Conclusion

Conclusion - The Good

  • Good detail and low noise levels in bright light
  • Reliable exposure and good DR for a smartphone camera
  • Good sharpness across the frame
  • Well-balanced noise reduction at higher ISOs, chroma noise well under control
  • Good flash performance
  • Very detailed panorama output
  • Efficient HDR mode produces natural results
  • Decent video quality and useful slow motion mode
  • Efficient optical image stabilization
  • Quad-HD screen offers decent visibility in bright light
  • Attractive design and premium materials
  • Well structured camera app lets you choose between auto and pro modes
  • Quick Launch allows for very fast opening of camera app 
  • Good front camera
  • Snappy overall performance
  • Quick battery charging

Conclusion - The Bad

  • No manual shutter speed in stock camera app (available in third party apps though)
  • No Raw support
  • Some jittering in video mode
  • Glass back panel prone to fingerprint smearing
  • no microSD support
  • No IP67 certification (compared to Galaxy S5)

Overall Conclusion

If you have a look at the pros and cons list above it becomes pretty clear that we really liked the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and its performance as a camera. It's the nicest-looking and made Samsung smartphone we have tested so far and the interior components, especially in the camera department, perfectly match the premium look and feel of the exterior. 

With good detail in bright light and very well balanced noise reduction in dimmer conditions the S6 Edge's main camera captures image quality that is at the very top of smartphone cameras with small sensors. In addition both panorama and HDR modes produce great results and the front camera is among the best we have seen. The 5.1-inch Quad-HD screen is fantastic for viewing images or composition, even in bright outdoor conditions, and the new Quick Launch feature gives rapid access to the redesigned and better-structured camera app via a double-click of the home button.

There aren't many points of criticism but it's a pity that, despite Android 5.0, the S6 Edge does not feature manual control of shutter speeds or DNG Raw capture. That said, the former is available in third-party apps and there are rumors that Samsung is working on a software update to enable the latter. So overall, as a mobile photographer you can't go wrong with the Galaxy S6 Edge. It offers great smartphone image quality and camera performance in a beautiful package and will hopefully get even better as software updates arrive.

Features & Operation

The new Samsung camera app is a clear step forward from the previous version. It's simpler and feels less cluttered, though more settings are available by switching to Pro mode. Its downside is a lack of manual control over shutter speed. For now you'll have to switch to third-party apps such as Camera FV-5 or Manual Camera for this feature, but like Raw capture, manual shutter speed control is rumored to arrive with a software update sometime in the nearer future.

Thanks to the new Quick Launch feature the camera is also very quick to access. A double-click on the S6 Edge's home button opens it up in approximately half a second which can help capture that decisive moment. In terms of imaging features the new model actually offers less than its predecessors, but that's not a bad thing. You can download all the special modes we have seen on the S4 and S5 from the Samsung app store to have them accessible in the camera app but out-of-the-box the camera app looks more streamlined. Arguable the most popular features, HDR and panorama, are pre-installed and produce excellent results. Slow motion video works nicely as well.

Image Quality

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge's image quality is as good as it gets with a small-sensor smartphone camera. If you want better image detail and low light performance you'd have to move to a hybrid device like the Pananonic Lumix DMC-CM1 or make the switch to an enthusiast compact camera.

The F1.9-lens is sharp across the frame and images show good detail in bright light, with just the right dose of sharpening applied. Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled and we could not find moiré patterns or other artifacts in the S6 Edge image output. As is always the case, noise and the effects of noise reduction become more intrusive in lower light but the Samsung manages to maintain a very good balance between noise reduction and detail retention across the ISO range. In addition the efficient optical image stabilization does a very good job of reducing the risk of image blur at slow shutter speeds, meaning that even images taken in very low light are still nice to view at screen size.

Dynamic range is also very good, with a lower tendency to clip highlights in high-contrast situations than many other devices in this class. Using the efficient HDR mode can further improve things in this respect. Video quality is very good as well. Occasionally you'll see some "jittering" around the edges of the frame but overall the Galaxy S6 Edge is clearly one of the best currently best options in terms of both video and still image quality.

The Final Word

In terms of camera performance the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge cannot quite keep up with a large-sensor hybrid device like the Panasonic Lumix CM1 but captures the best image quality among all conventional smartphone cameras we have tested so far. Add a streamlined user interface, efficient special features and a premium look and feel to the mix and the new Galaxy flagship becomes a very easy recommendation for mobile photographers who like working with Google's Android OS.

DXOMark Mobile Score
86

DXOMark Image Quality Assessment

The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are Samsung's latest flagship smartphones and jointly succeed last year's Galaxy S5. With a 16MP BSI CMOS sensor, F1.9 aperture and optical image stabilization the new models share an improved imaging specification that translates into real-world results.

In DxOMark's testing the Galaxy S6 Edge performed very well and with a score of 86 points is the new number one in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, relegating its stablemate Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6 Plus to the number two and three spots respectively. The Galaxy S6 Edge captures good detail in all light conditions, color and white balance are reliable and the AF works swiftly. Some noise is visible in low light and when using the flash you can end up with a color cast under tungsten light, but those issues are shared with many other smartphones. 

The Galaxy S6 Edge performs equally well in video mode. Detail, exposure and white balance are good. On the downside "rolling shutter" effect is noticeable and under artificial light color casts can occur. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.

Photo Mobile Score 88   Video Mobile Score 84
Exposure and Contrast 90   Exposure and Contrast 89
Color 85   Color 84
Autofocus 94   Autofocus 90
Texture 90   Texture 89
Noise 84   Noise 96
Photo Artifacts 79   Video Artifacts 89
Flash 87   Stabilization 59
Samsung Galaxy S6
Category: Mobile Phone
Camera and Photo Features
Screen Quality
Ergonomics and Handling
Video Quality
Still Image Quality
Speed and Responsiveness
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has no obvious weaknesses in the camera department and in all light situations captures image quality that is among the very best we have seen from conventional smartphone cameras. Wrap it all up in an attractive metal and glass body and add a gorgeous Quad-HD screen for image viewing and composition to the mix and it's very difficult to not recommend the Samsung to anyone who likes taking pictures with their smartphone. Hopefully Samsung can add Raw support and manual control over shutter speed via a software update but even without these features the Galaxy S6 Edge is the camera phone to beat in 2015.
84%
Overall score

There are 56 images in our Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.