Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Introduction


Much in the same way as Apple sparked a revolution on the smartphone market, Samsung essentially started a whole separate category within the industry with the original phablet – the 2011 Galaxy Note.

While rivalry has always raged between the two manufacturers, we've often felt like they're waging a kind of a proxy war, and basically compete indirectly in a sense. In other words, there was always a major differentiating factor (size, operating system, underlying philosophy) between their devices, and that, in a sense, instilled a feeling that theirs was more of a game of who's gonna get the farthest the fastest, and not who's going to make it out of the cage alive. But no longer.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple is encroaching on core Samsung territory – one that it molded itself – and it has every intention of fighting for every last inch of it. That's where the brand-new, perfected Galaxy Note 4 comes in, ready to receive the 6 Plus. Will Apple's relative inexperience in this segment prove to be its downfall, or can its phablet come on top? We're about to find out...

Design

Phablet lovers will adore these two.

With the Note 4, Samsung is finally transitioning towards different materials, and the phablet is seen sporting a chamfered metal frame that feels great in the hand. At the back, we're once again looking at a polycarbonate imitation of leather, though the texture has been changed to a grippier one that also looks more authentic than the one available with the Note 3. In comparison, Apple has endowed the iPhone 6 Plus with an all-aluminum body and plastic is altogether missing – front or back.

The Note 4 is also different at the sides – the overall shape is still of a rectangular that is pleasantly rounded at the edges, but Samsung has actually implemented shock-absorbent bumps at the four corners of the device, much alike with the Galaxy Alpha. The iPhone 6 Plus – also a rounded rectangular (if slightly more so) – doesn't feature protective bumps, and is instead making use of a circular, tube-like frame that hugs your palm nicely.

All in all, we've gotta hand it to Apple – when it comes to the feeling you get when handling the two devices, the iPhone 6 Plus definitely inspires a greater sense of you toying with something truly high-end. Unfortunately, while it is the slightly narrower device, the 6 Plus is still plenty big. So big, in fact, that it towers above the Note 4, despite its smaller, 5.5-inch screen. In any case, we're still looking at two XL-sized smartphones, both of which are simply not meant to be used with just one hand.

Last, but not least, the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that debuted with the iPhone 5s can still be found embedded within the circular home button, and it's just as easy-to-use and reliable. We've got to say that we still prefer it over the swipe-type fingerprint scanner on the Note 4 (also a part of its home button), even though that one has seen some improvements from the frustrating early days of the Galaxy S5.

 

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Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches
153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm
6.21 oz (176 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches
158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus



Display

A Samsung Super AMOLED panel that offers a better color fidelity than an Apple IPS screen? Better believe it!

While Samsung has been gradually increasing the display size of its Note devices with each successive generation, this trend has been put to an expected stop with the Note 4, which shares a 5.7-inch diagonal with its predecessor. What did change, however, is the screen resolution – the number of pixels shot up by 77% to 1440x2560 (Quad HD), so the Super AMOLED panel on-board now boasts the whopping 515 pixels per inch. The iPhone 6 Plus, in turn, sticks to a smaller, 5.5-inch IPS display with a conventional 1080x1920 resolution, or a pixel density of 401 ppi. On paper, the difference in resolutions is non-trivial and very much in favor of the Note 4, but in real life, bragging rights are the biggest benefit of having all these extra pixels. When the two handsets are held at a normal distance from the user's eyes, the difference in screen resolution becomes indiscernible.

We went in-depth with the Galaxy Note 4's screen, and found that the new panel is the very best we've seen from Samsung. The display's color temperature is excellent at 6667 K – an absolutely negligible deviation from the optimal value of 6500 K – beating the iPhone 6 Plus' 7300 K, which result in slightly blueish white. But that's not all – this is actually the first _phone_ with an AMOLED screen that is as faithful in rendering hues properly – color and grayscale errors are minimal. The average color error on the iPhone 6 Plus is also decently-low, but colors are not quite as on-target as the ones available with the Note 4's display. The only downside to the Note 4's panel is its gamma value of 1.97, which is below the reference value of 2.2 – the iPhone 6 Plus is close to perfect, at 2.18. In practice, this means that the Note 4 delivers a punchier, more contrasty image than it should, though the effect is not so overdone as to be annoying or distracting.

Moving on, the brightness of the Note 4's screen is good, at 468 nits, while the one of the 6 Plus is excellent at 574 nits. However, outdoor visibility in broad daylight is very good on both, as the two of them sport very good and non-reflective glasses. The Note 4's display can be dimmed down all the way to 1 nit, which is outstanding and guarantees comfy usage in your bed, while the iPhone 6 Plus can do 4 nits, which is also excellent. One last advantage of the Note 4's screen is its ability to become highly-sensitive, allowing you to use it even with gloves – a great feature in light of the coming winter.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 574
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:1376
(Excellent)
7318
(Good)
2.18
4.38
(Average)
3.82
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 468
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6667
(Excellent)
1.97
2.61
(Good)
3.1
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 68.8%
0%
unmeasurable
35.4%
1%
127.6%
231.9%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 84.7%
75%
86.9%
4.3%
13.8%
6.6%
15.7%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Introduction


Much in the same way as Apple sparked a revolution on the smartphone market, Samsung essentially started a whole separate category within the industry with the original phablet – the 2011 Galaxy Note.

While rivalry has always raged between the two manufacturers, we've often felt like they're waging a kind of a proxy war, and basically compete indirectly in a sense. In other words, there was always a major differentiating factor (size, operating system, underlying philosophy) between their devices, and that, in a sense, instilled a feeling that theirs was more of a game of who's gonna get the farthest the fastest, and not who's going to make it out of the cage alive. But no longer.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple is encroaching on core Samsung territory – one that it molded itself – and it has every intention of fighting for every last inch of it. That's where the brand-new, perfected Galaxy Note 4 comes in, ready to receive the 6 Plus. Will Apple's relative inexperience in this segment prove to be its downfall, or can its phablet come on top? We're about to find out...

Design

Phablet lovers will adore these two.

With the Note 4, Samsung is finally transitioning towards different materials, and the phablet is seen sporting a chamfered metal frame that feels great in the hand. At the back, we're once again looking at a polycarbonate imitation of leather, though the texture has been changed to a grippier one that also looks more authentic than the one available with the Note 3. In comparison, Apple has endowed the iPhone 6 Plus with an all-aluminum body and plastic is altogether missing – front or back.

The Note 4 is also different at the sides – the overall shape is still of a rectangular that is pleasantly rounded at the edges, but Samsung has actually implemented shock-absorbent bumps at the four corners of the device, much alike with the Galaxy Alpha. The iPhone 6 Plus – also a rounded rectangular (if slightly more so) – doesn't feature protective bumps, and is instead making use of a circular, tube-like frame that hugs your palm nicely.

All in all, we've gotta hand it to Apple – when it comes to the feeling you get when handling the two devices, the iPhone 6 Plus definitely inspires a greater sense of you toying with something truly high-end. Unfortunately, while it is the slightly narrower device, the 6 Plus is still plenty big. So big, in fact, that it towers above the Note 4, despite its smaller, 5.5-inch screen. In any case, we're still looking at two XL-sized smartphones, both of which are simply not meant to be used with just one hand.

Last, but not least, the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that debuted with the iPhone 5s can still be found embedded within the circular home button, and it's just as easy-to-use and reliable. We've got to say that we still prefer it over the swipe-type fingerprint scanner on the Note 4 (also a part of its home button), even though that one has seen some improvements from the frustrating early days of the Galaxy S5.


Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33 inches
153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm
6.21 oz (176 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches
158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus



Display

A Samsung Super AMOLED panel that offers a better color fidelity than an Apple IPS screen? Better believe it!

While Samsung has been gradually increasing the display size of its Note devices with each successive generation, this trend has been put to an expected stop with the Note 4, which shares a 5.7-inch diagonal with its predecessor. What did change, however, is the screen resolution – the number of pixels shot up by 77% to 1440x2560 (Quad HD), so the Super AMOLED panel on-board now boasts the whopping 515 pixels per inch. The iPhone 6 Plus, in turn, sticks to a smaller, 5.5-inch IPS display with a conventional 1080x1920 resolution, or a pixel density of 401 ppi. On paper, the difference in resolutions is non-trivial and very much in favor of the Note 4, but in real life, bragging rights are the biggest benefit of having all these extra pixels. When the two handsets are held at a normal distance from the user's eyes, the difference in screen resolution becomes indiscernible.

We went in-depth with the Galaxy Note 4's screen, and found that the new panel is the very best we've seen from Samsung. The display's color temperature is excellent at 6667 K – an absolutely negligible deviation from the optimal value of 6500 K – beating the iPhone 6 Plus' 7300 K, which result in slightly blueish white. But that's not all – this is actually the first _phone_ with an AMOLED screen that is as faithful in rendering hues properly – color and grayscale errors are minimal. The average color error on the iPhone 6 Plus is also decently-low, but colors are not quite as on-target as the ones available with the Note 4's display. The only downside to the Note 4's panel is its gamma value of 1.97, which is below the reference value of 2.2 – the iPhone 6 Plus is close to perfect, at 2.18. In practice, this means that the Note 4 delivers a punchier, more contrasty image than it should, though the effect is not so overdone as to be annoying or distracting.

Moving on, the brightness of the Note 4's screen is good, at 468 nits, while the one of the 6 Plus is excellent at 574 nits. However, outdoor visibility in broad daylight is very good on both, as the two of them sport very good and non-reflective glasses. The Note 4's display can be dimmed down all the way to 1 nit, which is outstanding and guarantees comfy usage in your bed, while the iPhone 6 Plus can do 4 nits, which is also excellent. One last advantage of the Note 4's screen is its ability to become highly-sensitive, allowing you to use it even with gloves – a great feature in light of the coming winter.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 574
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:1376
(Excellent)
7318
(Good)
2.18
4.38
(Average)
3.82
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 468
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6667
(Excellent)
1.97
2.61
(Good)
3.1
(Good)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 68.8%
0%
unmeasurable
35.4%
1%
127.6%
231.9%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 84.7%
75%
86.9%
4.3%
13.8%
6.6%
15.7%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Interface and functionality

Two philosophies at odds. It's up to you.

Even if both the Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6 Plus ran on completely identical hardware, the two would still be quite different due to the software loaded on them. The Note 4, makes use of a highly-customized version of Android 4.4.4 KitKat, dubbed TouchWiz. The philosophy behind Samsung's custom interface is very simple (ironic, since the software itself is quite complex) – the more you have, the better, and that combines well with the flexible nature of Android. Conversely, Apple has gone down an altogether different path that is much narrower, straightforward, and almost pre-defined. Customization options, for example, are extremely rare in comparison, and most of the potential is delegated to third-party developers and their apps.

Starting with the Note 4, we're looking at cleaner, more consistent (and colorful) visuals than with previous iterations of TouchWiz. On the list of most relevant and useful features (especially for a phablet) are features like one-handed mode, which miniaturizes the whole UI so that it is easier to navigate single-handed, MultiWindow, which lets you run two apps simultaneously side-by-side, and, of course, the multifunctional S Pen stylus. The S Pen has really grown into a Note-specialty, and Samsung has made sure that it is better than ever. Apart from Air Commands (activated when you pull out the S Pen or click the button on its side) suite of options, Samsung has also added new goodies, including the ability to snap a picture of handwritten text and make it editable. Smart Select is also on the “new” list, and allows you to freely select content on the screen, which will then be analyzed and broken down into important bits. One example – if you select the contact details of a local pizza place, Smart Select will let you quickly call them up to make a reservation, and even allow you to jump directly into Google Maps to get directions to its doorstep. The Note 4 also comes with a special Ultra Power Saving Mode, which is currently the very best battery-saving mode on the market right now. 

The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The UI of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4


Speaking of the iPhone 6 Plus, we're looking at iOS 8 – the very same version available on the smaller iPhone 6, and quite similar to all previous versions of the iPhone OS. The only new feature here is landscape mode – the ability to tilt the 6 Plus sideways and enjoy content in widescreen mode. The rest should all mostly be familiar, specifically when thinking design, as iOS 8 didn't change the direction set by the redesign seen with iOS 7. Indeed, we're again looking at a stylish, well-ordered UI that is devoid of bloat – but also extras. Still, perks like Control Center (swipe up from the bottom) are in place and allow quick access to essential functionality, including brightness, Bluetooth, flashlight, music controls, and more. Also on board is the Reachability feature (double tap the home button) that brings down the UI so that you can reach top-most areas of the interface whilst using the phablet with one hand. It's worth pointing out that Reachability is not as robust an implementation as what the Note 4 has going on, but it's far simpler and also much easier to activate.

iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

iOS 8 is running on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus



Processor and memory

Despite its seemingly superior hardware, the Note 4's Snapdragon 805 processor is nevertheless unable to compete with Apple's custom-designed A8 chip.

If you were to tear down the Galaxy Note 4, sooner or later you'll stumble upon the system chip that makes the functioning of the phablet possible. The Note 4 is the first popular device to come packing Qualcomm's most powerful chip yet, the 2.7GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 805. Built on a 28nm HPM process, the chipset makes use of four Krait 450 CPUs and an Adreno 420 GPU. Both of these have seen some generational improvements over the Snapdragon 801, the most important of which is perhaps a more adequate support for super-high resolution displays and content, both of which the Note 4 will have to handle. Qualcomm also touts the new-found capabilities of the GPU, which now offers hardware tessellation (layman's: higher fidelity graphics). Also on board is a 3GB module of LPDDR3 RAM, which is quite generous, but also very much needed.

Turning to the iPhone 6 Plus, we're looking at a 20nm Apple-designed chip built on ARMv8 64-bit architecture. The chipset utilizes “just” two 1.4GHz Cyclone cores, which may sound underwhelming, but everything, from synthetic benchmarks to real life usage, suggests the very opposite – this is an impressive piece of silicon. Thanks to its potent PowerVR GX6450, the iPhone 6 Plus actually ranks on top of graphics benchmarks, both on- and off-screen ones, so expect the absolute very best in performance with this chip, and despite the relatively low amounts of RAM (1GB).

As you can see below, the benchmarks speak for themselves. It's important to remember that graphics tests that are on-screen obviously put the Note 4 at a disadvantage due to its much higher pixel count, but that is a sacrifice that Samsung chose to make. Either way, it's clear that when purely objective criteria are set, the iPhone 6 Plus is the better chip right now, but that would only matter if the Note 4 didn't already provide an excellent real world user experience, which it absolutely does. And that's the part that actually counts, regardless of which device we're talking about.

Performance benchmarks

Sunspider
Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 365.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 1087.87
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 52.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 25.9
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 31.6
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 11.2
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1382
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 1038.67
View all

Internet and connectivity

The Note 4's connectivity cache is downright impressive. But it lacks Apple Pay, and we expect that one to be a big deal.

When it comes to browsing, with the Note 4 you have two options – use the built-in browser by Samsung, or just default to the tried and tested Google Chrome. It's obviously a question of choice, as both apps offer smooth performance and few to no perks, though Chrome can be synchronized with its desktop counterpart, which is a highlight feature. Looking at Apple, we've got the Safari browser to make use of out of the box, and that one is absolutely down to the point, offering no perks other than the ability to actually browse web pages.

As Samsung tradition dictates, the Note series are decked-out with connectivity options. There's Category 6 LTE (theoretical speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s downlink) with support for 9 bands, assisted GPS with GLONASS support, Bluetooth 4.1 with EDR (enhanced data transfer), 5GHz Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, NFC, MHL, and MirrorLink for use with supported vehicle infotainment systems. The Note 4 also sports an IR blaster on the top, allowing you to take control of electronics around you (think TVs, stereos, Blu-Ray players, air conditioners, and so on).

With the iPhone 6 Plus we've got Category 4 LTE (theoretical speeds of up to 150 Mbit/s downlink) with support for over a dozen bands – the most of any device – along with assisted GPS with GLONASS, an older standard of Bluetooth (4.0), 5GHz Wi-Fi, NFC, and Wi-Fi calling. Unfortunately, the NFC chip is reserved for use with the Apple Pay for mobile payments.

Web browsing on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Web browsing on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Web browsing on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Web browsing on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Safari on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Safari on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Safari on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Safari on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Safari on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Camera

If you want the best in smartphone photography, either of these two will do.

As far as imaging goes, the Note line has always been among the best on the market. Samsung wasn't about to slip with the Galaxy Note 4, and we've got say that the configuration sounds promising even when read off a specs sheet. We've got a 16-megapixel 16:9 sensor complemented by a wide, f/2.2 lens, a singular LED flash, and phase detection auto focus. Quite importantly, the rear camera of the Note 4 is optically stabilized – a first with a Samsung device. Up at the front, we're looking at a generous 3.7-megapixel selfie snapper with even wider, f/1.9 lens, capable of 1080p video capture.

The iSight camera on-board the iPhone 6 Plus is an 8-megapixel unit with 1.5um pixels and f/2.2 lens, a two-tone LED flash, and phase detecting auto focus implementation. Like the Note 4, the 6 Plus also come with optical stabilization, and this is Apple's first time implementing such tech also. Turn the iPhone 6 Plus around, and you'll find a 1.2-megapixel cam that can shoot 1080p video.

Software wise, we're once again looking at quite a different approach with the two devices. The Note 4 is filled with features and manual controls (ISO, exposure, white balance, metering) and offers a plethora of shooting modes, including Beauty Shot, , Dual Shot (both cameras fire off simultaneously), and even a mode that allows you to take selfies with the rear camera (it'll focus on your face automatically). As for the default interface, it' fairly ergonomic, but a bit busy, though you can change things around by replacing existing toggles with ones you feel you need more.

The Note 4 is filled with features and manual controls - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The Note 4 is filled with features and manual controls - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The Note 4 is filled with features and manual controls - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The Note 4 is filled with features and manual controls - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The Note 4 is filled with features and manual controls


With the 6 Plus, we're looking at a much simpler approach towards the whole imaging experience. The only controls you have access to include HDR, the flash, and countdown settings. Apple has, however, increased the number of available shooting modes from the iPhone 5s, and apart from panoramas, you can also shoot Time Lapses.

The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The camera interface of the iPhone 6 Plus


Turning to image quality, it's fair to say that you can expect excellent results from both phones during the day. In fact, it's really hard to put either in the lead as they're so close in terms of reproducing the overall composition in front of them with all its caveats. But caveats they have. Indeed, while both phones offer dynamic scenes, they boost colors slightly – the iPhone 6 Plus churns out snaps that are slightly warmer than in reality, while the Note 4 does the opposite, and captures scenes that are a bit colder than ideal. That said, both deviate from reality so slightly that it's actually a question of taste more than anything else. Thankfully, noise is also essentially negligible with both. The only area of no contest is details – the Note 4's larger photos offer visibly more fine information if you zoom in to 100%.

Indoors, the two devices again offer great results, but we found that the iPhone 6 Plus produces slightly brighter shots. On the other hand, however, color reproduction, while excellent on the whole, is a bit lacking in comparison with the Note 4, as hues look a bit faded and washed out when put next to shots from the Samsung phablet. Again, do keep in mind that we're talking about very small deviations and inadequacies here.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1.93
2.1
435
293
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 2.8
2.8
353
273
View all


The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 proved to be a very capable camcorder in our time with it, though it obviously wasn't without some kinks. Video capture at 1080p and 4K UHD is excellent, with clips coming out smooth and shake-free, thanks to OIS in no small part. As for the iPhone 6 Plus, we again have mighty impressive footage, though Apple has deemed 4K UHD ahead of its time and has not seen it fit to be included. The standard 1080p resolution clips produced by the 6 Plus are nevertheless excellent. While 4K UHD will definitely end up as a cons with some, it's worth pointing out that the 6 Plus' superior audio reproduction is a saving grace – in comparison, the Note 4 doesn't manage to isolate background noise as successfully.


The two devices can also shoot slow-moes, though we'll have to give this one to Apple – its software can do 240 framers per second, which is more than we can say of the Note 4. Also missing with Samsung's phablet is the ability to shoot Time Lapses – available with iOS 8 – and that, too, will also end up on the cons list of some.

Multimedia

Samsung goes for maximum flexibility, while Apple is keeping it simple.

Given that we're looking at two extremely large phablet devices, it is obviously the case that both are perfectly-suited for media consumption, and, specifically, videos and photos.

Starting with video, we've got to hand it to Samsung – its video player goes beyond the basics. The app supports subtitles and can be re-sized and layered on top of the interface so that it follows you wherever you go. Samsung has also added quick access to its video editing apps, which are full of options. As for the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple's signature conservative approach is evident – the player is basically limited to its main purpose: playing back video. Extra functionality is simply non-existent. 

A scenario similar to the above is also true for the two devices' respective music players. The Note 4 again grabs the medal for functionality and flexibility, while the iPhone 6 Plus is, conversely, quite basic. Apple's Music app remains integrated with iTunes Radio, which is a nice perk if you use it, but things like equalizer settings are not available directly – for that, you'll need to head over to the iOS 8 settings menu and dig there.

Gallery app - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Music player - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Gallery app

Music player

   

Samsung Galaxy Note 4


Gallery - Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Gallery

     
Music player - Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Music player

     

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

 

Speaking of music playback, we've got to say that the Note 4 disappoints with its loudspeaker, which is not as powerful, nor as deep as the one found on the iPhone 6 Plus. Don't get us wrong – the 6 Plus' is nothing special in terms of maximum volume output, but it still has a hand over Samsung's new phablet.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1.014
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 0.41
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 71.6
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 85
View all

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Call quality

We sure would have appreciated a small boost in earpiece volume with both, but otherwise we're looking at two stellar performers.

The Note 4's earpiece is great. Loudness could have been a tad higher, but it's still sufficient for you to have comfort during calls and not have to strain your ears to hear what's being said. Thankfully, the sound that it transmits is also top notch, as voices come across as natural and audio artifacts rarely come in play. As for the microphone, the other side reported strong volume and clear sound with fairly small deviations.

The iPhone 6 Plus fared similarly great, and our verdict is pretty much identical – loud earpiece that could use just a small kick for the better, and a microphone that neither adds or detracts from your voice's natural tone.

Battery life


The removable cell inside the Galaxy Note 4 has seen a tiny bump from the one available on the Note 3 – from 3200 mAh to 3220 mAh. That's obviously a cause for concern, as the Quad HD display on the Note 4 is certainly more power-hungry than the 1080p panel on its predecessor. During its announcement presentation, Samsung made sure to point out that despite all of that, the Note 4 will nevertheless have slightly improved battery life – about 5% better. We're still waiting the results from our battery life test, but based on the above, we're not really expecting the Note 4 to shower itself in glory, at least in this particular segment – the Note 3 managed 6 hours and 5 minutes. Even if you factor in the improvements, we're still looking at a good, but not excellent battery life – one comparable with the LG G3. That is, unless the Note 4 surprises us.

Turning our attention to the iPhone 6 Plus, we're looking at a 2915 mAh non-removable juicer. We can't say that one impressed when we took it for a sprint through our trying battery test – the 6 Plus clocked 6 hours and 32 minutes. That's definitely not poor (or even average), but, again, we're not talking about industry-leading longevity here. Our expectation is that the 6 Plus will be tied with the Note 4 in this regard, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

We'll update you once the results are in.

Conclusion


With Samsung being credited with the popularization of the phablet form factor, it comes as no surprise that most consumers expect these to be super functional pieces of hardware, filled to the brim with extras and perks. But that's actually synonymous with Samsung, not the phablet category, and that becomes apparent with the iPhone 6 Plus, which, despite its relatively empty bag of goodies, makes for an awesome phablet experience. But it's not as simple as just “pick the Note 4 if you want features; go for the 6 Plus if you want simplicity”, and it never was.

To start off, despite the improvements Samsung made with the Note 4 in terms of its exterior – this is the best-looking Note yet - it still can't compete with the iPhone 6 Plus when design is concerned. The iPhone 6 Plus also proved a better performer in synthetic benchmarks, especially when graphics are involved, though we've got to point out that we stumbled upon virtually no hiccups with the Note 4 anyway – and that's the important part. We were also happy to see Samsung finally deliver a Super AMOLED panel that not only competes with a well-calibrated IPS one, but actually beats it.

All said, how all of the above comes across in your mind will, ultimately, provide you with the only real and applicable clue as to which one you should go for.