Interface and functionality

Flanked by its S Pen sidekick, Note 3 is a multitasking powerhouse, while Apple's first foray into the phablet category wisely includes a landscape interface mode, unlike TouchWiz.

We won't be extolling the virtues of one mobile operating system before the other here, as you can refer to our thorough Android vs iOS comparison for that. Being the large phones that they are, however, it's important that the iPhone 6 Plus and the Note 3 have one-handed interface modes. Apple's one is called Reachability, but the phone also provides a landscape viewing regime for the whole interface, a feature that is sorely lacking in Samsung's TouchWiz Android overlay. The Note 3's one-handed mode is way easier to evoke, though, as it requires simply a quick swipe back and forth at the edge of the screen with your thumb, while you have to stretch all the way beneath the display on the 6 Plus, and then double-tap on the home key. You get used to doing it quick, but it's just not very comfortable. Moreover, what Reachability does, is simply slide down the interface, so you can reach whatever you couldn't grab before at the top of the display, while Samsung's approach shrinks the whole interface left or right, as if you are using a handset with a much smaller screen.

Samsung allows you to split the screen in two with its Multi-Window mode, and run any two apps simultaneously, for a true multitasking experience. You can also hover up to five windowed apps, like a calculator, browser, or notes, on top of whatever runs underneath, and resize or move them around at will. These take the Note 3 more into the productive device category, than the merely big-screen-for-media-consumption league that most phablets are in, including the 6 Plus. The Galaxy Note 3 also sports an extra input method, thanks to the embedded S Pen stylus, and the interface options to match. You can clip content from websites with it, annotate PDFs, doodle and handwrite on the display, or simply use it to scroll or hover over links for added convenience.

Processor and memory

Helped by its new A8 chipset, Apple propels the iPhone 6 Plus performance past last year's Note 3.

Apple uses a new (again 64-bit, of course) 1.4 GHz dual-core A8 CPU with Cyclone cores, built on the frugal 20nm process, with souped-up hexa-core PowerVR GX6650 graphics. It is both faster and more efficient than the A7 in iPhone 5s or iPad Air, and cross-platform benchmarks indicate it to be roughly in the realm of Snapdragon 805 on a per-clock basis, meaning that if it was running at the 2.5 GHz speeds of the 805, it would have similar performance. The LTE version of the Note 3 is powered by last year's Qualcomm finest - a 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800, clocked at 2.3 GHz. There is also a global variant with Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa CPU, which combines four 1.9 GHz ARM Cortex-A15 cores with four 1.3 GHz ARM Cortex-A7 ones.

An advantage Note 3's silicon has before the iPhone 6 Plus are its 3 GB of RAM, against the one gig on Apple's phablet, and you'll need every bit of that random-access memory when you take advantage of the split-screen multitasking action. When it comes to storage options, the iPhone 6 Plus comes in a wide range of configurations, from the 16 GB starter, all the way to an expensive 128 GB version, while the Note 3 ships with 16 GB, and offers you a microSD slot for adding up to 128 GB more, if you are so inclined.

Sunspider Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 365.2
Samsung Galaxy Note3 599
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 40.9
Samsung Galaxy Note3 26
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 18.4
Samsung Galaxy Note3 9.77
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1382
Samsung Galaxy Note3 1033.6

Internet and connectivity

Browsing on these two is a joy for the senses, but when it comes to delivering those data speeds, the 6 Plus holds the record LTE bands count.

Using Apple's stock Safari browser on the large display of the 6 Plus is a joy for the senses – it is snappy, fluid, and renders pages very well. Text reflow is also flawless, but the scrolling inertia is still a chore in iOS 8 as it has ever been, meaning non-existent, which somewhat hinders the experience, especially when you compare it with Android's dynamic scrolling that can take you to the end of a page and back up in no time, based on the speed of your finger-flick. Browsing on the Note 3 is also seamless, though the stock TouchWiz browser looks less polished than Safari, with its squarish interface elements. It is very fast, though, and functional, too, offering you the ability to display Adobe Flash content, if you sideload the APK file from Adobe's website. The S Pen stylus of the Note 3 offers you a way to easily select text, pictures, and cut sections of a website for sharing or inserting in a note, too.

The iPhone 6 Plus is the undisputed king when it comes to 4G LTE connectivity, as it offers anywhere from 16-20 LTE bands, depending on the model, which means that you can use it almost anywhere in the world. The Note 3 also has a 4G LTE version (the Snapdragon one) – it doesn't support as many bands as the 6 Plus, so pay attention to the carrier you want to be using it on. Both phablets have an LTE Cat. 4 modems, with theoretical download speeds reaching 150 Mbps maximums, though in real life it will be much less, of course. The phones support almost all other wireless connectivity options you can think of - Wi-Fi/ac, Bluetooth, A-GPS, DLNA and NFC, with the Note 3 adding Wi-Fi Direct and an infrared sensor for controlling home electronics. You can use the iPhone's NFC for Apple Pay – Cupertino's own mobile payment network, which has already signed up some of the largest retailers, and authorize purchases with the Touch ID finger scanner.

As for wired connectivity, the iPhone 6 Plus depends on Apple's proprietary Lightning connector, which requires an adapter to plug it into an HDMI port for TV-out purposes. Note 3 has a proprietary MHL connector in its turn, which can either be plugged directly, if your TV has an MHL port, or via an HDMI adapter.

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