Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ are Android smartphones manufactured and marketed by Samsung Electronics. The S6 line serves as a successor to the Galaxy S5. The S6 and S6 Edge smartphones were officially unveiled in the first “Samsung Unpacked 2015” event at Mobile World Congress on 1 March 2015, while the bigger S6 Edge+ was officially unveiled together with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 in the second “Samsung Unpacked 2015” event at New York on 13 August 2015. Alongside the S6, Samsung also unveiled the S6 Edge (and later on the bigger S6 Edge+), a variant whose screen is wrapped along the sides of the device; the curvature is usable for several additional features. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge were released on 10 April 2015 in 20 countries while the S6 Edge+ was released on 21 August 2015 in 20 countries.
Although the overall design of the Galaxy S6 still features some similarities to prior models, the construction of the device itself was revamped, with a metal unibody frame and glass backing instead of plastic. The devices also introduced an improved camera, a streamlined user interface, support for both major wireless charging standards, and support for a mobile payments platform that allows the device to emulate the magnetic strip from a credit card. The S6 features other hardware improvements as well, including a 1440p display, a new in-house system-on-chip that utilizes a 14 nm FinFET manufacturing process, and an improved fingerprint scanner.
The Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised the devices’ upgraded build quality over prior models, along with improvements to their displays, performance, camera, and other changes. However, Samsung’s decision to remove the ability to expand their storage or remove the battery was panned as being potentially alienating to power users, and the S6 Edge was also panned for not making enough use of its curved display to justify its increased cost over the standard Samsung Galaxy S6 which resulted into the release of the bigger S6 Edge+ later on.
The Galaxy S6 line retains similarities in design to previous models, but now uses a unibody frame made of aluminium alloy 6013 with a glass backing, a curved bezel with chamfered sides to improve grip, and the speaker grille was moved to the bottom. The devices are available in “White Pearl”, “Black Sapphire”, and “Gold Platinum” color finishes; additional “Blue Topaz” and “Emerald Green” finishes are exclusive to the S6 and S6 Edge respectively. The S6 carries some regressions in its design over the S5; it is no longer waterproof, does not contain a MicroSD card slot, and reverts to a USB 2.0 port from USB 3.0. Both also use non-removable batteries; Galaxy S6 includes a 2550 MAh battery, while the S6 Edge includes a 2600 MAh battery. The Galaxy S6 line supports both the Qi and Power Matters Alliance wireless charging standards.
The Galaxy S6 line is powered by a 64-bit Exynos 7 Octa 7420 system-on-chip, consisting of four 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 cores, and four 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 cores, and 3 GB of LPDDR4 RAM for the S6 and S6 Edge while 4 GB of LPDDR4 for the S6 Edge+. The processor is Samsung’s first to use a 14 nm FinFET manufacturing process, which the company stated would improve its energy efficiency. It is available with 32, 64, or 128 GB of non-expandable storage, implementing Universal Flash Storage 2.0 standards. The S6 and S6 Edge features a 5.1-inch 1440p Super AMOLED display; similarly to the Galaxy Note Edge while the S6 Edge+ features a 5.7-inch 1440p Super AMOLED display, the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+’s display is slightly curved around the horizontal sides of the device, although not as aggressively as the Note Edge.
For its rear-facing camera, Galaxy S6 uses the same image sensor with optical image stabilization as the Galaxy Note 4, albeit with a f/1.9 aperture, object tracking autofocus, real-time HDR, and using the infrared of the heart rate sensor for calibrating white balance. Samsung claimed that the camera upgrades would allow it to have better low-light performance. The front-facing camera was also upgraded to 5 megapixels with a similar aperture. The fingerprint scanner in the home button now uses a touch-based scanning mechanism rather than swipe-based; double-tapping the Home button activates the camera app.
The S6 and S6 Edge were initially released running Android 5.0.2 “Lollipop” while the S6 Edge+ was initially released running Android 5.1.1 “Lollipop” with Samsung’s TouchWiz software suite. TouchWiz has been streamlined on the S6 with a refreshed design and fewer bundled applications. Several Microsoft apps are bundled with the S6: OneDrive, OneNote and Skype. On the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+, users can designate up to five contacts for quick access by swiping from one of the edges of the screen. The five contacts are also color-coded; when the device is face down, the curved sides will also glow in the contact’s color to signify phone calls. The Night Clock feature from the Galaxy Note Edge was carried over to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+. The heart rate sensor can also be used as a button for dismissing calls and sending the caller a canned text message reply. The Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile versions remove some features available on the unbranded and unlocked version, like Smart Manager, Simple Sharing (only AT&T) and Download Booster (only Sprint and AT&T).
The S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+ are the first devices to include Samsung Pay, a mobile payments service developed from the intellectual property of LoopPay, a crowdfunded startup company that Samsung acquired in February 2015. Samsung Pay incorporates technology by LoopPay known as “Magnetic Secure Transmission” (MST); it transmits card data to the pay terminal’s swipe slot using an electromagnetic field, causing the terminal to register it as if it were a normally swiped card. LoopPay’s developers noted that its system would not share the limitations of other mobile payment platforms, and would work with “nearly 90%” of all point-of-sale units in the United States. The service will also support NFC-based mobile payments alongside MST. Credit card information is stored in a secure token and payments must be authenticated using a fingerprint scan. Samsung Pay was not immediately available upon the release of the S6, but enabled in the middle of 2015.
Samsung began to release Android 6.0.1 “Marshmallow” for the S6 in February 2016. It enables new features such as “Google Now on Tap”, which allows users to perform searches within the context of information currently being displayed on-screen, and “Doze”, which optimizes battery usage when the device is not being physically handled. On S6 Edge models, the Edge Display feature supports wider panels with a larger amount of functionality similar to those found on the S7 Edge.
In its first month of sales, 6 million Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge units were sold to consumers, exceeding the amount of Galaxy S5 units sold within a similar timeframe, but failing to break the record of 10 million set by the Galaxy S4. Still, facing competition by other vendors that have led to declining market share, a lower net profit, and foreseeing a “difficult business environment” for the second half of the year, Samsung announced during its second quarter earnings report in July 2015 that it would be “adjusting” the price of the S6 and S6 Edge. The company stated that sales of the two devices had a “marginal” effect on its profits. The S6 Edge+ shared almost a similar fate albeit lagging behind the Note 5.