Taking it to the Edge (+)

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Above: Jorge Lopez rather fashionably explains the features of the new Samsung large screen phones at the company’s September 17 launch in T&T. Photo by Mark Lyndersay

BitDepth#1009 for October 07, 2015

Some things will strike you immediately with Samsung’s new S6 Edge+. First is the feel of the device. The screen’s wrap right to the edge may make for particularly sensual photos,  but the effect in your hand is of a phone that’s all screen.

And, as with the S6, you’re looking at a bright screen with a remarkably accurate colour range.

For my 2015365 photography project, I’ve been moving from the phone screen to calibrated computer screens all year long and there have been no surprises among images captured under wildly divergent light sources.

That might suggest that someone obsessed with capturing photos on their phone might be as well served by the earlier S6 and for the most part, that’s correct.

But for users with more niche requirements, the S6 adds a live broadcast feature, which streams to a YouTube page (think Periscope) and RAW still photo capture, a whole new way to fill your phone’s storage space.

The RAW support is largely theoretical for now though. I downloaded Manual Camera Compatibility test, a free software tool that tests whether an S6 device has enabled RAW capture in the latest combination of hardware and software.

While the S6 Edge+ I was testing should capture RAW files, I couldn’t seem to create one on the camera, even using the app Manual Camera, which supports the new feature.

I did, however, manage to produce a couple of 22MB JPEG files. Oh well, I’m sure the Android OS will improve access to this feature over time.

While I really like the feel of the curved screen edges, I can’t see how a truly protective case won’t conflict with Samsung’s increasing use of that edge for UI features.

Features like an app lauhcer that lurks on the curved of the screen and edge lighting, which flashes the curved edge of the screen in colours you can assign to contacts are likely to be compromised by any seriously protective screen.

The cases I’ve seen for the device are so minimalist that they don’t seem to offer anything more than scratch protection.

Setting up the phone has become much easier, and you now definitely have a very good reason to set up a Samsung account on your device. Once you sign in on a new phone, you can restore a backup from a previous Samsung phone and even choose which items you want to restore.

To test a new phone for even a couple of days, there are some things I need.  Being able to choose them from checkboxes and having the phone set itself up via WiFi is a truly valuable feature. 

I’d love to see Samsung use their proprietary software embellishments for more of this kind of enabling technology and leave the free crapware to app stores.

Between this feature and Google’s elegant synchronisation of information across all the platforms it touches and particularly Android-based phones, setting up a new phone from a proper backup has become a remarkably simple process.

It would be nice if this new phone was blunder free, but I really don’t understand why the new TouchWiz interface veers from Google’s Material guidelines for onscreen graphics arbitrarily to make the flat square icons flat ovoids.

This isn’t unique to the Edge+, a recent update to my S6 brought the same needless revision to that device, turning the Samsung apps into little colourful shirt buttons. Not a good look for an OS.

Since third-party software remains the same; it makes for a pointlessly scrappy launcher layout when you start to customize the home-screen layout.

And for reasons that defy any commonsense or real world economy, the Edge+ dispenses with the all-metal carrier for the SIM card and replaces it with a gray plastic thing that looks like it was just twisted off the plastic tree of an Aurora model kit.

Still, this is a classy, well-engineered device which manages to make a virtue out of a large screen. The Edge+ has all the advantages of the S6 with a Note-sized screen and a seductively tactile finish.

Samsung's Note 5 on display at the company's September 17 launch in T&T.  Photo by Mark Lyndersay
Samsung’s Note 5 on display at the company’s September 17 launch in T&T.
Photo by Mark Lyndersay

A snap interview with Samsung

According to Samsung’s Regional Product Manager Jorge Lopez, the metal and glass finish of the new S6 series has been well received by the market.

“Multimedia users are looking to the larger screens,” Lopez explained, “and at least half of the [Samsung] market is going to screens over five inches.”
“We are going to develop more apps to support multimedia creation and consumption,” Lopez said.