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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge – it’s a phone right?

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Someone really needs to come up with a new label for these devices as “smartphone” doesn’t quite capture what these devices can do.

I’m writing this on my S6 edge and having used it for over a month I feel I can give it a balanced review. If you’re looking for geeky specs I might indulge but it’s not that kind of review, this is from a usability perspective.

Let me start by saying I’m a Windows phone fan, only reason I use Android is because I’m doing my best to resist the iPhone cult and no one makes apps for Windows.

So back to the S6. Yes, it’s a beautiful piece of tech with its curved Gorilla Glass screen, metal casing and sapphire black finish. I can abide the protruding lens at the rear as I don’t spend much time looking at that side.

 

“OK Clement, we read about all that in the reviews, so what’s your point?”

Exactly that as it happens. I read the reviews too. It’s all full of how great it looks, the balanced weight in your hand and how fast it is. Well we forgot to ask “Can you make a phone call on it?” I mean it is called a smartphone right? Well I haven’t seen five bars on this thing since I got it. I thought it might be my neighbourhood but I commute into Central London and still can’t get a signal.

“You checked with your provider?”

Oh you think I hadn’t thought about that? EE take my money every month and I’d just been through customer service torture trying to get my phone upgrade sorted. There’s only so much pain a guy can stand in one month. So the only thing for it was to consult the oracle. Sorry, I meant to say Google. Six nanoseconds later and I get a shed load (yes that was aimed at EE) of complaints about the same problem from users on various networks on different continents, all experiencing the same problem trying to get a decent signal. It seems Samsung’s foray into metal casing didn’t work as well as it should have. I’m now stuck with a good looking er, phone that can’t make calls whilst pining for my HTC One and Nokia 920.

“But you’re with EE, they do WiFi calling don’t they?”

What you again?! Have you tried using WiFi calling? I have, and even with a fibre optic high speed whassaname connection, you still end up sounding like you’re at the bottom of a deep well.

It’s not all bad I suppose. Since I’ve discovered the S Health app I’ve actually adopted a healthier lifestyle. Can you believe it? The phone doubles up as a fitbit, measuring the number of steps I take in a day, I can update my food diary, measure heartbeat rate, NO2 levels and my workout regime. The camera is awesome and takes great Instagrammable pictures, fingerprint recognition works well and it does feel balanced in my hand. Despite the curved glass it doesn’t feel like it’s about to slip out of your grasp and smash into smithereens which is why I haven’t made the time to get a protective case. Tempting fate, I know.

The curved edge is a great conversation starter, doubling up as a news ticker and message notification area when in sleep mode. You can also set it to display the time as a bedside alarm clock by using the settings to determine when the clock displays, a bit like the Windows Glance feature.

You can also access your five favourite contacts by swiping in from the right edge to reveal an icon for each. When tapped, a flyout menu appears allowing you to phone text or email them. If the phone is face down and one of your favourite contacts calls, a light corresponding to the colour of their icon lights up the edge of the phone so you can tell who it is. If you miss a call, email or text, when you pick up the phone it vibrates and a thin band with the colour of your contact shows up on the edge. Swipe in from that band to reveal the missed activity.

The new Android OS is a bit buggy with icons disappearing from the home screen at will, and the quick settings on the S6 losing the mobile hotspot icon which I use all the time. Like every computer it will eventually slow down under the sheer weight of apps.

Not a bad device but I hesitate to use the word ‘phone’.

Well, got to make a call now and need some decent WiFi. Where’s a Starbucks when you need one.