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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 Plus

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Introduction


Much in the same way as Apple sparked a revolution on the smartphone market, Samsung essentially started a whole separate category within the industry with the original phablet – the 2011 Galaxy Note.

While rivalry has always raged between the two manufacturers, we've often felt like they're waging a kind of a proxy war, and basically compete indirectly in a way. In other words, there was always a major differentiating factor (size, operating system, underlying philosophy) between their devices, and that, in a sense, instilled a feeling that theirs was more of a game of who's gonna get the farthest the fastest, and not who's going to make it out of the cage alive. But no longer.

With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple is encroaching on core Samsung territory – one that it molded itself – and it has every intention of fighting for every last inch of it. That's where the brand-new, perfected Galaxy Note 4 comes in, ready to receive the 6 Plus. Will Apple's relative inexperience in this segment prove to be its downfall, or can its phablet come on top? We're about to find out...

Design

Phablet lovers will adore these two.

With the Note 4, Samsung is finally transitioning towards different materials, and the phablet is seen sporting a chamfered metal frame that feels great in the hand. At the back, we're once again looking at a polycarbonate imitation of leather, though the texture has been changed to a slightly less grippy one, which, however, looks more authentic than the one available with the Note 3. In comparison, Apple has endowed the iPhone 6 Plus with an all-aluminum body and plastic is altogether missing – front or back.

The Note 4 is also different at the sides – the overall shape is still of a rectangular that is pleasantly rounded at the edges, but Samsung has actually implemented shock-absorbent bumps at the four corners of the device, much alike to the Galaxy Alpha. The iPhone 6 Plus – also a rounded rectangle (if slightly more so) – doesn't feature protective bumps, and is instead making use of a circular, tube-like frame that hugs your palm nicely.

All in all, we've gotta hand it to Apple – when it comes to the feeling you get when handling the two devices, the iPhone 6 Plus definitely inspires a greater sense of you toying with something truly high-end. Unfortunately, while it is the slightly narrower device, the 6 Plus is still plenty big. So big, in fact, that it towers above the Note 4, despite its smaller, 5.5-inch screen. In any case, we're still looking at two XL-sized smartphones, both of which are simply not meant to be used with just one hand.

Last, but not least, the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that debuted with the iPhone 5s can still be found embedded within the circular home button, and it's just as reliable and easy-to-use. We've got to say that we still prefer it over the swipe-type fingerprint scanner on the Note 4 (also a part of its home button), even though that one has seen some improvements from the frustrating early days of the Galaxy S5.



To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


Display

A Samsung Super AMOLED panel that offers a better color fidelity than an Apple IPS screen? Better believe it!

While Samsung has been gradually increasing the display size of its Note devices with each successive generation, this trend has been put to an expected stop with the Note 4, which shares a 5.7-inch diagonal with its predecessor. What did change, however, is the screen resolution – the number of pixels shot up by 77% to 1440x2560 (Quad HD), so the Super AMOLED panel on-board now boasts the whopping 515 pixels per inch. The iPhone 6 Plus, in turn, sticks to a smaller, 5.5-inch IPS display with a conventional 1080x1920 resolution, or a pixel density of 401 ppi. On paper, the difference in resolutions is non-trivial and very much in favor of the Note 4, but in real life, bragging rights are the biggest benefit of having all these extra pixels. When the two handsets are held at a normal distance from the user's eyes, the difference in screen resolution becomes indiscernible.

We went in-depth with the Galaxy Note 4's screen, and found that the new panel is the very best we've seen from Samsung. The display's color temperature is excellent at 6667 K – an absolutely negligible deviation from the optimal value of 6500 K – beating the iPhone 6 Plus' 7300 K, which causes a slight bluish overcast. But that's not all – this is actually the first phone with an AMOLED screen that is as faithful in rendering hues properly – color error is pretty small in Basic mode, and grayscale errors are also fairly low. The average color error on the iPhone 6 Plus is also decently-low, but colors are not quite as on-target as the ones available with the Note 4's display. The only downside to the Note 4's panel is its gamma value of 1.97, which is below the reference value of 2.2 – the iPhone 6 Plus is close to perfect, at 2.18. In practice, the lower gamma of the Note 4 is the result of brighter highlights only, with the shadows remaining as dark as they should be. This means that the screen ends up being a bit punchier and more contrasty than normal, though the effect is not so overdone as to be annoying or distracting.

Moving on, the brightness of the Note 4's screen is good, at 468 nits, while the one of the 6 Plus is excellent at 574 nits. However, outdoor visibility in broad daylight is very good on both, as the two of them sport very good and non-reflective glasses. The Note 4's display can be dimmed down all the way to 1 nit, which is outstanding and guarantees comfy usage in your bed, while the iPhone 6 Plus can do 4 nits, which is also excellent. One last advantage of the Note 4's screen is its ability to become highly-sensitive, allowing you to use it even with gloves – a great feature in light of the coming winter.

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