iPhone 6s Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Humongous phones aren't novelties anymore. In fact, most likely these two phablets will be two of the most popular mobile devices during the next year. Let's size up the new iPhone 6s Plus and Samsung's Galaxy Note 5.
The iPhone 6s Plus, despite having a smaller screen, is the bigger phone. It measures 3 percent taller and also 3 percent wider than the Galaxy Note 5.
The iPhone is a little thinner, though, by 4 percent.
The Galaxy Note 5 is 11 percent lighter than the iPhone 6s Plus.
On the unibody iPhone, there's no separation between its aluminum back and aluminum frame. The Note 5, like Samsung's other 2015 flagships, has a Gorilla Glass 4 back (which, in this case, is curved).
The Note has an aluminum frame.
We're looking at four color options for each handset, though no US carriers are yet selling the gold or silver Note 5.
The Galaxy Note 5 has a 7 percent bigger screen than the iPhone 6s Plus. With the Note's smaller face, it gives you a much better ratio of screen size to phone size.
Apple's displays tend to look great without breaking any pixel density records, but the Note 5 is (based on PPI) 77 percent sharper.
We're looking at AMOLED on the Note 5 with an IPS panel on the iPhone.
3D Touch display
The iPhone 6s Plus has a next-gen version of the Force Touch tech found on the Apple Watch and latest MacBooks. The new "3D Touch" senses three different depths of input – tap, press and deep press – giving you new ways to interact with iOS.
For example, tapping an email in your inbox list will open it as usual. But if you instead press on that email, a pop-up window ("peek") will give you a quick glimpse of its contents. But if you decide you want to jump all the way into that email, a deep press ("pop") will do the trick.
Apple now makes a stylus (erm, "Apple Pencil") but it's only compatible with the new iPad Pro.
Both devices have outstanding touch-based fingerprint sensors – and Apple says the Touch ID in the new models is up to twice as fast as the (already-quick) Touch ID in older iOS devices.
You can't judge camera quality from pixels alone (well, maybe you could if one of them had an absurdly low resolution, but that isn't the case here), so you shouldn't draw any big conclusions from this category.
We'll look forward to putting the new iPhone's 12 MP shooter through the paces, but the cameras in Samsung's 2015 flagships are the ones to beat right now.
Camera aperture (rear)
Though the new iPhones should have improved cameras over their 2014 predecessors, their aperture stands pat at ƒ/2.2.
Both phones' rear cameras have Optical Image Stabilization, so you may be able to get away with some shaky hands without ruining your shots.
Physical camera shortcut
Samsung's 2015 flagships, including the Note 5, let you fire up their cameras quickly – and from anywhere – with a double-tap of the home button.
No word yet on the iPhone 6s Plus' battery capacity, but we do know Apple is estimating the same uptimes as last year's 6 Plus (see our review for battery tests).
The Note 5 has built-in wireless charging (as well as fast wireless charging if you buy a special Samsung-made charging pad).
Fast charging (wired)
The Galaxy Note 5 also has fast charging support, when using the cable that's included in the box.
The iPhone 6s Plus supports the NFC-based Apple Pay, while the Note 5 will soon have Samsung Pay, which uses both NFC and Magnetic Secure Transmission (thanks to Samsung's LoopPay purchase), which will supposedly let it work at standard credit card terminals.
We'll have to wait for benchmarks to learn more about the iPhone 6s Plus' CPU, but last year's A8 was (and still is) a beast, despite its lackluster-sounding two cores and 1.4 GHz max frequency.
No word yet on the new iPhones' RAM, though it looks like they're most likely jumping to 2 GB this year.
The Note 5 doubles the iPhone's storage on the entry-level tier.
With app sizes growing through the years, along with the bigger photo and video files it will be spitting out, you might want to think twice before buying that 16 GB iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.
Neither handset lets you expand that internal storage with a microSD card.
The new iPhones launch on September 25. And for the first time in recent memory, many of Apple's flagships models (iPhone 6s) are still estimated to deliver on that day, two days after pre-orders began. iPhone 6s Plus orders, however, have been backordered.
Starting price (full retail)
The Note's pricing varies a bit from carrier to carrier, but it could save you some money over the iPhone 6s Plus – and remember that the Note also gives you double the storage on the entry-level tier.
Stay tuned for much more on the new iPhones. And for a deeper dive on the Note, you can hit up our Galaxy Note 5 review.