Samsung Galaxy S6 review: Subject Zero
The latest TouchWiz gallery app draws inspiration from Apple's iOS and HTC's Sense. The default view shows photos grouped based on time. Thumbnails are shown on a clean white background and you can change their size with a pinch zoom.
Events uses time and location to group photos and automatically create "Video highlights," a slideshow accompanied with music. You can export that to a video to share on your social network of choice.
Speaking of, the Gallery app can view your Picasa online folders but not Facebook.
The Categories view groups multimedia by type - pictures, videos, slow-mo videos, Virtual shots and so on. The People category groups photos based on the faces in them. There's also a Documents category. You can use the Search shortcut to look for photos based on category, people, time, event, location and so on.
Batch operations are gone, but you can easily move photos to Private mode (this requires activating the mode). Editing tools include simple things like Auto adjust, crop and rotate, but you can also do collages and go into the Photo editor, which is the usual Android editor with more advanced crop and rotate tools, color adjustment, effects and dedicated portrait enhancements (slim face, large eyes, you get the idea).
The Share button allows you to send a photo to a device over DLNA, to a TV using screen mirroring or to a wireless printer. Samsung also has a special feature to send profile photos and high-resolution images to your contacts as a sort of mini social network. For non-Samsung devices, recipients get a link over text message, the link expires after a certain period.
Samsung's TouchWiz music player was one of the most feature-rich apps, but the company has done some work to trim the fat. The app looks very clean now, essentially it has just two screens.
One lets you browse tracks and playlists, with a dropdown menu to switch between views including Folder view. The Music square is gone. The other screen is the Now playing with album art and a few playback controls. You can transfer playback to a Bluetooth or a DLNA device.
SoundAlive has gotten rid of the square view too, now it has two dials - one changes the balance between bass and treble, the other between instrumental and vocals. You can tap the Details button for a manual 7-band equalizer. Audiophiles should know 16-bit and 24-bit FLAC audio works out of the box.
Adapt Sound is available to automatically tune the equalizer based on your headphones and your hearing. Additional options include SoundAlive+ (creates a surround sound effect) and Tube Amp. There's also Smart volume to balance the volume between tracks and playback speed if you want to slow down or speed up the playback (useful for audio books we guess).
The video player has been simplified too and the DLNA view is gone. You can still send video files to DLNA players or use screen mirroring. Alternative you can beam just the audio over Bluetooth, the Play audio only option is useful for music videos - playback continues, while you use the phone as normal.
The video player supports all kinds of video file types and codecs, up to 4K 2160p encoded with the new H.265/HEVC codec. As usual multi-channel audio (AC-3, DTS) is not supported. Pop up mode puts the video in a small floating window so you can keep watching while using the phone.
There are extensive subtitle settings with adjustable font and text size, text color, edge and background. Multiple presets are available and you can make your own.
There are built-in video editing options including trimming, video color effects and adding background music (with sliders to control the audio volume from both the video and the background music). A more advanced video editor can be downloaded. It can assemble multiple videos and audio tracks together.
Top-notch audio quality
The Samsung Galaxy S6 audio output is easily among the cleanest we have seen a smartphone produce. Posting excellent scores top to bottom in the first part of our test, the Samsung flagship barely let its stereo crosstalk spike in the second one. In fact the stereo quality with headphones is the best in the class as you can see from the result table below.
Overall this is some of the most accurate audio reproduction you can find on the market and one that should be good enough for even the most demanding audiophiles.
On the other hand volume levels, while good, are not quite among the best we've encountered. The Samsung Galaxy S6 is still going to be loud enough for the majority of users, but the HTC lineup holds a lead in that department.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||+0.01, -0.04||-95.6||92.8||0.0024||0.0094||-94.5|
|Samsung Galaxy S6 (headphones)||+0.02, -0.05||-92.6||91.9||0.0025||0.042||-83.4|
|Samsung Galaxy S5||+0.02, -0.08||-96.3||93.3||0.0017||0.0089||-95.2|
|Samsung Galaxy S5 (headphones)||+0.01, -0.08||-96.3||93.3||0.0095||0.018||-61.9|
|HTC One (M8)||+0.04, -0.10||-95.4||93.4||0.0012||0.010||-93.2|
|HTC One (M8) (headphones attached)||+0.04, -0.08||-94.9||93.9||0.0014||0.018||-79.7|
Samsung Galaxy S6 response
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.
Update, April 3: we retested the audio quality with a retail unit and we got the same numbers as the pre-release unit we used initially.