Apparently we in the UK don’t like the S Pen enough, and for that Samsung has punished us by taking away the all-singing Galaxy Note 5. In its place is the Galaxy Note Edge+, which is both a handful to write and another nod towards the South Korean brand’s main competitor - surely it could have named it something original?
Moniker aside, Samsung has basically supersized its much-loved Galaxy S6 Edge and tweaked a few tiny settings before releasing a whole new phone.
The differences are minimal: the screen on the edge of the phone has been imbued with new powers, there’s a larger battery inside and another dollop of RAM to take things up to a huge 4GB - we’re getting to the point now where these things can make use of the powerful chips inside and are massively out-powering some PCs.
But it doesn’t matter how good a phone is if it looks ugly though, and Samsung has done its best to keep the decent lines and strong looks from the smaller phone and not lose anything during the scaling up.
That means the curved 5.7-inch screen is folded delicately into the metal and glass frame and the smooth back (with slightly protruding camera) makes a welcome return. Make no mistake: this is a two-handed phone, as otherwise it will easily slip from your hand into your pint / onto the hard concrete below (although irritatingly stays locked in your palm during that trip to the bouncy castle factory).
It’s certainly not a thick phone though - almost to the point where Samsung has wasted space it could have used to increase the battery size, rather than making the phone so thin.
The interface is also the same used by Samsung for years, but at least now the Touchwiz overlay looks a little more palatable, with flatter icons and simple graphics as you flick around the phone. You can also easily download themes to alter the look of the phone - but everything works superbly quickly and doesn’t have any of the irritating slowdown found on the ‘normal’ Galaxy S6 Edge.
One of the big things that Samsung’s been touting about this phone is the new Edge screen, which offers more things to do with the curved edges of the phone other than simply looking nice.
The original Edge has the ability to set your favourite people on there, with a light glowing subtly along the side of the phone when the handset is placed face down when you’re in a meeting or something.
There’s not really a lot of point to this beyond aesthetics though - it’s a very niche use and we get the feeling that most people won’t even set up their favourite people, let alone make sure they’re assigned a colour and remember which is it is.
The Edge screen also has new fancy features that, well, you simply won’t use. For instance, you can now set your favourite apps along the side of the display, with a swipe bringing out the choice to select these or your top people.
The idea seems sound: being able to access the programs that matter to you wherever you are in the phone - but we set these up and kept forgetting that the option was there, as the Edge screen just doesn’t feel like an intuitive shortcut.
And the less said about being able to contact your favourite Edge friends, the better. You can poke, send sketches or weird leaf flutterings to your chums.
As long as they also have an Edge+… which isn’t likely to be a lot of people. The function will come to the smaller Edge in the future, which is enjoying higher sales, but not any time soon. So the idea that you can poke your friends, send them little sketches or pictures (which you can then apply effects to that do things like scatter leaves over the image… for some reason) seems novel but ultimately pointless.
It’s a lot like the options you’ve got between Apple Watch users - you can push over novelty phallic images, but it’s only any good if you’ve got a recipient. Otherwise you’ll get into a situation where you start at the beginning and text every number in the world in the vain hope of finding another Edge user.
Trust us, some people don’t like that.
Samsung’s not messed with a winning formula here, and for good reason. The Galaxy S6 Edge+ has the same 16MP snapper seen on the original S6 pairing, and it takes clear and sharp images that really show off what you’re trying to capture to a digital memory.
That means you’ve got a stunningly fast auto mode, with a superbly quick autofocus (although not in the same league as the Xperia Z5 which, frankly, must employ the dark arts to get that speed). The Super AMOLED screen is a great place to see the pics, thanks to the increased resolution and sharpness, so whipping through your snaps with friends will elicit impressive sounds (or bored ones, depending on what you’re showing off).
There are loads of mode to play with here, with the addition of RAW support meaning you can take whoppingly large files with the complete range of image info contained within. While this might irritate those that don’t know what to do with such snaps, it’s more there for pro users looking to have a splendid smartphone camera as a backup.
Combine that with a strong 4K video performance (although watch out how quickly you fill up that storage) this is a brilliant cameraphone, and possibly the best on the market.
The battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ should, in theory, be excellent - or at least better than that of the original S6 Edge. That’s due to having almost no difference internally apart from a bigger battery pack and a lick more RAM to play with - basically, the phone’s working no harder and has more juice to pull from.
Which makes it odd that there’s very little difference between the two in terms of ability to last the full day. You’re more likely to do it with the S6 Edge+, but Google’s Android Lollipop is still munching as hard as it can at the power you’ve got available.
We’re really looking forward to getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow on here, as the new Doze mode could really supercharge the battery life of this phablet.
The Galaxy S6 Edge+ has a really clear user: someone who wants a stunning-looking phone but with a little more power and larger screen. It’s oddly ergonomic in the hand, which we weren’t expecting, and while it clearly is an oversized phone, you won’t be embarrassed to use it.
The battery life still irks - we’re perplexed as to why Samsung can’t make its phones last much longer than a gnat’s breakfast - but that’s pretty much the only thing that’s really bothersome, unless you don’t get on with Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay, which has been dialled down with the S6 range.
This is easily Samsung’s best ever phablet, and even without the raw power and S Pen of the Galaxy Note 5 being available to us Brits, it’s a tremendous choice if you’re looking for a decent phone with a beautifully large and sharp screen.