Samsung Galaxy S6 Review from a Long-Time Galaxy User

I’ve had 4 days of solid use with my new Samsung Galaxy S6, and after using the Galaxy S3, S4, and S5, I can say it’s pretty consistent with my experience with the other Galaxy phones. Of course, there are several differences.

First, what I think is great so:

  • The fingerprint scanner is a fabulous tool. I’m not a big fan of Apple products, but it’s something they got right, and after a pretty bad attempt at it on the Galaxy S5 (to where it was pretty much unusable), Samsung got it to work pretty consistently and I use it to easily unlock my phone without a password or pattern swiping.
  • The camera (along with expandable storage) has been the main reason I’ve gone to the Galaxy line of phones since the S3. I thought the S5 camera was good. So far, this 16MP camera with auto HDR setting has turned out amazing photos. And not just the quality, but the speed to which it opens AND takes pictures (including focusing) blows away the S5’s camera. And there is a setting for “Pro” users to adjust the ISO and focal length (not shutter speed though, unfortunately). But the Pro setting will allow for setting up some great bokeh.

Here are some photos I took using the auto HDR and panorama features (Red Rocks Amphitheater and downtown Denver Pavilions this past weekend). These have been re-scaled to fit here, but not altered in any other way.


  • Wireless charging: I’ve got a Qi charging pod on order, and reviews say it won’t charge as fast as cabling directly to the phone, but the convenience of just setting the phone on the pod when I’m not using it without having to plug it in as fantastic.
  • No USB port cover. Sure, this phone isn’t waterproof, but the covered charging port (and unnecessary USB 3.0 connector) was a pain to deal with on a daily basis. I’m glad it’s gone.
  • I like that the hardware buttons are more easily accessible. The power button on the right is a bit lower down, making it easier to find, and finally we have separate up and down volume buttons on the left – no more solid rocker button, which was annoying at times to adjust up or down.
  • The bottom panel is a spitting image of the iPhone 6 now (along with the rest of the phone), but I will say the speaker at the bottom sounds better than the S5’s on the back. I’m used to having my headphone jack on the top, so I’ll have to adjust to it being on the bottom, but I think practically, it might work out better as I use the phone more.

Now the downsides:

  • No removable storage. I’ve become accustomed to using an SD card for all photos and music. I’m not a big fan of the cloud—especially when there still a lot of places that don’t have decent wifi and my provider, Verizon, has limited (and expensive) data limits. But the partial good news is that the starting storage is 32MB (which is what I have). I chose the lower end after totaling what I was using on my S5. I have everything loaded I need and still have 10GB of space left. I automatically backup my new photos to the cloud and can download them from my PC. I guess it’s time for me to conform.
  • The battery gets hot pretty quickly. It’s not removable (not a problem for me, but a complaint from many others). I’ve seen reviews that battery life isn’t great, but I’ve found it to be on par with the S5 (it gets me through a day of average-to-moderate use).
  • The build quality is superior – similar, of course, to recent iPhones with the curved aluminum edge and glass back. But this also means it’s slick to hold. I tend to put protective cases on my phones, so I’m not keen on walk around to show off my phone (like I see way too many iPhone users doing). I’m afraid I’ll drop and break this phone. The previous plastic phones felt fine to me and were easier to grip, even without a case. After 4 days carrying this around without a case (I just received it), I was nervous every time I took it out of my pocket.
  • The phone is also a bit narrower and thinner than the S5, but the protruding camera from the back makes me worry it’ll crack the lens if I lay the phone on the table too hard (without the case). Not an issue with the case on it, though.
  • Samsung bloatware: It was rumored to have less bloatware, but that simply isn’t the case (or doesn’t seem like it to me). Do I really need IMDB, Slacker Radio, Samsung Print Service, ANT Radio, etc. preinstalled and hogging up room on a device with no expandable storage? No, I do not! I can download those from the Play Store if I want. While I’ve disabled all of the unnecessary apps, the fact is it’s still installed on the phone taking of valuable space. The 64GB device would be nicer, but not at an extra $100 (which is what made MicroSD cards nice), so they shouldn’t preload this nonsense on my phone.

Overall, I’m excited to use the camera more and use the wireless charging feature. The screen is beautiful, of course, and I hope this is a device that will hold up for 2 years until the S8 is out with holographic video projections and mind reading functionality!

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