Track Tech: Verizon Wireless’ Samsung S6 Edge

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Samsung-Galaxy-S6-edge-Black-Sapphire.Stunning. That’s really the only word to describe my initial impression of the Samsung S6 Edge.

I reviewed the Black Sapphire unit and it was truly unlike anything I’d seen. The screen spanned from side to side and around the namesake edge of the phone, creating a unique appeal. Powering up the unit was also a pleasure, as I was surprised by the amount of customization I was able to do to the home screen. The Samsung Edge S6 is the only phone I’ve ever used that allowed the user to determine the size of the grid on each screen. This left the decision up to me on how I wanted to organize icons, how big they were and how many apps I wanted displayed per page.

Screenshot S6 Edge 2Those of you that know me know the busier I am, the better I am. Being able to make that grid as small as possible and fit as many items onto my home screen as possible (which was way more than any other standard sized smartphone) was probably more fun that it should have been. I was able to have my home icons (Calls, Messages, Camera, Gallery & Apps), plus all 15 social media & work icons I use regularly on one screen in addition to the time, date, current location weather and… the mother of all Droid user apps… the Google search bar with OK Google voice command built in. Try and tell me that’s not awesome. I won’t believe you anyway.

The one suggestion I will make to any new owners though, is to purchase a case. As slick as the Samsung S6 Edge is… no, seriously, it’s actually slick. This device is prettier than it is durable, and if you don’t set it on a perfectly level and solid surface, it will slide around or off! I recommend the Otterbox Symmetry Series or the Speck CandyShell Grip as a case to keep your new investment protected and help it stay stabilized on any surface. Cases are the best place to start with protecting your phone, so don’t skip that purchase.

EDGE FEATURE

Screenshot S6 Edge 1The new Edge was more limited than the original. I reviewed the Samsung Note Edge earlier this year and I loved it. Being able to check on notifications for other apps with a quick thumb swipe on the side of the device and not having a crowded upper bar across the top of my phone with icons was nice. So I was disappointed when I discovered that they had re-purposed the Edge feature for the S6.

The Edge itself is now on both sides of the phone instead of just the right, which is nice if you happen to be left-handed I assume, but the fact that it is now limited to usage of particular ticker feeds or notifications from 5 contacts of your choice seemed backwards to me. I expected the abilities of the Edge feature to expand, not get reduced. Even in the commercials for the device, the main feature they promote on the Edge is how to “sneak a peek” at info when the screen is off. This is a nice feature, but it shouldn’t be the primary one. I’m more concerned with what my phone can do when I’m actively using it.

Samsung seems to be using the Edge as more of a device design now, rather than a tech feature. I think that’s a shame. The focus should be on both aspects in order to present the feature as strongly as possible.

DOUBLE CLICK AND SAY CHEESE

No, really. Double clicking the home button on the Samsung S6 Edge launches the camera. All 16 megapixels of it! (Or 5 megapixels if you are in front-facing (selfie) mode.) One of the coolest features on this devices camera was the voice command. You can set it up to capture an image when you say, “cheese”, “shoot”, or “capture”! I did this a lot. Sometimes you want to get a shot but holding the camera at the correct angle and being able to tap the button on screen can prove difficult – but not with the S6 Edge!

PhotoGrid_1435989058566PhotoGrid_1439009153964I liked how many options there were with making sure you were capturing the image you wanted. The Auto HDR setting gives you a crisp and clear shot. Switching into Pro Mode allows the user to alter white balance, filtering of light, shutter speed, focus distance, and even lets you take photos through rose-colored glasses… or any filter you like for that matter, rather than editing the shot after. Altering the light filter made taking pictures of fireworks, phenomenal! Here are a few shots from Red, White, and Boom – the Fourth of July celebration in Columbus, Ohio as well as Rock ‘n Blast, the award-winning fireworks display that The Cleveland Indians put on one weekend each summer. The images are true to the eye and not impeded by lights in the stadium or smoke around the city.

When you’re taking selfies with a group of friends, switch to Wide-Selfie Mode – it’s basically panoramic for the front-facing camera. The screen will prompt you to pivot the phone either direction from center in order to get everyone in the shot, capturing an image that would even make Ellen-at-the-Oscars envious!

SPEED AND EFFICIENCY

Android Lollipop has this side by side windows option which is a fantastic feature for anyone who multi-tasks. Having two apps open at once to compare or check schedules/availability is priceless. And thanks to QUAD HD 5.1 inch Super AMOLED screen, the imagery you get on the S6 (whether full or split screen) is the same quality as the imagery on current Samsung televisions.

Reliability wise, the Octa-core processor speeds up the functionality of everything, even with multiple apps running, and using the Fast Charger that comes with the phone gives the S6 Edge a 50% charge in only 30 minutes! Insider tip, power the unit down completely while charging for the fastest “juice-up”! You can even wirelessly charge the device with the purchase of a charging pad from Verizon Wireless. The convenience of wireless charging is another extra that is well worth the investment.

FRIENDLY FEATURES

I enjoyed the Samsung tips that the phone would give occasionally. Especially the one for typing that employed me to hit the checkmark for the word I had typed or spacebar for word predicted. Depending on which of those I used, it saved me time, corrected a misspelled word, or allowed me to add uncommon or proper names that I used often, to my phone’s dictionary with one simple tap.

The Briefing page could be clicked on or off easily. Most phones with premium installed pages like Briefing or Flipbook don’t allow the user to delete it as one of their homepages. I like that the Samsung S6 Edge suggests it as an option but doesn’t force me to utilize it or continually remind me that it’s an option. Nobody likes nagging. The S6 Edge knows I can make my own decisions, and that respect for personal preference is quite appreciated.

READY FOR ADVENTURE

PhotoGrid_1438732956544Whether covering the Verizon IndyCar Series from a far like I did for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedwat in Fontana, CA and the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA or reporting trackside from the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, WI and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH… the Samsung S6 was in my hand.

Immediate access to the IndyCar 15 app with leaderboard updates in real-time, using Periscope at the IndyFans Tweet Up to include as much of our IndyFamily as possible and the constant access to multiple formats of communication (Twitter & Facebook direct messaging, text messaging and email to name a few) allowed me to always be at the top of my game at the track or away from it.

Traveling was also made easier by the S6 Edge, particularly on my trip up to the Milwaukee Mile. I had never been to the city before and the reliability of the Verizon Wireless network kept my navigation connected and updated to the second. The road trip took me through both rural and urban areas that could have easily made finding a signal tough, either due to lack of satellite reception or overuse of them, but that never happened. I always feel confident when traveling to new places because I know I can depend on Verizon to keep me safe, connected and on the right track.

IMG_20150721_212713 20150730_211343PhotoGrid_1436070782710The only thing I travel for as often and as far as I travel for IndyCar, is live music! I had the Samsung S6 Edge with me for shows in Cleveland, OH (New Politics at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame), Ann Arbor, MI (David Cook at The Ark), and Columbus, OH (Gavin DeGraw at LC Summer Bash, Olentangy High School)

All three of these venues have very different lighting – inside & neon, inside & dark, outside & sunny (respectively) – which might have been a challenge for other phone cameras, but not the S6 Edge, as you can see here.

The venues also had unique ticketing options, but I was able to easily keep them organized – one was an email attachment I saved to Google Drive, one was sent via USPS but I held onto my purchase confirmation email, and one was both my access to the show and my parking pass which I pulled up using the Google PDF Viewer when I got to both gates.

I’m not a complacent person by any stretch of the imagination, so I need a phone that can keep up with me. The Samsung S6 Edge was up to that challenge and I have to say, it truly impressed me overall.

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