Sunday, November 22, 2015

Got a Galaxy S6... mixed feelings

Somehow or other, I came into a small sum of money, and as luck would have it, my Nexus 4 is having some weird issues like causing the charger to spark (!!!!) when charging, so I thought it was time to get a new phone.

I really wanted to get a Sony Xperia Z5 or the Z5 compact as I've had my best android experience from Sony's interfaces, but not only is it rather expensive, the many reports of the overheating of the Snapdragon chips just do not endear it to me. Nexus 5x was another option, but somehow I was not enamoured to its design. Enter the Galaxy S6. Originally, I was going to get the Sony Xperia M4, but due to events, suddenly had the budget to consider a "flagship" phone, and the S6 was one of them.

I've never really liked the touchwiz interface, and it's quite horrendous on my Galaxy Tab 3. A quick test at the mobile phone kiosk told a different story. The S6's interface is now much more to my taste, and it felt _really_ nice in my hands.

So, having the budget for a top-of-the-line phone (the S6 edge I thought was too flashy, iphone 6 for some reason turns me off.  LG G4 - curved screen I was uncertain of its suitability for VR use), I decided to get the S6. Unfortunately, here in Canada it's not quite that simple. Visiting the virgin mobile shop, I was told that I couldn't buy the phone outright (?!) even though it was priced at the stall. I had to get on one of the month-to-month plans in order to buy the phone. Several phone vendors I visited told me the same thing. No monthly contract, no new phone.


I really didn't want a more expensive contract as I rarely use more than a few minutes of talk time a month, so I went online and found a S6 for the same price on amazon, and, it was unlocked. Boom!

I must say it's a very nice device, much lighter than I though, and the power/volume buttons are positioned perfectly. The fingerprint unlocking is great! Doesn't always work, but a slight shift usually gets it right.

Lots of crappy apps were installed, thankfully most could be uninstalled or disabled.

Now while reviews online are falling over how amazing the screen is, I really can't say it's that big a deal for me. It's good, it's sharp and can get bloody bright, but honestly, unless you've got the eyesight of an eagle or something, I really can't say the super high res screen is useful for day to day use. The only real reason I can see the screen being useful is for use with VR applications with the Gear VR or google cardboard.

The 720p screen on my Nexus 4 definitely shows the pixels up quite clearly when used for VR. However for what I use the phone mostly for, like using the Kindle App, I honestly can't say the S6 has a definite advantage over the Nexus 4 - apart from the larger screen size.

Had to use the phone app, and I must say, it's a disappointment as usual. Much prefer the phone app on my iphone4s. I mean sure, I could probably download another phone app, but given that I use my phones mainly as very expensive alarm clocks, I just suck it up.

Speedwise, the S6 is a speed demon. I was testing the Unity 5 PBR workflow, and my test scene on the nexus 4 was averaging just over 30fps. The S6, was clocking in roughly double the fps... but at QHD resolution. Totally mindblown. If I were to render-to-texture the test scene at 720p to match the Nexus 4, it'd hit 200fps, probably.

Now as mentioned above, I use my phones mainly as very expensive alarm clocks. So, the alarm function is rather important. One again, the Iphone 4s takes the cake as my primary alarm, and the S6 will get relegated to my secondary backup.

The S6 has the exact same features I need from the iphone, but the snooze function (oh I snooze much) has a quirk that annoys me - to snooze the alarm, I needed to press a very small, specific area on the screen (?!). In addition, it only snoozes 3 times before it turns off for some reason.

The Iphone4, to snooze, I just tap the screen (which I can do with my eyes closed!), to turn it off, I slide. Easy, and it works. WHY SAMSUNG YOU CUSTOMIZE IT SO!? Even the Nexus 4's snooze was so much better >.> I actually spent some time browsing the android app store for a clock app, but gave up as there were soooo many choices. Time better spent drinking tea.

Other smaller nitpicky reasons why I got an S6: The android phones prior to this, the Xperia Ray and Nexus 4 had a very nice clock that was rather customizable, and doubled as the alarm app. I like those clocks as they are nicely offset just to the right of the screen. Unlike the iphone, which has the damned clock right in the damned middle of the screen, which I think looks horrendous. The S6 unfortunately, I can't seem to adjust the clock the same way :( Once again, visited the app store and OMG, too many clock apps. I'd much rather clean my bathroom than look at those apps.

So yeah, winners here are: Nexus 4 and Xperia ray for clocks that I like. I actually went so far as to install the Google Now Launcher, but sadly, the clock just wasn't the same.

My wallpapers also don't work very well now. On the Xperia Ray and Nexus 4, when I switched between the.... desktops of the phone, the background would scroll to follow. Not on the S6! OMG WHY SAMSUNG?! The Google Now Launcher *does* scroll the background, but not in the same way as my older phones.

For example, my Nexus 4/Xperia Ray has a middle screen which is the home screen, and I had two additional screens on either side of it. The Google Now Launcher appears to have the main screen on the left, and I could only move to desktops on the right.For the wallpapers I enjoy, this means that I have to have the subject on the left, not in the center.

I promptly uninstalled it and went back to Touchwiz, because, I can legitimately complain about touchwiz, if I actually use it. 

One thing I'm really looking forward to the S6 is the ultra power saving mode. I'm rather sick of having to carry a battery to charge my Nexus 4 as it's battery's getting quite old, and lately the battery pack can't even charge it up to more than 60% before it runs out of juice so...

Oh yes, the camera app. I think this camera app is my favourite to date. Very minimalistic layout, AE compensation is right up front without needing to go into a menu, and the best part: Double pressing the home button brings up the camera app. The app launches in perhaps a second and a half. Really really love it.

Of course, I have to complain about the camera. I wish they didn't put in a 16 megapixel sensor. When I saw the resolution, it's such a joke - it's even higher-rezzed than my dslr. But we all know who will kick butt when it comes down to quality. I wish Samsung had it around oh... 5 megapixels? For me anyways, if I do use my camera to upload stuff, it's only to facebook and maybe this blog. Which I'd downrez to fit the page.

But all in all, I'm honestly looking forward to using the phone. The bigger screen is nice for reading, and.... hmm.... well I dunno. I have this feeling I really should have bought the Xperia M4 and call it done. I don't subscribe to the mobile lifestyle, and this phone is honestly overkill for my needs. One of the excuses I used to justify this purchase is Gear VR, and I can tell you honestly it's very unlikely I'll buy into it. But we'll see. Oh well XD

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