John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Samsung S6 mini review

Back in July I was up for renewal with my cell provider and hummed and hawed between a Samsung S5 and S6. The S6 had some negatives for me which included a nano SIM, no microSD card and a non replaceable battery. I decided to go with the S5. Honestly I have been on it about 5 months now and I am less than thrilled. The waterproof cover over the charging port is just plain irritating. I’d rip it off if I wasn’t hoping to sell it at some point. The silly system that tries to detect if your back cover is on right does not work right and detects at least once a boot. I took the phone back to my provider and basically got no where. The outside edges of the phone are made out of such a soft cheap material the are a scratch and dent magnet. This from a guy that treats his electronics gently and notices every imperfection. The front button seems to constantly wake the phone up in my pocket. And overall there just was not a lot new in the S5 in comparison to the S4 so I have been underwhelmed and irritated.

So my buddy Lance was getting a new phone for his wife and decided to give me a chance to play … Thus you have this review. My time with this device was limited to a few days, so I am not able to get as in depth or as accurate results, thus the mini review.

The S6 is a nice physical package. Really quite different from the past Samsungs (S2/3/4/5). It really looks and feels a lot like an iPhone. You could easily be excused if you looked at it and thought it was an iPhone. Physically:
Galaxy S6 Design: 138g, 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm
Galaxy S5 Design: 145g; 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm
The thinness of the phone is really quite noticeable. It really has a nice, quality, albeit slippery feel in the hand.

The battery drops to 2550mAH in the S6 from 2800 in the S5. An odd direction. A sealed unit (non replaceable battery) usually lets them get more not less battery capacity out of the same space.

Display wise 2540×1440 for the S6 Vs 1920×1080 for the S5, so a pretty big bump in DPI. The display really is quite crisp and vivid, although I have to say I never had any complaints about the S5 anyway. This is more of a spec game IMHO than anything else.

The processor moves to an Octo core from a quad core, but this is really misleading, it really is a dual quad core, one set of quad cores fast and one slow (for standby). Only one of the pairs is running at a time.

I’ve never seen it before but the phone came up with something called tap and go (turns out to be new in Android 5). Turn NFC on your old phone bring it into contact with the back of your old phone and Android transfers all your accounts and settings to your new phone. Sweet. I found it worked somewhat but apps didn’t transfer just account settings. But at least it saves you some time.

The microUSB plug as always can be used as USB OTG for USB flash drives, keyboard/mouse etc.

The phone as usual mounts to Windows as a media device (when plugged in by USB into a computer). I managed to copy 565MB in 85 seconds or a typically slow 6.6MB/s. Given that there is no microSD slot on the system it means transferring your large music collection onto your device is going to take a lot of patience. To put this in perspective if you had a 64G music collection it would take you a whopping 2.7 HOURS to transfer it onto the S6. Sheesh. That’s aweful.

The vibration on the phone is REALLY quite strong compared to past models. A nice welcome improvement.

Lance put on an iSheild glass screen protector. I am impressed with it. It actually feels normal to the touch but you can see the thickness of it compared to other protectors.

The S6, like the S5 etc has Ant+ built in. Yay. I use this for my heart rate monitor on Endomondo.

The WIFI supports both 2.5 and 5GHZ, but I was unable to test out speeds on the network to see if it was using single or dual channel.

I ran into my first MAJOR anomaly with this phone, the app drawer is not sorted alphabetically. Now tocuhwiz has always done this but you had the option to change it back. Well for some odd reason on a lot of the models Samsung have removed the option to change this. There’s lots of chatter around the web about the issue and no fix. Likely a root fix. I did find an app called App Swap that gives a new app drawer that you have a lot more control of. Sadly you can not hide and replace the Touchwiz app drawer on the bottom of the screen so you end up with two app drawers 😦 (Low and behold an update came along to 5.1.1 and the A-Z sorting option is back).

I tried both my MHL adapter from the S2 as well as the one from the S3 onward. The newer one from the S3-S4/note would not fit at all physically. The one from the S2 fit, and charged the phone but no HDMI out so it seems this function does not exist in the S6. Samsung had poorly implemented it in previous devices so not a huge loss anyway. Doing a bit of digging sure enough Samsung come out and flat out say no HDMI output on the S6 😦

The thing the Octo core is suppose to help out is standby power so I decided to have a look at that. First on WIFI. The phone went from 97% to 83% in 12.3 hours or about 1.13%/hr or a projected battery life of 88 hours. Compare this to the S5 with a projected WIFI battery life of 52 hours. This translates into the S6 being 69% lower power on WIFI standby than the S5. This is a HUGE step forward. So it seem like the Octo core is actually helping out. I am shocked. On LTE I was not able to get a really accurate reading due to lack of time with this device but I saw the phone go from 100 down to 96% in 8.7 hours or .5%/hr, projected life of 218 hours. So it seems like, just like on the S5, Samsung have heavily optimized LTE standby power. A welcome improvement. It’s worth noting that my error would be as high as +- 50%. Which would lower projected life down to 145 hours, but either way it is very good.

The factory charger output has both 9V 1.67A or 15 Watts and 5V 2A 10 watts. This is the first time I’ve seen this. They call it an adaptive charger.

Using a normal 5V 2A charger the phone went from 55 to 93% in 60 minutes or around .6% per minute which extrapolates to around 150 mins from dead. Compare this to the S5 which did about 1% per minute or about 96 mins from dead.

Now let’s look at Samsungs Fast, adaptive charging. As noted earlier the adapter on this one is quite different. You even get a notification that a fast charger has been plugged in when you use the default charger. The phone went from 69% to 96% in about 35 mins. After 96% it seemed to level out the charge rate. That would give it a charge rate of .8%/hr or an extrapolated from dead charge in 130 mins. The adaptive charger seems slightly faster (150 mins Vs 130) but that’s hardly enough to justify buying new chargers.

I had no issue finding a cheap unlock code ($19) on ebay. Oddly when I unlocked it the phone reset and everything I had done on WIFI was gone (with no warning). Now this could have also been to do with the SIM change but either way, not good.

I tried the phone with my Qi wireless charger (an Itian 3 coil) and it worked perfectly (albeit a slow charge but this is normal).

Samsung have gone backwards and put back the standard micro USB port (the S5 was the micro USB 3). Given the slowness of data transfer noted above this is no loss. That and they did not implement a higher current charger on the S5 anyway.

Samsung introduced a new color for this device, gold. And I have to say it really is quite pretty. Very girly :). Oddly at least now, it seem to only be available in a 32G model (in gold).

The back of the phone has a nice glass/mirror finish to it. And man is it a magnet for finger prints. It is just never clean and always looks grimy.

In my short time with this phone I have to say I am impressed. The S6 is actually a lot better than the S5. And it would seem when I chose to go with the S5 I made the wrong choice. Quite a nice device! Special thanks to Lance for letting me play, and his wife for having patience waiting for her new toy!

November 30, 2015 - Posted by | Android

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