Camera

The Note 3 camera is no slouch, yet the optically-stabilized unit of the 6 Plus dishes out better low-light shots, and steadier video.

The camera on the iPhone 6 Plus is an 8 MP one, while the Note 3 flaunts a 13 MP sensor. However, the iPhone sports larger, 1.5 micron pixels, compared to the 1.1 micron size of Samsung's unit. The 6 Plus also dabbles in the so-called phase detection auto-focus (or Pixel Focus, as Apple calls it). It is a feature borrowed from high-class cameras allowing the camera to focus even faster on its subject. Another great extra Apple placed in its first phablet, is the optical image stabilization system for keeping the frame steady, reducing handshake. Apple again uses a TrueTone LED flash, which balances out colors, making them look more natural, and the Note 3 issues similar claims for its high CRI (Color Rendering Index) LED flash. The frontal cameras are 2.1 MP, in the case of Note 3, and a 1.2 MP unit on the 6 Plus.

Opening the camera app and taking pictures is instantaneous with the iPhone 6, with no tangible lag between photos. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 camera app loads quickly and exhibits little to no shutter lag, which is great for capturing events as they happen. The camera UI of the Note 3 is way more cluttered with functions you may or may not use than the clean, easy iPhone 6 Plus snapping interface. Both phones offer Panorama and Burst modes, as well as HDR for pictures and video, but Samsung adds plenty of shooting modes and color effects to the roster, while the iPhone keeps it simple, leaving those to 3rd party apps.


Both phones take fine looking photos, that aren't gaudy or saturated. The iPhone 6 Plus white balance measurements often nudge the scene towards a slightly warm overcast, while the Note 3 photos are slightly colder than in real life, but these are just minor inaccuraties. The phablets capture a good amount of detail in good lightning conditions, but the Note 3 13-megapixel pics are slightly more detailed than the 8mp ones of the 6 Plus. Where the iPhone excels, however, are the tricky low-light scenarios. Most every phone takes decent pics when there is plenty of light shining on the scene, but the larger pixels of the iPhone 6 Plus, coupled with the OIS and Apple's excellent camera software, make for very clear, well-defined and sharp indoor shots, with credible color representation, and less noise than what the Note 3 musters. Apple's TrueTone LED flash also does a better job at illuminating our test scene, with stronger and more evenly distributed light output.



Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1.93
2.1
435
293
Samsung Galaxy Note3 2.7
No data
494
353

In terms of video, Apple continues supporting 1080p only, so there is no 4K utlra high-resolution video, which the Note 3 can capture. Both handset are capable of 1080p recording with extra smooth 60fps, too. An upgraded slo-mo mode allows the 6 Plus to capture at twice the frame-rate for a twice more pronounced effect: 720p at 240fps, while the Note 3 does it up to 120fps.

The iPhone 6 Plus records some amazing looking 1080p videos that are filled with plenty of sharp details, lively (if somewhat warmer) colors, and smooth exposure adjustment. The optical image stabilization kicks in each time your hand trembles, for some steady-looking, free-flowing footage. The new iPhone now comes with excellent continuous autofocus, too, which shuttles quickly and seamlessly between close-ups and the background. The recorded audio is also clean and vibrant sounding, thanks to the quality noise-canceling mic set.

Hardly a surprise, the Note 3 is also great with its video recording quality. Just as long as there’s sufficient lighting around, the Note 3’s videos come to life with its smooth recording, sharp details, accurate color reproduction, and clear audio recording. What’s not to like, right? Well, its quality naturally hits a speed bump with lower lighting, but it’s still pretty good looking in our opinion. Out of everything, noise becomes more apparent under this particular circumstance, and it's details that tend to be affected the most – a trap that the 6 Plus manages to avoid.

Multimedia

The iPhone 6 Plus is made for media consumption, but Note 3 supports a wider variety of formats, in addition to the large display.

The stock iOS 8 gallery offers grid-style thumbnail view of your photos, and editing options that are built into the interface, just as Samsung does. Of course, the S Pen stylus offers options for more precise clipping, editing, and annotating photos, if you venture to do those on your phone's screen.

The iOS 8 stock music player is pretty, with minimalistic interface, and song categorization by artists, albums, playlists, genres and so on, as well as album arts support. The sound equalizers are still located in the general iPhone settings menu, though, whereas the Note 3 has them embedded in its aging TouchWiz music player.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1.014
Samsung Galaxy Note3 0.43
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 71.6
Samsung Galaxy Note3 76


Video playback looks gorgeous on both phones, on account of the large, high-res display, though the stock iOS 8 player file format support is very limited, compared to the Note 3, which plays everything thrown at it, including DivX/Xvid/MKV files, at up to 1080p resolution, and with plenty of extras like subtitle support, or floating the player on top of the interface.

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