Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note Edge: in-depth specs comparison
Samsung released the original Galaxy Note phablet in 2011 to widespread customer confusion followed by widespread customer adoption that set its large display as a trend. This is how a winning new product category usually gets created. And for the three years that followed, Apple neglected to address this category. As each generation of the Galaxy Note sold better than the one before it, the Apple iPhone - somewhat stubbornly - remained the smallest smartphone in the high-end market segment. In September 2014, though, mere days after Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note 4 and the unique Galaxy Note Edge, Apple stole headlines with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - the latter, a long-awaited competitor to the Galaxy Note. Although the two devices compete for big-screen buyers' wallets, they are are wildly different in all other aspects. It's time we put their hardware and software features against each other.
Classic approaches for modern phablets.
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is crafted out of anodized aluminium and features an unibody build, while the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge boasts a finely sculpted metal frame positioned between two layers of plastic. The back panel is covered by a faux leather texture and contains the signature S-Pen stylus slot. Both smartphones feature fingerprint sensor-housing Home buttons on their bottom bezels. But the Galaxy Note Edge has its button surrounded by two capacitive keys - a task-switching key on the left, and a back key on the right. The iPhone 6 Plus has its power and volume keys positioned on the right and left sides, respectively, while the Galaxy Note Edge puts the power button on the top, and the volume keys on the left. A classic approach for a modern phablet.
In terms of dimensions, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus measures 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches (158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm) at 6.07 oz (172 g), while the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge scales up to 5.96 x 3.24 x 0.33 inches (151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3 mm) at 6.14 oz (174 g). Although the Apple phablet is 0.05 inches (1.2cm) thinner than its rival, it is 0.26 inches (6.8mm) taller. The Galaxy Note Edge, though, is 0.18 inches (4.6mm) wider.
Big screens, high expectations.
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus' IPS LCD screen measures 5.5 inches by diagonal. It has a 1080 x 1920 resolution with a pixel density of 401ppi. The iPhone 6 Plus's color calibration is merely good, not excellent, as it measures 7318 Kelvins. Although this is close to the reference value of 6500 Kelvins, the difference results in colder colors. The iPhone 6 Plus's display has excellent minimum and maximum brightness levels - 4 nits at lowest, and 574 nits at most. This ensures comfortable use in all indoor and outdoor situations. The contrast ratio is excellent at 1:1376, ensuring proper white and black representation. Finally, the viewing angles are not exceptional, but they are on par with most smartphones in the high-end category on the market.
The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge has an unconventional display, to say the least. It measures 5.6 inches by diagonal, and instead of a right bezel, it has a curved side, which displays dedicated shortcuts, notifications, and menus. The curved Super-AMOLED panel has a very high resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 525ppi. We haven't had the chance to run our display tests on the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge yet, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which uses the same screen technology and performs superbly, has raised our expectations to a high degree. We have included the Galaxy Note 4 in the benchmark comparison as a loose reference.
Interface and functionality
Phablets emphasize productivity.
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus runs iOS 8, which adds even more functionality to the familiar operating system, while preserving the revamped look introduced in last year's iOS 7. To capitalize on the iPhone 6 Plus' larger screen real estate, Apple added an additional row of icons to the homescreen. Additionally, there are more additions to the interface, which enhance the way certain apps are interacted with on the bigger screen. The Plus also features support for landscape mode.
Of course, Apple realized that screens are growing while our thumbs aren't! Thus, it introduces a one-handed mode which shrinks down the interface appropriately. This is accomplished with a light dual press on the home button. The interface collapses, and the content is brought closer to the bottom of the display. Additionally various core apps are optimized to take advantage of the bigger display. For example, the Calendar app features an extra pane which gives us more visibility on one screen.
The Galaxy Note Edge brings a twist to Samsung's familiar TouchWiz interface- a number of shortcuts and controls are moved to the display's curved edge. Operating the device's camera and menu commands from the edge of the screen is a fun novelty, but history will tell if it has potential for a killer feature. Curved screen apart, the Galaxy Note Edge differentiates with its S-Pen functionality and heart-rate sensor. The S-Pen software suite is, arguably, the best stylus experience on a smartphone to date. As for the heart rate sensor, the S-Health app makes pretty good use of it to keep your vitals in check. Speaking of sensors, both phablets feature fingerprint sensor embedded in their Home buttons.
Processor and Memory
The pinnacles of Apple and Samsung's technological pursuits.
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge represent the pinnacles of Apple and Samsung's technological pursuits. The iPhone 6 Plus runs on a dual-core Apple A8 64-bit processor paired with a PowerVR GX6650 graphics unit and 1GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note Edge runs on a quad-core Snapdragon 805 32-bit processor paired with the Adreno 420 GPU and 3GB of RAM.
The Apple A8 processor is made on a newer 20nm process, while the Snapdragon 805 is made on an older 28nm process. The A8 also has the advantage of being 64-Bit, which is a future-proofing advantage. It also supports AES for faster encryption and decryption operations. However, the Snapdragon 805 features enhanced multimedia capabilities such as 4K Ultra-HD resolution support and up to 55MP photo support.
Storage-wise, the iPhone 6 Plus is available in 16, 64, and 128GB variants, while the Galaxy Note Edge is available in 32GB and 64GB variants and its memory is expandable with a microSD card.
The megapixel war never ends.
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note Edge are wildly different in terms of their cameras. The former has an 8-megapixel Dual LED flash with a back-illuminated (BSI Sensor). Its feature set includes Phase detection autofocus, Touch to focus, Optical image stabilization, Face detection, Exposure compensation, Burst mode, Digital zoom, Geo tagging, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), Panorama, and Self-timer. It is able to record videos at up to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. Its front-facing camera has a 1.2 megapixel sensor.
The latter has double the megapixel count - a 16MP camera with a single LED flash and a feature-set that includes Autofocus, Touch to focus, Manual focus, Digital image stabilization, Optical image stabilization, Face detection, Smile detection, Exposure compensation, ISO control, White balance presets, Burst mode, Digital zoom, Geo tagging, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), Panorama, Scenes, Effects, Self-timer, and Voice activation. The camera can record video at resolutions up to 4K (3840X2160), and with active Optical Image Stabilisation - which is not the case with the iPhone 6 Plus. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera is a 3.7MP unit, which is another advantage of Samsung's phablet.
Big batteries for big screens.
Due to their large displays, phablets need a bigger bank of energy juice to operate. That's why Apple opted for a 2915mAh battery to power the iPhone 6 Plus, while Samsung went the extra mile and stuck a 3000mAh unit inside the Galaxy Note Edge. In our battery test, the Apple phablet lasted for 6 hours and 32 minutes of on-screen usage. We haven't measured the Galaxy Note Edge yet. Additionally, the iPhone 6 Plus battery is non-removable, which is not the case with the Galaxy Note Edge.
Two of the best smartphones you can buy!
Both the Apple iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note Edge are the most specs-intensive mobile devices released by their respective makers. They are also two of the best smartphones you can buy. Which brings us to the final factor of importance - their prices. The iPhone 6 Plus is available for $299 (16GB), $399 (32GB), and $499 (128GB) on the four major US carriers, and $749 (16GB), $849 (64GB), and $949 (128GB) unlocked. And the Galaxy Note Edge? Recently, Samsung confirmed that the unconventional phablet is a "limited edition concept", "technology-intensive" device that may or may not be manufactured in an initial volume of just 1 million units. Its release date and pricing are still murky, with a South Korean roll-out tentatively expected in late October, and alleged Chinese pricing reported at a steep $1139. We're obviously looking at expensive, high-end devices. While the Galaxy Note Edge packs even more cutting-edge technology than the iPhone 6 Plus, it will be up to you and your individual needs and preferences to decide whether its bustling spec sheet, curved screen, S-Pen functionality, and a plethora of sensors justify a higher price tag.