Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Review: This Double-Curved Screen Is Unique -- and Useful

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Samsung (SSNLF) has made it hard to choose between its new Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones -- and both are designed to compete with Apple's (AAPL) latest iPhones.

The new phones are virtually the same on the inside and differ only when it comes to their screens. The Galaxy S6 has a normal 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display, while the Galaxy S6 Edge has a 5.1-inch screen that gently curves around the left and right side of the device.

With its curved screen -- first introduced on the 2014 Galaxy Note Edge -- this phone stands out. The Edge is the best looking cell phone that Samsung has ever released.

The new phone is pretty much the same size as the S6 and, surprisingly, weighs slightly less than its sibling, at 4.6 ounces vs. 4.9 ounces. The S6 Edge's rounded front and squared-off back give it a unique profile -- the polar opposite of many other popular phones which have flat fronts and curved rear sections.

Plus, the edge sections of the screen add functionality and an extra layer of notification.

To turn on the right-hand edge display, you need to find and press the very small gray and white screen patch on the side. (That's not an easy task.) The edge feature allows you to display all sorts of information: email and text message alerts, voice call notifications and more.

The screen edge shows pretty much the same information as the top line of the main screen, but it's a lot cooler to look at.

The best edge feature is reserved for contact with your friends. You can set five boxes to let you know when certain friends (a maximum of five) text or call. There's also a night mode which can display the date and time during sleep hours when the main screen is off. Overall, the edge space offers lots of options and settings.

In a side-by-side comparison, the screen on the edge seems slightly narrower than that on the regular S6. It's not a problem, just an observation -- and that may be an optical illusion.

What does the curved screen do better than the flat one?

The curved-edge screen provides an almost three-dimensional view of the icons on the home screens. You really have to see the effect in person to appreciate it.

The rest of the S6 Edge is very like the regular edition.

Both feature a new glass design front and back; a super-fast, eight-core processor; 3 GB of RAM; 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage; a terrific 16 megapixel camera in back (with a fast, f1.9 lens) and 5 megapixel camera in front; and all the most modern bells and whistles you could want. The Edge's non-removable battery is actually slightly larger than the regular S6's to cover the extra screen functionality.

Battery life was our Galaxy S6 test unit's biggest disappointment. The S6 Edge isn't much better.

Despite having more capacity, the Edge model drained the battery slightly faster than the regular model. The battery reserve percentage dropped steadily during the phone tests on our AT&T (T) test units. We're not sure how this plays out on other carrier's models.

Despite our battery concerns, the S6 Edge is a state-of-the-art Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) Android device. There is nothing else that looks, feels or performs like it.

All the major U.S. carriers as well as some of the smaller ones have jumped on the S6 bandwagon. Prices vary depending on the carrier. But, in all cases the curved S6 Edge version will cost you more than the regular S6 model. Officially, the difference is $100.

Is the Edge worth the extra cost? That's up to you. Both models are high quality, but the S6 Edge's curve is unique. Check it out before you plunk down you money on a new smartphone.

Overall Score: 8.8/10

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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