The Samsung Galaxy S6 is significantly faster than the Galaxy S5, with a beautiful Quad HD screen that’s significantly higher in resolution and much brighter than that on the S5. The new Galaxy shows a vast improvement in design, too, and there are some nice upgrades to the camera – particularly at the front. Some sacrifices have been made, though, with the S6 losing the removable battery and microSD card slot that have long been favoured by Samsung fans. Nevertheless, as the best Android phone of 2015, the Galaxy S6 is a brilliant upgrade over the S5.
Price When Reviewed
Samsung Galaxy S6: $599
Samsung Galaxy S5: $550
For more information than what is provided here on either phone also read our full
Samsung Galaxy S5 review and our in-depth
Samsung Galaxy S6 review: 4 months on, the S6 is still the best phone of 2015.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Price and UK availability
When the Samsung Galaxy S5 was announced in March 2014 it had an RRP of £579, but even before its release it was reduced to around £550, and within a month or two, £500. A year later and the Samsung Galaxy S5 costs £292 SIM-free at Amazon. That’s for the 16GB version, albeit with microSD support that lets you add up to 128GB (remember to factor in the cost of the removable storage, though).
The Samsung Galaxy S6, meanwhile, has an RRP of £579 for the 32GB version, and went on sale on 10 April. As ever, prices have been quick to fall, and you can now pick up a SIM-free Galaxy S6 from Amazon for only £409. For what we believe to be the best phone of 2015, and with twice the amount of storage as the S5, that’s very good value.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Design and build
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a plastic handset with a removable rear cover that has a perforated texture, supposedly in order to feel more natural and aid grip in the hand. It’s a removable cover, allowing access to the also removable battery and microSDXC slot.
With the Samsung Galaxy S6 we find a more premium-looking design with a metal chassis and mirrored finish to the rear and tougher Gorilla Glass 4 at both front and back. The device is no longer waterproof (for that check out the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S6 Active), and the battery no longer removable. With 32GB of storage as standard, Samsung has also removed the microSD card slot. We thought the design would look more similar to the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 reminds us more of the iPhone 6.
The screen is a key difference between these two smartphones. While the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs a 5.1in full-HD (1920×1080, 432ppi) display, the S6 has a 5.1in Quad-HD (1440×2560, 577ppi) panel. Both use a Super AMOLED screen, so the key difference is in the resolution. However, the S6’s screen is also 20 percent brighter at 600cd/m2.
All the screen software tweaks built into the S5, such as Smart stay and Adapt display, are also found in the Galaxy S6.
The super-thin Samsung Galaxy S6 is just 6.8mm thick (143.4×70.5×6.8mm) and weighs a tiny 138g, making it thinner and lighter than the 8.1mm, 145g Galaxy S5. In one of many digs at Apple during the Samsung Galaxy S6 launch event, Samsung also claims it won’t bend. The S6 comes in White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, and Blue Topaz, matching the S5’s Charcoal Black, Copper Gold, Electric Blue and Shimmery White.
As with the S5, the S6 includes a heart-rate monitor on the rear, plus a fingerprint scanner built into the Home button – but this one is more intuitive to use, with touch- rather than swipe-based input.
In common with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy S6 is available in two versions: the standard Samsung Galaxy S6, plus the Galaxy S6 Edge. This is similar to the Galaxy Note Edge, which has a curved edge to one side of the screen to show notifications and the like, except this handset offers two curved screen edges.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Hardware and performance
Originally thought to come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip in the UK, fears over overheating issues led Samsung to reconsider and fit the Galaxy S6 with its own Exynos 7420, a 64-bit octa-core processor that’s apparently 30 percent more power efficient. It has two quad-core sets (2.5GHz and 2.1GHz), with one geared toward efficiency and the other performance. Samsung says the lag and stuttering has gone from TouchWiz, too. This Exynos 7420 chip is backed up with 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 32-, 64- and 128GB storage models.
By comparison, in the UK the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 graphics, 2GB of RAM and 16GB (or apparently 32GB) of storage with the same microSD support.
Something that’s instantly obvious when you pick up the Galaxy S6 is just how fast it is, with the only lag we could find occuring when trying to use the multi-tasking screen or swiping in the Flipboard pane to the left of the home screen (we removed this in any case). Everything else is fluid and achieved in an instant – even browsing the web on the train in notoriously patchy areas, we couldn’t believe our eyes as pages that would usually take several seconds to load were just there (yes, even PC Advisor).
The Galaxy S6 turned in a significantly higher multi-core result in Geekbench 3.0 than anything we’ve ever seen before, with 4438 points. By comparison the Galaxy S5 recorded 2869 points. Also see: What’s the fastest smartphone 2015.
SunSpider performance is really very good for an Android phone, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 recording a tiny 462ms (this is iPhone territory) when tested with the preinstalled Samsung browser. The year-old S5 managed 824ms in this test using the preinstalled browser.
For graphics benchmarks we use GFXBench 3.0, in which the Samsung Galaxy S6 recorded 30- and 14fps in the onscreen elements of T-Rex and Manhattan. In the newly released Manhattan 3.1 test the S6 scored 6fps. The Galaxy S5, 28fps in T-Rex.
Inside the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a 2550mAh battery, slightly smaller than the 2800mAh battery inside the Galaxy S5, but with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge and wireless charging as standard. In our Geekbench 3.0 battery life tests it managed 6 hours 53 minutes, with a battery life score of 4136.
We ran the same Geekbench 3.0 battery test on our now year-old Samsung Galaxy S5 to see how it compares. You can’t draw any accurate conclusions from this test as the phone has been in full-time use for at least the past six months and the battery is not going to be in the same condition that it was out of the box, but we can say battery performance on the S6 is significantly better than on a year-old S5. In Geekbench 3.0 the S5 recorded exactly 5 hours, with a battery score of 3001 points.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Audio
Sound quality in the S5 is acceptable, but nothing out of the ordinary. With the S6 Samsung claims the built-in speaker (still a single speaker) offers 1.5 times the volume.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Cameras
Both Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6 are fitted with 16Mp rear cameras, but the S6’s version has been improved with smart optical image stabilisation (as seen on the Note 4), plus a f1.9 wide-angle lens that allows for better shots in low light. The S6’s camera is always on in the background too, so it will spring into action and be ready to shoot in just 0.7 seconds. Plus an IR sensor can automatically detect and adjust white balance.
The front camera has been boosted from 2- to 5Mp, and now supports real-time HDR, while 4K video recording is supported at 30fps.
In our recent 2015 phone camera review we found the Samsung Galaxy S6 to have one of the best phone cameras on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Connectivity
Connectivity options are largely the same, but with the S6 swapping the S5’s Bluetooth 4.0 for 4.1. In both S5 and S6 you’ll get 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, plus MIMO technology and a unique Download Booster that combines the power of 4G LTE and 802.11ac Wi-Fi to deliver super-fast downloads.
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs S6 comparison: Software
While the Samsung Galaxy S5 is sold running Android KitKat, the S6 will come with Lollipop. You can read up on the key differences in our Android KitKat vs Android Lollipop review, but keep in mind that Samsung is also rolling out Lollipop to the S5.
TouchWiz features on both S5 and S6, but in the S6 Samsung says it is no longer laggy.
There’s the S Health 4.0 app, which will track your activity thanks to the various sensors including a barometer and is also used in conjunction with the heart rate scanner on the rear of the device.
Samsung’s new Samsung Pay is made available thanks to the NFC chip, too, though it isn’t set to launch in the US until 28 September so it won’t arrive in the UK for some time yet.
One interesting thing is that the S6 comes with Microsoft Apps pre-installed, and you’ll get OneDrive with 115GB of space for two years, as well as Microsoft’s OneNote app.
Samsung KNOX is present with security features including Find My Mobile.
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Samsung Galaxy S6: Specs
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
- 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
- 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
- Mali-T760 GPU
- 5.1in (1440×2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
- 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
- up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
- 5Mp front camera
- 4G Cat 6 LTE
- SIMtype: nano-SIM
- dual-SIM as standard: no
- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
- Bluetooth 4.1
- GPS, GLONASS
- USB OTG
- heart-rate sensor
- fingerprint scanner
- 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
- 1-year warranty
- test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
- SunSpider: 1048ms
- GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)