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The right one: Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
By Katrina Canlas & James Lu - 27 Oct 2014,5:26pm

The right one: Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Choosing between the Apple and Samsung phablet

If you can't beat them, join them. And now that Apple has done just that, the world's two biggest smartphone manufacturers each has a premium flagship phablet vying for your attention: Apple's iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung's Galaxy Note 4. But which is the right one for you?

We've reviewed both phones in detail and they are excellent devices on their own, but now it's time to take a look at them together.

Despite the Note 4's bigger display size, the iPhone 6 Plus is actually a larger device physically.

That faux leather rear still looks pretty... faux. On the other hand, that sleek silver aluminum is the perfect match for Apple's MacBook range. Appearances aside, some might find the Galaxy Note 4 more comfortable to hold with its textured back cover and it requires less maintenance should you choose not to use a cover.

The 6 Plus is quite a bit thinner, but that also means it's harder to grip - especially because of its smooth rounded edges.

 

Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Note 4 specs compared
  Apple iPhone 6 Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 4 4G+
  Apple iPhone 6 Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 4 4G+
Launch SRP
  • From PhP41990
  • From PhP37990
Operating system
  • iOS 8
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat
Processor
  • Apple A8 64-bit dual-core 1.4GHz with M8 motion coprocessor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core 2.7GHz
Built-in Memory
  • 1GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 (401 ppi) / IPS
  • 5.7-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (518 ppi) / Super AMOLED
Camera
  • Rear: 8-megapixel iSight camera with autofocus, dual warm/cool LED flashes and optical image stabilization
  • Front: 2.2-megapixels FaceTime HD camera
  • Rear: 16-megapixel with Smart OIS and LED flash
  • Front: 3.7-megapixel with f/1.9
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) (802.11n: 2.4 and 5 GHz), 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS & GLONASS, Lightning connector, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
Storage Type
  • 16 / 64 / 128GB internal storage
  • 32GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 128GB
Battery
  • 2915mAh
  • 3,220mAh
Dimensions
  • 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm
  • 153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5mm
Weight
  • 172g
  • 176g
 

Design and Build Quality

The iPhone 6 Plus undoubtedly sports a more premium aesthetic with its aluminum unibody chassis and curved glass display trumping the Note 4's metal frame and faux leather back. Having said that, while the 6 Plus may look nicer, the Note 4 is easier to hold. It's squarish profile with chamfered edges means you have a sturdier grip, and the faux leather back provides a softer, less slippery surface than the smooth aluminum of the 6 Plus. Of course, the 6 Plus also has its #bendgate issues to consider, especially if you plan to pocket your device for long hours.

The fit and finish of the 6 Plus is much nicer than the Note 4 (look at the size of that screen gap!)

Display

Looking at the spec sheet, the Note 4 obviously has the upper hand here, both in terms of its larger 5.7-inch display size and its higher 2,560 x 1,440 QHD resolution. However, the difference in clarity is impossible to tell in actual real-world usage, and brightness and contrast is comparable on both phablets. The only noticeable difference is that colors on the Note 4 are slightly more saturated - which you may or may not prefer. It's also worth noting that most apps and content are not optimized for use with QHD displays, so there's not actually as much benefit to a higher resolution display as you might think. As for the Note 4's extra 0.2-inches of screen real estate, it's noticeable, but not a game changer.

The two displays are very similar, but the Note 4 has slightly more saturated colors.

Software Features 

This one is highly subject to personal preference. If you like simplicity, iOS 8 keeps everything streamlined and smooth, and its menus are easy to navigate and well-designed, but with limited overall options. On the other hand, Samsung's TouchWiz interface includes absolutely everything you can think of (plus a few you would never think of). Android OS itself also offers more options for customization and, if you're prepared to put the time into it, you can customize it to almost anything you want it to be.

In terms of phablet features, the iPhone 6 Plus has a handy Landscape mode (it's specifically designed for this layout) that rotates the entire UI sideways when the phone is held in landscape orientation, which makes it feel like a mini-tablet, and enhances some content. The Note 4, on the other hand, has the S Pen stylus and its suite of related features, which offers a lot more productivity options.

The 6 Plus' landscape mode offers some nice content viewing options.

The Note 4's S Pen stylus offers lots of interesting productivity features.

Camera Performance

The Note 4 is fitted with a 16MP shooter with optical image stabilization, while the iPhone 6 Plus has an 8MP camera, optical image stabilization, and also includes phase detection autofocus, which speeds up camera focusing. In our test shots, both cameras performed very well, but we found colors to be slightly more vivid on the Note 4, and it was also slightly better at capturing fine details, which also makes it easier to crop and re-frame pictures. Having said that, the 6 Plus focused faster, especially in low-light conditions.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note 4


Battery Performance

The Note 4 has the best battery life amongst any phone available today, lasting close to 15 hours in our video looping battery benchmark. Its battery can also be switched out, giving you even more versatility for long road trips or other occasions where you won't be able to recharge your phone. It's worth noting that the iPhone 6 Plus' battery is still very respectable, lasting nearly nine hours in our video looping benchmark and both phones will easily last you the entire day under normal usage conditions.

Storage Capacity

The Note 4 comes with 32GB built-in storage, however you can easily expand this with up to 128GB of microSD storage. The 6 Plus on the other hand has no expandable storage, but is available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB options.

The Note 4's easily expandable storage makes it a winner in this category.

Which is the right phablet for you?

Both the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 4 are fantastic phablets and you won't go wrong with either, but if you're torn between them, you need to look at your usage patterns and prioritize what's important to you.

The 6 Plus has a more aesthetically pleasing build and finish, with incredible attention to detail and lots of subtle design accents, like matching torx screws and a curved-edge display that looks and feels luxurious. On the other hand, it's not actually the most comfortable phablet to hold, and its thin edges and smooth aluminum back actually make it somewhat slippery. You'll also have to be extra careful not to accidentally bend it by sitting on it. Of course you can negate some of these aspects by getting a protective case for your 6 Plus. Feature-wise, iOS is simple and easy to use, but doesn't offer much customization. Landscape mode adds some interesting new content viewing options, but overall productivity on the 6 Plus is fairly limited. The 6 Plus is the phablet for you if you value aesthetics and you want the best looking phone out there, provided that your usage pattern doesn't usually exceed web browsing, messaging, taking and viewing photos/videos, and playing games.

The Note 4 isn't as good looking, but is easier and more comfortable to hold. Its Android OS and Samsung TouchWiz interface give you a massive amount of customization, and its S Pen stylus adds a whole array of interesting productivity options. The Note 4's larger display size, extra long battery life and 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor make it a workhorse that will handle anything you can throw at it, but to get the most out of the Note 4, you actually need to use these features. If your usage pattern involves spending all of your time glued to your smartphone, and includes activities like writing documents and sending and replying lengthy emails, as well as editing spreadsheets, pictures and other productivity tasks, the Note 4 will serve you well. However, if you're not interested in, or you feel overwhelmed by all of the features the Note 4 has to offer, you might be better served with the 6 Plus.