Opinion

The Galaxy S6 edge+ is a usability nightmare

Say what you will about the “cheap plastics” and “tacky leather backs” of Samsung smartphones from yesteryear, if there was one thing the company did right, it was ergonomics. The plastic and leather backs were great for giving you a good grip when the phones were in your hand, all while your iPhone and HTC-owning friends were putting their devices inside cases to keep them safe from damage and slippage.

Fast forward to 2015, and Samsung followed the premium design trend by moving to glass and metal on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge. As expected, these new materials threw ergonomics totally out of the window, and the Galaxy S6 edge was the worst of the two thanks to the thin sides and that dual-edge screen. The screen size on the S6 edge wasn’t in the phablet category so there was still some semblance of ergonomic usage, but its successor manages to negate that considerably further.

A 5.7-inch device is always going to be a liability in one-hand usage, but the Galaxy S6 edge+ is bad even when you’re using two hands. The glass on the front and back is smooth, but the metal on the sides is even smoother. This wouldn’t be that big an issue if it weren’t for the extremely thin edges, which combine with the slippery metal to make handling the phone very difficult in almost every scenario.

Allow me to explain. Since the edges are slippery, you tend to hold on to the phone much tighter than normal. But since the sides are thin and the screen curves on both sides, you are forced to shift your grip to the extreme edge of the, well, edges to prevent accidental touches on the screen. Without a palm resting at the bottom of the phone, you therefore have to pay attention to your grip almost all the while you’re using the phone.

It’s not always possible to rest a phone on your palm, so the ergonomics are a huge issue on the S6 edge+ as a result. It’s a miracle I haven’t managed to drop the phone yet; it still has a small crack in the back glass, though I’ll blame that on myself for a few incidents where I might not have handled it as carefully as I should a phone that is made of metal and glass.

But then again, I shouldn’t have to be constantly thinking about my phone’s safety. It’s great that Samsung is finally doing great design (though if you remove the curved edges, the regular S6 doesn’t really look that impressive when you ignore the premium materials), but does the company really have to do so at the expense of the device’s usability?

Actually, if you look at the Galaxy Note 5, Samsung has tried to offset usability issues by adding curves at the back of the device, which enables a better grip than what you would have with fully flat glass. But the Galaxy S6 edge+, which is the only phablet flagship from the Korean giant in many regions of the world, is just too unreliable, something that is even more irritating when you consider the Edge screen doesn’t even offer truly useful functionality.

Focusing on a smartphone’s design is well and good; Apple’s ability to make truly premium devices has been one of its key selling points, but Samsung needs to understand it shouldn’t be completely following industry trends without making sure it looks at every aspect of the design. If you’re thinking of getting the Galaxy S6 edge+, I would recommend buying a case at the same time. Even if you prefer using your devices as they are, you’ll most likely be ordering a case after a few days with the phone, so you would be better off just buying one at the very beginning.

What do you think about the Galaxy S6 edge+? Do you think it’s a slippery monster, or do you think I’m simply blowing the issue out of proportion? Let us know in the comments!

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