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Living with the Galaxy S6 Edge: Is that curve worth the cost?

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Samsung launched two Galaxy S6 models this spring, but let's face it: The spotlight was really on the curvy, attention-grabbing S6 Edge. I know I was dead-set on trying that one-of-a-kind smartphone as soon as I could. However, I couldn't help but wonder if it was really, truly worth the $100 premium to turn heads and score a couple of clever features. Moreover, would that design actually hold up in the real world? There was only one way for me to find out. I spent several weeks with the Edge to see whether its curved display would grow on me, or if I'd be desperately wishing I had made the safer choice and snagged the regular S6. As it turns out, the answer was a bit of both.

Gallery: Living with Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge | 20 Photos

There's no question that the S6 Edge and its more traditional counterpart are breaths of fresh air after a few years of Galaxy S phones held back by cheap-feeling designs and not-so-useful gimmicks. It's consistently fast, with less software cruft than before; it's well-built, with metal and glass that feel good to hold (if overly slippery); the camera is one of those rare gems that consistently snaps sharp, colorful photos, even in low light. And did I mention that the S6 has the first fingerprint reader that I enjoy using on an Android phone? Where the Galaxy S5 felt bogged down by features included solely for bragging rights, the S6 feels lightweight and cohesive, as if everything was designed to work well together.

Well, almost everything. While the lack of expandable storage wasn't a big problem for me (I prefer streaming music and movies), the battery life was... less than ideal. I could make it through a typical day of email, Instagram and Twitter, but I would invariably feel nervous by nightfall. All it took was about 30 minutes of streaming music or web browsing to knock as much as 15 percent off the battery, making me worry about how quickly I could reach a wall outlet. I don't insist on a removable battery, but that's only when the battery life is good. Here, it would have been supremely handy to swap power packs. At least the fast charger was quick enough that I could get a top-up before I rushed out the door.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

That curved display helps make up for some of those flaws, though. It's mesmerizing, even weeks after the novelty should have worn off. Photos pop, and there's an overall sense of depth that isn't there on a flat screen. It's decidedly easier to get around apps that use edge swipes, too. Frankly, it feels like a better value than the supposedly more functional Galaxy Note Edge. I never got much mileage out of the Note's ticker-like side strip (which sometimes hindered more than it helped), but I'm still smiling at the S6 Edge's iconic looks from time to time. This is certainly the device to get if you see most smartphones as uninspired slabs of glass. It isn't a work of art, but it's genuinely interesting.

However, it's not all sunshine and roses. Those curves don't leave much space on the sides to hold the phone, and I found that to be a real nuisance. Getting a solid grip on the S6 Edge wasn't nearly as much of a challenge for me as it was with the Note Edge (where the sheer size prevented me from grabbing it tightly), but there was still the occasional moment where I was frightened that it would slip out of my hands. On top of that, it was all too easy to fret about dropping a phone where the sides are as likely to shatter as the front, no matter how strong the glass may be. And the few software features meant to use that curve weren't at all useful. I don't know anyone who voluntarily turns their phone face down, yet still needs to know who's calling based on flashing colors... and you really don't need a funky display to get access to your favorite contacts with a swipe.

As such, I just couldn't recommend the Galaxy S6 Edge if you're looking at it from a purely rational perspective. You're paying more money for a screen that doesn't really add much, and occasionally makes things a bit worse. With that said, I'd argue that you're missing the point if you base your decision on cold, hard logic. To me, the S6 Edge works precisely because it's appealing to the irrational, impulsive side of the brain as well -- it's a great (if imperfect) phone that also catches your eye and makes you grin. I wouldn't fault anyone for getting the regular S6 if cash or the grip is an issue, but I'd splurge on the Edge in a heartbeat if I was determined to get more than just a utilitarian handset.

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