Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus: first look


The newest installment to Samsung's Galaxy Note lineup — the Galaxy Note5 — is here at long last, aiming to take the crown from the 2014 Galaxy Note 4 and become the creme-de-la-creme of Samsung's definitive phablet family. The newest warrior to join the S Pen-wielding team is without a doubt the most advanced handset to come be released by Samsung, as it packs specs that are nothing short of impressive, top-of-the-line design, as well as features and functionalities that can be found on hardly any other devices. 

That said, the Galaxy Note5 is slated to hit a market that will most probably welcome it with open hands, but it's a bit more crowded and competitive than it was merely a year ago. One of Note 5 rivals is a force to be reckoned with. The 5.5-inch Cupertino is the largest and most advanced iPhone at the moment, but does it pack enough punch to stand against Samsung's renewed arsenal?

Design 


Boasting the same design language that made many people lose their minds over the Galaxy S6/S6 edge, the Galaxy Note5 reiterates the same design formula. With metal on the sides and Gorilla Glass 4 at the rear and the front, the Galaxy Note5 is another phone that Samsung should be proud of design-wise. 

However, this premium package has taken its unfortunate toll on two of the features that were once staples of Samsung's devices — a microSD card slot and a removable battery. Additionally, similar to the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge, the intriguing exterior is nothing short of a fingerprint magnet.

On the other hand, we have the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, a device that is also employing outstanding design. Well, to be honest, it might not be as snazzy as the Note5, but is certainly not lagging behind in this aspect. Unlike the Note5, the iPhone 6 Plus doesn't get smudged by fingerprints (except for the Apple logo at the back), yet it's noticeably slipperier than the Samsung phablet.

Size-wise, the Galaxy Note5 is certainly the one boasting better screen-to-body size ratio, as it features slightly smaller dimensions yet a bigger display. Regardless, the cameras of both phones protrude from the body, though the iSight one on the iPhone being a smidgen more compact than the bulge at the back of the phablet. 

We have physical phone buttons on the Note 5 and iPhone 6 Plus, with touch fingerprint scanners embedded in both. Both devices have their power buttons and volume rockers on the left and right sides, respectively. It's worth noting that the Note5 now has separate buttons for volume up and volume down, just like the Galaxy S6. The iPhone 6 Plus also features the signature mute switch, while the Note5 brings a gun to a knife fight, i.e. a stylus that is sheathed on the bottom of the phone.

Display


True to the Samsung's heart, the Galaxy Note5 arrives guns blazing with a Super AMOLED display, a 5.7-inch one in particular. It hasn't grown in size when compared to the Galaxy Note 4, and this is certainly a good thing, as we still get a large display in a fairly compact body for a phone of this class. It's a Quad HD screen, which means that it has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels. This also means that its pixel density is 515ppi - not the sharpest we've seen, but definitely a well-specc'd specimen.

Apple on the other hand, also true to its heart, adorned the iPhone 6 Plus with an LCD display. It is a 5.5-inch 1080p one, the sharpest ever put on an iPhone, hitting the 401ppi measurement. Regardless of this, the Average Joe or Plain Jane will hardly be able to tell which phone has the sharper display.

Interface


This is an aspect in which the spanking new Note5 and the iPhone 6 Plus differ the most. Android 5.1.1 with the newest version of TouchWiz is running the show on the Note5, while the iPhone 6 Plus is boasting iOS 8.4. We won't even scratch the differences between the two, as they're pretty well-known. Simplicity and straightforwardness meets potential and a ton of added functionality. 

Speaking of TouchWiz, Samsung did a pretty good job at slimming its Android skin down, which we first experienced with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. The Note5 also comes with the streamlined and more straightforward-than-ever TouchWiz UI, but the added features that make the Note lineup captivating are on board, of course. 

We have an S Pen stylus on the bottom, which allows you to interact with your Note5 in a way that the iPhone 6 Plus doesn't from the get-go. The Air Command menu, which is the feature hub that unlocks the true potential of the S Pen, is revamped as well. On top of it all, the stock iconography has also seen some changes - Samsung has decided to adorn the UI with icons that have slightly more curved edges.

The iPhone 6 Plus doesn't have anything remotely similar to a stylus. In fact, its UI is much feature-less than the Android one on the Note5. Then again, unprecedented amount of functionality has never point the ultimate goal of the iOS-iPhone combo. What the iPhone 6 Plus does, and it does it perfectly, is to present the user with a no-hassle, easy-to-use-and-master interface.

Processor and memory


Just like most of its predecessors, the Galaxy Note5 is a true specs powerhouse. If you are on the market for a phone that packs some punch under the hood — with an octa-core, 64-bit Exynos 7 Octa 7420 chipset manufactured with 14nm technology, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and ultra-fast native storage, the Note5 will most probably perform as good as the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, which are also powered by the very same chipset. 

The operational memory, in particular, is the largest amount of RAM Samsung has ever equipped on one of its smartphones, which certainly paves the way for unprecedented multi-tasking capabilities. Let's hope that the memory management of the device is also top-notch.

The specs sheet of the iPhone 6 Plus might not be as impressive as the one on the Galaxy Note5, but it's definitely a not a slouch. There is an Apple A8 SoC, accompanied by 1GB of RAM, and either 16, 64, or 128 GB of native storage on board. Meanwhile, the Note5 will be available in 32 and 64GB versions right off the bat. It's important to say that the on-board storage is of the fast UFS 2.0 type that came along with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.

This hardware setup is perfectly sufficient for the software needs of the device - thanks to the optimization of iOS, Apple's largest and finest feels snappier and more powerful than a majority of Android rivals.

Camera


There's a 16MP OIS-enabled snapper at the back of the Galaxy Note5, while the front one houses a 5MP selfie snapper, both boasting an aperture of F1.9. Sounds impressive, right? Well, we are yet to test it thoroughly, but the camera at the Note5 will most probably once again be among the best ones you can get. 

The Apple iPhone 6 has an F2.2 8MP rear camera, with its sensor being 1/3" in size and boasting 1.5 μm pixels. It's also the single Apple device to date to feature OIS (optical image stabilization). 

Although it might not sound as impressive on paper, the iPhone 6 Plus is a pretty able-bodied performer. We can't wait to put them against each other, but judging from the Galaxy Note 4 and S6's performance, which basically gives DSLR cameras a run for their money, we suspect that the new Samsung phablet will be another noteworthy entrant.

Conclusion


With the arrival of the Galaxy Note5, the top-end niche of the handset market is about to become a tad hotter. Given that they are arguably the most advanced representatives of their makers' portfolios and the two happen to be fierce rivals, it won't be overstatement to see the Galaxy Note5 as a direct competitor to the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. Well, Apple is about to unveil its next generation of iPhone(s) in early September and we will most probably get treated to a refreshment of the largest iOS device. Until it gets released, the Note 5 will have to battle the iPhone 6 Plus, and boy, what a battle it will be!

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