iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S5

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Gizmag compares the features and specs of Apple's first phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus, and Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5

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The Galaxy S5 makes the most sense as a rival to the iPhone 6, but, with a larger screen, it could match up just as easily against the iPhone 6 Plus. Join Gizmag, as we compare the two phones' features and specs.

Size

The Galaxy S5 isn't quite a full-fledged phablet (try saying that ten times fast), but the iPhone 6 Plus is. So we have the iPhone coming out at 11 percent taller and 7 percent wider.

The iPhone 6 Plus, though, is much thinner. At 7.1 mm (0.28-in) thick, it has 12 percent less depth.

Weight

The smaller Galaxy S5 is also much lighter – by 16 percent.

Build

The Galaxy S5 is light and comfortable in hand, but it isn't going to win on high-end build quality. The iPhone's smooth unibody aluminum design, complete with curved edges, is in a league of its own.

Colors

We're looking at three color options for the iPhone and four for the GS5.

Display (size)

The Galaxy S5 gives you 86 percent as much screen area as the 6 Plus does. If you're leaning in Samsung's direction and want a huge screen, though, then the Galaxy Note 4 is going to be the better choice.

Display (resolution)

Both handsets have razor-sharp 1080p resolution. The iPhone's pixel density might look a bit less impressive on paper, but in person it's one of the best-looking smartphone displays I've seen.

Display (type)

We're looking at a Super AMOLED panel on the Galaxy S5, compared to an IPS on the iPhone. AMOLED screens have deeper blacks (unlike on IPS screens, pixels don't fire for black sections of the screen) and, often, deeper saturation and higher contrast.

Fingerprint sensor

Apple's Touch ID sensor was always faster and more convenient to use than Samsung's swipe-based fingerprint scanner. But with iOS 8 the difference is even more pronounced, as it now integrates with third-party apps.

NFC payments

Starting this month, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners will be able to pay at participating retailers by simply placing their fingers on the phone's Touch ID sensor, while holding the handset near a store's Apple Pay terminal. Your phone isn't going to replace your wallet this year, but, if Apple Pay catches on, it could eventually.

The technology is nothing new, though, as Google Wallet and Softcard (formerly Isis) have been trying to establish NFC payments for years, to very little avail.

Water resistance

The Galaxy S5 is a terrific phone, but I'd call this its killer feature. It can sit in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for 30 minutes, and live to fight another day.

Heart rate sensor

The GS5 also has a heart rate monitor on its backside.

Cameras (megapixels)

The GS5 wins on the megapixel counts you see here, but they also only go so far.

I've spent plenty of time with both cameras, and think they're two of the best around. The GS5's higher resolution has it working a little better for zoomed-in or closely-cropped shots. But Samsung's camera also takes much longer to fire up, at worst making you miss the moment.

Camera (aperture)

Both phones' rear cameras have the same ƒ/2.2 aperture.

OIS

The iPhone 6 doesn't have Optical Image Stabilization, but the 6 Plus does.

Dual LED flash

Apple likes to call it "True Tone," but it's a dual-LED flash that helps to make the iPhone's flash shots look better (more saturated and evenly lit) than they otherwise would.

Battery

In our hands-on battery test, the Galaxy S5 outlasted the iPhone 6 Plus, but not by a lot. Both have very good uptimes.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

For those times when you are just about out of juice, Samsung threw in a feature that will keep your GS5 from conking out. Ultra Power Saving Mode gives you a barebones (black & white) UI, with only a handful of available apps.

Why bother turning your expensive smartphone into something resembling a 2005-era feature phone? Because it can turn 10 percent battery into about 24 hours of uptime.

Split-screen multitasking

Earlier this year, it was rumored that Apple was working on a split-screen multitasking mode, but that didn't materialize in iOS 8. The GS5 does have a split-screen mode (Multi Window), though it's only compatible with a relatively small group of apps.

One-handed mode

Here we have two different approaches to using your phone with one hand: the iPhone's "Reachability" slides the top of the screen down to the bottom, while Samsung's version shrinks the entire screen.

The iPhone's mode is smoother, and feels like a more naturally-integrated part of the UI, while the GS5's mode has the advantage of shrinking the keyboard.

Infrared

The GS5 lets you change channels on your TV (or cable/satellite box) with its built-in infrared blaster.

Storage

We're looking at three storage options for the iPhone, as well as a better value on the second tier (64 GB vs. 32 GB).

MicroSD

You can, however, complement your GS5's internal storage by popping in a microSD card.

Processor

Forget about cores and clock speeds: Apple's A8 chip is a beast, combining with iOS 8 to deliver the smoothest performance I've seen on any mobile device.

Make no mistake, though, the GS5 is an extremely fast and powerful phone, with its Snapdragon 801 CPU. The international (3G/HSPA) version has an octa-core Samsung Exynos processor in its place.

RAM

The GS5 doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM, but I don't think this is any cause of concern for iPhone buyers.

Software

Apple's iOS 8 delivers fun stuff like third-party keyboards, app extensions and Notification Center widgets. The GS5 has Android 4.4 KitKat at its core, with Samsung's TouchWiz UI sitting on top.

Release date

The iPhone 6 Plus just launched, while the GS5 has been around since April.

Starting price (full retail)

As the larger of Apple's two new iPhones, we're looking at a US$100 premium over the Galaxy S5. The smaller iPhone 6 matches up evenly with Samsung's flagship.

If you keep your eyes open, though, you might be able to find Samsung's six-month-old GS5 on sale for cheaper than this.

Starting price (on-contract)

If you prefer to buy your phone subsidized with a two-year blood oath, then you're also looking at a $100 difference.

If you're leaning in the iPhone direction, you can see how the 6 Plus compares to the other three iPhones Apple is currently selling. And for much deeper looks at these two, you can read our full reviews of the iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy S5.

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