Samsung released two phones in March that featured some radical shifts in design philosophy: the Galaxy S6, and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Both echoed the look and size of Apple's iPhone 6, and are still arguably among the best phones on the market. Now, just five months later Samsung is pushing one of those sleek-looking phones into phablet territory with the introduction of the Galaxy S6 Edge+.
If you’ve held or even used an S6 Edge, you might be surprised at how easy it is to mistake the new, bigger version for its smaller predecessor. Samsung managed to fit a larger 5.7-inch version of the S6 Edge’s quad HD AMOLED screen in the new phone without drastically increasing the overall size of the device — the S6 Edge+ is just 12mm longer and 5mm wider than the S6 Edge. It’s even a hair thinner, measuring just 6.9mm compared to the 7.0mm-thick S6 Edge.
Read next: Our Galaxy S6 Edge+ review
Everything else about the look and feel of the S6 Edge+ is remarkably similar. The glass body is ringed by metal, with volume buttons on the left and a sleep / power button on the right. There’s a headphone jack and speaker on the bottom of the phone, and the rear camera still bulges out, making it impossible to lay the phone flat on its back.
Almost everything inside the phone is also the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The S6 Edge+ is powered by the same octa-core Exynos processor that made the original S6 line operate so fast (but with 4GB of RAM this time around). It runs Samsung's slightly altered version of Android 5.1 Lollipop. You’ll also find the same 16-megapixel sensor, which is one of the best cameras found on any phone, let alone just on Android devices.
It’s hard to fault Samsung for wanting to stray from the design that attracted many glowing reviews, including our own. And, in fact, the changes that Samsung did make address two of our biggest problems with the quirky device.
One is the battery: it’s slightly bigger this time around at 3,000mAh, but will recharge as fast as the one on the S6 Edge. It’s still not removable, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The other is a small tweak to the software that could have a huge impact on how you use the phone. Samsung introduced the "People Edge" shortcut with the S6 Edge, which placed a tab on the side of the phone’s home screen, which let you set and access your most-used contacts. Now with the S6 Edge+ there’s also "Apps Edge," which lets you quick-launch apps. A swipe on the shortcut tab will bring up whatever you most recently used, so if you want to just use it for app switching, you’ll never have to swipe past the contacts.
The shortcut tab is no longer just a home screen feature, too — you can set it so that it shows up no matter where you are in the software. (You can reposition the small tab along the side of the screen, but you can’t change the size.) It makes it extremely easy to switch between apps, which is great, because it’s a bit hard to reach the entire 5.7-inch screen with just one hand.
Live streaming from the native camera app could be a game changer
Another new feature coming to the S6 Edge+ and the Galaxy Note 5 is the ability to live stream on YouTube right from the native camera app. You can schedule streams or push them live on the spot, and you’re given the option to create a private, invite-only session or grab a public URL to share on your social media. The phones are capable of streaming up to 1080p at 60 frames per second, if you’re willing to spare the data. It’s a clear attempt at capturing some of the booming live-streaming video market, and will especially be a shot across the bow of the dominant mobile streaming app, Periscope.
We really loved both versions of the Galaxy S6 that were released earlier this year, but the S6 Edge’s curved screen (and even the one on the Note Edge, for that matter) felt like a gimmick with little utility. The S6 Edge was an even harder sell when you factored in that it costs about $100 more than the regular S6. With the S6 Edge+, Samsung is offering more screen real estate while giving the oddball hardware just a bit more functionality.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ will be available on all of the major US carriers in black or gold alongside the new Galaxy Note 5 on August 21st. It comes in 32GB and 64GB configurations and will be priced a bit higher than the S6 Edge’s already lofty tag. Preorders start today.
Update August 14th, 9:52AM: Samsung posted 128GB versions of the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ on its website, but the company tells The Verge that they are not being offered at this time. The options listed on the Samsung website are incorrect and the company says it is being updated with the right information.