Introduction

Apple did what was once the unthinkable while predictable Samsung delivers again. Right or wrong, this is a fight of old versus new, the Galaxy Note is in its fourth generation while the iPhone 6 Plus is Apple's first phablet ever.



Samsung's release cadence dictates that the Galaxy Note is the H2 flagship, keen to assert its superiority over an already feature-rich Galaxy S. iPhones come once a year, even the first-time iPhone 6 Plus phablet. The situation is similar though, the Plus is better equipped than the vanilla iPhone 6.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus over Galaxy Note 4:

  • Thinner - 7.1mm vs. 8.5mm
  • Phase-detection autofocus
  • Slo-mo video - 240fps mode vs. 120fps mode
  • 64GB and 128GB versions
  • Tap-to-scan (no swipe) fingerprint sensor
  • Dual-LED flash vs. single LED

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 over iPhone 6 Plus:

  • Bigger, sharper display - 5.7" QHD vs. 5.5" 1080p
  • Higher resolution still camera - 16MP vs. 8MP
  • Better video recording - 2160p (stereo sound) vs. 1080p (mono)
  • Expandable storage
  • General-purpose NFC
  • Heart rate and blood oxygen saturation sensors
  • Better front-facing camera - 3.7MP/1440p vs. 1.2MP/720p
  • Bigger, user-replaceable battery
  • Faster LTE (on Snapdragon version only)
  • Optional dual-SIM

Samsung is known for its feature-rich (some would say "overflowing"), utilitarian designs but it's slowly coming around to metal designs with the Alpha and now the Galaxy Note 4. It's just a metal rim, so the user-replaceable battery and microSD card slot are intact.

The screen size also remained unchanged (5.7") to keep the device manageable single-handedly, but resolution increased to QHD. The defining feature of the Note series, the S Pen, was also improved and Samsung included optical image stabilization (OIS) to the list of camera specs.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 getting ready for a fight

The biggest change for Apple is the screen - after years of keeping just about the same size and sharpness, the company took the plunge. The design language changed more than it did for the Galaxy and is now smooth and rounded like an iPod Touch, it's impressively slim too. It's the OIS-enabled camera that is the other advantage over the vanilla iPhone 6.

With bigger screens, both phones and their respective platforms (iOS and Android + TouchWiz) have their ways of boosting usability.

Hardware comparison

Both devices have roughly the same size. The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is taller but thinner than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which has the bigger screen. For years Apple was concerned about the usability of a device this size, but it has finally come around.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 have roughly the same footprint

The iPhone 6 Plus shares its design with its sibling and has close connections to the iPod touch and the Apple iPad. This means a slender 7.1mm body that's all glass and aluminum. The sides are softly rounded, unlike the squared off sides of previous iPhones.

This makes the iPhone feel like a metal ingot in the hand but it's not without a downside - the round sides offer less grip. We're not happy either with the plastic strops on the back cover. They used to be thinner and better positioned on previous devices, now they just look too intrusive.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

A rounded metal unibody

The top and bottom bezels are rather thick, making the iPhone 6 Plus taller than average for its screen size. Apple has tried to make up for it in the software - a double tap (not press) on the Home button brings the screen image halfway down to make top controls easier to reach. Even better, Apple took the first steps in capitalizing the extra screen real-estate with landscape mode and split-screen interface options on some apps (but not multiple apps).

Samsung refined its metal-and-leather design in the Galaxy Note 4. This time the rim is actual metal rather than plastic with a metal-like finish. The leather is still faux but, while looks can be faked, the in-hand feel of metal is tangibly more premium.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Real metal and faux leather

The Galaxy Note 4 is slightly thicker and taller than its predecessor, but the difference isn't too big. It's nearly half a centimeter shorter than the iPhone 6 Plus despite having slightly bigger screen. Hardware buttons put a lower limit on bezel size but Samsung managed to include its trio of buttons (complete with a fingerprint reader on the Home key) in less space than Apple. The top bezel is smaller too.

Samsung has offered a number of options to improve the one-handed use in software over the years but its real advantage lies in the mature Multi-Window implementation that lets you run two apps simultaneously. Bigger screens offer a better reading and media experience but, equally important, they make apps more efficient to use.

Let's break down the components by function. Apple put a wider aperture on its FaceTime camera but the essential specs - 1.2MP stills and 720p video - were untouched. It clearly has not bought into the selfie craze.

Samsung meanwhile settled on QHD for the front-facing camera's resolution - both for stills (3.7MP) and for video (1440p, three different names for the same thing). It's not quite an 8MP selfie machine but it complements the main camera well with the Dual Shot feature. The above-screen area also houses a gesture sensor used for some of TouchWiz's proprietary goodies.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple is losing the selfie race • Samsung's front-facing camera matches the screen's QHD resolution

Below the screen both phones have fingerprint readers. Apple's hardware just requires you to place your finger on the key, while Samsung requires a swipe. The angle of your thumb while you hold the phablet makes this uncomfortable so it takes some getting used to.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Fingerprint readers disguised as Home buttons

Samsung also has two capacitive keys below the screen, which simplifies the UI somewhat - a dedicated Back key means you don't have to reach for the upper-left corner and an App switcher key means the Home key doesn't have to take on multitasking duties. "Simpler is better" may as well be Apple's moto but when one key has so many uses (press, double-press, double-tap, long press) it starts to feel overloaded.

As both devices do an about-face, we find their backs are almost as interesting as their fronts. Apple drew some ire with the iPhone 6 family camera that protrudes from the slender chassis, but Samsung cameras have stuck out the back for quite a while now. At least, it doesn't make the _phone_ wobble like the iPhone's.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Cameras that stick out

The cameras themselves are quite interesting. Apple did a second polish on the iPhone 5 camera by adding phase-detection autofocus and optical image stabilization to the iPhone 6 Plus as the cherry on top of the vanilla iPhone 6 camera. The dual-LED flash is reshaped into a circle but it remains in place.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera has a new 16MP sensor with 16:9 aspect ratio. It seems it's a Sony sensor instead of Samsung's own ISOCELL, but either way it's Samsung's first _phone_ camera with optical image stabilization. The higher resolution sensor also allows for 2160p video capture but we'll reserve the "resolution vs. framerate" discussion for a later chapter.

Both phablets have their Power keys on one side and their volume rockers on the other. The iPhone 6 Plus also has Apple's traditional Mute switch, which is by far the simplest way to silence your phone when necessary (in a meeting, in the theater, etc.).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Side-mounted keys, switches and slots

Also on the side is Apple's nanoSIM slot, which can only be opened with a SIM eject tool. Samsung has positioned both cards - that is the microSIM and microSD - below the back cover. The SIM is blocked by the battery so it's not hot-swappable but the microSD is readily accessible.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

User-accessible battery and microSD card slot on the Galaxy Note 4

Expandable storage has never been Apple's thing, but we keep hoping for a saner base storage option - your music library alone could top 16GB, plus an iOS upgrade can require as much as 5GB free, which means you'll have to delete stuff. We appreciate the more accessible 64GB option but we still think 32GB should have been the starting point, at least for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple has positioned the loudspeaker on the bottom and it's still a single piece. The Galaxy Note 4 has just the one loudspeaker as well, it's on the back, we'll find out which one is louder later on.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Loudspeaker on the bottom for the iPhone 6 Plus and on the back for the Galaxy Note 4

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It may not be as thin as the iPhone, but it's roughly the same size while offering a bigger screen. It's easier to service too, with easily accessible storage and battery.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is impressively thin and as an all-metal device gets a bonus point, but bezels remain chunky and the device is completely sealed against user access. Apple does have the better fingerprint sensor.

Display

For software reasons, Apple stuck with multipliers of its original 320 x 480 pixels resolution. The iPhone 5 stretched out the screen to 16:9, leaving apps with a black bar until they were updated. The iPhone 6 Plus is the first to break away from the HVGA legacy and moves to an industry-standard 1080p resolution with a "desktop class" image scaler for apps that don't support the new screen yet.

Apple's bet is that the higher pixel density - 401ppi, better than Retina's 326ppi - is enough to hide upscaling artifacts. Truth be told the gamble has worked well enough, text remains readable even at small font sizes.

The screen itself is an IPS LCD with excellent colors, contrast and viewing angles. It's protected by the new Ion-strengthened glass. Apple claims it's tougher than Gorilla Glass 3, which we can't feel in our fingertips but what we can feel are the chamfered edges, which make side-swipes smooth as butter.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung saved its first phone QHD screen for the Galaxy Note 4, while keeping the screen size from the Note 3. The result is an impressive 515ppi, a number that melts away the difference between PenTile and RGB matrices (for the record, the Note 4 has a PenTile Super AMOLED screen).

Colors are a matter of taste and Samsung gives you an option of multiple screen modes that adjust both saturation and the white balance. Viewing angles and contrast are perfect, as can be expected from an advanced OLED display. Samsung continues its relationship with Corning (those two have a joint venture) and uses Gorilla Glass 3. The glass has chamfered edges too, but the sharp metal rim makes off-screen swipes a bit less comfortable.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Perhaps due to the increased resolution, the Galaxy Note 4 screen is not the brightest AMOLED Samsung has produced recently, it tops out at 400nits. That doesn't compare too well against the 700nits or so of the iPhone 6 Plus. The LCDs employed by Apple are top quality too, with an impressive 1361:1 contrast ratio.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 291 399
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 0.17 208 1197 0.52 705 1361
Samsung Galaxy S5 274 529
Sony Xperia Z3 - - - 0.65 866 1333
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
HTC One (M8) 0.2 245 1219 0.46 577 1256


Maximum brightness is usually only used in broad daylight and it turns out the Galaxy Note 4 doesn't need all that much. In our sunlight legibility test it showed an impressive result, virtually equal to the likes of the Note 3 and the iPhone 5 - and better than the brighter Galaxy S5's screen.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus doesn't do as well as its smaller sibling and while its result is certainly good enough, you'll have to bump up the brightness on a sunny day.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

The Galaxy Note family is not only the bestselling phablet, but it's also the last bastion of the stylus. It's a feature that didn't quite catch on but much of the Note experience is centered around the S Pen and we certainly find it useful in daily usage.

The new S Pen and the screen digitizer are more accurate, with increased sensitivity to pressure and even the angle of the stylus. Hand-written notes turn out great even if you don't have the best handwriting (and we must admit after so much on-screen and hardware keyboards, our penmanship has waned).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The S Pen is the defining feature of the Galaxy Note series

The Galaxy Note 4 screen is extra-sensitive and can detect the S Pen from a distance (hover is used in parts of the UI), but also gloved fingers.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. A slightly bigger screen fits into about the same frame and it's sharper to boot. On a more practical note, the sunlight legibility is better and the S Pen grows on you.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus has a top-notch screen, though early, upscaled apps don't use it to its full potential and the sunlight legibility isn't as good as the iPhone 6.

Connectivity

With 2G and 3G connectivity practically maxed out, it's the LTE that matters. Here the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes in two versions - Cat. 6 (300Mbps) with the Snapdragon chipset and Cat. 4 (150Mbps) with the Exynos chipset. Both upload at 50Mbps.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus has a Cat. 4 modem, but it supports HD Voice with Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE). There's HD Voice support on the Galaxy Note 4 as well, but for both handsets you'll need carrier support for the feature to work.

Both devices also support Wi-Fi calling (aka UMA), which can use a Wi-Fi connection to place voice calls. You need carrier support for this to work and a generous carrier will let you use any Wi-Fi hotspot, no matter which country you are in (great for calling home from abroad).

In terms of local connectivity, both devices can use the latest Wi-Fi 802.11ac standard, if you have the router for it. Otherwise it's dual-band a/b/g/n. The Galaxy Note 4 supports Wi-Fi Direct (and Samsung's similar alternative) for sending files between devices, while Apple uses its proprietary Air Drop system.

For Bluetooth the Galaxy supports the latest v4.1 standard, while the iPhone offers v4.0, both support Low Energy. That mode is used for wearables - smartwatches, sport bands, etc. - but the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 also offers ANT+ for wider support of sport accessories.

The other important wireless standard is NFC, which enjoys full support on Android, while Apple only piggybacks it for its Apple Pay system and nothing else.

Wired connectivity is handled by USB 2.0 but with different connectors. Samsung dropped the faster USB 3.0 and now uses a standard microUSB 2.0 port with MHL support, while Apple sticks to its proprietary Lightning adapter (which can be plugged in two ways).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

USB 2.0-based wired ports: proprietary Lightning adapter and standard microUSB 2.0

Both can be turned to HDMI via an adapter, though Lightning seems limited to 1080p, while MHL will get out full UHD TV resolution. How else are you going to watch those 2160p videos you shot? Well, wireless Miracast is an option, which works with Smart TVs, Chromecast (and similar) sticks and the new Android TV. The iPhone 6 Plus can do wireless screen mirroring too, but only if you have an Apple TV hooked to your HDTV.

While on the topic of multimedia, the Galaxy Note 4 has an IR blaster for digital equipment at home. The app is mostly limited to A/V tech, but you can install third-party apps too.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The IR blaster is transmit-only, it can't learn commands from existing remotes

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Several small wins secure the victory: the 300Mbps LTE option (if your carrier even supports it), full NFC 2160p video over MHL, IR blaster, ANT+. You can dismiss each individually as something you won't use, but things pile up.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is the best connected iPhone yet (on par with the 6), things like the 150Mbps LTE and Wi-Fi 802.11ac, which we consider standard on Android flagships were not available on the iPhone 5s. The property limits of Apple's walled garden are easily seen in the proprietary Lightning adapter and the lobotomized NFC though.

Battery life

Apple continues to push for thinner devices, even when some users are calling out "it's thin enough, give us more battery!" Still, with Apple's complete control of the hardware and software ecosystem, it has always managed to provide great battery life out of relatively few milliamps.

Still, with its first time phablet-sized screen that has more pixels than the regular Retina screens every milliamp counts. And the count shows the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a 10% advantage with 3,220mAh versus 2,915mAh. The Note's battery is easy to swap out for a fresh one too.

Anyway, our battery test show the 10% difference in the Endurance rating - the Galaxy Note 4 gets 87 hours, while the iPhone 6 Plus gets 79 hours. Note that we used the Snapdragon 805 version of the Galaxy phablet.

Phablets are known for their great battery life and these two don't disappoint though a clear winner emerges quickly. It starts with a 5 hour lead in the Talk time test. Not that you'll ever talk for 24+ hours straight, but this just means voice calls don't have much of an impact to the overall battery life.

Talk time

  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    33:20h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G
    33:19h
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    28:34h
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    28:34h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    28:34h
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    26:53h
  • LG G3
    25:54h
  • Samsung P6800 Galaxy Tab 7.7
    25:45h
  • LG G Pro 2
    25:37h
  • LG G Flex
    25:19h
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    25:16h
  • LG G2
    25:15h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    25:12h
  • Alcatel Hero
    25:02h
  • Oppo N1
    25:01h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    24:52h
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    24:23h
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    23:49h
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    23:13h
  • Samsung P6200 Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus
    22:42h
  • Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue
    22:16h
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    22:13h
  • Samsung Galaxy Core LTE
    22:13h
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    22:13h
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    22:13h
  • HTC One Max
    22:13h
  • Samsung ATIV SE
    22:05h
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    21:20h
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    21:18h
  • LG Optimus G Pro E985
    20:45h
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    20:42h
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
    20:24h
  • Motorola RAZR i XT890
    20:07h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    20:06h
  • Oppo Find 7
    20:03h
  • HTC One (M8)
    20:01h
  • BlackBerry Q10
    20:00h
  • OnePlus One
    19:56h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    19:55h
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
    19:54h
  • Sony Xperia SP
    19:49h
  • Sony Xperia T3
    19:48h
  • HTC Butterfly S
    19:14h
  • Oppo R819
    19:03h
  • Asus PadFone X
    18:45h
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    18:15h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    18:12h
  • LG G2 mini
    18:11h
  • Oppo Find 7a
    18:11h
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    18:03h
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    17:48h
  • HTC One (E8)
    17:47h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100
    16:57h
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    16:56h
  • Samsung Ativ Odyssey I930
    16:41h
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    16:40h
  • LG Nexus 5
    16:40h
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    16:40h
  • Sony Xperia M2
    16:40h
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    16:40h
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    16:39h
  • Motorola Moto E
    16:38h
  • Motorola Moto E Dual SIM
    16:38h
  • Sony Xperia Z
    16:03h
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    16:01h
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    15:32h
  • LG Optimus G E975
    15:30h
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    15:22h
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    15:17h
  • Xiaomi Hongmi 1S
    14:51h
  • HTC Desire 816
    14:46h
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    14:41h
  • BlackBerry Q5
    14:31h
  • Sony Xperia E3
    14:28h
  • Oppo Find 5
    14:17h
  • LG Nexus 4 E960
    14:17h
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    14:17h
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    14:17h
  • Pantech Discover
    14:17h
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    14:17h
  • Nokia Lumia 635
    14:17h
  • Nokia Lumia Icon
    14:15h
  • Motorola Moto X
    14:06h
  • Motorola Moto G
    13:41h
  • HTC One
    13:38h
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    13:36h
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    13:33h
  • HTC One X+
    13:31h
  • Sony Xperia C
    13:29h
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    13:28h
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    13:20h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    13:20h
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    13:20h
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    13:10h
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    13:00h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand I9082
    12:45h
  • LG Optimus GJ E975W
    12:39h
  • HTC First
    12:31h
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    12:31h
  • Sony Xperia M
    12:31h
  • Sony Xperia L
    12:30h
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    12:30h
  • Nokia Lumia 928
    12:27h
  • Apple iPhone 6
    12:23h
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    12:18h
  • Samsung Galaxy S III I747
    12:18h
  • HTC Butterfly
    12:18h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note N7000
    12:14h
  • HTC One mini
    12:04h
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    11:58h
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    11:58h
  • Samsung Galaxy Core I8260
    11:52h
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    11:32h
  • HTC Desire 500
    11:31h
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier I9260
    11:30h
  • HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
    11:25h
  • Asus PadFone 2
    11:20h
  • Nokia X
    11:13h
  • HTC DROID DNA
    11:07h
  • HTC One SV
    11:07h
  • Samsung S8600 Wave 3
    11:07h
  • LG Optimus L9 P760
    11:07h
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    11:07h
  • Samsung I9105 Galaxy S II Plus
    11:06h
  • HTC Desire X
    11:03h
  • Meizu MX3
    11:02h
  • Samsung I9500 Galaxy S4
    11:01h
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    10:46h
  • Nokia XL
    10:45h
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    10:18h
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    10:15h
  • Samsung S7710 Galaxy Xcover 2
    10:03h
  • HTC One V
    10:00h
  • Samsung Galaxy Express I8730
    10:00h
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    10:00h
  • HTC One mini 2
    09:58h
  • HTC One X
    9:57h
  • HTC One S C2
    9:42h
  • HTC One S
    9:42h
  • Samsung I9103 Galaxy R
    9:40h
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    9:32h
  • HTC Sensation XL
    9:30h
  • Sony Xperia J
    9:14h
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    9:05h
  • Nokia Lumia 710
    9:05h
  • Nokia Lumia 810
    9:05h
  • Motorola ATRIX HD MB886
    9:04h
  • HTC Vivid
    9:02h
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    8:56h
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    8:51h
  • HTC Rhyme
    8:48h
  • LG Optimus 3D Max P720
    8:42h
  • Apple iPhone 5
    8:42h

This gives you more battery juice for things like browsing where the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 scores another victory with 1 hour and 40 minutes lead. We put the brightness sliders on both phablets at 50% but the Galaxy Note 4 is brighter at that setting (290nits vs. 210nits) so you can squeeze out more out of the Note 4.

Web browsing

  • Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G
    16:41h
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    14:52h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    13:53h
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    13:14h
  • Sony Xperia C
    12:45h
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    12:40h
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    12:37h
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    12:31h
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    12:30h
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    12:17h
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12:03h
  • Nokia XL
    11:54h
  • HTC Desire 816
    11:48h
  • LG G2
    11:42h
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    11:32h
  • HTC One Max
    11:20h
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    11:20h
  • HTC Butterfly S
    11:07h
  • Asus PadFone X
    11:07h
  • LG G2 mini
    11:02h
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    10:58h
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    10:52h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    10:44h
  • Apple iPhone 6
    10:29h
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    10:18h
  • BlackBerry Q5
    10:04h
  • HTC One (E8)
    10:02h
  • Nokia Lumia 635
    10:00h
  • HTC One
    9:58h
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    9:58h
  • Apple iPhone 5
    9:56h
  • Samsung Ativ Odyssey I930
    9:54h
  • Sony Xperia M2
    9:48h
  • Sony Xperia E3
    9:48h
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    9:47h
  • OnePlus One
    9:46h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    9:43h
  • Alcatel Hero
    9:40h
  • Samsung Galaxy Core LTE
    9:37h
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    9:36h
  • LG G Pro 2
    9:31h
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    9:31h
  • LG G Flex
    9:31h
  • Sony Xperia T3
    9:23h
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 LTE
    9:16h
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    9:12h
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    9:10h
  • HTC One (M8)
    9:06h
  • Oppo N1
    9:05h
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    9:05h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    9:05h
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    9:05h
  • Motorola Moto G
    9:04h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    9:04h
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    8:51h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100
    8:48h
  • Motorola Moto E Dual SIM
    8:42h
  • Motorola Moto E
    8:42h
  • BlackBerry Q10
    8:42h
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    8:38h
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    8:25h
  • Asus PadFone 2
    8:20h
  • Nokia Lumia 810
    8:20h
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
    8:17h
  • Motorola Moto X
    8:17h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    8:17h
  • HTC One mini
    8:12h
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    8:04h
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    8:01h
  • HTC One X+
    7:56h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    7:43h
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    7:42h
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    7:42h
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    7:42h
  • Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini
    7:38h
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    7:37h
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    7:35h
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    7:24h
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
    7:23h
  • Huawei MediaPad 7 Vogue
    7:23h
  • HTC Radar
    7:17h
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    7:15h
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    7:13h
  • Samsung ATIV SE
    7:12h
  • LG Optimus GJ E975W
    7:11h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand I9082
    7:09h
  • Samsung Galaxy Express I8730
    7:09h
  • Oppo Find 7a
    7:09h
  • Meizu MX3
    7:09h
  • Sony Xperia M
    7:09h
  • Motorola RAZR i XT890
    7:06h
  • Sony Xperia J
    7:06h
  • Samsung I9500 Galaxy S4
    6:58h
  • Apple iPhone 4s
    6:56h
  • Samsung P6800 Galaxy Tab 7.7
    6:54h
  • Xiaomi Hongmi 1S
    6:54h
  • Samsung Galaxy Core I8260
    6:54h
  • HTC One V
    6:49h
  • Sony Xperia E
    6:40h
  • LG G3
    6:40h
  • Sony Xperia L
    6:40h
  • BlackBerry Curve 9380
    6:40h
  • Samsung I9105 Galaxy S II Plus
    6:40h
  • HTC DROID DNA
    6:40h
  • LG Optimus G Pro E985
    6:40h
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier I9260
    6:40h
  • Motorola ATRIX HD MB886
    6:40h
  • HTC First
    6:39h
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    6:38h
  • Sony Xperia Z
    6:37h
  • Samsung S7710 Galaxy Xcover 2
    6:35h
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    6:34h
  • HTC One mini 2
    06:33h
  • HTC Desire 500
    6:31h
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    6:30h
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    6:27h
  • BlackBerry Z10
    6:27h
  • HTC Butterfly
    6:24h
  • Sony Xperia SP
    6:18h
  • Samsung Galaxy S III I747
    6:16h
  • Samsung Focus S I937
    6:15h
  • HTC One SV
    6:15h
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    6:13h
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    6:04h
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500
    6:03h
  • Samsung P6200 Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus
    6:02h
  • Samsung Rugby Smart I847
    5:53h

A decisive victory comes in the video playback test - both devices have large, 1080p screens that let you view FullHD footage at 1:1. Here the Galaxy Note 4 wins by over 50% with a whopping 17 and a half hours, while the iPhone manages the still-respectable 11 hours.

Video playback

  • LG G Flex
    19:57h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G
    18:01h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    17:25h
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    16:35h
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    15:03h
  • Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
    14:17h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    14:04h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    13:32h
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    13:12h
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    13:12h
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    13:12h
  • HTC One Max
    13:11h
  • Sony Xperia C
    12:53h
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier I9260
    12:51h
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    12:31h
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    12:30h
  • BlackBerry Q5
    12:28h
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    12:18h
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    12:16h
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 LTE
    12:10h
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    11:47h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    11:38h
  • Samsung P6800 Galaxy Tab 7.7
    11:37h
  • Samsung I9500 Galaxy S4
    11:29h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100
    11:27h
  • OnePlus One
    11:23h
  • HTC One (E8)
    11:16h
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    11:15h
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    11:15h
  • Oppo N1
    11:15h
  • BlackBerry Q10
    11:15h
  • HTC One (M8)
    11:14h
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    11:05h
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    11:02h
  • Asus PadFone X
    11:01h
  • HTC Desire 816
    10:34h
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    10:31h
  • LG G2 mini
    10:23h
  • Apple iPhone 5
    10:12h
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    10:08h
  • Samsung ATIV SE
    10:07h
  • Sony Xperia M2
    10:04h
  • HTC First
    10:03h
  • HTC One
    10:02h
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    10:01h
  • Motorola Moto X
    10:01h
  • Nokia Lumia 635
    10:00h
  • Samsung Galaxy Express I8730
    10:00h
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    10:00h
  • Samsung I9105 Galaxy S II Plus
    10:00h
  • LG G3
    9:57h
  • Sony Xperia T3
    9:56h
  • Nokia 808 PureView
    9:53h
  • Sony Xperia M
    9:49h
  • Alcatel Hero
    9:49h
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    9:42h
  • Samsung Rugby Smart I847
    9:34h
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    9:30h
  • LG G2
    9:28h
  • HTC One S C2
    9:28h
  • HTC One S
    9:28h
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    9:28h
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    9:27h
  • Apple iPhone 6
    9:24h
  • Apple iPhone 4s
    9:24h
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S6500
    9:22h
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    9:21h
  • Oppo Find 7a
    9:19h
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    9:17h
  • HTC Butterfly S
    9:03h
  • Motorola DROID RAZR M
    9:00h
  • Sony Xperia E
    9:00h
  • Samsung Ativ Odyssey I930
    8:59h
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    8:45h
  • BlackBerry Z10
    8:44h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    8:41h
  • LG Optimus G Pro E985
    8:40h
  • Nokia N9
    8:40h
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 I9200
    8:34h
  • HTC Butterfly
    8:28h
  • Sony Xperia E3
    8:26h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note N7000
    8:25h
  • LG Optimus GJ E975W
    8:15h
  • Samsung Galaxy S III I747
    8:14h
  • HTC One X+
    8:11h
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand I9082
    8:11h
  • Motorola RAZR i XT890
    8:11h
  • Sony Xperia J
    8:11h
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    8:10h
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    8:05h
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    8:00h
  • Samsung Focus S I937
    7:55h
  • Samsung S8600 Wave 3
    7:52h
  • HTC Desire 500
    7:50h
  • Samsung I8190 Galaxy S III mini
    7:46h
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
    7:45h
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    7:41h
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    7:38h
  • Asus PadFone 2
    7:38h
  • Nokia Lumia Icon
    7:34h
  • Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G T769
    7:33h
  • Samsung S7710 Galaxy Xcover 2
    7:30h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note I717
    7:30h
  • HTC DROID DNA
    7:30h
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    7:30h
  • Samsung Galaxy Core I8260
    7:30h
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    7:29h
  • Sony Xperia SP
    7:27h

In the end, it's the iOS' efficient standby that allows the iPhone 6 Plus to remain this close to the Galaxy. Android has more lax multitasking rules, which enables plenty of helpful background services but that does have an impact on battery life.

Ultimately, you can get three days of moderate usage with both devices, but under heavy use the Galaxy Note 4 will easily outlast the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It won all three tests by good margins and while its standby is not the most efficient, the Galaxy Note 4 battery is a long distance runner. And you can have two if you want.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus numbers are good on their own but heavier usage impacts battery more than it does the Galaxy and the only option to extend it is a bulky battery pack.

User interface

iOS and Android used to be very different beasts but over the years they have borrowed from each other and from other OSes so much that they function in more or less the same way. Of course, iOS is purely an Apple creation, while the OS that runs on the Galaxy Note 4 is heavily influenced by Samsung but primarily developed by Google.

In the state we're testing it, the Galaxy Note 4 is running Android 4.4.4 KitKat with the latest TouchWiz on top, but in a few months there will be a major switch to 5.0 Lollipop and a new TouchWiz. The iPhone 6 Plus launched with iOS 8 and you can already download v8.1. This is the advantage of Apple developing software for Apple devices - updates are lightning quick.

The two devices start in pretty much the same place - a lockscreen with time and date, plus a camera shortcut. The latest iOS puts notifications on the lockscreens, Android 5.0 Lollipop does too, but this is still KitKat.

Simple unlock methods can be used but what both companies will have you use is the fingerprint reader. It's a fairly secure way to lock your device, that's actually quicker than the various PIN and pattern locks.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Fingerprint-protected lockscreens • Apple puts notifications on the lockscreen

Apple's implementation is a bit better, it just requires you to put your finger on the Home key, while with the Galaxy Note 4 you have to swipe it. Getting the swipe angle right can be difficult at first, considering you're holding a large phablet and aiming for its bottom (your thumb bends at an awkward angle).

Samsung does offer a cool extra feature here called Private mode. It hides a folder where you can stash sensitive files, the folder can only be accessed with your fingerprint.

The two platforms differ in where the widgets go - Android puts them on the homescreen, while iOS stuffs them in the notification area. Apple added landscape support on the iPhone 6 Plus, while the Galaxy Note 4 keeps its homescreen portrait-only.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple keeps app shortcuts and widgets separate

Samsung has enriched the homescreen with a Flipboard-powered My Magazine screen where you get both news and social networking updates. You can turn it off if you don't like it.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung enhanced the lockscreen with My Magazine

Samsung's notification area may not have widgets, but it's still pretty busy. There's a scrollable row of quick toggles (which can be rearranged), followed by a brightness slider (which can be hidden), two buttons and only then the actual notifications. A quick toggle view is also available either via a tap of a button or a two-finger swipe.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The busy TouchWiz notification area

Apple has placed its quick toggles in a different shade, one which is pulled from the bottom. The so-called Control Center has four shortcuts too, but it's not customizable like on TouchWiz. Starting with iOS 8 third party apps appear on the Share with and Open with lists.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The Control Center holds the toggles and other controls on iOS, not the notification area

One cool thing that Apple did for notifications is that they appear on the top row of the screen and you can tap them for a short interaction. The currently active app stays in place so you get back to it with no overhead, which really improves multitasking.

User interface (continued)

Multitasking

Samsung has a more PC-like approach to multitasking with the Multi-Window feature. It splits the sizeable Galaxy Note 4 screen in half so two apps can be used at the same time - there are certainly enough pixels and CPU power for that.

An alternative approach is the Pop-up screen, which puts apps in a movable, floating window so you can drag and drop content from one to the other.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Multi-Window and floating apps for multitasking

Quicker yet multitasking options use the S Pen - the Air Command pop up appears when you pull out the stylus and lets you quickly take a note, a screenshot of a part of the display, potentially with a hand-written note.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The S Pen helps with multitasking too

Switching between actual apps on the Galaxy Note 4 is similar to the upcoming Lollipop experience where a 3D carousel of apps is shown. This lets you see only four apps at a time, for three of which you can actually see more than the app name.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Lollipop style app switcher • Samsung's task manager

On the iPhone 6 Plus the app switcher is identical to that of the smaller iPhone and shows only three apps (one plus two halves, actually) in portrait mode and four apps in landscape mode. There are shortcuts to your favorite and recent contacts, which may be of some help too.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple's app switcher now supports landscape orientation

One-handed use

Big screens are a boon, but also an inconvenience for one-handed use. This is an issue the Galaxy Note 4 has been dealing with for years and its answer is to scale down the screen (which you can move and resize) to make sure you can reach everything. Even the hardware keys can be swapped for on-screen alternatives.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung scales the whole screen and enables on-screen buttons

Apple's solution, Reachability, is more limited - you double tap the Home button (not double-press!), which slides the screen down half way. By Apple design, apps put the Back button (along with other controls) on the top row of the screen, which worked great for 3.5"-4" screens but not so great on the 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Reachability feels like a bit of a kludge

Search

With booming storage options, sometimes it can be hard to find your files, which is where Spotlight comes in. It will search more than files though, it will go through Wikipedia, IMDb, assorted news sources and Apple stores (for apps, music, books and more).

Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview

Spotlight in action

A similar functionality is offered by Samsung's S Finder. The results list files, installed apps, contacts, settings and you can do a Google search, but that's an extra tap.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

S Finder

Digital assistants

Of course, you don't have to type, both phones have digital assistants, which understand spoken requests. Siri gained a new skill, song recognition, but you can ask it too to search for something, turn off Wi-Fi or increase the brightness, Siri can even help you with booking a restaurant. Her conversational skills are not bad either, it can answer questions about games, teams, players, movies, actors and more.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Siri got smarter with iOS 8

S Voice is less chatty but it can handle commands too, like calling someone, playing a track or launching an app It can take down notes or schedule an event in the calendar, even type up your SMS for you or answer a question.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung maintains its own digital assistant, despite Google Now

Working with computers

One of the coolest new features in the new iOS is called Continuity. It makes the transition between Apple devices seamless - you can start typing an SMS on your iPhone and finish it on your MacBook. Or you could be reading a web page on your Mac and continue on your iPhone 6 Plus if you have to leave. This syncing works for other apps too, including Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Maps.

While not quite as polished, Samsung SideSync offers similar functionality but in very a different way. It lets you use your computers keyboard and mouse to interact with your Galaxy, including text copy and paste, even moving files between the devices. You can mirror the phone's screen on the computer and operate it remotely.

Misc

As of iOS 8, Apple allows users to install third-party keyboards - finally you get access to Swype and all the other ways of typing on a touchscreen, rather than just a simulation of a physical keyboard.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Third party keyboards now welcome on iOS 8 • battery stats are enabled too

Another iOS 8 nicety is per-app battery usage report. Of course, those are two things that Android has had for years, but at least Apple's platform is closing the gap.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung offers a floating mini keyboard, one-handed keyboard and handwriting recognition out of the box

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Phablet interfaces is something Samsung has been dealing with for three generations before the Note 4 and TouchWiz is quite flexible in this - you can have multiple apps, floating apps or maybe just shrink the screen temporarily. The Private mode is a great addition too.

Apple did enable landscape mode and Reachability, but overall it's like using a stretched out version of the iOS interface you get on a 4" iPhone 5s. The perks of iOS 8 are pretty nice - widgets, battery stats, etc. - but there are only a few things that Android didn't have already.

Performance

Both Apple and Samsung make their own chipsets, but Samsung has been using Qualcomm chips heavily since the previous generation and indeed we have tested the Snapdragon 805 version of the Galaxy Note 4 instead of the Exynos one.

Apple tuned its chipset to the iOS multitasking model - one app gets most of the resources, while the ones in the background have limited ways to continue working. This means there's no need for many CPU cores and the Apple A8 chipset has only two. They are proper monsters though, as we're about to see.

Android chipsets have four cores, even for relatively inexpensive devices. This reflects the more desktop-like multitasking approach, so Qualcomm and others save power by splitting the load between multiple cores and clocking them up and down as needed.

The quad-core Krait 450 in the Galaxy Note 4 is the latest available in Snapdragon until the 64-bit Snapdragon 810 shows up. Clocked at the impressive 2.7GHz the four cores show excellent multitasking performance. Android 5.0 Lollipop should speed things up, though the new runtime includes enhancements specifically for 64-bit processors, which this Note 4 will not receive.

The two iPhone 6 Plus cores flex their individual muscles for a result in Geekbench 3 that's practically equal, it even comes out ahead in Basemark OS II.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    3178
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    3011
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    2925
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    2884
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2860
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    2563
  • HTC One (M8)
    2367

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    10391
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    10063
  • HTC One (M8)
    9860
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    9611
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    9604
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    9446
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    8792

The single-core performance for the iPhone 6 Plus is nearly double what the Galaxy Note 4 achieves, but it has only half as many cores so things balance out.

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    4031
  • Oppo Find 7
    2606
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    2588
  • HTC One (M8)
    2428
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    2415
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    2213
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2114

The GPUs are supplied by Imagination and Qualcomm - a PowerVR GX6450 for the iPhone 6 Plus and Adreno 420 for the Galaxy Note 4 (alternatively, Mali-T760 for the Exynos-powered Note 4).

The 1080p off-screen performance of the two is essentially equal, confirmed by two versions of GFX Bench (2.7 T-Rex and 3.0 Manhattan) and Basemark X. 1080p also happens to be iPhone 6 Plus's native resolution, but the iPhone 6 Plus has to push nearly 80% more pixels.

Of course, game engines have the option to render at a lower internal resolution and then stretch the output to match the screen. For well-written games the two phablets should offer equal performance.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    44.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    41.7
  • HTC One (M8)
    28.4
  • Oppo Find 7
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    27.8
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    27.7
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    27.2

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    18.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    18.5
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11.8
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    11.4
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.1
  • Oppo Find 7
    11.1

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    18684
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    18297
  • Oppo Find 7
    14968
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12637
  • HTC One (M8)
    12396
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11744
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    11552

JavaScript code is single-threaded but the sizeable performance difference between Apple's Cyclone cores and the Krait 450 doesn't make much of a difference in Kraken 1.1. Both Apple and Samsung go a long way in tweaking their JavaScript engines to run as fast as possible.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    4650
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    5351
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    6043
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    6355
  • Oppo Find 7
    6363
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    6987
  • HTC One (M8)
    10296

Rendering pages is noticeably faster on the iPhone 6 Plus though, surely helped by the lower screen resolution. Both are some of the fastest web browsing mobiles but BrowserMark 2.1 heavily favors the iPhone.

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3389
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    2208
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    1533
  • LG G3 (2GB/16GB)
    1474
  • Oppo Find 7
    1452
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    1398
  • HTC One (M8)
    1069

Winner: Apple iPhone 6 Plus. Games will be simpler to optimize for Apple's few target devices and web browsing goes smoother on the iPhone.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is practically an equal to the 6 Plus in terms of CPU and GPU though its QHD screen trades quality for speed for some games and for web pages.

Multimedia package

Gallery

Apple updated the Photos app with iOS 8.1 and brought back the Camera Roll and introduced the iCloud Photo Library (in beta). Another change is the phone will alert you if you are running out of space during time lapse video capture.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Photos got its camera roll back, features iCloud Photo Library support

Anyway, the app itself organizes photos by time and location into so-called Moments. The Recently Deleted album can be a lifesaver if you accidentally delete a photo. There's a built-in image editor, which includes an auto-enhance feature.

Other than the iCloud Photo Library, you can also share photos with Photo streams, which resemble a mini social network.

The Galaxy Note 4 gallery works with Facebook, Picasa and Dropbox for cloud albums. The photos are grouped by time and location too, but you can also sort them by who is in the photo - both people and pets! - and other types of photos like scenery, food, cards and more.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung's gallery and Photo studio apps

Local connectivity has DLNA for easy sharing with smart devices (Smart TVs or computers).

The built-in editing functions include Studio, which edits photos taken with Samsung's special camera modes (Shot & more), creates collages. The app edits videos too.

Music player

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4's music player is one of the most advanced we've seen to date. It supports lossless FLAC out of the box and DLNA playback. Songs are sorted into the usual categories, but the Music square is a visual way to create a playlist with a certain mix of vocal/instrumental songs that are heavy on the bass or more balanced.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung's music player is an audiophile's dream

There's a 7-band equalizer or you can use another visual square, plus toggle all sorts of effects. More importantly Adapt sound adjusts the equalizer to your headphones and your hearing, while Smart volume levels the volume between tracks.

Apple's music player also supports a lossless format, the proprietary ALAC format, but luckily converting between lossless formats doesn't affect quality, it just takes time. There are no clever ways to build a playlist, not even an equalizer.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus music player and iTunes Radio

Apple is pushing iTunes Radio, which is an ad-supported streaming service - every 7-10 songs get interrupted by a 15 second commercial. If you are using iTunes Match there will be no ads.

Video player

The video player actually has even fewer features. It heavily relies on iTunes as it supports only one video format and it needs the desktop app to convert videos to that. As we already mentioned in the Connectivity chapter, the Lightning port can output 1080p video via an adapter.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus video player relies heavily on iTunes for video transcoding

Samsung again goes all out with the features and supports a good deal of formats. The audio codec support is pretty spotty though, typically nothing multichannel (AC3/DTS) will work. There's extensive subtitle support and you can put the video in a popup to watch while you use another app.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung offers richer codec support and a popup video player

The MHL-enabled microUSB 2.0 port can output 2160p video with the right adapter and the Snapdragon 805 chipset is quite capable of playing it. Strangely, surround sound output is supported but you'll have to resort to a third-party video player for that.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. We're willing to call the gallery a draw (both have exciting exclusive features), but the music and video players go in favor of the Galaxy.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus does well enough in Apple's ecosystem - iTunes sells properly encoded video and audio files, but going outside that is tricky. We really would have liked a few basic necessities like an equalizer though.

Loudspeaker

We expressed some concerns about the Galaxy Note 4 speaker placement, but Samsung used such a powerful speaker that you'll hear it no matter what, even if it's a little muffled. Apple meanwhile disappoint with a Below average loudspeaker.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 67.3 65.7 66.5 Below Average
Sony Xperia Z3 69.7 66.6 67.2 Average
Huawei Ascend Mate7 66.7 65.7 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 66.9 66.6 75.7 Good
Oppo Find 7 69.8 70.3 75.8 Good
LG G3 70.2 66.6 80.2 Good
Nokia Lumia 930 76.7 69.7 77.2 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 74.7 73.5 81.6 Excellent


Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. This was clean cut - the Note 4 has one of the most powerful loudspeakers we've encountered recently.

Not that iPhones usually have booming loudspeakers, but we were hoping for something more than below average.

Audio output is closely matched

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Apple iPhone 6 Plus are both excellent performers when it comes to using them as audio players. Both of them have nicely clean output and high volume levels, meaning even audiophiles will be very pleased with either.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 still manages to take the lead with the first test - the active external amplifier. It has slightly better scores all over the field, but notably better stereo quality.

Plug in a pair of headphones and the picture slightly changes. The Galaxy Note 4 experience a more pronounced rise in its stereo crosstalk and it ends up behind the iPhone 6 Plus on this occasion.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 +0.01, -0.04 -96.6 93.4 0.0015 0.0086 -94.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.02 -96.8 93.5 0.011 0.035 -55.2
Apple iPhone 6 Plus +0.04, -0.04 -94.0 94.0 0.0013 0.0064 -72.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (headphones attached) +0.10, -0.04 -94.0 93.9 0.0016 0.087 -64.1

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 frequency response

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 frequency response

Apple iPhone 6 Plus frequency response

Apple iPhone 6 Plus frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (only just). Had we not have scores for each and every part of this test we would have called it a tie and that might actually make more sense to the majority of you as the real-life experience is perfectly matched. Yet, since we get to compare actual numbers, we can't help it but see that the Galaxy Note 4 comes out ahead in the majority of them.

Camera features

Before we dive into image quality, we'd like to quickly list camera features for both devices. Both manufacturers claim Optical Image Stabilization, but Apple also boasts phase-detection autofocus.

Samsung has that on the Galaxy S5's ISOCELL sensor, but the Galaxy Note 4 uses a Sony sensor and misses out. It's a 16MP sensor with 16:9 aspect ratio that's capable of 2160p@30fps video, plus 60fps and 120fps modes at 1080p and 720p respectively.

Apple does 1080p@60fps but goes up to 240fps at 720p for the best slow-motion mode yet. The iPhone 6 Plus also has a dual-LED flash to rely on in the dark. Both devices offer HDR modes for stills and videos, but the Apple phablet has that option in panoramas too.

There's not much for value-added features though - AE/AF lock, geotagging and face detection are about it.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus camera

True to self, Samsung loaded plenty of features. The Selective focus (which has become trendy recently) lets you change the focus point after taking the photo, Virtual Tour is an upgrade over regular panoramas (it lets you walk around as you shoot), Dual Camera combines photos taken with both front and back cameras simultaneously, while Rear-cam selfie automatically snaps a photo when your face is aligned just right.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The feature-rich camera of the Galaxy Note 4

The front-facing camera on the Galaxy Note 4 is good enough for selfies, it's a 3.7MP shooter that covers the QHD screen pixel for pixel. A slider controls automatic beautification. Better yet, you can download new camera modes.

Samsung has provided focus/exposure lock too, as well as geotagging and face detection. We already saw how the gallery app can sort photos based on people's faces.

Still image quality

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera has a slightly wider Field of View (FoV), though the iPhone 6 Plus's 4:3 camera captures more of the scene vertically. Keep in mind here that a Note 4 camera sample measures 5,312px horizontally, while a 6 Plus shot is 3,264px and it has to draw just about the same detail.

The Galaxy Note 4 camera has double the total number of pixels and its native aspect ratio fits better on widescreen displays (like its own display and HDTVs).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4


The higher resolution is easy to see in the level of captured detail - the STOP sign is clearly legible in the Galaxy Note 4 photo, the foliage looks better, the fire escape and roof tiles on the second row are sharper too.

This crop also makes it easier to compare color rendering - the iPhone 6 Plus has a yellow tint, while the Samsung has a slight blue overcast.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Both cameras keep noise in control with comparable success. Through pixel peeping we noticed the Samsung leaves some traces of over-sharpening but nothing major.

The Galaxy Note 4 also seems to handle shadows a bit better, but we'll get back t than in the HDR section.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple iPhone 6 Plus camera samples

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera samples

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in our Photo Quality Comparison tool

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. A 16:9 camera fits better on modern screens (phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, almost everything is widescreen), but more importantly the Galaxy Note 4 photos offer a significant advantage when it comes to resolved detail.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus takes good-looking photos, especially considering the camera has changed little since the iPhone 5. Still, it loses on the most important factor (resolved detail) and offers no tangible advantage in other aspects.

HDR

Dynamic range is another important quality of a good photo. The Apple iPhone 6 Plus photos have more noise in the shadows, while the Galaxy Note 4 manages to hide most of it while offering slightly better level of detail. It also tends to resolve brighter areas better - the sunlit roof of the mall features a rectangular grid, which is visible in the Note 4 photo and washed out in the iPhone shot.

This is a very difficult scene, heavily backlit and with dark, shadowy areas - a perfect opportunity to test the HDR modes of both devices.

The Galaxy Note 4 mode manages to bring out extra detail in the shadows (the Bistro sign is more legible) though the brightly lit areas become more washed out. The iPhone 6 Plus HDR option also improved rendering in the shadows (though not as much), again at the cost of washing out some of the highlights.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus: HDR off • HDR on

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Galaxy Note 4: HDR off • HDR on

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Its base dynamic range is wider and the HDR mode performs better.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus did a respectable job and the Auto HDR mode is handy though the sensor is due for an upgrade.

Panorama

Both phones shoot panoramas at about the same resolution (despite the Note 4's advantage in stills) and they capture more detail than just about any other phone on the market (aside from their smaller counterparts, of course).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple iPhone 6 Plus panorama

The iPhone 6 Plus didn't get the colors right - they look far too washed out - while the Galaxy Note 4 erred in the other direction - colors have candy-like saturation. We blame iPhone's issues on a boosted green channel (you can see the green tint in the gray tarmac and asphalt).

The Galaxy Note 4 has its own issues - the building in the middle of the frame is yellow/green, while the Note 4 rendered in white. Since the photo starts from a shadowed region, the phone just hits the limit of its dynamic range. Apple's HDR panorama saves it from a similar issue.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 panorama

At stitching the iPhone 6 Plus proved marginally better and it captures a bit more detail in the shadows or rather applies less noise reduction, since shadows are grainier than the same areas in the Galaxy Note 4 panorama.

Image sharpness goes in favor of the Note 4 though no small part of that is that Samsung applies a heavier sharpening filter.

Winner: Draw. Detail is a trade-off made in processing - more or less noise reduction and sharpening. Don't get us wrong, these are some of the best panoramas around with tons of resolution and detail, but compared against each other they have several issues that prevent us from calling a winner.

And those are poor color rendering (both phones mangle that in different ways), the bleak contrast in the iPhone panorama and the magical, color-changing building in the Galaxy image.

Video quality

The premium video mode on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is 2160p @ 30fps. It burns though 48Mbits per second, 256Kbps of which go to stereo sound capture (at 48kHz sampling rate). Standard 1080p videos are recorded at 17Mbps total bitrate and the same audio setup (most smartphones do 128Kbps-160Kbps for the audio).

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus tops out at 1080p, which it captures at 17Mbps bitrate with an outdated mono sound (64Kbps, 44.1kHz).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

For video the Galaxy Note 4 again has a slightly wider FoV, but with dialed up processing the resulting image looks pretty sharp. The amount of actual detail in the 1080p videos for both phones seems comparable once you account for the sharpness/contrast boost.

The 2160p video, naturally captures a much more detailed scene. You can see some processing artifacts - like the over-sharpening halo around dark shadows, but it's only noticeable at pixel-peeping zoom levels.

Traditionally, the Samsung phone boosts the colors - all three channels. The iPhone 6 Plus is more restrained but it still shows the issue from previous iPhone models that red colors tend to look orangey.

The continuous autofocus on the Galaxy Note 4 triggers a bit too often for our liking but is relatively quick. The iPhone 6 Plus combines optical with digital stabilization, which results in slight shaking when there are plenty of moving objects.



1080p will perhaps be used more often than 2160p and at that resolution both cameras offer a 60fps mode. This degrades the image quality compared to 30fps but this seems more pronounced in the iPhone 6 Plus footage, which becomes noticeably softer, while the Galaxy Note 4 is less affected.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4



A 1080p frame is about 2MP, so both cameras have some room to offer digital zoom without degrading the quality. Both go beyond that, but from what we tested you can achieve some magnification and walk away with a usable video.

The crop below shows no zoom and maximum zoom in the first and third panels respectively. The middle panel is about the limit where the image quality starts to degrade noticeably. The 16:9 sensor of the Galaxy Note 4 is better suited to the task and has more resolution to begin with. As a result it gets us closer while keeping quality on the level, but we wouldn't recommend zooming all the way in. Same goes for the iPhone.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4



Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Since UHD TVs became affordable, a 2160p option has become a necessity for an expensive flagship. Capturing high-quality audio is a must, regardless of resolution. The digital zoom works quite well too.

We don't know why Apple avoids stereo audio, it could have at least bumped up the bitrate to improve quality. Other than that 1080p video offers good overall quality and better color rendering than the Samsung.

Stabilization test

Both cameras boast Optical Image Stabilization, but Apple has decided to keep its digital stabilization active. It's one of the best around, but it narrows the FoV and shouldn't be needed on an OIS camera.

The OIS/digital stabilization combo seems to have worked for the iPhone 6 Plus, it absorbs the shake of footsteps better and its video appears to float smoothly. The Galaxy Note 4 corrects small shakes okay, but there's jerkiness left uncorrected.

Strangely, it turns out the Note 4 can't use stabilization in 2160p videos or even QHD ones. We find that pretty strange since OIS is resolution-independent, unlike digital stabilization. Enabling stabilization reduces the FoV, which is how we expect digital stabilization to behave, not optical stabilization.

Winner: Apple iPhone 6 Plus. The always-on digital stabilization eats into the FoV, but handheld videos are pleasantly smooth.

Samsung's first attempt at OIS in a phone isn't perfect, in fact it doesn't behave like OIS at all.

Slow motion

Both phablets can do slow-motion video at up to 240fps, but the Galaxy Note 4 cheats - it records 120fps video and plays it back at 15fps, instead of 30fps. So we used the 120fps mode for the Note 4 and the maximum possible 240fps for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Note that the Apple phablet outputs 240fps videos so you might need to convert them to a slower fps depending on what your video player supports (it's what we did for the YouTube upload).

The difference in FoV becomes very pronounced in favor of the Galaxy Note 4, but the image quality looks well below actual 720p. The iPhone 6 Plus video is pretty soft, but packs much more detail and lacks the over-processed look of Samsung's 120fps mode.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4



Winner: Apple iPhone 6 Plus. It slows down time twice as much and offers better quality while doing it.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 doesn't make the 720p mark and the videos look like the sharpness, contrast and saturation were way too high.

Low-light stills

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus has a dual-LED flash, which should give it an edge over the Galaxy Note 4, which packs a single LED. But for the first tests we forced the flash off - smartphone flashes are good at close range only and oftentimes it's all up to the camera sensor.

With OIS on, both cameras can afford to drop the shutter speed quite low, something that's good for static scenes and not so much for action shots. Here the iPhone 6 Plus went all the way down to 1/4s, but that allowed it to keep ISO at a low 125. The Galaxy Note 4 shot at 1/10s, but needed a higher ISO of 400.

The results are pretty clear - the iPhone 6 Plus produced a detailed image with low noise and good colors. The Galaxy Note 4 image was noisier and the white balance is a bit off. Both phones perform fairly consistently when it comes to photos. Again, slow shutter speeds don't work well if there's movement in the scene.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

We enabled the flash and the iPhone 6 Plus went up to 1/16s shutter speed, while keeping the ISO at 125. The Galaxy Note 4 again chose a faster shutter speed, 1/24s, and dropped the ISO to 250. The white balance issue is more pronounced and the image has a blue/purple tint.

The iPhone 6 Plus once again offers the better detail, though one photo is blurry. The new camera boasts phase-detection autofocus, which is supposed to prevent misfocused shots, while the OIS should soak up handshake. Somewhere down the chain something went wrong in this photo.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus: no flash (best and worst photos) • flash enabled (best and worst)

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Galaxy Note 4: no flash (best and worst photos) • flash enabled (best and worst)

Winner: Apple iPhone 6 Plus. It missed one photo, but the overall results are noticeably better than what its opponent managed. It does so with very low shutter speeds though, which is going to be a problem if there's movement in the scene.

The Galaxy Note 4 color rendering needs a tuning, especially with the flash on. Its faster shutter speeds are nice on paper but the photos have noticeably less detail.

Low-light video

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus can't pull the slow shutter speed trick in video and predictably quality suffers. This gives the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 a face-saving opportunity.

The iPhone videos are noticeably noisier (complete with color noise) and appear softer, even compared to 1080p videos form the Galaxy Note 4. Compression smudges some of the resolved detail in 1080p, but with bitrate restrictions lifted in 2160p mode the Note 4's sensor shows what it's capable of and provides additional detail. Sharpening halos are plainly visible in places but in both resolutions the Samsung keeps the noise low.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in our Video Quality Comparison tool

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It didn't do too hot in the still photo round, but it proved better at videos shot in the dark. The 2160p option came in handy - partly because of its higher bitrate, but the extra resolution wasn't wasted either.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus relied on slow shutter speeds for photos (along the lines of 4fps), which it just can't do with video. The videos were softer and noisier than those of its competitor.

Final words

Samsung found a niche where it doesn't overlap with Apple - phablets - and launched the very successful Galaxy Note line, now in its fourth generation. There's a Note-branded series of tablets. With the Galaxy Note 4 Samsung is taking cautious steps towards a premium build, not just a boatload of features.



Apple, for once not in its usual pioneering role, joins the phablet market at its busiest and most productive time. With "premium" duly taken care of, Apple's challenge was to make the iPhone 6 Plus enticing enough to not get lost between the already bigger iPhone 6 and the iPad mini.

Cupertino introduces change very gradually to its star product, but things that worked for the iPhone 5 don't necessarily work for the iPhone 6 Plus. The bezels were okay on a 4" device, but they make the 5.5" phablet bigger than it needs to be. And the 8MP/1080p camera is showing its age, despite add-ons like OIS and phase-detection autofocus.

iOS 8 brought in new features to reach parity with Android in places where it was outdated, but Apple's only feature to make the big screen more useful was a split-screen mode for apps like we've seen on iPads. That won't bother iPad users who get the same treatment, but people looking to switch away from Android will definitely miss some features. That said, the new Apple chipset is as good as it gets on handheld.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Samsung has taken user's desire for a premium experience to heart and the Galaxy Note 4 in-hand feel matches its price tag. The screen was always a highlight for Galaxy flagships and the QHD Super AMOLED is great both indoors and outdoors. With thinner bezels the Note 4 fits more screen real estate in the same footprint too.

The TouchWiz software package fits every form of multitasking and comes with great multimedia apps out of the box. The Snapdragon 805 chipset could have done with some more GPU oomph to handle the extra pixels, but the Galaxy Note 4's battery life beats the iPhone hands down.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The camera shootout proved more interesting than we expected. In stills, Samsung easily comes out on top in broad daylight, but in the dark the iPhone 6 Plus was better. In video, it was a tough decision too - it's hard to argue with Galaxy Note 4's 2160p skills but Apple's stabilization and 240fps mode cannot be easily overlooked.

In the end, both devices open the doors for people looking to jump from one platform to the other. The iPhone 6 Plus brings beefier specs and a more customizable iOS 8 to draw in Android power users. The Galaxy Note 4 brings a premium exterior to match the advanced interior and might tempt quality-conscious iPhone users looking for more features and freedom.

The net result of such platform jumping is hard to predict but we hope we made your choice easier. Where the Apple iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 overlap there's a clear winner more often than not. It's all up to you now to pick the wins you care about.

Hardware comparison

Both devices have roughly the same size. The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is taller but thinner than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which has the bigger screen. For years Apple was concerned about the usability of a device this size, but it has finally come around.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 have roughly the same footprint

The iPhone 6 Plus shares its design with its sibling and has close connections to the iPod touch and the Apple iPad. This means a slender 7.1mm body that's all glass and aluminum. The sides are softly rounded, unlike the squared off sides of previous iPhones.

This makes the iPhone feel like a metal ingot in the hand but it's not without a downside - the round sides offer less grip. We're not happy either with the plastic strops on the back cover. They used to be thinner and better positioned on previous devices, now they just look too intrusive.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

A rounded metal unibody

The top and bottom bezels are rather thick, making the iPhone 6 Plus taller than average for its screen size. Apple has tried to make up for it in the software - a double tap (not press) on the Home button brings the screen image halfway down to make top controls easier to reach. Even better, Apple took the first steps in capitalizing the extra screen real-estate with landscape mode and split-screen interface options on some apps (but not multiple apps).

Samsung refined its metal-and-leather design in the Galaxy Note 4. This time the rim is actual metal rather than plastic with a metal-like finish. The leather is still faux but, while looks can be faked, the in-hand feel of metal is tangibly more premium.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Real metal and faux leather

The Galaxy Note 4 is slightly thicker and taller than its predecessor, but the difference isn't too big. It's nearly half a centimeter shorter than the iPhone 6 Plus despite having slightly bigger screen. Hardware buttons put a lower limit on bezel size but Samsung managed to include its trio of buttons (complete with a fingerprint reader on the Home key) in less space than Apple. The top bezel is smaller too.

Samsung has offered a number of options to improve the one-handed use in software over the years but its real advantage lies in the mature Multi-Window implementation that lets you run two apps simultaneously. Bigger screens offer a better reading and media experience but, equally important, they make apps more efficient to use.

Let's break down the components by function. Apple put a wider aperture on its FaceTime camera but the essential specs - 1.2MP stills and 720p video - were untouched. It clearly has not bought into the selfie craze.

Samsung meanwhile settled on QHD for the front-facing camera's resolution - both for stills (3.7MP) and for video (1440p, three different names for the same thing). It's not quite an 8MP selfie machine but it complements the main camera well with the Dual Shot feature. The above-screen area also houses a gesture sensor used for some of TouchWiz's proprietary goodies.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Apple is losing the selfie race • Samsung's front-facing camera matches the screen's QHD resolution

Below the screen both phones have fingerprint readers. Apple's hardware just requires you to place your finger on the key, while Samsung requires a swipe. The angle of your thumb while you hold the phablet makes this uncomfortable so it takes some getting used to.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Fingerprint readers disguised as Home buttons

Samsung also has two capacitive keys below the screen, which simplifies the UI somewhat - a dedicated Back key means you don't have to reach for the upper-left corner and an App switcher key means the Home key doesn't have to take on multitasking duties. "Simpler is better" may as well be Apple's moto but when one key has so many uses (press, double-press, double-tap, long press) it starts to feel overloaded.

As both devices do an about-face, we find their backs are almost as interesting as their fronts. Apple drew some ire with the iPhone 6 family camera that protrudes from the slender chassis, but Samsung cameras have stuck out the back for quite a while now. At least, it doesn't make the phone wobble like the iPhone's.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Cameras that stick out

The cameras themselves are quite interesting. Apple did a second polish on the iPhone 5 camera by adding phase-detection autofocus and optical image stabilization to the iPhone 6 Plus as the cherry on top of the vanilla iPhone 6 camera. The dual-LED flash is reshaped into a circle but it remains in place.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera has a new 16MP sensor with 16:9 aspect ratio. It seems it's a Sony sensor instead of Samsung's own ISOCELL, but either way it's Samsung's first phone camera with optical image stabilization. The higher resolution sensor also allows for 2160p video capture but we'll reserve the "resolution vs. framerate" discussion for a later chapter.

Both phablets have their Power keys on one side and their volume rockers on the other. The iPhone 6 Plus also has Apple's traditional Mute switch, which is by far the simplest way to silence your phone when necessary (in a meeting, in the theater, etc.).

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Side-mounted keys, switches and slots

Also on the side is Apple's nanoSIM slot, which can only be opened with a SIM eject tool. Samsung has positioned both cards - that is the microSIM and microSD - below the back cover. The SIM is blocked by the battery so it's not hot-swappable but the microSD is readily accessible.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

User-accessible battery and microSD card slot on the Galaxy Note 4

Expandable storage has never been Apple's thing, but we keep hoping for a saner base storage option - your music library alone could top 16GB, plus an iOS upgrade can require as much as 5GB free, which means you'll have to delete stuff. We appreciate the more accessible 64GB option but we still think 32GB should have been the starting point, at least for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple has positioned the loudspeaker on the bottom and it's still a single piece. The Galaxy Note 4 has just the one loudspeaker as well, it's on the back, we'll find out which one is louder later on.

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Loudspeaker on the bottom for the iPhone 6 Plus and on the back for the Galaxy Note 4

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It may not be as thin as the iPhone, but it's roughly the same size while offering a bigger screen. It's easier to service too, with easily accessible storage and battery.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is impressively thin and as an all-metal device gets a bonus point, but bezels remain chunky and the device is completely sealed against user access. Apple does have the better fingerprint sensor.