been happening instantly. Samsung assured us that retail units will fare much better than the pre-production units that we handled, so any and all apparent menu and animation errors we encountered (like stuck icons in the app drawer, for one), won’t be present when the phone finally becomes available.

Based on our short time spent with it, we could tell that the Galaxy S6 is a very different device when compared with the previous Samsung flagship phone, the Galaxy S5. It comes with many new features that users have been requesting for years (metal design, speedier performance, improved camera), but it also loses a few things that have long been considered as standard features (microSD card support, removable battery). In the end, the Galaxy S6 feels like a bold step in a new direction, which is probably representative of what Samsung thinks it needs to do in order to survive.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is definitely a phone to watch out for this year. We’ll be keeping an eye on it when it actually hits the Philippines (some time in mid-April, according to Samsung Philippines), and we would advise you to do the same thing as well. For now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed on the chance of giving you a full Galaxy S6 review.

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