From the technology desk of Ribbie’s Weblog
I finally “upgraded” to the Samsung Galaxy 6, from the Samsung Galaxy 4, which, by the way, was and still is a pretty decent smartphone. Galaxy. Where did they come up with that name? I imagine it was designed to conjure up space age technology, whatever that is, or some kind of concept of futuristic sophistication. But being the late blooming baby boomer that I am, one of the last I’m told, it just conjures up memories of the Ford Galaxie, like the one that Sheriff Andy Taylor drove on the Andy Griffith Show.
That was one monster of a car by today’s standards, and so is the Samsung Galaxy 6 when compared to the Galaxy 4. At first glance, they look about the same size, but the 6 is appreciably heavier, although I can’t say I appreciate that. The 6 has a metal trim, not unlike the iPhone, whereas the 4 was constructed of some sort of plastic composite – what do they call it? Polycarbonate? Maybe it’s carbon fiber or fiberglass, I don’t know, but it’s noticeably lighter, which reminds me of the song by Heart called Lighter Touch.
Perhaps a deal breaker for some is the fact that the two phones look about the same and no one will know that you have upgraded if you do. But upon closer inspection, apart from the weight, there are some differences. The camera lens on the back of the 6 protrudes a bit, whilst (to borrow the term from the Brits) the camera lens on the 4 rests flush. This protrusion is slightly annoying and does not appear to offer any advantage to the user. The speaker on the 6 is next to the charging hole which is a welcome improvement over the stupid backside speaker placement on the 4, which means when you set the phone down you can still hear music playing. The sound of the speaker is not much of an improvement, however, and sounds just as tinny as ever. Configuring the thing to play music over a Bluetooth speaker is the way to go. I’ve got a little JBL that sounds swell.
The 6 is faster, I’ll give it that. It’s fast as lightening in fact. It comes with a load of Samsung bloat, but at 32GB of storage, it’s got all the memory I’ll ever need. Some folks on message boards refuse to get the thing because unlike the 4, the 6 has a solid body, like the iPhone, which means you can’t take the back plate off and add a memory card or replace the battery. If you need more than 32GB of storage, you’d be better off with a tablet or another kind of phone. How many apps does one need, really? Hey, if you shoot a bunch off memory consuming videos, get a video camera or a DSLR. Or if you don’t want to deal with multiple devices, just offload some of your stuff to the cloud or you home computer rather than storing everything on your phone. And it’s smart to back up your stuff anyway. But trust me, for the average user, and like it or not, most of us are just that, average, 32GB is plenty enough. Look, the Samsung 4 came with 16GB and that was all I needed and then some and I took a ton of pics, a ton.
The screen seems sharper and I feel like it reads better in sunlight than the 4. The camera has lots of effects and you can download still more for free, but I don’t think it has a zoom, if that’s important to you. Well, it might, but I haven’t been able to find it. Zooming isn’t that important to me anyway. The 16 MP primary camera takes sharp pics that will make you forget about your old point and shoot if you still have one. While the camera is not quite a Nikon, if you know what I mean, it’s plenty good and said to be better than the 8MP camera on the iPhone 6.
Battery. I used to have a HTC with a battery that lasted me about 3 hours a day. I finally gave up and got the Samsung Galaxy 4, which had a much better battery life. The Galaxy 6 seems to have a slightly longer lasting battery than the 4. I’ve been able to go a day with fairly heavy use and not run out of juice. The battery has a quick charge feature, which is nice, but it won’t quickly charge up all the way, just some of the way. As mentioned, you can’t change out the battery. That is, you can’t pop in a spare, if the other one dies or runs out of juice. Smartphone batteries are designed to be recharged everyday so if you think you won’t have access to an electrical outlet when traveling, well you’ll be out of luck eventually, even with a spare. I also got a little wireless charger with the 6. It’s neat. You just plop the thing on the disk and it starts charging. But the charging pad itself has to be plugged in, so it’s technically not a completely wireless operation, but it’s still pretty cool.
In the end, the Samsung Galaxy 6 is an excellent phone but may not be appreciably better than the 4 or 5. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, but the advances are, let’s just say Ho-Hum. So, before you buy, see if you can get a closeout deal on the 5. Galaxy users, if you must take the upgrade plunge like I did, beware, you won’t be blown away by the 6, but you’ll feel the difference in more ways than one and you won’t have buyer’s remorse.