Alvin’s Gadget Follies – One Month With The Samsung Galaxy S6

Galaxy S6 Booting Up

Galaxy S6 Booting Up

So it’s been a little over a month with my (then new) Samsung Galaxy S6 from Rogers.  Since my purchase of this white, 64 GB model, I have gotten a simple Griffin bumper cover for it.  The “honeymoon” is over and I’m taking some time here to share my thoughts on the device, so far.

The Griffin bumper case popped onto the S6.

The Griffin bumper case popped onto the S6. The IMEI Number on the phone has been edited out of the picture.

*Record scratch*, Wait, Alvin – aren’t you with Bell?  I was, but Rogers had given me a much more balanced plan to cover my calling habits, texting and data usage, as well as promised me similar network coverage, all for a much lower monthly price.

I have to admit though, I was skeptical switching from an Apple iPhone 5 to the Samsung Galaxy S6 (and the Google Android ecosystem.)  I mean, how hard was it going to be for me to adjust?  Well for a techie guy like me, the adjustment was fairly pain free.  Samsung has an app called “Smart Switch” which made the changeover (moving my photos, memos, videos, and contacts stored on iCloud from the iPhone to S6) extremely easy.

Samsung Galaxy S6 (left) and Apple iPhone 6 (right).  You can see the slight difference in size.

Samsung Galaxy S6 (left) and Apple iPhone 6 (right). You can see the slight difference in size. Also note the bezel on the iPhone is just ever so slightly thicker than that of the S6…more on that further into the post.

There were some lessons learned, though. Here’s what advice I can give if you are contemplating a switch to a different device (whether it be Apple, Android, Blackberry or Microsoft):

1. The Galaxy S5 (NOTE: NOT THE S6) has a limit as to how many characters you can put in your signature.  HTML signatures with links add to that character count.  The S6 has a limit as well (approximately 40 lines of text at normal font size – pretty large).  So far, I haven’t tested what the upper limit is with the iPhone6 and the Blackberry devices, but I have found their email signature fields to be definitely larger than the S5.  This might be something to consider if you work for a large company that may require you to use relatively large disclaimers and/or other legal statements in your email signature.

Signature testing on the S6.  From my own testing, the space available for signatures in the Galaxy S5 was significantly smaller.

Signature testing on the S6. From my own testing, the space available for signatures in the Galaxy S5 was significantly smaller.

2. Find apps that are not tied to one mobile operating system.  For example, if you keep notes and memos on your phone, consider using Evernote.  Another example would be instant messaging – I know that if you are locked into Apple, you are likely a lover of iMessage and FaceTime, but Google Hangouts, Skype and BBM are all available on iPhone and are excellent alternatives to consider and the apps work across most mobile device platforms (and, in some cases, on computers and tablets as well). Word processing?  Microsoft Office is available for both Apple and Android devices and appears to work very nicely.  For backing up or sharing files and photos, try DropBox.

Various platform agnostic messenger apps available on Android, include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Blackberry BBM.

Various “operating system agnostic” apps include messenger apps available on Android, include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Blackberry BBM.

3. If you are unfamiliar with a phone, try to find a live sample at a store (or a friend) and try it out for a bit.  Also, ask the sales person lots of questions or “show you around” – that’s what they are there for.  I had tried a Samsung Galaxy S5 for an hour or so to see how the device functioned.  I got fairly comfortable within that 1 hour of using that device and convinced myself to take the plunge to Android with the S6.

To Samsung, I can use the quote,

iPhone 6 stacked on top of Samsung Galaxy S6.  To Samsung, I will use the quote, “Imitation is the biggest form of flattery.”

So back to the topic of this post – now that I’ve had the phone for a month, do I like it?  Yes!  But, do I have any remorse?  I would say a little.  For one thing, my whole family and extended family (save my brother), as well as my girlfriend and her family are pretty much entrenched in the Apple iPhone ecosystem, so being unable to track my son through the Find Friends app, or being unable to communicate with my numerous godsons and goddaughters (and other kids who call me uncle) without FaceTime has been a bit tricky.  But those are little niggles which I am starting to overcome.  There are other things which I have discovered that still continue to annoy me from time to time:

1. The screen is a bit too sensitive along the edges.  I think it may be because the bezel around the edge of the screen, in my opinion, is too thin.  For example, when I access YouTube and am watching a video in portrait mode (not in full screen) while holding my phone, sometimes my fingers or my palm will touch the edge of the screen, causing Youtube to open a totally different video.  This also occurs when I am browsing on the internet – I find myself accidentally clicking on google search results in the same manner mentioned above.  I don’t think Apple is immune to this, as I have done this a couple times on the iPhone 6, but not as often.  Having my bumper cover on the phone helps minimize this.

Ok. This may look like I had hit the screen with my fingertip, but I had actually hit the link with my palm!

Ok. This may look like I had hit the screen with my fingertip, but I had actually hit the link with my palm!

2. The capacitive touch buttons on either side of the home key are also very sensitive.  I find it annoying to be in a game and not have an edge to hold my phone comfortably like a gamepad or controller while in landscape.  Instead I use my palm or finger to cradle the edge and hold the phone.  Games like Deemo, which requires me to tap the screen with my thumbs very furiously in many occasions, require a good grip of the phone.  I have learned how to get around this, but the grip gets uncomfortable after an extended period, especially if you have headphones and the charging cable attached to the device.

Notice my left palm is totally wrapped around the edge of the screen while my right is not?  I'm trying to avoid triggering the capacitive touch areas beside the home keys.  Now try that while the earphones are plugged in.

Notice my left palm is totally wrapped around the edge of the screen while my right is not? I’m trying to avoid triggering the capacitive touch areas beside the home keys. Now try that while the earphones are plugged in.

3. Home key, why do you rattle?  Why do you feel like you want to fall off every time I tap or place my thumb on you?  Can’t you be a bit more solid, like the power and volume keys?  For a flagship phone, the home key is the only reason why I am left with the impression of why the Samsung Galaxy S6 is still not in the same league as the iPhone 6.  Yes, the S6 is more powerful and has much better specs overall than the iPhone 6, but why does the home key feel so cheap?

Home key comparison. iPhone 6 on top, Galaxy S6 on bottom.

Home key comparison. iPhone 6 on top, Galaxy S6 on bottom.  Note how much larger the key is on the S6 (and the size of the phones themselves.  Placement of the jacks and the speakers are worth noting as well.

4. The fingerprint scanner.  Yes, it’s improved, but still not quite up to where Apple is.  I mean, I can put my finger in virtually any orientation on the iPhone and the iPhone will figure out if it is a match to what I have setup and unlock.  Will the same happen with the S6?  I might have to try once or twice, maybe even a few times.

5. The camera.  Before everyone hates, let me say, first, that this is a solid camera and I am a HUGE fan of it.  (See some pics taken here and take a look at some of the pics below) Samsung has tried to generate a lot of buzz about the S6’s camera and it SERIOUSLY DELIVERS.  What I don’t like about the camera is how the whole camera module (except the flash) protrudes from the back of the phone! Thankfully, my bumper case compensates for this, but seriously, Samsung – you can make the phone a bit thicker to eliminate the lens hump.  This leads me to…

6. The battery life.  Yes, the battery doesn’t live long.  The battery life is shorter than I had expected because I am a “heavy” user.  In my informal testing against a 128GB iPhone 6 (both out of the box without adjusting any power settings), the iPhone 6 would typically survive an average of about an hour or more longer (in essence, survive a full day) of me tapping away at the screen at full brightness, sending email and gaming.  I found that this is contrary to a lot of reviews you will find on the net.  Anyhow, if Samsung makes the phone a bit thicker to put in a larger battery and also eliminate the “hump”, this would be a much more serious phone for Apple to worry about, at least in my books.

The rear cameras. Yes, the iPhone's module is smaller, but both camera lenses protrude from the rear of the phones enough to be an annoyance.

The rear cameras. Yes, the iPhone’s module is smaller, but both camera lenses protrude from the rear of the phones enough to be an annoyance.  The IMEI number has been edited off the phones.

Regardless of these niggles, I am very impressed with the phone itself and would recommend it to anyone who is not already fully entrenched into the Apple ecosystem, or someone looking for something different than an iPhone and has a comparable and compelling set of features (even though in many ways, Samsung has mimicked the iPhone).  I, myself, am keeping this until my next device upgrade.  The S6 has great hardware specifications and strong voice and data reception (although the service from Rogers inside my office tower has been questionable – perhaps due to placement of their cellphone towers in that area.)  The camera – I’ve grown to love it.  After seeing more pics from the iPhone and Samsung, I’ve noticed that the Samsung’s photos are a little less saturated and a bit more (in my opinion) natural looking.  It is a great replacement for a point and shoot.  The IR port is a little bonus – with the right app, you can use it as a remote control for your home entertainment system!  I haven’t tested out the cordless charging features yet.  Perhaps I will bump into a charging station in a mall or airport that may be equipped with one in the near future.

Hey, have we seen this pic before in another post?  (psst!  Yes provided here for comparision to film.  Check out my Ektar post!)

Hey, have we seen this pic before in another post? (psst! Yes, it is provided here for comparison to film. Check out my Ektar post!)

I believe this phone has what I need and will serve its purposes well.  That really all I have to say about this phone.  Samsung has finally unleashed a serious contender to the iPhone! Enjoy the other pics in this post – all are clickable to view full size.

Was this taken by the iPhone 6 or Samsung S6?  Does it matter?

Was this taken by the iPhone 6 or Samsung S6? Does it matter?

Was this taken by the iPhone 6 or Samsung S6?  Does it matter?

Or was this taken by the iPhone 6 or Samsung S6? Does it matter?

Nathan Phillips Square transformed into Pan Am Central

Nathan Phillips Square transformed into Pan Am Central

Natural looking blue skies. A big change over the oversaturated blues from the iPhone (although the iPhone's skies can be a real treat!)

Natural looking blue skies. A big change over the oversaturated blues from the iPhone (although the iPhone’s deep blue skies can be a real treat at times!)

It was a lot more shady when my girlfriend fired this shot from the her seat in the car.

It was a lot more shady when my girlfriend fired this shot from the her seat in the car.

Loving how the S6 is handling the colours.

I’m loving how the S6 is handling the colours of the Scotiabank Plaza.

It was a hazy sky that day.  I'd say the S6 nailed this shot.  It was as I saw it.

It was a hazy sky that day. I’d say the S6 nailed this shot. It was as I saw it.

Colours from the S6 are vibrant and not oversaturated.  Out of focus areas are nowhere close to what you can get from an SLR, but handled well for a mobile device.

Colours from the S6 are vibrant and not oversaturated. Out of focus areas are nowhere close to what you can get from an SLR, but handled well for a mobile device.

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