Living with the Samsung Galaxy S6: Day Zero

If you've ever used a high-end smartphone for longer than a few days, and I assume that you almost surely have, then the following picture is all too familiar: You spend weeks raving about how good it is, then confirmation bias kicks in and that hype that you built yourself reaches an all-time high. Such an episode is typically followed by a purchase of the given device. And then, it's a few weeks of honeymoon bliss.

Not everything is as you thought it would be, of course, but what's a spot of bother when looking at the big and glorious picture that is your new gadget? That could be the end of the story for some of us, but not necessarily for others. Whether because of that tiny little thing annoys us to no end, or because significantly larger, more disturbing issues pop up, it's fair to say that only after we've lived with a new smartphone for a while can we tell whether it truly is what we made it up to be in our minds. That is precisely why we've been spending considerable time and effort outlining our own experiences with high profile devices in our 'Living with' series.

Back in 2014, I spent a month living with Samsung's then hottest device – the Galaxy S5. While our objective review of the device was overwhelmingly positive, I, personally, was mostly annoyed by its needlessly complicated, gimmicks-ridden and seriously heavy TouchWiz interface, and unimpressed with its plain looks. While I won't go as far as to suggest that Samsung read the pieces and took the feedback to heart, it is a fact that the company has made significant improvements in exactly those two areas with the Galaxy S6 – its Android Lollipop-based TouchWiz skin is better optimized than ever, and the company has done an excellent job classying up the device. Better yet, I'll be spending the coming month with arguably the best version of the phone – the 'Black Sapphire' model, which masks inevitable smudges best.

You won't agree with everything I'll have to say about the Galaxy S6. Heck, some of you might even disagree completely. But you nodding along the entire time isn't what these columns are for, and that's by design. Instead, they're an opportunity for you to learn about a new hot device by looking through the eyes of someone who spends his every day around other hot devices just like it, and can be every bit as idiosyncratic, subjective, and sometimes even weird, as you are.

May is shaping up to be a pretty fun month. Get pumped!

Story timeline

Related phones

Galaxy S6
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2550 mAh(23h 3G talk time)



1. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Why white and not black out of curiosity. The Note 4 Living with series also used a White Note 4. Are they easier to find or personal preference i wonder. Personally I would go for the darker variation but thats just me

6. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

ah you don't read, even the picture is showing black S6.. you don't see either?

11. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

he said he was using the black sapphire. you know the one shown in the top picture.

2. shivram100

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

I really agree to whatever you have said. I am a samsung loyal fanboy and have had their flagship from 2011 , not one but two of them every year. I did splurge on the S6 edge on Apr 10, the day it was released and find that the phone is very fluid and smooth. I have one grouse, so far, is that, in the Gallery app, under the 'more' options, i am unable to 'add content to display' which enables me to view dropbox and picasso content in the gallery. Dont know why this feature has been removed. Too bad samsung.

3. superbec

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 04, 2014

it looks just like my old galaxy S4... well the front at least is there going to be a new S6 active? maybe I would buy that after S7 comes and the prices are a bit down on this planet.

4. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

I too come from the S4, and let me tell you one thing. It might look like it on these webpages, but when you get it in your hands. And use it, everything is totally different, to the MUCH better. And i had the 5.0 on the S4(Which i loved btw).

5. twens

Posts: 1180; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

As far as looks it does look like the s4. Don't know where people got the iPhone looks idea from. Guess everything samsung has to have an Apple IPhone mentioned in it. Lol

7. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Chris, I really hate being an annoyance, but, reviewing a device upon first time impressions is easy. Reporting on possible SAS(Service After Sale) costs for OW(Out Of Warranty), should be imcluded in reviews. While you guys that don't hold onto a phone more than a couple of months find it easy to dump on plastic, you fail to realize the SAS on plastic devices with removable batteries and SD cards is far below the costs for all inclusive unibody designs. This leads to higher insurance costs, deductibles, forced service, inconvenience and time taken out of a busy schedule just for a battery issue. For the kids that might sit in their basements and play games all day and ignore these costs due to parents bucking up for monthly plan charges and any issues that happen, I really think leaving out the facts of SAS, is unidirectional for placating corporate profits by removing consumer control. In short, hot looking women may be awesome to look at, but, maybe you should be looking at the high maintenance that comes with them. These are just phones. But, phones costing $1000 shouldn't be this fickle and dependant on total industry control. I have more control on my S4 than this S6 will ever allow me. Here's a question for you Chris. Take away the unibody frame on S6, would it be getting the hype it has been getting from sites like this? Sans the unibody construction, the S6 is just an evolutionary upgrade to the previous S5. Wouldn't we naturally expect this? Now also take away the removable battery, SD card, and waterproofing and you essentially have an expected upgraded phone with the options taken away. At least HTC reinstated the SD Cards. The S6 will become a parallel device in a very short time. Transcending to to the other side of the window, now portrays a different view on the S6. John B.

8. medtxa

Posts: 1655; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

I think the only reason samsung change it design to unibody is to make good design to attract consumer(see how S5 receptions are) not intentionally to remove consumer control, and consumers is not stupid, if they want more storage they would buy 64gb or 128 gb version or buy another phone but no! because S6 is more desirable than any other flagship, best camera, best chip, best display, new design. also S6 battery life is decent and replacement is only $45 from samsung. now let me ask you if micro SD and removable battery is your only criteria to choose phone? huh

10. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

How are we judging receptions? I know many people that still own galaxy S3s and S4s that are either happy with their current phone or not yet eligible(as myself) for upgrade. Android people don't change their devices as often as Apple people. I honestly feel the S5 is wrongly accused of something that is negligible. Removable battery, sd card, water proofing, camera stabilization, finger print scanner, great screen. Everything I want in a phone is there. My contract isn't up yet. The S6 eliminated three valuable key features. I won't be purchasing this phone. John B.

12. TerryTerius unregistered

Public reception is judged the way any other commercial product is judged, by sales and reviews. The s5 did sell very well, but it didn't sell as well as the s4 and under performed the entire year. Almost universally, reviewers of the s5 criticized its build quality or looks. While you may have personally not had an issue with it, apparently enough people did that it significantly hurt Samsung's sales. And even if it hadn't, the perception was still pervasive that their phones weren't as well made as HTC or Apple. I can almost guarantee you that Samsung looked at the reaction that the m8 and iPhone 6 got, and decided they had to do away with plastic if for no other reason than to subtract that as a weakness. Any company would realize that if you have a choice to make, one that will turn off some of your most die-hard fans but potentially gain you millions more customers in the process... Then so be it. They'll be sacrificed.

13. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Terry, Thanks for the cordial response. Many things you've stated are things I already know. The iPhone6 enjoyed massive reception due to advancing to a larger screen that many of its customer base have been clamoring for. But, the numbers in conjuction to this reception by defectors to the iPhone have not been as stellar as the loyal base numbers. HTC is still trying to muster up more clientele even with some of the best ratings and design in the industry. Many of the numbers of HTC's added customers, are from past customers that left due to eliminating SD cards. The return of these cards, brought back lost interest from many of these people. I left HTC for eliminating removable batteries and SD cards. I was not alone. HTC recognized this and reinstated the cards. In my opinion, it is a halfway there approach. The S5 maybe my next phone. The S6 will not. As I stated earlier, I still see a good percentage of S3s and S4s in the wild. My wife's S3 is running top notch and my S4 has operated flawlessly. Many of my friends have been weighing the options of S5 vs S6. But, many are questioning the intent of why the omission of things they have been using. If Samsung wants to lose diehard customers in favor of more people, that's perfectly understandable. But, Samsung has essentially just played catch up in body material only. While we may see an uptick in new customers, Samsung has only become a parallel choice by ditching the niche advantages. I still know that Samsung could've met the premium look and feel while attaining the niche options. This is nothing but a marketing ploy to say "look, we have a metal body too." Will it work? Probably, is it the right move for consumers in general? I don't believe so. Just because the industry is heading in this direction, doesn't necessarily mean the consumers are in total acceptance. Choice is dwindling rapidly. They are basically accepting an alternative. Either own a phone with the eliminated options, or don't own a phone. This doesn't mean all are not satisfied with their purchases, but, polls have always favored the preference for the options. As one of my friends put it in regards to showing a phone without the options. "I'm doing it, but I'm not digging it." Reviewers are paid advertisers and often skew reality. They don't hold onto a phone more than a couple months. They don't experience or have to pay for the issues that arise after one year of use. I'm not saying people are not interested in the S6 and I'm sure it's a better phone than its predecessors. But, it should be. Just like any other new iteration, but, when you are paid by a manufacturer to cast an opinion on a product, the opinions often become used car tactics. I will stand by my views that if the S6 didn't have a metal body, this phone would not be getting anywhere near the press release it has been getting. The internals are normal evolutionary upgrades. Samsung is paying to create this hype and I'm not buying. John B.

14. TerryTerius unregistered

Your claim about reviwers doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me for a simple reason. If it was as simple as "I give you money so give a glowing review for my product" neither the s4 nor s5 would have ever been widely critiqued for their lackluster choice of materials and looks, and the general antagonism towards TouchWiz wouldn't have existed. There's been plenty of criticism wether you're talking about The Verge, anandtech, BGR, pocketnow... or tech reviewers like Marquez, Erica Griffin, or whoever. Maybe CNET and Phonearena are more kind in their reviews but that isn't generally true. Yes, the new materials are getting the most attention since it's the most drastic change. But, the software and camera is more under the microscope than anything else for the S6. At least in the reviews I've seen. To me, the more realistic explanation is simply that they genuinely like the phone and think its a good product, as opposed to some conspiracy. Honestly, as an owner of both an iPhone 6 and and s6 edge, previous G3 owner, and frequent user of my brothers HTC One M8... I tend to agree. Choice is complex. The psychology of choice versus the reality of use doesn't really match up. It's the same reason most people will walk into a Baskin Robbins and order familiar flavors, despite the massive array of choice presented to them. The same reason that the average user of an s4 or s5 doesn't use their phones anywhere near their full capabilities. Ultimately, people only truly care about the basics. Camera, battery life, storage, smoothness/speed, reliability and display. Most people, dare I say the majority; never walked around with spare batteries and swapped them out. I'm not entirely sure about micro SD cards, but I do know that putting them in was a far more wide spread practice than hot swapping. However, I would argue that since the majority of people will never even get close to filling up their phone, having 64 or 128 gigs will be enough for the vast majority of people. And yes, I do get the difference between acceptance and desire. I would presume that Samsung is reserving those features for the note series, which makes a lot of sense if that is going to be their power-user oriented device. They can drive their user base towards a more niche product, while keeping their main stream Phone just that. I completely understand where you're coming from, I just think that the assumptions that you are making are wrong. But we shall see, with the g4 having a removable back, SD card slot, and being from a major manufacturer... If there is a surge in their sales this year that could settle this idea. Honestly, I ultimately don't think the omission is going to make a huge difference to Samsung. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Samsung finds a way to integrate waterproofing into the s7 or s8.

15. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

I'm not claiming a conspiracy in anyway. But, we must be cautious in how we defend reviewers. The media is a powerful tool that easily influences mainstream consumers. The companies know this. There is a certain code of ethics between the media and the companies that spend money to advertise on sites, radio etc. And news hubs such as tech sites do get paid well. It would be wise for these sites not to bite the hand that feeds them. But, there are also certain agendas that are planned where criticism is not only expected to meet these agendas, but actually encouraged. Most of the manufacturers in this industry are pushing for sales of the flagship phones. There are two areas where the industry makes its money. The first being is the sales and its profits. Find ways to cut manufacturing costs but retain the same price point. The second is SAS. Service After Sale. How can a company make money on a product after the sale? Ask Apple. It has always had the secret ingredient to use a proprietary ecosystem in order for its products to operate. Software, apps, iTunes etc. Huge revenue to add to the large mark up on its devices. And with only a 13% world wide marketshare. What company wouldn't want this? With the the cloud, the industry has a chance to command huge dollars by pushing people to it. They have invested in it and other products to obtain an A La Carte program. They can eliminate the need for SD cards by offering 3 choices of phones. 32, 64 and 128g. Is this a problem? No. Until you look at the profits vs costs that are obtained through these offerings. Why should a customer be allowed to add storage to their handset for far less money when a manufacturer can force the customer onto the next phone? Memory is cheap. But, selling only 3 types of internal memory for handsets, leaves the potential wide open for bait and switch. If the manufacturer can make $200 more on a handset just because of more memory, the profits are insane as opposed to just offering a card for far less. Repairs? 35-40% of handset failures are due to battery issues. For a consumer to repair their own battery is far cheaper than if they are forced to go to service center and pay them to perform what is normally a simple task even for the most idiotic of individuals. The cost of insurance claims, deductibles, repairs and third party products, has have risen 55% for consumers and profits of 65-70% for the industry in the last two years alone since the introduction of aluminum unibody phones. Not bad for a material that actually costs less than plastic. As far as camera and software changes, we always expect advances on the next flagship offering. This is nothing new. I suspect the next phone will be even better as well. It's called evolution. So, if the media can denounce a certain portion of a company's products to influence the consumer into another direction, the company and industry wins another round. John B.

9. makow

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 24, 2015

People make so much out of the looks... the first thing I do when I buy a new phone is get a case, something along the lines of a bodyglove. Could care less about the looks. More concerned about how long the phone will last between charges (I do not have the ability to recharge often during the day) and how long the battery will last before the capacity is diminished. That and the other operating features. Would love to upgrade to the S6, but if I can only get 6-8 hours of heavy to moderate use between charges its a no go no matter how well the rest of the phone operates.

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