Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Apple iPhone 6
The Samsung Galaxy S6 or the Apple iPhone 6: like it or not, this is the big question for smartphone buyers in 2015.
After Apple upped the ante by finally releasing a large-screen iPhone, and one that is shockingly slim and stylish at that, Samsung has come back strong with a comprehensive overhaul of its Galaxy S. Gone is the cheapo plastic in the S series: coming to replace it is a toughened glass on both the front and the back, and a sturdy metal frame - a construction that has to take on the solid all-metal iPhone 6.
The rest is a battle of differences: the Galaxy S6 against the iPhone 6 is also a lot about Android vs iOS, a 16-megapixel camera versus an 8-megapixel one, an octa-core Samsung chip against a dual-core Apple SoC.
It’s also about TouchWiz, a skin that has traditionally been perceived as lagging in speed and often featuring gimmicky, rather than genuinely useful features. Well, it has also changed with a radical overhaul by Samsung, just to make things all the more interesting.
At the end of the day, though, consumers want one question answered: which one should they buy? Let’s take a look at the details and try to answer that question.
Plastic gives way to a stylish combination of glass pieces and a metal frame on the Galaxy S6, while the iPhone 6 boasts an all-aluminum body. Both are thin, extremely well built phones with a premium feel.
After many years of sticking with uninspiring plastic designs for its flagship phones, Samsung has finally listened to all the whispers of disappointment and its new Galaxy S6 is made of finer quality materials: the S6 features a sturdy metal frame sandwiched between pieces of glass, and not just any kind, but toughened Gorilla Glass 4. Samsung has also added more color to its flagship: the S6 comes in a choice of black, white, gold, and blue. The Apple iPhone 6, on the other hand, features an all-aluminum build with a choice of space grey, silver, and gold.
Both the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 are impressively thin devices: the iPhone 6 is a hair thicker at 6.9mm, while the Galaxy S6 measures 6.8mm in thickness. The difference is barely noticeable, but what is noticeable is that both phones have a slightly protruding camera module resulting in a hump on the back of both devices (a larger one on the Galaxy S6).
The two phones are fairly lightweight: 4.87oz for the S6 and 4.55oz for the iPhone 6. Given the larger screen in the Galaxy S6, it’s also no surprise that the Samsung phone is also larger: 5.65” tall and 2.78” wide, while the iPhone 6 is a more manageable 5.44” tall and 2.64” wide. However, saying that the S6 is larger would not give Samsung credit where credit is due, and that is the fairly slim side bezel that makes the S6 one of the most compact and single-hand-friendly phones for its 5.1” screen size.
Buttons have a reassuring click on both phones, and on both, keys are sufficiently large, with identical positioning of the keys: -the lock key – on the right, and the volume buttons - on the left.
We’re also happy to see a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button on both phones: the Galaxy S6 is the first phone from Samsung to use a new tap-based fingerprint reader (a change from swipe-based finger scanners it used before), and it works quickly and accurately, almost as the one on the iPhone 6. While you are limited to using the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone for Apple Pay, unlocking the phone and authorizing App Store purchases, though, the fingerprint functionality on the Galaxy S6 is not restricted to that, as third party apps can use it as well.
The 5.1” Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S6 is not only among the sharpest we’ve seen, but it’s also remarkably well calibrated, with gorgeous colors. The iPhone 6’s LCD screen is also a very nice display with pleasing colors.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display, larger than the 4.7” IPS LCD screen of the iPhone 6. With a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels (Quad HD), the screen on the Galaxy S6 is extremely crisp and paper-like with a pixel density of the record 577ppi. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, features a more modest resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels, which works out to a pixel density of 326ppi. The difference in the numbers is staggering, but the actually perceptible difference in sharpness is not that big at all: you’d notice a slight pixelization on the iPhone if you stare from very up close, while from regular distances, the difference is minimal.
With sharpness reaching levels that will please most people these days, the last remaining frontier to conquer in the way towards the ideal display now seems to be image quality. Last year’s Galaxy S5 had a display with an annoying greenish tint that spoiled Samsung’s AMOLED efforts, but this year, it seems that the Galaxy S6 edge is extremely close to being perfectly color accurate. Below, we’ll dive in the technicalities that show the differences between the Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6 screen quality, but first, let us say that both of these displays look absolutely beautiful, and these are without a doubt two of the best smartphone displays out there.
Now, in the S6 you get to those nice, natural colors if you choose to use the ‘Basic’ screen mode (go into Settings > Display > Screen mode, and select Basic), as with the S6 you have the option of picking other modes with mostly overblown, punchy but unnatural colors. The decision is up to the user, but we would prefer going with the ‘Basic’ screen mode, as it aims to reproduce color in the way it was meant to be seen. What we mean by this is that colors adhere to the industry-standard sRGB color space, and with impressive accuracy: color temperature at 6600K means that you get natural-looking whites that do not appear somewhat bluish, and gamma at 2.11 is relatively close to the reference 2.2 value. Also, you have color saturations that are practically perfectly seated in their reference values, very near the ideal sRGB color calibration profile.
The Apple iPhone 6, on its part, also has a very good LCD display when it comes to colors, but it’s a step below the nearly perfect calibration of the Galaxy S6. Color purists will notice that whites appear a bit on the cold side, and color saturations are just a bit off.
It’s also worth mentioning the great progress Samsung has achieved with maximizing brightness on AMOLED displays. The Galaxy S6, in particular, comes with Samsung’s brightest AMOLED panel, reaching 563 nits at maximum levels. Brightness on the S6 is still a step below what the iPhone 6’s LCD display can exhibit, though, as it can deliver about 606 nits of peak luminance.