Both Samsung and Apple have announced their top-tier, high-end flagships, so 2015’s smartphone surprises are now in the history books. With that said, we realize that the tech-savvy among us want to see a showdown between these two top smartphones, and, as always, we’re happy to oblige.
Today’s spec comparison battle pits Apple’s latest phablet, the iPhone 6s Plus, against Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5. Who will emerge victorious? We won’t spoil the ending; you’ll have to keep reading.
The iPhone 6s Plus features a 5.5-inch, LCD screen with a 1920 x 1080p screen resolution with a pixel density of 401ppi. The Galaxy Note 5, on the other hand, features a 5.7-inch, Super AMOLED display with a Quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440p (518ppi). As is clear from the numbers, Samsung’s displays pack the most pixels per inch, which makes them brighter and vivid in color representation. It’s been said, though, that Apple’s LCD screens are more color accurate and are the best LCD screens in the business, but LCD is no match for AMOLED.
The display round goes to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
Processor and Memory
The iPhone 6s Plus features a rather disputed 64-bit, 2.2Ghz dual-core A9 processor with the M9 motion coprocessor that is said to run extremely fast and 2GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 5, in contrast, features an octa-core Exynos 7420 processor with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. Samsung’s octa-core processor has four cores clocked at 2.1Ghz with four other cores clocked in at 1.8Ghz.
While speed has been a big part of the iPhone’s appeal, Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 7420 processor is the fastest thing on the market. Future benchmarking will have to pit these two in a more relevant race, but Samsung’s octa-core processor is strongest when it comes to battery life and multi-core tasks, while the iPhone has always outranked in single-core, or basic, tasks. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 does have more RAM than Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, however, so Samsung gets the slight edge in this category.
The iPhone 6s Plus comes with a 2,750mAh battery, as opposed to the 2,915mAh battery of its predecessor, the iPhone 6 Plus. The Galaxy Note 5 has a 3,000mAh battery as opposed to the 3,220mAh battery of the Galaxy Note 4 and 3,200mAh battery of the Galaxy Note 3.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 does have a larger battery, but battery size is not the only factor to figure in when determining which of these two devices provides better battery life. What will help even out the battery race are Samsung’s optimizations in battery life and performance. The Galaxy Note 5 has been reported to have better battery life and endurance than its predecessor (Galaxy Note 4), and even the Galaxy Note 4 had better battery life than the iPhone 6s Plus. With that said, the iPhone has always ranked below virtually all of its Android rivals in the battery space – and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the same here. No, Note 5 users, contrary to what some disgruntled Note 4 users say, you won’t be in the same “wall-hugging” circle as iPhone 6s Plus users.
The iPhone 6s Plus features a 5MP front camera with an f/2.2 camera aperture and a 12MP back camera with optical image stabilization or OIS. The Galaxy Note 5 features a 5MP front camera with an f/1.9 camera aperture and a 16MP back camera with the same f/1.9 camera aperture as well as OIS.
On the surface, the 16MP back camera of the Galaxy Note 5 wins based on sheer numbers alone. Both smartphones have 5MP front cameras, and we know that sensors alone don’t determine the winner. Samsung does have a better camera aperture, though (f/1.9 vs. Apple’s f/2.2), and better camera apertures let in more light. Thus, we give Samsung the win in the camera department.
When it comes to video recording, Samsung has opted to include video image stabilization, or VDIS, to work alongside of OIS to stabilize video recordings even more. This adds to the Galaxy Note 5’s win in the camera department.
The iPhone 6s Plus offers 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage models, while Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 offers 32GB and 64GB models. Samsung offered a few 128GB models with the Galaxy S6 but has since phased out those models worldwide in favor of the two often-bought storage models.
Samsung decided to officially eliminate all 16GB storage models from the company’s high-end flagship lineup this year (with 32GB being the minimum storage model for the Galaxy S6), and this is to be applauded. Apple’s whole point of ditching the 32GB storage model in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was done to get customers to spend an additional $100 to purchase the 64GB model. While the iPhone 6s Plus is around $800 for the 16GB model and $900 for the 64GB model, the Galaxy Note 5’s 32GB model is around $700 to purchase off-contract (with Verizon Wireless).
At the end of the day, 32GB of storage will more than serve the needs of most customers. Apple knows you’ll likely not use all 64GB of storage in the iPhone 6s Plus, but, then again, that’s not the reason why Apple ditched the 32GB model in the first place.
We give the win here to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 for providing sufficient storage for most customers at a more affordable price.
We haven’t touched on all parts of the smartphone experience here, but in the categories that count, the Galaxy Note 5 wins the contest, hands-down.
Software-wise, we still think that the Galaxy Note 5 with its Off-Screen Write, Write on PDF, and new S Pen and S Pen Menu make the Note 5 a much better investment for $700-$800. Sure, some will disagree and prefer iOS, but, in all truth, a phone with stylus integration and added functionality versus a smartphone that runs iOS with a few software features here, and there isn’t really a contest.
In the end, we’ll give you advice for free: buy one of these smartphones based on the phone’s features, not whether it’s Android or iOS. And, in the out-of-the-box experience, the Galaxy Note 5 has no rival.
|Phone||iPhone 6S Plus||Galaxy Note 5|
|Display||5.5-inch, 1920x1080p Retina HD display with 3D Touch, 401ppi||5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED, 2560 x 1440, 518 ppi|
|Processor||A9 chip with 64-bit architecture
Embedded M9 motion coprocessor
|Exynos 7420 (64-bit, 14nm)
Octa core (2.1GHz Quad + 1.5GHz Quad)
|OS||iOS 9||Android 5.1 (Lollipop)|
|Memory||2GB of RAM, 16/64/128 GB internal storage||4GB RAM (LPDDR4)
STORAGE : 32/64GB (UFS 2.0)
* Storage options may vary by country and carrier.
|Micro SD support||No||No|
|Size||158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm, 192 grams||153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm (171 g)|
|Cameras||Rear- 12MP iSight camera, Front- 5-MP||Rear- 16MP Smart OIS, Front- 5MP 120° Wide Selfie Angle|
|Video Recording||4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 fps or 60 fps, 720p at 30 fps||2160p at 30 fps, 1080p at 60 fps, optical stabilization, dual-video rec.|
|Connectivity||LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology, NFC||LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), MIMO, Bluetooth® v 4.2 LE, ANT+, USB 2.0, NFC|
|Sensors||Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Barometer, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor||Accelerometer, Proximity, RGB Light, Geo-magnetic, Gyro, Fingerprint, Barometer, Hall, HRM|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Po 29 mAh battery||Non-removable Li-Po 3000 mAh battery|
|Water and dust resistance||No||No|