Sunday, 25 October 2015

Samsung Galaxy S6 Review.


Today I thought I would take another break from nail posts and try a review of something entirely out of my comfort zone... a mobile phone review!  I recently reached the end of my contract and have been so impressed by the new phone that I have decided to write about it.  If you aren't interested in this kind of thing, please move on and I will be returning to nails from my next post :)  This post is in no way sponsored, it's just something I decided to write.
I have been on the Three UK network for many years now - they launched in the UK on 03/03/03, in the very early days I had a pay as you go phone and then moved onto contract with them in 2006.  I had no issues with their network coverage, they rolled out 4G at no extra cost and as a network have pushed to make changes to the UK mobile industry which have benefited all mobile phone users.  My old phone was a HTC One M7, on a 24 month contract.  At around 18 months, the battery on my HTC became incredibly unreliable.  It would show 40% battery remaining and then suddenly turn off, it sometimes made it past 2pm, but very rarely.  I tried contacting Three about upgrading early or doing something to sort out the phone, but the customer service I received was pretty poor. When it came to renewal time I gave them one last chance and asked them if they could match a deal I found elsewhere, they couldn't, so I voted with my feet and moved to Vodafone.

My first ever mobile phone was on Vodafone (back in 1997!) an Ericsson, a beast of a phone with a battery which lasted a week as it only had a one line display, no games, no gimmics.

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I liked the coverage I had with Vodafone back then, but I always felt they were pretty expensive.  When I was searching around for a new deal I realised I qualified for Vodafone Employee Advantage which gave me 20% off the tariff.  I could also apply this discount to up to five friends or family, so both hubs and I have switched.

I was comparing Samsung S6 and S6 Edge handsets. In the end one small comment I read swung it for me, I read a review in which the user said occasionally their hand was resting on the edge of the screen and when they scrolled it acted as a pinch zoom instead and that the slight niggle occasionally may grow into a big niggle over time.  That was enough of a sway for me, so I went with the regular version.

 I am a pretty intensive data user, I don't really text or make calls all that much anymore (perks of working in a telephony environment, it makes you hate using the phone to the point you check everything to see if you can either chat online or order online, anything to avoid.picking.up.the.phone!) I had a contract which offered unlimited data, but these seem pretty scarce.  After reviewing my use over the six months prior I was averaging 2GB of mobile data and something like 22GB of wifi each month.  With this in mind, if I couldn't get unlimited, I decided 6GB would be the best amount for me, I have enough that I can use it whenever without worrying, although I have still set up the built in data counter just in case!   Most phone companies now seem to do unlimited talk and text plans when you go for higher data, even though I would be happy just to have 200mins!  If there had been a package with unlimited data, 200mins and 1000texts I would have taken it!!

In the end my plan is a 24month contract, unlimited minutes and texts, 6GB data with my Samsung Galaxy S6 for £45 a month.  Looking further into it there was no difference in cost per month between the handset with 64GB memory or 128GB memory.  So I have 128GB.  I had a handset cost upfront of £9.

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Delivery of the phone was a bit rubbish really, ordered online, it took over a week, there was no despatch email, no delivery advice by SMS or email, just a red card through the door and even when I had the phone in my hand, the tracking link still said preparing for despatch!

Number porting was smooth and straight forwards for me, process started at 10am done by 11.30am the day after I requested it. Hubs on the other hand was left without a fully phone for over 48hrs as his number port faulted.  The customer service received on the phone and online chat was pretty poor too, in the end we had to go into the Vodafone store in Derby - big thumbs up to Sarah in Derby Intu shopping centre as her customer service went far and beyond expected.  Anyway, with that problem resolved, we both had working phones... And then hubs' phone goes wrong.... It was a comedy of errors.  His phone was behaving as though someone had remotely accessed it, moving and scrolling through screens and apps.  Vodafone replaced the handset pretty speedily although again, no text or despatch info, just a red card as we had missed the delivery.  When we rearranged delivery the tracking texts started to come through.

That was all a month ago, having lived with the phone for that time I love it and wanted to write a bit about my experiences.  I am not a tech reviewer - if you stumbled over this blog with a Google search, it might not be a techy techy type thing.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is an Android phone, I have used Android for around five years and love how as soon as I log into my Google account my old photos from all that time ago are there sitting in my gallery.  I am quickly able to see the apps I have downloaded previously and download them again.  I compared this experience with that I heard from an iPhone user, his apps were still downloading 10hrs after they started and he had to turn his mobile data off to prevent it continuing when he needed to leave his home.  His photos had backed up onto his iCloud, but he only got 30days worth of pictures.

Android seems intuitive, I have been able to customize my phone to suit my needs.  The Samsung overlay on the Android 5.1 is different to the HTC Sense I had been accustomed to (my last two phones were both HTC 'droids, four years of HTC Sense!) but I have now come to like how much more personalisation I have over the Samsung version. Samsung have tricked me by moving my buttons, the soft keys are reversed, the volume buttons are on the opposite side and my power / lock screen button is now where I am used to my volume keys.  Depsite all those changes it is something I have adjusted to easily.  I now only press the top of the phone once a week maybe!

The operation of the phone is really quick and smooth, it is an octa-core processor.  I tried side by side loading of a page on chrome using the 4G with my old phone and new phone, the speed with which the Samsung loaded was incredible. Minimising apps and switching between them is quicker too.  The Samsung allows you to have two apps open at the same time although this feature is limited to a selection of apps.

The S6 has fingerprint unlocking.  I have set mine up to recognize four fingers, I think I could do more. When I registered my fingerprints, it also set up a back up password so I have peace of mind that if my skin goes nuts (again) I will still be able to access everything!  Unlocking with a fingerprint sometimes seems too quick, but I haven't encountered any issues with this.

The battery life of the phone is good, I can get through a busy day of ongoing use and not need to charge it until later in the day, I am writing this on a Sunday for example and the phone lasted from 7am until 6pm before I decided to charge it.  I accept I will never find a phone with a battery like the Ericsson.  The Samsung charger is probably the best I have ever owned, I purchased one from Amazon previously to use to get power into the HTC quickly, it works even better with the phone it is intended for - flat to full in around 90mins.

Samsung also have an Ultra Power Saving mode, this is really quite useful for me - right now after a short time on charge I have 29% and the estimated time remaining is 2hr 54mins.  If I go to power saver I have an estimate of 3hr 4mins.  Ultra power saving mode makes this 6hr 48mins.  Plugging the phone in on normal mode at 29% remaining and it estimates to be fully charged in approx 1hr 14mins.  Fab.

The S6 boasts wireless charging.  I read the reviews of the various QI chargers and purchased a generic from Amazon for about £12.  Wireless charging is slower, ideal for overnight, but can be problematic depending on if you have a phone case on and you do need to be aware of how you put the phone down, you do need to position it.  I purchased a Spigen case (again from Amazon) which was fine for my phone, but the one for hubs's phone prevented his wireless charging from working.  Now we both have Spigen slim fit cases and wireless charging is fine for both of us.

The phone definitely needs a case to protect it - the design of the phone is a premium feel, with glass on the back.  I have read reviews stating that some colours really show up finger prints, I have the white, hubs has the black, they are meant to be more forgiving, but as my phone has been in a case from the moment I got it so I can't really comment on the fingerprint issue!

The camera built in to the phone is a 16 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front facing camera.  When I was on holiday, I used only my Samsung for photos and wasn't disappointed with the results.




This photo was taken whilst walking - a sneaky sideways shot.  I expected it to be blurred but actually it was in focus and fine.



The camera is a real big bonus.  It works well in low lighting, the HDR boosts the photos really well.  Hubs took some photos of Lurch lit by just a single LED bulb, they had no noise or loss of quality at all.  There is quick access to the camera from the home button, two presses and it opens even when the phone is locked. There is a PRO option allowing manual focus, user selected white balance, colour balance, manual ISO selection and the option to save up to three custom settings. 

Video capture has a couple of fun options, slow motion and fast motion.  If you have slow-mo then film someone blowing a raspberry.  Funniest thing ever.

The only negatives with the camera are the zoom and the physical shape. The moment you zoom in even a little the clarity of the photo is affected.  It is just a phone afterall, no optical zoom option.  I have found it best to take the photo "as is" then zoom on screen after and take a screen shot, minimal loss of picture quality. The physical shape of the camera is quite pronounced, I have seen that one person reviewing for a tech site actually cracked the glass on the camera as it stands proud.  The Spigen case I have my phone it does align with the camera so it protects it somewhat.

The not so good: I cannot figure out the LED notifications nor can I find anything in the manual explaining them.  Some times it flashes red - usually charging- there are two shades of blue and green.  I have no idea which is which.  It even flashes a notification when charging, I am not used to this as my old phone just lit to show if on charge or fully charged.  The QI charge pad also has a light, as does hubs', his actually flashes when charging whereas mine is solidly lit when on.  Sometimes it feels like our bedroom is Blackpool illuminations if I wake at 4am - flashing notifications and chargers. This is no big issue really as you can cover the QI charger lights and turn off notification lights if need be.  The ultra power saving mode disables the light on the soft keys and a couple of times those lights haven't come back on. There is no way to manually change them, although there are apps available to programme the LED colour and when those soft key lights are lit.  I have found putting it back to power saving and then turning it off does correct this.  Previously I have been able to unlock my phone at home without security thanks to Google Smartlock, this doesn't seem to work properly on the Samsung.  I often find it asking permission to turn on the location services, even though I already agreed that before.  Maybe this is why Smartlock doesn't work.  The last niggle I have is another thing I can't find anything about in the manual, although like the LED I can turn this off if it annoys me too much, Rich Communication on messages.  Sometimes in the day I send hubs a message and it goes through as a normal SMS, other times it sends as a chat message or even fails as a chat. The pattern I have found to this is that the chats tend to happen when we are both using mobile data.  If either phone is on WiFi, the phone automatically sends as SMS. If both on mobile data it attempts a chat.

Apart from those last few niggles, I have really grown to love this phone and wish I'd switched to Samsung sooner. The newest version of Android is tipped to be pushed to this phone at some point this year, I am not sure of any release date yet.

My old phone went to Fonebank for recycling, I've used them several times and have never had any issues with them.  The phone was posted on a Wednesday, on Friday  I got an email confirming they would pay the quoted £50 for my old phone.


3 comments:

  1. My first mobile was the Ericsson just like yours with its 4 different coloured changeable fronts, and I only turned it on after 7pm when calls were free - oh how things have changed.

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    1. Ah yes and I remember not realising off peak was 7pm and using it between 6pm and 7pm and getting a huge bill, like £300 or something, I was at uni and couldnt afford that! But it got paid off and I just didn't eat for 3months!!

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  2. My husband has a Galaxy and loves it. I could have got one cheap (via a work contact), but decided to stick with HTC. I upgraded my HTC One M7 (no battery probs for me) for an M9. My first mobile was back in 1993/4 - an NEC P100, which was the world's smallest phone at the time. It was a brick!

    I also jumped mobile operator ship recently. I was with Orange/EE since 1993 when they were Hutchison Telecom. I'd never received anything from them by way of loyalty. Then this year I dropped my phone and the touch screen didn't work for about an inch of screen. I wanted an early upgrade (3 months) and was prepared to stick that 3 months on the end of a new contract. But no. No flexibility. No return loyalty. Nada. So I voted with my feet too and went to O2. I'm much happier with the customer service already.

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