The S6’s front-facing 5-MP camera will satisfy the selfie-obsessed, offering plenty of facial detail in addition to some fun extra features. In the selfies I snapped under our office’s fluorescent lighting, I was able to make out individual stubbles of hair on my face, and my skin tone looked accurate.
I then invited some friends to join the narcissistic fun, which is when the phone’s wide selfie mode came in handy. In this mode, after tapping the camera button and swiveling the phone slightly to the left and right, I was able to capture a crisp panoramic selfie that had plenty of room for me and two pals.
The Galaxy S6 will get you through an average workday on a single charge, but it’s not the longest-lasting Galaxy ever. The S6 lasted through 8 hours and 32 minutes of continuous Web surfing over 4G, which is longer than rivals such as the iPhone 6 (7:27) and the HTC One M9 (7:14). However, the S6 failed to live up to last year’s S5, which endured an impressive 10 hours and 57 minutes in our test.
The S6 lacks the swappable battery compartment of its predecessors, so there’s no way to augment its 8.5 hours of endurance without a charger handy. The phone does, however, support wireless charging, either via a separate charging pad or at select locations (such as McDonalds and Starbucks) with wireless charging stations.
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If you reach that dreaded 5 percent, the S6 has an ultra-power-saving mode that puts the phone in gray scale for maximum endurance. Once you plug in its charger, you’ll be able to get 50 percent battery back in a half hour, thanks to the phone’s fast charging capabilities.
Powered by Samsung’s octa-core Exynos processor with 3GB of RAM, the Galaxy S6 made quick work of any activity I threw at it.
The phone made it a breeze to flip through menus and pop in and out of the camera app, and the performance remained steady when I watched a YouTube video while simultaneously browsing the Play Store in split-screen mode. I didn’t experience any notable slowdown when playing the graphically demanding Modern Combat 5, even as I gunned down a helicopter while riding a boat through an exploding canal.
The S6 scored 5,120 on the Geekbench 3 general performance benchmark, trouncing the A8-powered iPhone 6 (2,931), the Snapdragon 810-powered HTC One M9 (3,818) and our 2,286 smartphone average.
Samsung’s phone performed similarly well on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. Its score of 21,193 topped the iPhone 6 (16,558) and our 14,757 average but didn’t quite measure up to the One M9’s 22,804.
The Galaxy S6 can be had on-contract for $199 (32GB), $299 (64GB) or $399 (128GB). On T-Mobile’s un-carrier pricing, the 32GB model sells for $680 ($28.33 per month), the 64GB version for $760 ($27.50 monthly with $100 down) and the 128GB version for $860 ($27.50 per month with $200 down). The S6 is the first Galaxy S with no microSD slot for expanding storage, so it might be worth considering one of the higher-capacity configurations if you plan on saving tons of photos and videos.
If you want the curved display and second-screen functions of the Galaxy S6 Edge, you’ll have to pay $100 more for any configuration.
With the Galaxy S6, Samsung has evolved its flagship phone from a strong Android competitor to the top of the entire smartphone field. It’s the most powerful and intuitive Galaxy S yet, complete with one of the most impressive cameras we’ve seen on any smartphone. It’s also one of the best-looking phones — even if you don’t splurge the extra $100 for the eye-catching Edge variation.
Techy users that swear by expandable storage and swappable batteries might want to stick with the Galaxy S5 or the Galaxy Note 4. However, if you can live with those sacrifices, you’ll be treated to the very best phone on the market.