Reviewers say Samsung's Galaxy S6 tops Android heap, but S6 Edge is solution in search of problem

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The early word is out on Samsung's latest flagship smartphones, with many reviewers praising the company's design efforts —  even as they acknowledge its Apple-esque form —  while questioning the S6 Edge's raison d'être.

"After years of building the smartphone equivalents of that Pontiac Aztek, the company has crafted a pair of sleek luxury sedans," Yahoo technology reporter Daniel Howley wrote in his evaluation. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S6 "isn't exactly original, as it looks like an amalgamation of the iPhone 4s and iPhone 6," he said, adding that "the majority" of people who saw his review unit agreed.

Howley did miss the MicroSD slot, removable battery, and waterproofing that were jettisoned thanks to the redesign, but stopped short of calling any of those omissions dealbreakers.

According to Howley, the S6 Edge is "a bit more prone to slipping from your hand" than the S6 thanks to its sloping display. On the topic of displays, Howley raved about the Super AMOLED units fitted to each device, and liked the S6 Edge's ability to make its edges "glow" a specific color when receiving a call or text based on the caller ID.

"Besides that there isn't much of an advantage to the S6 Edge's curved screen," Howley said. "It's plenty cool, though, and for a lot of people, including yours truly, that's enough."

Howley believes Samsung's new 16-megapixel cameras are superior to the 8-megapixel Sony parts on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and he likes the speed with which the stock camera app now opens and snaps photos. Users "can snap off photos without any delay," making it "a huge improvement over the S5, which lagged a bit between photos."

In sum, Howley advises consumers looking for a new Android smartphone that "the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are the ones to get," and thinks the handsets "should even sway more than a few iPhone fans."

Associated Press tech reporter Anick Jesdanun echoed Howley's opinion of the new design, but feels that "Apple's iPhones now have metal backs and feel sturdier to grip." He called the lack of waterproofing or a replaceable battery "losses, but not big ones."

Jesdanun thinks the new cameras are simply "matching" the iPhone 6 series, and was glad to see the unnatural saturation that shows up in photos taken with Samsung's Note 4 corrected. He particularly likes the ability to double-tap the display, even when locked, to launch the camera app directly.

The S6's back button, which is built into the device's frame, presented a problem as it was easy for Jesdanun to trigger inadvertently.

Overall, Jesdanun had few complaints, and believes that "the regular S6 model will be fine for most people," while "the Edge comes across as something still looking for more practical uses."

Writing for The Verge, Dieter Bohn found the S6 to be "what happens when Samsung doesn't try to copy Apple's phones, but instead finally tries to copy Apple's product philosophy." Bohn praised the S6's "fully conceived, well-executed design" — inspired by Apple.

"Then there's the elephant in the room: it really does remind you of the iPhone," he said. "This isn't a straight rip, of course. From the front, it's the spitting image of the Galaxy S5. The back is glass, and the curves fit Samsung's traditional Galaxy shape instead of iPhone's rounded rectangle. But take a look at the bottom of each phone: You'll find the same perfectly machined holes and ports in basically identical spots."

Bohn loves the S6's display, calling it "one of the finest screens I have ever seen on a phone." He also had high praise for the camera — though found it slightly behind the iPhone 6 Plus's more often than not —  and came away enamored with the handset's performance, if not its battery life.

For consumers, Bohn recommends the S6, but not the S6 Edge.

"Basically, the extra $100 you have to spend to get the Edge buys you a cool-looking phone with some very forgettable software features. I think the regular S6 is handsome enough on its own and feels better in the hand to boot. Between the two, it's the one to get."

PC World's Sascha Segan rated the S6 "excellent," saying that it "puts Samsung back on top with the best screen, processor, and body design of any Android-powered phone." Like others, he laments the loss of a MicroSD slot, but feels "no sympathy" for the death of the removable battery.

Performance from Samsung's octo-core Exynos 7420 was found to be "wicked," easily besting the multi-core benchmark scores of its competitors, though Apple's A8 did gain a slight advantage in single-core benchmarks. Segan believes this to be a bigger problem for Qualcomm than anyone else, as the company's Snapdragon 810 only "looks like a good choice as long as Qualcomm doesn't have any real high-end competition."

Unlike his peers, Segan sees the S6's camera as slightly behind the iPhone 6, though only "by a nose." "The Galaxy S6 is better than the iPhone 6 on some measures, while the iPhone 6 is better on others," he wrote.

"The Galaxy S6 is a super-phone for mainstream users," Segan concluded. The S6 Edge fared poorly in his estimation, however, and "isn't even a decent alarm clock."