Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs. iPhone 6 Plus
Comparing the Galaxy Note 5 to the iPhone 6 Plus isn't completely fair, as Samsung's phablet is hot off the press while Apple will likely have a new model out next month. But nevertheless here's our breakdown of the two popular mega-phones.
Both phones have enormous screens, but the Galaxy Note 5 gives you a better screen size to phone size ratio (which we'll get to in a minute). The Note is 3 percent shorter and 3 percent narrower than the iPhone 6 Plus.
There isn't a thick phone in sight here, but of the two razor-thin phablets, the iPhone measures 7 percent thinner.
Weight is just about even.
There's no distinction between frame and back on the iPhone's aluminum unibody. For the second straight year, the Galaxy Note also has an aluminum frame.
Samsung is giving you four color options for the Note (though US carriers are currently only offering the black and white options).
Though the iPhone is the larger device, the Galaxy Note 5 has a 7 percent bigger display, giving you more screen bang for your phone size buck.
It's hard to complain about the iPhone 6 Plus' outstanding display, but the Note 5 does (like last year's model) get the eye candy nod, with its razor-sharp Quad HD resolution.
This is par for the course when comparing Samsung and Apple flagships: AMOLED for the Note, IPS for the iPhone.
The PDA lives on in the Galaxy Note lineup, with its S Pen stylus.
The pen gets its expected annual upgrades this year. It now clicks out, so you can press in the end to make it easier to yank the stylus out of the handset. You can also now do things like take multi-page screenshots and write notes on its screen before even waking up the phone (thanks to that AMOLED panel).
For many Note owners, though, the appeal is in the extra sense of precision that you get from using a stylus. Speaking of which, this year's model may look like metal, but it's a metallic-looking plastic – though it does have a more solid-feeling tip.
Both handsets have excellent touch-based fingerprint sensors, though Apple's Touch ID is still tied to more notable software perks (like password managers and app extensions) than Samsung's is.
Don't be fooled by the lopsided resolutions here, as both cameras are among the best you'll find in smartphones. The Note's 16 MP sensor will only show if you do lots of zooming or cropping, or if you blow your shots up to billboard (or maybe just poster) size.
This is one area where Apple is expected to improve the rumored iPhone 6s Plus, so if you're eyeing the iPhone, you'd be wise to hold off a few weeks.
Camera aperture (rear)
The Note's rear camera has the wider aperture.
Both handsets' back-facing shooters can shake off the effects of your shaky hands, with built-in Optical Image Stabilization.
We haven't yet tested the Note's battery, but in our benchmark (streaming video over Wi-Fi with brightness at 75 percent) the iPhone 6 Plus dropped 12 percent per hour.
Apple has yet to put a fast-charging feature (which will only be noticeable when the battery is almost cooked) in iPhones, but the Note has that for the second straight year.
The Galaxy Note 5 also has built-in wireless charging, and if you buy a special charger from Samsung it will also be fast wireless charging, a first.
We aren't seeing many flagships these days with removable batteries. Everything is locked tight here.
The iPhone has the NFC-based Apple Pay, but Samsung's mobile payment service is going to have the adoption advantage. Retailers don't have to install any NFC equipment, as it should work with most standard credit card readers on Day One.
Samsung skipped the 128 GB storage tier this year.
Samsung also appears to have ditched microSD card slots in its flagships, as none of its other high-end 2015 phones have them either.
On paper this looks like a rout, but you can't gather much of anything about Apple's chips from their cores and clock speeds alone. The A8 is still a beast.
The Note has the same processor found in the Galaxy S6, which has some of the best performance of any phone we've used.
The Galaxy Note 5 quadruples the iPhone's mere 1 GB of RAM.
Like in previous years, Samsung's Multi Window and Pop Up window features won't work with all apps, which could put a slight damper on the Note's otherwise handy split-screen multitasking.
This is about as niche as it gets, but if you ever wished you could type on your fancy new Android phablet like it's a BlackBerry, then Samsung has just the thing for you.
We're looking at Android Lollipop on the Note, with that Samsung TouchWiz UI on top, which not only gives it its own Samsungy look, but also opens the door to all those note-taking and multitasking goodies.
The iPhone 6 Plus runs iOS 8, with iOS 9 looming on the horizon. Though Samsung's software improved this year, and the Play Store has plenty of great apps, we still think iOS is the more intuitive platform with the App Store being the slightly higher-quality library.
The Note is edging its way out the door now, while the iPhone 6 Plus is ready to stroll off into the Shady Pastures Retirement Home for Phones.
This comparison could be handy if you already own an iPhone 6 Plus, or if you're looking at a discount on a used one, but this isn't a great time to buy the phablet. For likely the same price, you'll probably be able to buy an upgraded version this time next month.
Starting price (full retail)
Full retail pricing is dead even (though we're ballparking that US$750 figure for the Note, as carrier pricing varies a bit). Just remember that most buyers will save upfront money by subsidizing or (less frequently these days) signing a contract.