Apple iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6
If you can't beat them, join them, right? That, at least, is what we felt like Samsung is going for when it made the Galaxy S6 official back in the beginning of the year. Untrue to itself, instead of garnering the existing feature set of its flagship Galaxy S line with a few new perks, with the S6 Samsung chose to go the other way around. The ultra-utilitarian approach in software was dropped, and the company proved that it, too, can do hardware design. If anything, the Galaxy S6 is more alike Apple's iPhone than ever before, and we tend to like this new direction.
Speaking of Apple, its iPhone 6s may sound like your typical s-cycle evolutionary upgrade, but this time around Cupertino truly intrigued us: novel 3D Touch tech, significantly improved processing and graphics-crunching capabilities, more RAM, and even a higher resolution camera. Even battery life received a much needed boost!
So, what we have here are two remarkable, heavy-hitting smartphones. Let's throw them into the steel cage and enjoy the show!
Samsung finally did it: For the first time, we actually have to sit down and make up our mind as to whether we like a Galaxy S flagship more than an iPhone. It's close, but we still prefer Apple's creation a little more.
True to tradition, the iPhone 6s is a near replica of its predecessor, the iPhone 6 — just slightly thicker and heavier due to 3D Touch. So we've still got that distinctive, metal unibody — this time made out of stronger, 7000-series aluminum — with the distinctive antenna strips on the back adding some character to the plate.
As mentioned, this time around Samsung went for a similarly industrial feel for the Galaxy S6, with a blend of glass on metal, and a resulting body a hair slimmer than the iPhone 6s' (0.27 inches versus 0.28 inches). Both devices have their power keys located on the upper right side of their respective frames, and volume keys on the upper left. Above the latter, the iPhone 6s also features a mute switch.
Similarities don't end there. Both devices have their physical Home keys on the bottom front bezel doubling up as fingerprint scanners (of the touch type, too), both have their camera lenses protruding on the back, and neither of the two features a removable battery door. They're very different devices, sure, but these similarities are striking nevertheless.
Of course, one way in which they're stilldifferent is their physical size: at 5.44 x 2.64 inches, the iPhone 6s is easier to handle than the 5.65 x 2.78-inch body of the Galaxy S6. That said, Samsung has managed a more impressive screen-to-body ratio of approximately 70.48%, while the iPhone 6s sits at about 65.71%.
Great displays here, but not without their problems. The iPhone 6s' is a bit too cold, while the AMOLED on the S6 needs better gamma response.
When it comes to iPhones, so far we've always been able to count on Apple to be sensible. So while competing Android makers were rushing to deliver hungry Quad HD displays, some with overblown color reproduction, the company decided to stick with what it thought right — a very good pixel density and generally correct color profiles, with the added benefit of improved system and battery performance. This is still the case with the iPhone 6s, with its unapologetic, 750p screen, good for a density of 326 pixels. That's quite sufficient in our book, and we consider this a more logical trade-off in comparison with a Quad HD display, but worse performance and battery life. However, we do see Apple eventually going up to something like 1080p, though this doesn't seem very likely to happen in the next couple of generations.
Turning to Samsung, the decision to go for a 5.1-inch, Quad HD panel is unsurprising, but still coming off as an overkill with that 577 pixels per inch density that not only adds little visual benefit on top of 1080x1920, but also puts a lot of unneeded load on the chipset and the battery.
Despite our disappointment with the needlessly high-res screen on the Galaxy S6, we nevertheless have to give it to Samsung for its work on color accuracy, and the ability to switch between different profiles that favor different looks in specific. So while your S6 will come out of the box with a rather artificial-looking display, you can always switch to Basic to get a close to ideal color calibration. With the iPhone 6s — for better or worse — you don't have that option, and instead get a very well balanced panel, though not one without room for improvement.
Starting with color temperature, both companies have struck a nice balance, with the iPhone 6s sitting at 7050K and the Galaxy S6 (under Basic mode) at 6584K. Considering that 6500K is ideal, we get a better reading out of the latter, with the former exhibiting a slightly colder (bluish) look than preferable. The iPhone 6s, however, is generally a tiny bit more correct when producing primary and secondary colors, with an average color error of 1.47 versus the 2.02 of the S6. Both phones are about as bright, achieving around 550 nits. To get there, however, the Galaxy S6 radically boosts the contrast, and possible other aspects of the image too, ending up with a largely skewed image, but one that is readable nonetheless.In any case, the Galaxy S6's Super AMOLED panel can drop to just 2 nits of brightness, while the IPS screen of the 6s is limited to the higher 6 nits — a slight advantage when doing your before-bed Tinder bit on the S6. Finally, the iPhone 6s' average gamma, at 2.21, is spot on, and consistent across the range, while the S6's panel (gamma of 2.11) boosts contrast artificially, specifically by further brightening highlights (potentially washing them out a bit).
Ultimately? The Galaxy S6 has the edge in terms of detail superiority, but suffers with its less than optimal gamma response and slightly higher average color inaccuracy. On the other hand, Apple could have further polished the color profile by going for a warmer screen with a less dominant blue.