The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge is absolutely the same as on the Galaxy S6 model - it borrows the 16MP Sony IMX240 sensor that the Galaxy Note 4 uses, but puts it behind a lens with a wider, f/1.9 aperture. This lets more light in and makes for much improved bokeh effects. The camera software is highly sophisticated too.
One of our favorite features is the quick launch - double press the Home key from anywhere in the UI and the camera pops up in less than a second. If you don't like it, you can disable it from the settings.
The UI is pretty simple, most settings are available on the viewfinder. The selection changes as you go between the different shooting modes. You can download new shooting modes from Galaxy Apps store - at the time of the review the new available modes are Sports shot, Sound & Shot, Rear-cam selfie and Beauty face.
The mode that deserves the most attention is Pro mode. It lets you control the focus manually, adjust exposure compensation and ISO, white balance too. You can save the current manual settings into a preset for easy recall later.
The color adjustments are very advanced - you get several presets (like color effects), but you can make your own. There are sliders to boost shadows and reign in highlights, adjust the contrast and saturation, the temperature and tint. With these you can create Instagram-y filters or make the best of the camera's dynamic range.
In Auto mode casual users can skip tapping the HDR icon altogether. There's an auto HDR option so you don't have to turn it on and off each time.
There's also an automatic night mode that fights handshake in the dark. Several color effects are available with a few more in the download section.
Tracking autofocus automatically follows moving subjects, making sure they stay in focus. This can't be used in for 2160p and the 1080p@60fps videos though.
Selective focus makes a comeback - it snaps two photos and then lets you chose near focus, far focus or everything in focus. The Galaxy S6 camera is quite good at macro shots and creates a great soft focus on its own, so with some experience you don't need this software trickery.
The software guesswork is not particularly accurate, so we tried some macro shots. The wide f/1.9 aperture creates a great lens bokeh in macro shots to begin with. The Selective focus mode lets you soften the background even further, but the quality doesn't do the camera justice.
Virtual shot has been revamped. It now lets you pick an object and rotate the phone around it. After, the phone can use its motion sensors to replay the object, rotating it along with the phone as if it's still in front of the camera.
Samsung not only has changed the lens compared to the Galaxy Note 4, but has also fine-tuned the image processing. As a result the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge photos, and the Galaxy S6's for that matter, look even better when observed at 1:1 magnification.
As we expected the resolved detail is impressively sharp. Noise is kept in check, while processing artifacts from noise reduction are hard to spot, foliage in particular looks great. Software sharpening is moderate too, Samsung has been known to dial it up in the past. White balance is spot on even in tricky conditions and the color saturation has been brought even further down from the already toned down setting in the 2014 generation.
The dynamic range is quite wide and you can improve it further with HDR mode. It's very fast so you can just leave it on auto without slowing down the shot to shot time. The Auto HDR mode has a lighter touch (when needed), brightening shadows and recovering highlights, but the changes might be too small for some. For better results we suggest turning the HDR on manually.
The difference between the HDR modes can be observed best at sunset, where the HDR on brightens the shadows more than needed, while the Auto mode does the best result.
The sunset samples also managed to impress not only with quality, resolved detail, colors and contrast, but with very low noise levels as well. We also snapped another shot at the same time, to give you a better idea of how impressively the Galaxy S6 edge camera does in low-light conditions (8PM, after sunset). The results are indeed amazing.
Finally we shot a sample at night and while it isn't great, it is a lot better than most of the phones we've tested so far. Only some Huawei and Lumia models are capable of doing better with manual settings.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge shoots panoramas with very high resolution - 3,200px tall if you hold the phone upright, 1,800px if you hold it on its side. The software and fast chipset make shooting very simple, you just start panning in one direction.
The resulting images are rich in detail and aside from the moving cars and the ledge that was too close, there are no major stitching artifacts.
Here is a quick comparison between the Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6 cameras - the two are pretty much the same.
We also snapped the same sunset samples with the two phones and the results are quite the same.
The selfie camera can also take HDR photos (good when the sun is at your back) and can do Virtual shot. The wide selfie mode works kind of like a panorama - it stitches three photos for a wider field of view. You get instructions (e.g. tilt phone forward) to keep you on track.
The 5MP selfie camera is of pretty good quality and captures photos with plenty of detail and little noise. Color rendering is comparable to the main camera, slightly less saturated. It's a 4:3 camera though, unlike the 16:9 main camera.
You can enable Wide selfie to make a photo more suitable for widescreens. The stitching is as good as panoramas shot with the main camera.
Finally, Interval shot is a like a photo booth, snapping four shots with a few seconds between each.
Here's the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge in our Photo quality comparison tool, where you can pit it against the Galaxy S6, its predecessor - the Galaxy S5, and the Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge. The Galaxy S6 edge camera is noticeably better than that of the Galaxy S5 and identical with the Galaxy S6. As for the Galaxy Note 4 - it sometimes comes out with the more detailed images, while in other - it's the Galaxy S6 edge.