It’s been a good year for Samsung Mobile.
After a few years of falling short of the competition, everything seems to have come together this year in the Galaxy S6, with plastic and faux leather replaced by premium metal and glass, all backed up by a performance that can’t be argued with.
The S6 put Samsung back on the flagship map then, but it is its curvier sibling, the S6 Edge, that has been the surprise hit of 2015. Far from the gimmick we were expecting it to be, it instead delivers excellent performance alongside dashing good looks, and winning the full five stars in the process.
Its popularity showed that people were prepared to pay a premium for a really good-looking phone, and Samsung couldn’t make them quick enough to supply demand.
Not one to miss out on an opportunity, Samsung has decided the S6 Edge is worthy of a screen boost, delivering the Edge experience to those looking for a larger display.
The result is the Galaxy S6 Edge+, and the good news for big-screen fans is it’s every bit as good as its smaller sibling.
Since the screen is one of the biggest changes in the S6 Edge+, it seems a sensible place to start, with the jump in size from 5.1in to a Galaxy Note-matching 5.7in the real headline change.
The bright Quad HD Super AMOLED display remains, with a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 with 518ppi (pixels per inch). This is a slight drop from the regular Edge at 577ppi, but it’s still higher than the likes of the iPhone 6 Plus (401ppi) by some margin.
The drop in pixels per inch is ever so slightly noticeable, with a small loss of subtlety to images compared with the regular Edge. You’re getting a bigger screen in exchange though, and it’s still a gorgeously sharp and precise picture.
Colours are rich and well judged, while blacks go deeper than you’ll find on the likes of the iPhone 6 Plus or even last year’s Note 4.
Skin-tones look natural, textures are portrayed with depth and believability and contrast is strong, with whites doing well to really pierce through dark scenes. They can get a slight bluey tinge to them off axis, but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience.
Whether you’re streaming video online or watching downloaded movies, the picture on the S6 Edge+ certainly won’t disappoint.
Elsewhere, this is just a supersized version of the Edge. Of course you’re going to need slightly bigger pockets to accommodate its extra size (154 x 76 x 7mm), plus it’s around 20g heavier, but Samsung has nailed the screen-to-bezel ratio so it doesn’t feel big in your hand.
In fact, it’s smaller than the iPhone 6 Plus, despite having a larger screen.
We find it pretty easy to hold, but its size does mean some tasks will require two hands for ease – even the biggest hands will struggle to stretch the thumb to the very top of the screen from the bottom.
The premium glass and metal finish remains (though the metal is claimed to be stronger now than that on the original Edge) with a choice of two colours at launch – black or the ever-popular gold.
That glass design is as much of a fingerprint magnet as it was on its smaller sibling, but we’ll take that over a plastic finish any day.
MORE: Samsung Galaxy S6 review
The unique curved-edge design is obviously a big feature here, but this time it’s a little more useful.
As well as the People Edge UI, which displays favourite contacts down your 'active' edge (customisable to be on the left or right) with a swipe, there is also the Apps Edge.
This is activated by swiping away from the edge twice, bringing up a selection of five customisable app shortcuts for easy access. You can activate People Edge or App Edge wherever you are on the phone, and we do find it can save time over going to the homescreen and clicking a shortcut.
The handset’s unibody design means there’s no microSD card slot, with onboard storage options available in 32 and 64GB varieties.
That’s plenty for most, but power users will mourn the loss of the 128GB version that the original Edge offered.
The S6 Edge+ is no slouch. It keeps the same 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset found in both the S6 and S6 Edge, but RAM has been upped to 4GB from 3GB to help keep thing running smoothly on the bigger screen.
And we have no complaints. Swiping through menus, launching apps and playing graphic-heavy games throw up no problems. You won’t be kept waiting when switching between windows, and webpages load without a stutter.
The S6 Edge+ has received a suitable battery boost to help cope with that bigger screen, boasting a 3400mAh battery compared with the 3000mAh powerpack included on the Edge.
We find we can get through a working day without needing to charge the phone, but it does of course depend on what you’re doing with it. Expect around 10 hours with a reasonable usage of browsing, music listening and game playing.
As with the rest of the S6 family, the Edge+ benefits from Samsung's fast-charging system, with the charger to make it possible included in the box.
We managed to get to 19 per cent from empty in 10 minutes on charge, and a full charge took just under the advertised 90 minutes – two and a half times faster than the Galaxy S6.
Wireless charging is also on board (though you’ll have to buy the charger separately) and is reportedly 33 per cent faster than the S6. A full charge will take a little longer at 120 minutes, but it's still no slouch.
MORE: Best smartphones 2015
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ offers high-resolution music playback up to 24-bit/192kHz, and unsurprisingly, sounds very much like its smaller sibling.
Play anything with a bit of get up and go, and there’s plenty of punch and attack to deliver an up-front and exciting performance.
There’s a good amount of detail, with decent dynamic knowhow to uncover the differences between the soft and loud parts of tracks, not to mention the connection between them.
Tonally, it's pretty balanced – a little leaner than the likes of the iPhone 6, perhaps, but not lacking in any way.
We do wish notes were presented with a touch more clarity and precision, though.
Next to the excellent insight and rhythmic talents of the Apple iPhone 6S Plus, the Samsung sounds a bit soft. The iPhone 6S Plus has a tighter and more cohesive hold over its dynamics, too.
A new feature in the S6 Edge+ is the UHQ Upscaler, which Samsung promises is able to upscale MP3s to the quality of high-res audio. In practice, we find that this function does very little to the sound of a track.
It adds a touch more clarity, boosts volume and gives the treble slightly more bite, but at the expense of a little subtlety. It’s worth playing around with, but we’d leave any of the other processing modes well alone.
The camera on the S6 Edge+ remains the same as that on the S6 and S6 Edge, offering 16MP with optical image stabilisation on the main camera and a 5MP wide-angle lens on the front-facing one. Both lenses offer f/1.9 aperture for good low-light shots and 4K video capture returns too at 30fps.
It’s really quick to launch from a double tap on the home button (0.7 seconds, if you’re interested), and that speed stays with the camera throughout.
Autofocus is snappy, as is processing, meaning you can easily fire shot after shot without delay.
Results are great too – we keep it on auto mode for the majority of testing and find it to be fine for most shots, automatically switching to HDR mode when needed and delivering good results in varying situations.
Colours are true to life and there’s plenty of detail to images, even on zoomed-in shots. Bright sunlight can occasionally overexpose lighter details, but it’s largely reliable.
Even low-light snaps fare well, delivering clear images with minimal noise.
Those wanting more control of their snaps can opt for the Pro manual mode, for tweaking things such as ISO, white balance and shutter speed.
Other options include Selective Focus for giving a DSLR-like depth of field to your shots, and a Panorama option for wide landscape images.
The S6 Edge+ also brings with it a few extra options, such as the Collage Video feature, which pieces together four six-second video clips into one collage, and a new Live Video streaming feature, which allows you to broadcast live to your contacts (a selection or all of them) via a YouTube link.
We find this works well, with optical image stabilisation really helping to keep video smooth and steady. The video link has just a slight delay, and depending on how many contacts you want to include, sending out the invitations can take a minute or so.
You can see any likes you receive in real time, but unlike Twitter’s Periscope app, you won’t see how many viewers you’ve got or any comments you receive until after.
Staying with the video side of things, it’s only Full HD footage that benefits from optical image stabilisation – meaning 4K video goes without – while the slow-motion and fast-motion options will record only in a maximum of 720p.
The overall premise of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is very simple – to bring a bigger screen to the Edge experience.
There’s not a lot more to it, but that's no bad thing – it's still as desirable in both looks and performance, with a few additions that make sure the big screen offering is as good as the smaller one.
It’s undeniably expensive, but if you have the budget to stretch to it, or can find a decent deal on contract, there’s no doubt that this is the big-screen phone to opt for right now.
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