The Galaxy S6 has a nasty problem with auto brightness that I can no longer stand

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

I'm a smartphone nomad. And not by necessity, but as a result of decadent abundance. In the past year, I must have cycled through more than half a dozen devices, each in turn used as my daily driver. 

After going through the likes of the iPhone 6s, Galaxy Note 5, Sony Xperia Z5, and a few others, I've finally settled on a Galaxy S6, somehow. I'm not particularly fond of the device, mostly because I feel its battery life is poor and the fingerprint scanner a nuisance, but I do have a very soft spot for the camera. It's terrific.

Of course, as other fellow smartphone nomads will know, the pain of transferring all your goods to another device is often inertia enough to keep me from jumping ship. That is, unless I have glaring issue(s) with the device in question, as I did with the aforementioned Xperia Z5, for example. And now I do with the Galaxy S6.

"...the little things are infinitely the most important"

Arthur Conan Doyle said that. Good guy. Smart guy.

When it comes to my problem with the Galaxy S6, 'little' is both accurate and completely misleading, though. Depending on where you live, the Galaxy S6 model you're using (SM-G920F for me, the Global version), and even the particular software build you have installed (Android 6.0.1 here), you may or may not know the issue I'm referring to.

Simply put, the ambient light sensor, when brightness is set to auto, can be crazy erratic. In short, while I've come to ignore its laziness (as in, it's kind of slow), that's not really my problem. Instead, my issue is the fact that it becomes unhinged any time you walk through a park or anywhere with trees towering above you. Since the sun's rays pierce through the leaves, the Galaxy S6 dims and boosts its screen's brightness in a rapid succession as you walk around, browsing stuff on your phone. In a matter of a few seconds, it can go through three or four cycles, depending on how fast you're walking and just how much light gets through.

Until recently, I didn't have as much trouble with the Galaxy S6, simply because trees hadn't bloomed yet, and sun wasn't as abundant as it is now. It didn't happen very often, so I thought I was seeing things. After suffering through another episode on my way to grab a bite today, however, I was determined to try and capture this on film.

Watch closely and don't blink. Re-watch the parts of me walking if you have to. 

Now imagine having to deal with this every time there are trees overhead. It quickly adds up to an off-putting experience, so much so that I don't use my phone when walking. Not a big deal, right? True, but that's not all.

You can actually expect this same behavior even when you're sitting down in a bench on even a barely windy day. Since tree crowns sway left and right all the time then, letting streaks of sun through haphazardly, it messes with the brains of the phone. This isn't nit-picking, in other words, but an actual, very real detriment to user experience—enough to push me away from the Galaxy S6.

A widespread issue?

You might think that this is an issue that's universal across phone manufacturers. I know I wanted to know and be sure, just so I'm not blindly pointing fingers. So I took an iPhone 6s Plus, an HTC 10, and Galaxy S7 edge for a stroll as well, repeating the same routine you saw above. None of them blinked, including the S7 edge, so this is definitely specific to the Galaxy S6, and perhaps even the Global variant.

Obviously, it's also possible that this is a bug with the current version of Android installed on our Galaxy S6, though I have no way of finding out. Whatever the reason, in concert with the disappointing battery life and lackluster fingerprint scanner, I am now considering a different device.


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. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

such a fatal flaw since everyone walking under tree with phone on their hand for at least 6 hours each day /s sarcasm aside.. nope, its not a problem for most of human being

17. phonearenarocks

Posts: 606; Member since: Mar 26, 2015


19. Unordinary unregistered

Keep crying and defending lol

2. Vanliewn

Posts: 65; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I have experienced this a couple times, do you have goodlock installed? I thought it might be that because it didn't happen until I got mm and installed goodlock right away

3. manojmcn

Posts: 633; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

If you can't stand, take a chair and sit for a while.

4. nadavcool543

Posts: 27; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

I have a Galaxy S6 for 10 months. Never happened to me.

20. Unordinary unregistered

That argument was invalid when the ip6+ was bending. My mom's never bent, there for it wasn't an issue, right? #fandroidsheepmentality

22. htcisthebest

Posts: 435; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

Stop upvoting yourself on your mobile device, troll

23. Unordinary unregistered

Keep crying BAaaaAAaAaaaAaAAA

28. Amroze

Posts: 597; Member since: Jul 04, 2016

The trolls make their living with blogs and even otherwise respectable publications by pushing the facts to an extreme, and combining personal attacks with mockery to excite emotion in the reader. The reason this works economically is that the emotion and controversy is a win-win. When they attack you, a non-response is a win for the troll. They win the argument by forfeiture. Their readers see the attack, but not the rebuttal. They encounter the object of that attack exclusively through the context set up by the troll, so even the criticized article is presented in a way that routes around objective judgement. Keep trolling.

26. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Lol tell it like it is. +1 for the truth.

5. MrLove

Posts: 28; Member since: Jul 05, 2016

What else did you expect from an lagdroid that too made by Samesung? Always full of problems.

11. John-Knotts

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

What else can you expect from a useless troll?

12. tedkord

Posts: 17311; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

We expect what Samsung has been delivering - the best rated phones in the world with the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any device. Of course, they achieve that by using cutting edge components paired with the most powerful, flexible and functional mobile OS on the planet (which also happens to be the most popular mobile OS by a factor of over 4). All this adds up to you shedding the most tears. Tears of jealousy, tears of rage, tears of hopelessness.

13. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

When Kumar123 now always give acceptable comments. We got another crazy ones,

30. sissy246

Posts: 7074; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

And like icrap has none. It has just as many if not more.

6. XDAdam

Posts: 276; Member since: Feb 03, 2016

When AT&T first updated the S6 to 6.0.1 the auto brightness was extremely erratic and had a strobe effect in full sun (it would flash between half brightness and full brightness every second). The latest June patch update seemed to solve that issue and now I don't have the dramatic auto jumping.

7. supton

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 06, 2016

I've had this exact same problem and I thought I was the only one. I am using the Galaxy S6 edge; It seems to be easily reproducible just by tilting my phone when I'm outside. Hopefully a patch is released soon!

8. Barney_stinson

Posts: 672; Member since: May 30, 2016

You know what!! If you can not stand , you can just sit!!

9. Gadgetex

Posts: 194; Member since: Nov 10, 2013

I have this same exact phone. You uncheck auto-brightness and problem goes away

10. Shocky unregistered

Never had a problem with auto brightness my my Galaxy S6. The only complaint I can think of is that it was difficult to get the phone to use full brightness in sunlight. Samsung generally nail auto-brightness from my experience. One thing I will add is users do seem to complain about this a lot more with marshmallow on many different phones so I suspect the issue lies there.

14. perry1234

Posts: 643; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

I can see how this would be an issue to ....well a certain set of people. But I find manual brightness to be the best option. But I do feel the detection software can be improved.

15. perry1234

Posts: 643; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

*software + hardware controller can be improved. BTW , no such issue with S7 Edge.

16. slavytodorov

Posts: 48; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

My dad owns a Galaxy S6 and it has the same problem. As rarely as I get to use his phone, it's really annoying and I just don't get how Samsung hasn't got around to fixing it.

18. phonearenarocks

Posts: 606; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

@Chris P: Dude I don't see that as such big problem and as you said it can be a software problem and an OTA update can fix it. You keep it in Manual mode when you walk as a work around since you need not leave a really good phone, a phone that u loved inspite of being a nomad, for such a trivial problem in my sense. I use S6 edge myself and love it as you do especially its camera, I have many masterpieces captured on my phone. Can't wait to do a favour to myself by gifting Note 7 to myself.

21. ctdog4748

Posts: 797; Member since: Mar 05, 2016

It's probably just me, but I don't see (at least from that video) what the big deal is.

24. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

So I watch the video. All I saw is, you walked from a shady spot to a more sunny spot. But I didnt see anything happen.

25. irossdrummer

Posts: 366; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

Who cares it's an early 2015 phone and it's mid 2016?!?!?!

27. oister85

Posts: 508; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

My s6 is working fine. I used to have a problem with the camera making a buzzing sound, so i return and got a new one. My girlfriend works for sprint she tells me that sometimes the very first batch of phones to realease have some of kind problems specially Samsung.

29. AnnieChow

Posts: 60; Member since: Jun 28, 2016


* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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