In its effort to go Apple one better, Samsung appears to have gone to a great deal of trouble to make its new Galaxy S6 smartphone a lot like the iPhone 6, presumably to appeal to the same audience.
To outdo the iPhone, the S6 has a camera with twice as much resolution at 16 megapixels and a higher-resolution screen that’s slightly larger while keeping the case about the same size.
Unfortunately, Samsung also emulated Apple in its lack of a slot for expandable memory and in its lack of a removable battery. Unlike Apple, the S6 supports Samsung’s KNOX mobile security system that can be used to protect corporate data, and it will work with the BlackBerry management software that the two companies are developing together.
As in recent iPhones, the Galaxy S6 comes with a fingerprint sensor built into the home button below the screen. There are minor differences in this approach, however. With the iPhone, you must enter a security code after powering up the phone before it will accept your fingerprint.
With the S6, you can use your fingerprint without first entering the numeric code. In addition, the Samsung device will let you assign a password using alphanumeric and special characters, rather than restricting you to numbers.
Samsung ships the S6 with Android 5.0, and the user interface is a pretty standard version of Android. This means that in addition to typing in information, there’s also voice recognition that seems to work as well as any of these voice assistants on phones these days, which means it’s not bad as long as your standards aren’t too high. But it’s at least as good as Siri or Cortana—and in some ways better—since it seems to be able to answer questions about more topics.
The S6 includes a 2,550mAH lithium-ion battery that Samsung claims will last for 13 days in standby and 20 hours in actual use. My experience with this phone told me that those estimates were very optimistic.
I rarely got the phone to last through the workday without a recharge, and in fact, it had substantially less endurance than an iPhone 6 under identical conditions. However, Samsung does make a number of battery-saving features available through the Settings app.
I looked at the Galaxy S6 from Verizon Wireless, which means that it works on that company’s Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network. This phone will support Verizon’s XLTE service, which provides twice the bandwidth in areas where that service is available. The Verizon version of the Galaxy S6 is a true world phone, so it also supports GSM networks when it’s outside the United States.
Samsung makes a number of Microsoft services available on the S6 such as OneDrive, but those aren’t included on Verizon’s version of the phone.
Samsung’s Try for an iPhone Clone Succeeds Too Well With Galaxy S6
If you need those services and apps, they’re available from the Google Play store. Other than that, the Verizon version of the S6 is little different from the versions of this phone available from other carriers, except that those may not support CDMA, and they may have a slightly different choice of LTE bands.
Verizon includes a number of proprietary apps, such as VZ Navigator, access to the Verizon cloud and even a Caller ID name service, which can be a lot more useful than just seeing the phone number. Verizon does not include WiFi Calling, which is available from T-Mobile and Sprint.
The phone is comfortable to use. The rounded metal edges are easy to grasp, and the glass front and back covers are attractive. The back is glass, presumably to enable wireless charging, which the S6 supports. Unfortunately, a wireless charger wasn’t available for testing.
The very high Quad-HD resolution presents a very attractive screen, but while the resolution is higher than the iPhone 6, it’s impossible to see a visual difference. The phone also supports HD Voice calling where that’s available. The screen is similar to that on Verizon’s Motorola Droid Turbo.
Samsung made a couple of unfortunate choices in the phone’s user interface that I found made the phone harder to use. One is a poorly designed keyboard that was smaller than it needed to be and made typing harder than it should have been.
The other poor choice is a button for recent apps that is on the lower-left edge of the face of the phone, which results in scrolling through screens unintentionally when you handle the phone. The keyboard problem is easily solved by downloading a better keyboard. I chose the Google keyboard, but there are several others available.
Samsung includes a vast variety of features with this phone that you may find useful, such as gesture control, which means that you can control the phone with motions of your hand. The S6 comes with Near-Field Communication (NFC) and will support Android Pay when it’s released. You can also use this phone with Google Wallet, and you can use the phone’s NFC to do things, such as transferring photos and contact information.
The Galaxy S6 is also available as the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is the same basic phone, but with a snazzy glass front that wraps around the edges.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a very nice phone and it works well, and it is certainly sleek in its glass case. But if I were buying an Android phone from Verizon, I think I’d choose the Droid Turbo with its massive battery and water-resistant case. But the Galaxy S6 certainly is a better-looking phone.