Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a phablet. One of the very best on the market right now, actually. But its 5.7-inch screen can be a polarizing factor. So much so that another popular device, the iPhone 6, will likely also come to mind if you're considering a new handset. Especially if you're uncertain that a larger screen is necessarily the better choice. In that kind of scenario, when you're feeling on the fence between two form factors, digging out the pros and cons of both phones can swing the discussion in either one direction. So take your legal pad out, for we're about to go through the Note 4's and the iPhone 6's every nook and cranny.
The chubbier Note 4 is less elegant and inspiring next to the iPhone 6 and its all-aluminum unibody, but we can't argue with the practicality of its design.
Putting aside the differences in size for now, it should be immediately obvious that the underlying design philosophy with Samsung and Apple is quite different. For its part, Samsung definitely managed to create the most attractive Note device yet – the phablet's most basic shape is still of a rounded rectangle, but some changes are impossible to miss. For example, while still on the topic of the shape, Samsung has added four bumps at the four edges of the Note 4, the idea being that they'll better absorb shock from the inevitable drops that most devices go through. Also different are the phone's frame and rear shell – we're now looking at a metal encasing and a newly-textured, but still fake leather back.
With the iPhone 6, the narrative is different. For one, Apple continues its track record of using aluminum only for the exterior of its phone, but there are some generational changes from the now aging, iPhone 5s. The most important of those is the switch to a circular, tube-like frame, and the addition of several contrasting plastic bands at the back, where the antennas reside. Obviously, deciding which one you like more is a personal matter, but we tend to like the way the iPhone 6 sits in our hand better.
Unpinning the topic of size, it should be perfectly understood that the Note 4 is a significantly bulkier device in all possible meanings of the word – height, width, thinness, and, of course, weight. Indeed, despite the relatively bezel-heavy construction of the iPhone 6, it's still a one hand-friendly device, while the Note 4 requires you to make use of both for the most part. Thankfully, Samsung (and Apple, too) have had the good sense of placing the power and volume keys on the right and left side of the device, respectively, making them easy to reach. We are also happy to note that these all provide great travel and feedback.
The Note 4's display is not only larger and more pixel-dense, but also more color-accurate overall.
You already know that the Note 4 is the bigger device between the two, and the only culprit here is its display. We're looking at a massive, 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen by Samsung, with an extremely high resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels (Quad HD). This works out to a whopping 515 pixels per inch – more than your eyes can take advantage of unless you spend your hands-on time looking at the screen an inch from your face. Turning to the iPhone 6, we've got a much smaller, 4.7-inch IPS screen with a comparatively lower resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels, good for a density of 326 ppi. Sure, this implies an obvious disadvantage for the iPhone 6, but as we noted before, in most usage scenarios, the iPhone 6 appears essentially as sharp as the Note 4.
But what about color reproduction? Interestingly enough, we have a pretty unusual development here – Samsung's Super AMOLED screen actually proves to be superior, which hasn't been the case at all until now. Instead of the usual overstated hues that have become synonymous with AMOLEDs, we now have a well-tuned display if you choose the 'Basic' display mode, with an outstanding color temperature of 6667 K (6500 K being the reference value), and fairly low levels of color and grayscale errors. All of this translates into a natural image that adheres to the conventional sRGB color space, and that's great. In comparison, the iPhone 6 is slightly lagging behind, but only because the Note 4 aced this category. Its screen's color temperature is good, at 7162 K, but a bit cold in comparison. Color error is also fairly low, but not as good as the Note 4. Of course, those of you who appreciate the AMOLEDs of old, can still choose 'AMOLED photo' to get the familiar, punchy look that Samsung devices are known for. Lastly, we do have to point out that the Note 4's average gamma, at 1.97, is inferior to what you get with the iPhone 6 (2.23, with 2.2 being the reference value). This is result of brighter highlights than optimal only, however – dark parts of the image are still as dark as they should be, so this translates to slightly more contrasty image.
One area in which iPhones traditionally excel remains a domain of the 4.7-inch panel of the 6, however – maximum brightness. The Galaxy Note 4 peaks at 468 nits, which is good, but not exactly as great as the 606 nits of the iPhone 6. In practice, both phones provide a great viewing experience out on the sunlit street, though the iPhone 6 is a bit better in this regard. For what it counts, the AMOLED screen of Samsung's phablet can go as low as 1 nit (7 for the iPhone), and that implies a bit superior comfort in environments with poor lighting, like reading in the bed.