Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ isn't just the prettiest smartphone on the planet. It's also a top-tier work phone, offering almost all the same features as our favorite overall smartphone, the Galaxy Note 5. The key difference is that whereas the Note 5 comes with a built-in stylus, the Edge+ trades note-taking functionality for a captivating design, complete with curved edges. And starting at $780, it also costs $80 more than the $700 Note 5. Still, those trade-offs might be worth it to get your hands on the sleekest business phone around.
Did I mention that the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a good-looking device? The phone's gently curved edges give it a futuristic look and help the already-slim smartphone appear even thinner than it actually is. And whereas earlier Galaxy phones came in plastic shells, the Edge+ sports a premium glass-and-metal design that adds to its appeal. Even Apple's iPhone 6 Plus looks dull next to Samsung's phone.
However, there's a definite downside to the phone's materials: They make it really slippery. The glass back, combined with the Edge+'s extra-large dimensions, made it feel like the phone was ready to slip off my lap or out of my hands at any moment. Still, it would be hard for me to cover up the phone's sleek curves with a bulky case.
If you're hesitant about picking up a phone as big as this one, don't be. This is a device that feels a lot smaller than its 5.7-inch screen size would suggest. In fact, measuring 6.1 x 3 x 0.27 inches and weighing 5.39 ounces, it's actually smaller and lighter than the iPhone 6s Plus (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches and 6.07 ounces), even though Apple's phone has a smaller 5.5-inch display. The Note 5 is the same size as the Edge+, but is slightly heavier, at 6 ounces.
That said, I did sometimes have trouble stretching my thumb across the phone's expansive screen. Unless you have really big hands, you'll need to use two hands with this device most of the time.
The Edge+'s curved edges aren't just for looks. When you swipe in from the phone's right edge (this can be reversed for lefties), you'll see a fully customizable menu that lets you jump between your favorite apps or call your favorite contacts with a couple of taps. It's a lot quicker and easier than backing out to the home screen every time you want to launch a frequently used app.
The edge of the device also hides a few secondary functions. You can gently rub back and forth to reveal the current time and news headlines, even when the rest of the display is turned off. You can also turn on night clock mode so the edge display shows the current time all night, making it a suitable replacement for the alarm clock on your nightstand.
But what really makes the Edge+'s screen great for productivity is its size. The phone packs a huge 5.7-inch display, so screen-intensive tasks like viewing large documents and editing spreadsheets feel easy, and so do basic tasks like managing your email inbox. And if you can't quite reach the upper-left corner of the screen, you can always triple-press the phone's home button to temporarily shrink the active portion of the screen down to a more manageable size.
Size aside, the Edge+'s display is stunning to look at. The quad-HD panel produces extremely vibrant images and crisp text. It's also relatively bright, topping out at 490 nits of brightness. That beats the smartphone average of 423 nits, but isn't as bright as the iPhone 6 Plus' 537 nits. A bright screen is easier to view outdoors and in direct sunlight.
The Edge+ takes advantage of all that screen space with multiwindow mode, which lets you run two apps side by side in split-screen mode — a functionality you won't find on any rival phones other than the Note 5.
Using multiwindow mode is easy: Just tap the multitasking button to the left of the home key; then select two apps from the menu. Once your apps are up and running, you can resize them or turn your phone to view them side by side in landscape mode, or stacked on top of each other in portrait mode. The utility of split-screen multitasking on a smartphone screen — even a big screen like this — is limited, but it does come in handy when I want to reference a Web page or use the calculator app while drafting an email, for example.
Support for Samsung's SideSync app is another perk, letting you multitask on your desktop computer while keeping up with alerts and messages on your phone. The SideSync application — which is available for both PCs and Mac computers — can pull notifications from an Edge+ that's connected to the same wireless network, and even lets you take phone calls using your computer's microphone.
The Edge+ is one of the most secure smartphones, thanks to a couple of key features. The first is the fingerprint scanner, which is embedded in the phone's home button. Fingerprint scanners are a nice perk for people who want to keep their work phones locked down without fussing with password screens. The Edge+'s scanner was easy to set up and quickly recognized my finger most of the time. On the other hand, the home button's oval shape makes it easy to accidentally position your finger incorrectly over the scanner. Round scanners like the ones on the Google Nexus 6P and the iPhone 6s Plus are more reliable.
Then, there's the My Knox app, which can be activated to keep your work data separate from your personal apps. The Knox suite is also used to manage smartphone deployment in an enterprise environment.
Smartphones don't get much speedier than this. The Edge+'s internals are almost identical to the Note 5's. Both devices are powered by Samsung's octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, though the Edge+ packs in 1GB of RAM more than the Note 5 does, for a total of 4GB. In theory, that could make multitasking even smoother, but in practice, the phones feel about equally snappy during daily use.
The Edge+ did actually beat out all competitors on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, with a score of 5,200. That edges out the Note 5's score of 5,053, and also beats the iPhone 6s Plus (4,405) and the Nexus 6P (4,289).
Workers who need a phone that can last through a long business flight should do fine with the Edge+. The phone ran for a solid 8 hours and 43 minutes when we tested the T-Mobile version, though it died after just 8 hours and 9 minutes on Verizon's mobile network.
Still, both outlasted the smartphone average of 8 hours and 2 minutes. The Note 5 offers similar battery life, but the Nexus 6P is the battery life king, running for an epic 12 hours and 25 minutes. The iPhone 6s Plus is in the middle, running for 8 hours and 15 minutes on the same test.
As a bonus, the Edge+ offers quick charging capabilities, which can provide several extra hours of juice in as little as 15 minutes of charging time. That's a great perk if you need to top off your battery during a short layover at the airport.
Like all Samsung smartphones, the Edge+ runs on a tweaked version of Android called TouchWiz. The overlay used to be bloated, with tons of useless features lumped on top of the basic Android interface, but these days, it's much more streamlined and attractive.
TouchWiz includes some extra features that might make you more productive, like a customizable quick settings menu at the top of the notifications drawer that makes it easy to toggle settings like Wi-Fi, GPS and Power Saving Mode, a feature that limits background updates to help extend your battery life. I also like S Finder, a nice little utility that makes it easy to sift through your phone's settings using keywords. Other TouchWiz features, such as multiwindow mode, have already been mentioned earlier in this review.
Samsung sells the Edge+ in a couple of different hardware configurations, including models with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Choose carefully: This phone lacks a microSD card slot to expand its internal storage, so the storage you start with is all you're going to get.
The Edge+ is sold in three different colors: sapphire black (which looks dark blue when it catches the light), silver and gold platinum.
Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ is a top-notch work phone, offering a roomy display, handy multitasking functionality and solid security options. Plus, its premium design still makes me gawk. On the other hand, it's hard to recommend the Edge+ over Samsung's other premium phablet, the Note 5, which is almost identical to the Edge+ but comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus so you can take notes and annotate documents right on your phone's display. Apple's iPhone 6s Plus is another strong option for Apple fans, and the Nexus 6P is great if you want a pure Android experience and the longest battery life of any phablet.
If you don't care about stylus support and love the look of the Edge+, though, it's one of the best business phones around — as long as you don't mind paying a premium price for it.