Interface and Functionality

TouchWiz without the fat! The impossible has happened: the Galaxy S6 edge runs fairly smoothly, and adds a few tricks up its sleeve, competing with the iPhone 6's iOS 8.

Let’s get right to the big question: has TouchWiz changed for the better in the Galaxy S6 edge? While a lot has stayed the same, we’re happy to say that change has arrived in places that matter, and while we still have some gripes, we have encountered almost no stutter in TouchWiz, while it’s gotten redesigned towards simplicity, with a modern, clutter-free style.

Under the TouchWiz hood, the S6 edge is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop with all the performance improvements of the latest version of Google’s operating system. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, features iOS 8, a familiar platform that changes slowly, sticking to a proven formula of simplicity and lack of elaborate customizations.

At first look, one thing has remained unchanged in TouchWiz: the cartoonish stock Samsung icons that many hoped to see redrawn. A closer look, however, reveals that the built-in apps have all gotten a Lollipop-inspired style with material design inspiration. The menu - a traditionally puzzling endless list of options - has also been simplified. We’re also happy to see the option to add a quick-access toggle for a flashlight in the notification shade. The signature multi-window feature of TouchWiz has now moved as well, and is found built in the multitasking cards.

The TouchWiz themes that we first saw in the Samsung Galaxy A series are now more and you have a store where you can download even more of them (we’re sure hundreds of themes from developers will soon flood this space). Selecting a new theme changes not only the wallpaper and icon style, but even some built-in apps, widgets, sounds and font style, and that’s the main difference between a theme and a custom Android launcher.

The new double click on the home button gesture to start the camera is an awesome new addition to TouchWiz (previously, double clicking used to bring up S Voice). It’s also interesting to see Samsung throw a gauntlet at Google and include a separate folder with pre-installed core Microsoft Office apps on the Google Android-powered S6.

iOS 8, on the other hand, differs vastly from Android, if just for the fact that it does not have a dedicated app drawer, nor the rich customization options that Google’s platform offers. On the flipside of things, the iOS ecosystem of apps seems to be richer, and the platform is more fit for gamers, as the latest releases arrive sooner and often exclusively to iOS.

Basic functionality, things like telephony and texting, are well covered on both phones with a rich contacts and phone app, and a straightforward messaging app. iOS 8 has also added support for third-party keyboards, so you can have popular keyboards like SwiftKey and Swype, which is nice. The stock keyboards, however, both do an excellent job with well spaced out keys and a quick, adequate tactile response to your taps.

Processor and Memory

Samsung ditches Snapdragon chips for its 14nm Exynos 7420 octa-core chip, and it performs admirably. The iPhone 6 is perfectly on par, and even outdoes it in gaming and single-core tests.

Samsung has ditched Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips for its own Exynos 7420 octa-core chip on the Galaxy S6 edge, and that’s a good thing: this is the first 14nm chip we see on a smartphone, and - with some optimizations on the TouchWiz side of things - we see very smooth and pleasing performance. The Apple iPhone 6 has been there from the beginning: it features a traditionally smooth performance from the very first editions, and the iPhone 6 is no exception to that rule with its Apple A8 chip.

Looking at the tech specs, the Exynos 7420 on the S6 edge comes equipped with four Cortex-A57 high-performance cores running at up to 2.1GHz and four power-savvy Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz, all connected in a big.LITTLE setup. The Galaxy S6 edge also has a Mali-T760 GPU and sports 3 gigs of RAM. The iPhone 6, on its part, features the dual-core Apple A8, but comparing just core counts is a tricky affair, and one should keep in mind that the Cyclone CPU cores in the A8 are larger and much more powerful, so it’s no surprise to see that the crucial single-core performance is still higher in the iPhone 6. Regardless, Apple has taken some criticism for including just 1GB of RAM on the iPhone 6, which forces apps to reboot more often, making multitasking theoretically a bit faster on the S6 edge.

For gaming benchmarks, the Galaxy S6 edge does well, but its Quad HD resolution brings its benchmark results down, and the iPhone 6 wins this round with its blazing-fast framerates.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge comes equipped with 32GB of internal storage in the base model, which is a great advantage over the 16GB of internal storage available on the comparable iPhone 6 base model. The next tier moves to 64GB for both the Galaxy S6 edge and iPhone 6, where we have parity.

It’s notable that after five years of having expandable storage on Samsung’s Galaxy S series, the S6 edge does away with the microSD expansion card slot. The new Galaxy S6 edge does not feature expandable storage, just like the iPhone, so you’d have to clean up contents more often or rely on the cloud to store your data.

Sunspider Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 780.6
Apple iPhone 6 353.4
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 39
Apple iPhone 6 48.9
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 15
Apple iPhone 6 25.8
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 1842
Apple iPhone 6 1239
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 1473
Apple iPhone 6 1630
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 5181
Apple iPhone 6 2927

Internet and Connectivity

Surfing the web is fast and stutter-free, and both phones support a plethora of 4G LTE bands.

The Galaxy S6 edge ships with two browsers on board: Samsung’s own solution packed with various features that offers neat options like a full-screen view, and the mobile version of Google Chrome. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, sports mobile Safari, which is a nimble browser that comes with support for the very comfy iOS touch gestures for navigation - something that Android phones do not have.

Surfing the web is a fast and smooth experience on both devices: it’s hard to notice any slowdowns when scrolling around a page, or zooming in and out.

Samsung brings a vast amount of 4G LTE bands that ensure the Galaxy S6 edge will run on most carriers’ LTE networks. The iPhone 6 is also a record-holder as it sports between 16 and 20 different LTE bands (models vary slightly). Other standard connectivity options on both include: dual-channel Wi-Fi, aGPS with Glonass, Bluetooth 4.1, and NFC.

The Galaxy S6 edge also comes with support for MHL 3.0, a standard that makes it possible to stream 4K videos to a TV, while the preceding S5, for instance, only supported MHL 2.0 and 1080p streaming.

Then, the S6 edge also has the advantage of having an infra red (IR) beamer and a dedicated Peel Smart Remote app that allows consumers to use the phone as a TV/AC remote, which is nice. The app also doubles as a TV guide, while for the iPhone 6 such features are lacking.

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