Ladies and gentlemen, the Apple vs Samsung war is back – this time in the phablet market. The recently released iPhone 6 Plus (preorders open) will be shipped from September 19th. Samsung is set to launch its new flagship device, the Galaxy Note 4, in early or mid-October. We will here try to find out which of the two has better chances of coming out on top.
Pre-ordering for iPhone 6 Plus (along with the iPhone 6) started on the 12th of September , after the device was unveiled at a Cupertino event three days earlier. Although there is considerable craze about the first Apple phablet, it’s likely to face stiff competition from Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – which is scheduled to release next month. Let us here do a comparative study and try to predict whether the iPhone 6 Plus or the Galaxy Note 4 is more likely to emerge as the winner:
- Display features – For a company that is venturing into the phablet market for the first time, Apple has done a mighty impressive job with the IPS display screen of iPhone 6 Plus. The screen resolution is a terrific 1920×1080 pixels – but still, it is not the final word when it comes to high-quality display clarity. Samsung would win this round with relative ease, since the Galaxy Note 4 will support a maximum resolution level of 2560×1440 pixels, with the PPI (pixel density) being a whopping 515.
- Screen size – When the first-generation Galaxy Note series phablets came out, they drew quite a bit of flak (not surprisingly, mostly from Apple fans), since they were deemed to be too large. The scenario has undergone a sea-change since then, and mobile software and app development professionals are going ga-ga over the 5.7” screen that the Note 4 would have. iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5” screen, is hot on its heels though. While there is not much to pick between the two on this count – Samsung has at least proved that big-screen handheld devices are not ‘useless’.
- Design innovations – Apple aces it on the looks front, with the curved aluminum body lending a sleek and trendy look to iPhone 6 Plus. The streamlined body should make it feel easier in hand as well. Samsung has also finally ditched the “cheap” plastic edges, and opted for more sophisticated metal edges for the Galaxy Note 4. Even so, its appearance does not seem quite as elegant as that of Apple’s offering.
- Processor performance – iPhone 6 Plus comes with the breakthrough 64-bit A8 processor – which is supposed to be around four times faster than its predecessor, A7. The M8 motion processor is yet another great addition. In terms of processor performance, early indications are that it would trump Note 4 – which would be powered by the 2.7 GHz Quadcore (Snapdragon 805) chipset. Reports from Samsung officials have emphasized on the enhanced support for mobile apps that the Note 4 processor would provide.
- Physical specs & dimensions – Another extremely close fight, in which Apple’s phablet should stay just a shade ahead of Samsung’s new flagship device. At 8.5 mm, the Galaxy Note 4 is slim enough – but it pales in comparison with the super-sleek 7.1 mm iPhone Plus. In terms of weight, its pretty much even-stevens, with the Samsung device weighing a measly 4g more (176g vs 172g). The dimensions – 6.04”x3.09”x0.32” of Galaxy Note 4 vs 6.22”x3.06”x0.28” of iPhone 6 Plus – are pretty much similar as well. Those who prefer carrying a slightly smaller phone might just lean in favor of the latter though.
- Stylus feature – Well, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has it, and Apple iPhone 6 Plus hasn’t – it’s as simple as that. For taking notes, the revamped S-Pen on the Samsung phablet is expected to be really useful. Apps like Screen Write and Action Memo enhance the note-taking functionality further. iOS app developers, however, have pointed out that external Stylus accessories can be used on the iPhone 6 Plus (for instance, a third-party touchpen). The multi-touch features of the Apple product might be innovative in their own right – but Android users have already moved on to a smarter, better mobile note-taking system.
- Built-in camera – At first, this might seem a no-contest. The Note 4 comes with a 16 MP camera with 4K support, while iPhone 6 Plus has the ‘same old’ 8 MP camera (both have Optical Image Stabilization features). On the usability front though, the sheer quality of the iSight camera of iPhone 6 Plus would win some additional brownie points. The front camera of the Samsung gadget is of 3.7 MP, while that of the Apple phablet is 1.2 MP (Face Time). The 30FPS video-recording option on Note 4 pales into insignificance in comparison with the 60 FPS normal video and 240 FPS high-definition slo-mo video recording that the iPhone 6 Plus supports.
- Device storage capacity – Mobile analysts and app developers worldwide have been slightly surprised at Apple’s decision to not have a 32 GB internal storage version of iPhone 6 Plus. The model at the lowest end of the spectrum has 16 GB of storage space (not enough for people to download plenty of apps and other stuff on their devices). There is, of course, 64 GB and 128 GB variants available – but the average buyer might find them prohibitively expensive. Samsung does a more user-friendly job, by providing 32 GB of internal storage in Note 4, which is expandable to 128 GB via external microSD card.
- Security – Both Samsung and Apple have upped their game, as far as device security is concerned. The iOS 8 platform, which makes it debut on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, is by far Apple’s most secure mobile platform. The signature TouchID has been improved upon, and m-commerce transactions have been facilitated through Apple Pay. On the other hand, the Private Mode on the Note 4 (accessible via the built-in fingerprint scanner) is a standout. Samsung has also integrated its in-house security suite, Knox, in the Galaxy Note 4. There are no obvious security flaws in either device – that much is for sure!
- Mobile OS – At least among mobile app developers, there is more excitement about the iPhone 6 phone and phablet – and the all-new features of the iOS 8 platform has a lot to do with it. Samsung has, on its part, gone with Android 4.4 Kitkat for its phablet – which, although excellent in terms of tech specifications, is yet to have a high adoption rate (Jellybean is still the first choice of most Android users). Galaxy Note 4 will provide high-speed, efficient phablet services – but it lacks the ‘newness’ of iPhone 6 Plus.
- Battery backup – It has been announced that the new Samsung device would have 3200 mAh battery. However, there has not yet been any official statement regarding the number of hours of talk time it would provide (without the need to recharge). The engineers at Apple headquarters have gone into overdrive to improve the battery life of iPhones – and the result is now here for all to see. The iPhone 5S had a battery life of a tad more than 10 hours, while iPhone 6 Plus promises a backup period of 24 hours. Samsung will have a tough time beating that!
- Connectivity – It’s a stalemate in this round. Apple has finally embraced the Near Field Communication (NFC) feature for the iPhone 6 handsets, and this functionality was already present in high-end Samsung devices. Both Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus support Bluetooth 4 connection options. In terms of internet browsing too, both of them offer excellent speed and reliability in the LTE environment, along with the regular 3G and 4G ecosystems. If you really wish to nitpick, well, Samsung’s offering is compatible with Bluetooth 4.1, while Apple’s is limited to Bluetooth 4.0. Hardly a difference!
- Choice of color – The Galaxy Note 4, like its predecessors, focuses more on sporting a lively, colorful appearance – while premium iPhones have always looked dapper and sophisticated. Apart from the white and black options, Note 4 will be available in blue and gold. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, has light and dark grey models, along with the extremely attractive gold-colored model. For those who go by numbers alone, Samsung is offering at least one extra color option than Apple.
- Pocket pinch – And finally, we arrive at the issue every buyer is (or at least, should be!) most concerned about. With a 2-year contract, Apple will be shipping iPhone 6 Plus at $299, $399 and $499 (on the 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB models respectively). The Galaxy Note 4 should be priced somewhere between $275 and $325 (i.e., it won’t be much pricier than the Note 3). Shipments for iPhone 6 Plus starts the day after tomorrow, while Note 4 will release on either October 4 or 10.
You have to hand it to Tim Cook and his team at Apple for doing a fabulous job with iPhone 6 Plus. The first mover’s advantage that it has over Samsung Galaxy Note 4 should prove significant, at least in the initial phases. The general consensus among mobile market researchers and app development experts, however, is that, while iPhone 6 Plus is impressive, it does not offer much in the way of novelty, for existing Android users. As such, staying ahead of the Galaxy Note 4 over the long-run might prove to be difficult.