With the iPhone 6 Plus Apple is moving into the territory created and dominated by Samsung with the Galaxy Note range.
The new iPhone will go directly up against the new Galaxy Note 4. Both phablets pack big screens, cutting edge specs, and a handful of their own unique features.
Which is the best? We’ve taken a look at the specs and features to find out.
Galaxy Note 4 dimensions
- Size: 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm
- Weight: 176g
iPhone 6 Plus dimensions
- Size: 158 x 77.7 x 7.1 mm
- Weight: 172g
Apple always wins on design, there’s no getting around it. The Note 4 is among Samsung’s best-looking phones ever, thanks to their new found belief in using higher-grade materials to build the phones from.
But the iPhone 6 Plus will be the better looking device. It’s combination of metal and a glass screen that curves around the edges gives it a fully refined style in the way that few Android manufacturers—perhaps only HTC—can come close to.
The iPhone 6 Plus is also impressively thin at just 7.1mm, and makes the Note 4 seem positively chunky at 8.5mm. This will help make the iPhone 6 Plus feel smaller in the hand, and that is important as it is actually quite a bit taller than the Note 4.
Galaxy Note 4 key specs
- Processor: Snapdragon 805, 2.5GHz quad-core
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 16-64GB
- Battery: 3220mAh
iPhone 6 Plus key specs
- Processor: Apple A8, 1.4GHz dual-core
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16/64/128GB
- Battery: tbc
Apple has never competed on paper specs, so it’s difficult to call this. Even the quad-core vs dual-core debate is complicated by the differences in the ways the corresponding operating systems perform.
The performance differences between the two handsets will likely be negligible, although Apple’s GPU and new game engine Metal will surely give it a clear lead for gaming.
We also like the fact that Apple has chosen to offer a 128GB rather than forcing users to rely on SD for greater storage. That said, it does come at a price—the 128GB edition of the iPhone 6 Plus will cost a very hefty £699 in the UK.
The capacity of the battery is not officially stated on the iPhone 6 Plus. Expect both devices to get through a day of use, with a nightly charge needed.
Galaxy Note 4 display
- Size: 5.7-inch
- Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
- Pixel density: 515 ppi
iPhone 6 Plus display
- Size: 5.5-inch
- Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels
- Pixel density: 401 ppi
Apple’s marketing savvy should ensure that the ‘Retina HD’ term used to describe the display on the iPhone 6 Plus will be quoted by many as testament to how it is better than anything else on the market.
In truth, the iPhone 6 Plus’ 1080p display merely brings it into line with the flagship Android devices of the last two years, while the latest big screen devices have already moved up to quad HD.
The pixel density is considerably higher, although noticeable that is in real world use is questionable, as is the question of whether the benefit is enough to offset the heavier load on battery and performance that comes with it.
Or iOS 8 vs Android. The iPhone 6 Plus sees the introduction of iOS8. It’s a major upgrade for the OS, with the introduction of intents (so that apps can share information between each other), widgets in the notifications area and third party keyboard support.
For Android users this is simply a case of an increasingly outdated OS. finally catching up. There’s a couple of new things that Android doesn’t have, including actionable notifications (where you can, for example, reply to emails directly within the notification pane), and ‘handoff’, which seamlessly passes information between an iPhone, iPad and Mac.
But for the most part iOS and Android now have parity, and even the flat design that is forthcoming in Android L means the interface and design are closer than ever.
The Note 4 runs KitKat, with Samsung’s own UI tweaks and apps on top of it. It’s big, feature-packed and often complicated, in contrast to iOS and even stock Android. In terms of functionality, though, there are few differences.
Even the app stores are now largely identical, a handful of iOS exclusives notwithstanding, while the Note 4 is expected to be hackable, whether it be though custom ROMs or mods via services like the Xposed Framework.
The camera specs show a difference in approach between Samsung and Apple.
The Note 4 has a 16MP camera, with a 1/2.6” sensor, and OIS; the iPhone 6 Plus an 8MP camera, a smaller 1/3” sensor, and OIS.
Both cameras are fast and have accurate focus, while the software on the Note 4 is richer but more cluttered and on the iPhone more simple and highly useable. When the Note 4 gets upgraded to Android L it will have access to a new camera API, which third party apps will be able to make use of. This is expected to be a major boost for photography on Android cameras.
Apple’s jpeg engine has traditionally been the best in the smartphone business, so we’d expect the output to be better than on the Note 4, though in good light especially the differences will be negligible.
For video the Note 4 can shoot 4K video at 30fps. The iPhone can’t, but can do 720p at an insanely fast 240fps, resulting in some ultra-slow motion footage. The use cases for either are rather niche at this stage.
The Note 4 has the S Pen. It’s an excellent productivity tool, and plays a larger part in the Note 4 experience than ever before. Chief among it’s new features are improved sensitivity when used for handwriting, and a mouse-like multi-select feature.
Don’t be surprised if some enterprising third party creates a smart stylus for the iPhone 6 Plus, maybe via a Kickstarter campaign.
The main new feature in the iPhone 6 Plus is NFC. Again, this is something many Android devices have had for a long time, and is indeed something that the Note 4 has got.
It has been underused and underdeveloped on Android, though. Apple’s ability to promote widespread adoption of a technology should benefit all sides.
The iPhone 6 Plus also has the same fingerprint security solution introduced on the iPhone 5S. The Note 4 has a fingerprint scanner too, as first seen on the Galaxy S5, though it is far less useable than Apple’s offering.
As you can see, there’s not much to choose between the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note 4. In fact the similarities are remarkable, with both companies taking a near identical approach to the fabled, even to the point of both offering a ‘one-handed’ mode where the UI shrinks to put interface elements within reach of your thumb.
Android has had the bigger screen market entirely to itself until now, and Samsung has been the clear leader. For the first time, it has some real competition on its hands.
With the similarities between the two products, there’s unlikely to be much that prompts anyone already tied to a platform to switch to the other. But for new users contemplating their first fable, there’s a difficult decision to make.