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Samsung Galaxy S6 Smartphone Review

Manuel Masiero (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 04/12/2015

Successor to the throne. Samsung wants to claim the smartphone crown with the Galaxy S6. Those are not just marketing slogans; the South Korean high-end Android device really puts up a convincing performance in our review and can secure the top spot in our ranking.

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The Galaxy S6 is Samsung’s sixth generation of its smartphone bestseller, and once again, the latest Galaxy device from the South Korean manufacturer wants to beat the competition. Measuring 5.1 inches, the Galaxy S6 is just as large as the predecessor Galaxy S5, but Samsung has increased the resolution to 2560x1440 pixels. You can also expect a lot from the performance since the Galaxy S6 uses an octa-core SoC from Samsung itself, which is supported by no less than 3 GB of memory. What is really new is the move away from a polycarbonate chassis; you now get a case made of aluminum and glass. Whether the Galaxy S6 can beat the smartphone rivals like the Apple iPhone 6, the Sony Xperia Z3, the LG G3the HTC One M9 and obviously the predecessor Galaxy S5 was an interesting question in our preview article. Now you can read our in-depth review.

Samsung Galaxy S6
Processor
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.1 inch 16:9, 2560x1440 pixel, Capacitive, Multi-touch, Super-AMOLED, 16 million colors, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash, 32 GB 
, 25 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, 1 Infrared, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo jack, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Sensors: Movement sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, barometer, heart rate monitor, A-GPS, GLONASS, Wireless charging (Qi)
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1, LTE Cat.6 (300/50 Mbps)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.8 x 143.4 x 70.5 ( = 0.27 x 5.65 x 2.78 in)
Battery
10 Wh Lithium-Ion, 2550 mAh
Operating System
Android 5.0 Lollipop
Camera
Webcam: Rear: 16 MP OIS, Front: 5 MP
Additional features
Speakers: one speaker at the back, Keyboard: Virtual, USB cable, modular power adaptor, headphones, quick-start guide, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
138 g ( = 4.87 oz / 0.3 pounds), Power Supply: 25 g ( = 0.88 oz / 0.06 pounds)
Price
700 Euro

 

Case

No plastic, but glass and metal instead: Pick up the Galaxy S6 and you immediately notice that Samsung has put a lot of effort into the chassis of its high-end smartphone. The result of the almost perfectly built aluminum chassis with the scratch-proof Corning Gorilla Glass 4 display surface is a 5.1-inch smartphone that leaves an excellent impression, both in terms of the design as well as the haptics. It is a matter of course that the device has no problems with creaking sounds when you try to twist the case or apply a lot of pressure. Despite its comparatively large display, the Galaxy S6 is quite light (138 grams/~4.9 oz) and very slim (6.8 millimeters/~0.27 inches). You will notice the main camera at the back when your fingers glide over the surface since the sensor is slightly protruding. However, we are only talking about a couple of millimeters.

Even the best smartphone chassis is not useful in practice if the buttons are not well built or have a spongy feel. Fortunately, this is not a problem for the Galaxy S6 and we liked the buttons with their well-defined pressure points. They are also well integrated and do not clatter or produce annoying sounds. Directly below the power button at the right side of the chassis is the slot for Nano-SIM cards, which is completely flush with the case and has to be opened with a small tool. The home button under the display activates the start screen and includes a fingerprint reader. The latter can be used to unlock the device.

Connectivity

We do not expect anything but the best in all sections from a flagship smartphone, particularly in the SoC and memory equipment. And Samsung does not disappoint us: With 3 GB of RAM, you get a generous amount of memory, and the brand-new Samsung processor Exynos 7420 Octa has – as the name suggests – eight cores. The ARM Mali-T760 GPU is also a new chip. The version in the Galaxy S6 has eight clusters that run with 700 to 772 MHz each. The high-end graphics chip also supports OpenCL 1.1 and DirectX 11 as well as OpenGL ES 3.1.

However, there is another highlight besides the octa-core SoC: The Galaxy S6 supports wireless charging. Older Galaxy versions required a special back cover for this – but you do not have to customize the Galaxy S6. The wireless charging works with PMA and Qi standard and it is handy that you can also use Qi charging stations from older Galaxy devices. It also works the other way around, which means you can charge the Galaxy S5 with the Qi charging station for the Galaxy S6.

So is everything perfect? Not quite, because Samsung has dispensed with both a replaceable battery as well as a microSD card slot in the Galaxy S6. Even the smallest configuration comes with 32 GB internal storage and therefore offers a lot of space for your files, but this comes at a price. Samsung charges a pretty hefty 700 Euros (~$739) for the 32 GB version, and the configurations with 64 GB and 128 GB will cost 100 and 200 Euros (~$106 and $211) more, respectively.

Power button, SIM slot
Power button, SIM slot
Speaker, microphone, USB 2.0, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Speaker, microphone, USB 2.0, 3.5 mm stereo jack

Software

Just like its sibling Galaxy S6 Edge, the Galaxy S6 uses Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, which is the latest Android version at the time of this review. Once again, Samsung’s own user interface TouchWiz is included and offers some useful new features. One of these features is the Smart Manager that allows quick access to important smartphone functions like WLAN, Bluetooth or the energy-saving modes. Samsung has also installed some apps on the Galaxy S6. They are generally useful and cover all the basics and we are not speaking of bloatware. Amongst others, the list of apps includes several Google apps like Chrome, Gmail, Maps and Google+ as well as social media apps like Instagram and Facebook. You also get the familiar Samsung apps S Voice (voice control), S Health (fitness) and S Planner (calendar).

GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

Communication & GPS 

As befits a flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S6 does not make any compromises in terms of the communication features. Instead, the user gets nearly everything that is available. This includes: Quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), quad-band UMTS (850/900/1900/2100 MHz) and even octa-band LTE (700/800/850/900/1800/1900/2100/2600 MHz). If you have a corresponding data plan, the smartphone can reach transfer rates of up to 300 Mbps (download) and 50 Mbps (upload) in LTE networks. According to the manufacturer, you can still reach good speeds of up to 42 Mbps (download) and 5.76 Mbps (upload) via UMTS. Short-range wireless data transfers with the Galaxy S6 are possible via Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, as well as WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, which worked well both in 2.4 and 5 GHz networks during our review. The only issue is the USB port, since Samsung has only implemented a USB 2.0 port instead of USB 3.0.

The navigation features are very good. You can locate your current position via GPS and GLONASS, which worked very reliably and quickly. The Samsung displayed the correct position almost always on our 8.5 kilometers (~5.3 miles) bicycle test track and just took some "shortcuts", so the overall track length is slightly shorter compared to our professional navigation device, the Garmin Edge 500.

Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Galaxy S6
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 500

Telephone & Voice Quality

There is no criticism for the phone qualities: Neither the voice nor the sound quality of the Galaxy S6 revealed any issues during our review period, which applies to calls to other smartphones as well as landlines. Established connections were stable and there were no distortions, signal noise or other issues. It is possible to assign colors for contacts in the Phone app, which means the display lights up in the corresponding color when the contact calls.

Cameras & Multimedia

A major issue ahead of the S6 presentation was the camera equipment. Once again, Samsung wants to set new records for the picture quality. While the front camera has a decent resolution of 5 MP, the Koreans use a main camera with a 16 MP sensor. However, this is nothing special for a high-end smartphone. An aperture of f/1.9 on the other hand is special. This means we can hope for sharper and better-exposed pictures in low-light situations compared to the predecessor Galaxy S5 (aperture f/2.2). As with the Apple iPhone 6 or the Nokia Lumia 1020, you also get an optical image stabilizer, which is supposed to improve videos and pictures. Great: If you want to take a quick picture, you just have to press the Home button twice. This launches the camera app.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 can meet the high expectations in our review. Pictures are very sharp with rich colors, while remaining natural. Bright-dark contrasts are captured well and even sunlight from the side is no problem for the sensor. The picture quality of the Galaxy S6 does not fall behind the current top devices of Apple iPhone 6 and Nokia Lumia 1020, neither in respect of the pictures nor the videos. Depending on the photographing environment, one of the devices can have the edge over the others. Nevertheless, in the end it does not matter how closely you look at the results, one thing is certain: The Galaxy S6 is currently one of the best camera smartphones.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the zoom step. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

Accessories & Warranty

Samsung ships the Galaxy S6 with a Micro USB cable, a modular power adaptor and headphones as well as a quick-start guide. Additional protective covers are listed on the website of the manufacturer and you have the choice between several types of covers (with or without a "window" at the front, for example), but they are anything but cheap with starting prices of 30 Euros (~$32). The Galaxy S6 has a two-year warranty against material and build quality issues, but replaceable parts like the battery, the headset, the modular PSU and the USB cable are only covered for six months.

Input Devices & Handling

Powered by a fast octa-core SoC, the Galaxy S6 is impressive with very short response times and you can feel that right away. As befits a high-end device, there are no waiting times, even after you boot the smartphone. Selected menu items or settings appear instantaneously, scrolling is buttery smooth and the display content is quickly rotated when the corresponding auto-function is activated. The Galaxy S6 can recognize up to 10 finger inputs simultaneously and impresses with extremely precise controls. Inputs of texts and URLs via the virtual keyboard are no problem. The keyboard also has an additional row with numbers, which means you do not have to switch between keyboard layouts. If the fingerprint reader is active, you just have to put your finger on the home button for a very short time (we are talking about less than a second) to unlock the smartphone. This procedure takes much longer on the iPhone 6.

The virtual keyboard in landscape ...
The virtual keyboard in landscape ...
... and portrait mode.
... and portrait mode.

Display

Samsung’s magical solution for the display is often called Super-AMOLED. This technology impresses with extreme contrasts, pure black and perfect viewing angles. You immediately understand why Samsung favors the OLED technology if you have ever used a tablet from Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S-series next to an Apple iPad. The sixth generation of Samsung’s flagship device also features the highest display resolution so far with 2550x1440 pixels. This is an increase of 56% compared to the Full HD predecessor Galaxy S5, and blurry elements or visible pixels should not be a problem when you consider the pixel density of 557 ppi.

With an average brightness of 345 cd/m², the display of the Galaxy S6 is bright enough for every indoor scenario. Thanks to the OLED technology, there are no doubts about the deep blacks and the theoretically infinite contrast. One small criticism: The brightness distribution is not that great with 89%. On the other hand, the Galaxy S6 produces great and vivid colors.

368
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
328
cd/m²
366
cd/m²
335
cd/m²
333
cd/m²
365
cd/m²
339
cd/m²
333
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 368 cd/m² Average: 345 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 335 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.51 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 2.59 | - Ø
Gamma: 2.43
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
LG G3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus One
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S5
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
-19%
-67%
-58%
-76%
-108%
-48%
Brightness345511
48%
458
33%
395
14%
408
18%
671
94%
364
6%
Brightness Distribution8988
-1%
85
-4%
89
0%
83
-7%
90
1%
82
-8%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *2.513.92
-56%
6.32
-152%
5.67
-126%
5.56
-122%
8.92
-255%
5.28
-110%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *2.594.33
-67%
6.36
-146%
5.66
-119%
7.55
-192%
9.59
-270%
4.65
-80%
Gamma *2.432.462.432.532.332.752.48
CCT6424 101%7384 88%8218 79%7741 84%7624 85%9408 69%7690 85%
Black Level *0.610.40.960.540.72
Contrast8521185434783975
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)58.8159

* ... smaller is better

A closer look at the AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy S6 with an X-Rite i1Pro 2 Spectrophotometer and the CalMAN software shows that the objective picture quality of the smartphone is very good as well. The standard display mode “Simple” has particularly good values that are very close to the ideal values for the colors (DeltaE of 2.51) as well as the grayscale (DeltaE of 2.59). The same applies to the color temperature, which just barely deviates from the ideal value with 6424 K. The two display modes "AMOLED Picture" and "AMOLED Cinema", which are designed for the playback of pictures and videos, show bigger deviations, but they were intentional.

Color Management (Screen mode Simple)
Color Management (Screen mode Simple)
Color Management (Screen mode Picture)
Color Management (Screen mode Picture)
Color Management (Screen mode Cinema)
Color Management (Screen mode Cinema)
Grayscale (Screen mode Simple)
Grayscale (Screen mode Simple)
Grayscale (Screen mode Picture)
Grayscale (Screen mode Picture)
Grayscale (Screen mode Cinema)
Grayscale (Screen mode Cinema)
Saturation Sweeps (Screen mode Simple)
Saturation Sweeps (Screen mode Simple)
Saturation Sweeps (Screen mode Picture)
Saturation Sweeps (Screen mode Picture)
Saturation Sweeps (Screen mode Cinema)
Saturation Sweeps (Screen mode Cinema)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Simple)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Simple)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Picture)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Picture)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Picture, target color space AdobeRGB)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Picture, target color space AdobeRGB)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Cinema)
ColorChecker (Screen mode Cinema)

The luminance value of the Galaxy S6 does not seem to be very impressive, but this impression is misleading. The Samsung smartphone actually has some brightness reserves. If the brightness sensor is active, the smartphone can further increase its luminance, so it is not a problem to use it outdoors. According to Samsung, the brightness can reach up to 600 cd/m², which seems to be a realistic value. A big part of the outdoor capabilities is due to the AMOLED display, which provides excellent viewing angles even from extreme positions. The only problem for the visibility can be the very glossy display.

Outdoor use
Outdoor use
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

At the heart of the Galaxy S6 is an Exynos 7420 Octa SoC with eight cores, which is Samsung’s first chip with a 14 nm manufacturing process. Four cores are based on the Cortex A53 and four on the Cortex A57 architecture. The A57 cores run with up to 2.1 GHz and handle the demanding computing tasks if necessary. The A53 cores are a little slower with 1.5 GHz and are still supposed to provide a decent amount of performance, but in combination with lower power consumption. The SoC supports 64-bit as well, which actually results in some small advantages in tests like AnTuTu v5 64-bit under Android Lollipop. The GPU is a Mali-T760 from ARM.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 can take the performance crown in almost every benchmark. Only the HTC One M9 and the Apple iPhone 6 can keep up, but the latter only in two disciplines. We can only see a significant advantage for the top device from Apple in Geekbench 3 and SunSpider 1.0, but if falls behind the Galaxy S6 in every other test. Therefore, the biggest rival is the HTC One M9. Both top devices are neck and neck in the CPU and GPU tests, but the Galaxy has a noticeable advantage in respect of the browser as well as the storage performance.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
5073 Points ∼31%
Apple iPhone 6
2889 Points ∼18% -43%
LG G3
2323 Points ∼14% -54%
OnePlus One
2095 Points ∼13% -59%
Samsung Galaxy S5
2885 Points ∼18% -43%
Sony Xperia Z3
2708 Points ∼17% -47%
HTC One M9
3499 Points ∼21% -31%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
1146 Points ∼25%
Apple iPhone 6
1619 Points ∼35% +41%
LG G3
941 Points ∼20% -18%
OnePlus One
878 Points ∼19% -23%
Samsung Galaxy S5
941 Points ∼20% -18%
Sony Xperia Z3
979 Points ∼21% -15%
HTC One M9
1163 Points ∼25% +1%
AnTuTu Benchmark v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
60804 Points ∼75%
Apple iPhone 6
49093 Points ∼61% -19%
LG G3
36792 Points ∼46% -39%
OnePlus One
47123 Points ∼58% -23%
Sony Xperia Z3
42125 Points ∼52% -31%
HTC One M9
55374 Points ∼69% -9%
3DMark (2013)
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
18649 Points ∼29%
Apple iPhone 6
9137 Points ∼14% -51%
LG G3
12939 Points ∼20% -31%
OnePlus One
13167 Points ∼21% -29%
Samsung Galaxy S5
15198 Points ∼24% -19%
Sony Xperia Z3
13674 Points ∼22% -27%
HTC One M9
10432 (min: 10432) Points ∼16% -44%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
23193 Points ∼5%
Apple iPhone 6
22509 Points ∼5% -3%
LG G3
17029 Points ∼4% -27%
OnePlus One
18074 Points ∼4% -22%
Samsung Galaxy S5
19530 Points ∼4% -16%
Sony Xperia Z3
19606 Points ∼4% -15%
HTC One M9
34429 (min: 34429) Points ∼8% +48%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
22002 Points ∼12%
Apple iPhone 6
16985 Points ∼9% -23%
LG G3
15911 Points ∼9% -28%
OnePlus One
16692 Points ∼9% -24%
Samsung Galaxy S5
18367 Points ∼10% -17%
Sony Xperia Z3
17882 Points ∼10% -19%
HTC One M9
22783 (min: 22783) Points ∼12% +4%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
22 fps ∼6%
Apple iPhone 6
17.8 fps ∼5% -19%
LG G3
11.3 fps ∼3% -49%
OnePlus One
12 fps ∼3% -45%
Samsung Galaxy S5
11.8 fps ∼3% -46%
Sony Xperia Z3
11.8 fps ∼3% -46%
HTC One M9
23 fps ∼6% +5%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
16 fps ∼21%
Apple iPhone 6
29.8 fps ∼40% +86%
LG G3
7.3 fps ∼10% -54%
OnePlus One
12 fps ∼16% -25%
Samsung Galaxy S5
11.7 fps ∼16% -27%
Sony Xperia Z3
12.6 fps ∼17% -21%
HTC One M9
24 fps ∼32% +50%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, ARM Mali-T760 MP8, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6 Apple A8, PowerVR GX6450, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG G3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus One Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC One M9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash

The browsing performance is usually a clear strength of iOS devices from Apple. However, the performance of the Galaxy S6 beats even the dominant iPhone. Google Octane v2, for example, returns 8518 points for the S6, which is the best result we have measured so far. Samsung also has an advantage in the complex WebXPRT 2013. Apple on the other hand, can strike back in Browsermark and SunSpider. The results of the S6 – and even more so the subjective browsing performance – are still excellent.

Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6 (Android 5.0.2)
8518 Points ∼19%
Apple iPhone 6 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
7478 Points ∼17% -12%
LG G3 (Chrome 35)
4345 Points ∼10% -49%
LG G3
3892 Points ∼9% -54%
Samsung Galaxy S5 (1.6.28)
3875 Points ∼9% -55%
Sony Xperia Z3
5339 Points ∼12% -37%
HTC One M9 (Chrome 41)
6493 Points ∼14% -24%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6 (Android 5.0.2)
546 ms * ∼14%
Apple iPhone 6 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
340 ms * ∼8% +38%
LG G3 (Chrome 35)
900 ms * ∼22% -65%
LG G3
629.3 ms * ∼16% -15%
OnePlus One (Chrome 40)
2180.1 ms * ∼54% -299%
Samsung Galaxy S5 (1.6.28)
408.7 ms * ∼10% +25%
Sony Xperia Z3
827.5 ms * ∼21% -52%
HTC One M9 (Chrome 41)
839.7 ms * ∼21% -54%
Browsermark - 2.1 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6 (Android 5.0.2)
2472 points ∼34%
Apple iPhone 6 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
3297 points ∼46% +33%
LG G3 (Chrome 35)
1370 points ∼19% -45%
LG G3
1343 points ∼19% -46%
OnePlus One (Chrome 40)
1368 points ∼19% -45%
HTC One M9 (Chrome 41)
1729 points ∼24% -30%
WebXPRT 2013 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6 (Android 5.0.2)
599 Points ∼26%
Apple iPhone 6 (Safari 8.0 Mobile)
570 Points ∼25% -5%
LG G3
314 Points ∼14% -48%
LG G3 (Chrome 35)
313 Points ∼14% -48%
OnePlus One (Chrome 40)
273 Points ∼12% -54%
Samsung Galaxy S5 (29)
237 Points ∼10% -60%
Sony Xperia Z3
345 Points ∼15% -42%
HTC One M9 (Chrome 41)
287 Points ∼13% -52%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, ARM Mali-T760 MP8, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6 Apple A8, PowerVR GX6450, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG G3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus One Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC One M9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash

* ... smaller is better

A real highlight of the Samsung Galaxy S6 is the performance of the internal flash storage. None of the smartphones that we have reviewed so far can keep up with the top device from South Korea. 319 MB/s for sequential reads and around 140 MB/s for writes are almost from another galaxy. Only the OnePlus One can at least keep up with the write speeds of the S6. The performance drops significantly with 4K blocks, but the results are still outstanding. With 80 MB/s (read) and 19.9 MB/s (write), the Samsung flagship is in a class of its own.

AndroBench 3
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
19.9 MB/s ∼39%
LG G3
1.44 MB/s ∼3% -93%
OnePlus One
10.42 MB/s ∼20% -48%
Samsung Galaxy S5
1 MB/s ∼2% -95%
Sony Xperia Z3
2 MB/s ∼4% -90%
HTC One M9
13.91 MB/s ∼27% -30%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
80 MB/s ∼58%
LG G3
20.98 MB/s ∼15% -74%
OnePlus One
18.27 MB/s ∼13% -77%
Samsung Galaxy S5
8.5 MB/s ∼6% -89%
Sony Xperia Z3
15 MB/s ∼11% -81%
HTC One M9
20.66 MB/s ∼15% -74%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
138.9 MB/s ∼87%
LG G3
23.83 MB/s ∼15% -83%
OnePlus One
159.72 MB/s ∼100% +15%
Samsung Galaxy S5
19.05 MB/s ∼12% -86%
Sony Xperia Z3
18 MB/s ∼11% -87%
HTC One M9
123.81 MB/s ∼78% -11%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S6
319 MB/s ∼65%
LG G3
167.46 MB/s ∼34% -48%
OnePlus One
223.64 MB/s ∼46% -30%
Samsung Galaxy S5
83.53 MB/s ∼17% -74%
Sony Xperia Z3
149 MB/s ∼31% -53%
HTC One M9
235.14 MB/s ∼48% -26%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, ARM Mali-T760 MP8, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6 Apple A8, PowerVR GX6450, 128 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG G3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus One Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC One M9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash

Games

The combination of the octa-core processor Exynos 7420 Octa and ARM Mali-T760 GPU does not only result in excellent benchmark results, but you also get smooth frame rates all the time. So far, no Android game could really stress the Samsung flagship. Both the position sensor and accelerometer worked without problems in every current game that we started on the smartphone.

Emissions

Temperature

The Galaxy S6 does not break a sweat when it runs games or benchmarks. Even maximum load for more than one hour only results in 35.6 °C (96.08 °F), so it  gets just lukewarm. We can only measure temperatures of around 28 °C (82.4 °F) while idling.

Max. Load
 35.6 °C33.1 °C30.3 °C 
 35.6 °C32.7 °C29.3 °C 
 32.6 °C31 °C29 °C 
Maximum: 35.6 °C
Average: 32.1 °C
28.8 °C33 °C35.9 °C
28.7 °C31.6 °C33.3 °C
29 °C31.1 °C33.1 °C
Maximum: 35.9 °C
Average: 31.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  31.8 °C | Room Temperature 21.8 °C | Voltcraft IR-350

Speakers

The speaker of the Galaxy S6 is located at the bottom edge. It lacks powerful bass, but medium and high tones could be more precise. However, it is loud enough, and there are no distortions. Verdict: Not a top-notch performance, but average for a smartphone.

Discussion

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The battery capacity of 2550 mAh is quite generous, but it cannot be replaced. However, the low consumption values in all scenarios let us hope for long battery runtimes. With a maximum of 1.2 watts while idling, the Galaxy S6 is just as frugal as under maximum load, where we can measure up to 6.8 watts. As we have mentioned before, the Samsung also supports wireless charging and has a quick-charge feature, which really deserves its name. It just took 1 hour and 20 minutes before the battery was fully charged.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.4 / 0.6 / 1.2 Watt
Load midlight 5 / 6.8 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

Under maximum load, the Galaxy S6 runs longer than any other comparison device, lasting 4 hours and 38 minutes and outclasses the iPhone 6 (2 hours 8 minutes) in particular. The Galaxy S6 can beat the iPhone 6, the HTC One M9 and the LG G3 in the realistic WLAN test. Much more enduring than the Galaxy S6 is the Samsung Galaxy S5 (10 hours 13 minutes), the Sony Xperia Z3 (11 hours 12 minutes) and especially the OnePlus One (18 hours 46 minutes). The runtime of the Galaxy S6 is a bit shorter with almost 8 hours in our new WLAN test, which is more demanding and consumes more power than the previous version. Once again, the iPhone 6 is worse, and the OnePlus One is miles ahead.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
21h 40min
WiFi Surfing
9h 35min
WiFi Surfing v1.3 (Chrome 39.0.2171.93)
7h 55min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 38min
Samsung Galaxy S6
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
LG G3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus One
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S5
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
-31%
-14%
-24%
52%
-18%
-1%
Load278128
-54%
236
-15%
207
-26%
160
-42%
132
-53%
253
-9%
WiFi575530
-8%
573
0%
452
-21%
1126
96%
672
17%
613
7%
WiFi v1.3475348
-27%
963
103%
H.264595421273893682556

Pro

+ Very sharp display
+ High build quality
+ LTE Cat.6
+ Very high system performance
+ Excellent camera
+ Supports wireless charging
+ Fingerprint reader

Cons

- No microSD slot
- Battery not replaceable

Verdict

In Review: Samsung Galaxy S6. Test model courtesy of Samsung.
In Review: Samsung Galaxy S6. Test model courtesy of Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a big step ahead in many ways. First of all, you get a classy chassis made of metal and glass, which has an almost perfect build quality and can impress with its light weight and compact dimensions. The South Koreans have also increased the performance significantly. The engineers from Samsung combine the highest performance with moderate power consumption in their own 64-bit SoC with eight cores. As a result, hardly any other high-end device can keep up with the S6. The main camera is impressive with its high light sensitivity and great picture quality, and the Super AMOLED display is in a league of its own.

Only two things prevent the Galaxy S6 from being the perfect smartphone: a microSD slot as well as a replaceable battery.

So is it enough for the smartphone crown? Yes, because ultimately there are just two aspects of the Galaxy S6 we can criticize: The missing microSD slot – although the smallest configuration of the S6 already has 32 GB internal storage, it will be filled up eventually. Another flaw with the South Korean device is the non-replaceable battery.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 can take the top spot among the high-end competition for now, but it shares the spot with its predecessor the Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z3. Rivals like the Apple iPhone 6 or the HTC One M9 are just one or two percent behind – we do not even want to talk about a real advantage. Probably there will be a clear winner with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The top smartphone with a rounded display has already left a great impression in our preview.

Samsung Galaxy S6 - 04/07/2015 v4(old)
Manuel Masiero

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
77 / 75 → 100%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
50 / 61 → 82%
Weight
93%
Battery
93%
Display
91%
Games Performance
68 / 57 → 100%
Application Performance
62 / 65 → 95%
Temperature
92%
Noise
100%
Audio
65 / 91 → 71%
Camera
90%
Average
82%
91%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Samsung Galaxy S6 Smartphone Review
Manuel Masiero, 2015-04-12 (Update: 2015-04-19)