This spec shootout will take a look at Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus, the company’s widest display, brightest screen resolution, and largest battery size that’s ever been released from Cupertino over the last seven years. According to early results, the iPhone 6 Plus has sold out at Apple’s website – a testimony that the company couldn’t have released its latest phone too soon.
In the other corner stands the Samsung Galaxy S5, a smartphone that is present in every high-end smartphone discussion among Android users and iOS users alike. The Galaxy S5 has had its critics, but with its two Power Saving modes, incredible battery life, vivid Full HD display and its international award-winning 16MP ISOCELL camera, the Galaxy S5 is definitely in the top three Android smartphones of 2014.
Apple decided to “do a Samsung” and go bigger this year, but can Apple’s largest and most prestigious iPhone to date de-throne Samsung’s latest and greatest? We’re about to find out.
The iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch, liquid crystal display (or LCD screen) that has a Full HD screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The Galaxy S5 also features a Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080p) but has a 5.1-inch, Super AMOLED display.
Both the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy S5 have Full HD resolutions, so you’ll likely get a vivid color experience regardless of which device you choose. The iPhone 6 Plus does’ve a wider display, however, so you’ll get more screen real estate if you go with Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. Where you sit on display sizes may determine, however, that you pick up the Galaxy S5. Some of our Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3 users here at Inferse prefer the screen real estate of the Note 3, but the feel of the 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 seems to be the sweet spot for one-handed use.
The iPhone 6 Plus has the wider display, but the Galaxy S5 matches the iPhone 6 Plus in its Full HD screen resolution and utilizes Samsung’s unique AMOLED display technology that has various benefits (we’ll discuss these in the battery comparison). Still, wider displays are better to some, so we’ll give the win here to the iPhone 6 Plus.
The Galaxy S5 utilizes a quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor while the iPhone 6 Plus runs a dual-core A8 processor alongside of an M8 motion coprocessor that uploads fitness tracking and gaming data to apps for quick use.
While quad-core processors have at least two cores operating simultaneously, most quad-core processors don’t have all four cores running at once – which means that quad-core processors aren’t always effective all the time, especially if you’re involved in heaving gaming. On the other hand, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus utilizes not only a dual-core processor that may not run both cores at once, but Apple’s M8 motion coprocessor can operate along with one of the A8 processor’s two cores – providing an experience comparable to two processors rather than a dual-core or tri-core experience.
A number of tech reviews in the online world have ranked the iPhone performance above that of the majority of Android manufacturers because of the speed of Apple devices. It is the addition of a second processor, rather than a reliance on one processor with individual cores, that makes the difference in speed.
A quad-core device is better suited for multitasking, but a dual-core + M8 motion processor will perform faster – especially in the iOS experience that, as Microsoft’s pointed out in its Surface Tab commercials, doesn’t perform multitasking very well and only features 1GB of random access memory. It’s been rumored that Apple looks to bring split-screen multitasking to iOS 8, but the company’s failure to announce this feature has many wondering if Apple simply couldn’t pull it off with iOS 8.
The processor category, thus, is a tie: while some prefer the speed of Apple’s A8 and M8 processors, others prefer the quad-core juice of Android in the Galaxy S5 experience that makes multitasking a breeze. Having 2GB of RAM in the Galaxy S5 sure does make computer tasks possible with Samsung’s most popular Galaxy smartphone. The choice is up to you, but if you ask us, it’s not a challenge to have a speedy phone when there’s little software to fill it. Android smartphones such as the Galaxy S5 may be slower, but some prefer Android’s functionality to iOS.
Battery and Battery Life
The iPhone 6 Plus has a battery size of 2,915mAh, while the Galaxy S5 has a battery size of 2,800mAh.
You would think that, with Apple’s larger battery in the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s battery life would surpass that of Samsung’s. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Apple said at the iPhone 6 announcement that the iPhone 6 Plus provides only 12 hours of web browsing (LTE, 3G, and Wi-Fi browsing). As opposed to the 12-hour battery life of the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 provides at least 27 hours of battery life with moderate usage, slightly over a day for many users.
Even with Samsung’s 27-hour battery life in the Galaxy S5, Samsung’s own Power Saving and Ultra Power Saving modes extend your battery life to as much as 6-7 days (up to 12.5 days) with varying usage. There’ve been a number of iPhone users who claim that they can get up to 2 days of use out of a single charge, but the iPhone 6 Plus is extremely unlikely to get above 2 days (and even 2 days seems miraculous for an iPhone experience).
The problem with Apple is that its iPhone 6 Plus uses a backlight to power the display. Although Apple calls it an “ultrathin backlight,” backlights still drain power from the display. Samsung’s Galaxy S5, however, utilizes a light-emitting display in which the display itself contains all the light necessary for viewing – without the additional backlight as with the iPhone 6 Plus. The use of AMOLED displays has helped Samsung’s devices cut down battery drain and improve battery life. This explains why Apple’s larger battery still ends up with smaller battery life and performance than that of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Here is where Samsung’s “Wall Hugger” commercial comes back to haunt Cupertino: if you purchase the new iPhone 6 Plus, the bigger battery won’t prove to be of any more help than the small battery-sized iPhone 5s. The bigger screen in the iPhone 6 Plus brings an even bigger sacrifice in the form of significant battery life. iPhone users have said, like Apple, that “specs don’t matter,” but it couldn’t be any better seen than in the comparison of the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S5 battery sizes and battery life.
The Galaxy S5 features Samsung’s own 16MP ISOCELL camera, one that camera tester DxOMark has labeled the top smartphone in the world for its crisp, clear images and top-notch digital zoom. In contrast, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus sticks with the same 8MP camera that’s been in iOS since the iPhone 4S.
Even if Apple’s 8MP camera does have improved lighting, a faster autofocus with its new Phase Detection Autofocus, as well as crisper and clearer images, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus camera won’t match the sharp, crisp, and clear attention to detail of Samsung’s 16MP Galaxy S5 camera.
Memory and Price
We’ve discussed random access memory (or RAM), but we’ve not yet gotten into the memory storage local to both devices. The iPhone 6 Plus comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations. Apple eliminated the 32GB configuration while keeping the 16GB configuration, but doubled the amount of storage one can get for the intermediate price (64GB instead of 32GB) while adding a 128GB memory storage model for the first time. The iPhone 6 Plus now costs $299 (16GB), $399 (64GB), and $499 (128GB) with a two-year agreement. Off-contract, the iPhone 6 Plus costs $800 (16GB), $900 (64GB), and $1000 (128GB).
The Galaxy S5, in contrast, comes with 16GB ($199) or 32GB ($299) but also features Samsung’s tried-and-true microSD card slot that provides an additional 128GB of additional memory storage (for a total of 144GB). With that said, most Galaxy S5 users can purchase the 16GB base model but still end up with 144GB of memory storage. A 128GB microSD card costs approximately $100, so users can pay a total of $700 for 144GB of memory storage ($600 for the GS5 plus $100 for the microSD card). In contrast, iPhone 6 Plus users must pay $499 up-front and $1000 over the life of their two-year contract (or $1000 outright) to get anywhere near the storage that Samsung offers its users (128GB).
In short, Galaxy S5 users can get the base model, add another $100 with 128GB of memory, and still save $300 more than iPhone 6 Plus users. Additionally, the iPhone 6 Plus lacks a microSD card slot that would allow expandable storage and the chance to access your photos without an Internet connection (which iCloud doesn’t allow, unfortunately). Considering the iCloud celebrity breach as of late, you may not want to put any faith at all in Apple’s cloud storage.
Those who buy the iPhone 6 Plus will pay $800 for just 16GB of memory storage, while Galaxy S5 users will pay $100 less but have 9 times the amount of memory storage (144GB vs. 16GB, respectively) than the iPhone 6 Plus has. On-contract, Galaxy S5 users will pay $199 for 16GB +128GB microSD storage while iPhone 6 Plus users will pay $299 for the 16GB model with no expandable memory storage. In short, when it comes to more for your money, the Galaxy S5 has a value that the iPhone 6 Plus can’t touch.
The memory and price round goes to Samsung and the Galaxy S5, and Samsung wins this round without a fight.
The iPhone 6 was rumored to have water and dust resistance, but Apple didn’t announce these features as part of the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus experience. What this means is that, should you drop your phone in water, it’ll likely die and is a lot less likely to survive water plunges.
The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, provides IP67 water and dust resistance so that you can submerge your Galaxy S5 under 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 has been thrown into jean pockets and placed in washers and dryers, and has been thrown under 3 feet of water and left for an hour (but still works well afterward). Some tests have said that Samsung’s Galaxy S5 actually has IP68 water and dust resistance and can last up to an hour under 3 feet of water, but Samsung played it safe with its claim.
When it comes to an element-resistant experience, the Galaxy S5 will outlast the iPhone 6 Plus every time. The Galaxy S5’s water and dust resistance is one more feature that makes the Galaxy S5 a far more compelling buy.
We here at Inferse love having these spec shootouts that pit the top devices of the smartphone world against one another. We think that specs are important and that users should at least examine the differences before making a bad investment that may be accompanied by 2 years (or more) of regret.
Apple wanted to nail the larger screen for its users and seemed to accomplish that this year, but Apple’s display (and greater price tag) with 16GB of local memory storage makes the iPhone 6 Plus an exorbitant buy with no real win for the consumer. Some say that iOS is the reason why an individual would buy the iPhone 6 Plus over the Galaxy S5, but Android’s increased and superior functionality doesn’t justify someone who would pay $800 to get a basic smartphone because “Apple does it better” they may say.
The Galaxy S5’s expandable memory storage versus the iPhone 6 Plus’s non-expandable memory storage, the Galaxy S5’s water and dust resistance versus the water and dust risk of the iPhone 6 Plus, the Galaxy S5’s 16MP camera versus the iPhone 6 Plus’s 8MP camera that’s now four years old, the Galaxy S5’s 27-hour battery life and Power and Ultra Power Saving Modes versus the 12-hour battery life of the iPhone 6 Plus sans battery-saving modes, and Samsung’s multitasking capabilities with its quad-core processor versus the two-processor layout of iOS that is very underdeveloped with regard to multitasking makes the Galaxy S5 the clear winner of this contest.
In the end, it turns out that, contra Apple’s belief, Android users are committed to Samsung and other OEMs for more reasons than just larger displays.
||iPhone 6 Plus
||Samsung Galaxy S5
||A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion coprocessor
||2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core
||1GB of RAM
||2GB of RAM,
||5.5-inch Retina HD with IPS technology (1920 x 1980 pixels at 401 ppi)
||5.1-inch 1920x1080p Super AMOLED, 432ppi
||16GB, 64GB and 128 GB
||16/32GB internal storage expandable up to 128GB
||8MP iSight camera with Focus Pixels, True Tone flash and OIS, and 1.2MP front-facing sensor
||16MP rear, 2.1MP front
||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0 GPS, NFC
||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G, IR Blaster, USB 3.0
||158.1 mm x 77.8 mm x 7.1 mm
||142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm
||Silver, Gold, and Space Gray
||Frost White, Charcoal Black, Bronze Gold, Blossom Pink
|Water and dust resistance
||IP67 dust and water resistance