As we head into the last quarter of 2015, it’s time to look back at the year in tech and take note of the best products and gear for staying connected. For smartphone users looking for the latest and greatest mobile device, 2015 really came down to two options: the Galaxy Note5 and the iPhone 6s Plus.
In past years, Samsung and Apple have been locked in a rather captivating game of tug-of-war as they tried to out-design and out-market each other for a bigger piece of the consumer market. With over 44 percent of the total smartphone market share, according to MacRumors, this is Apple’s game to lose. However, Samsung seems poised to bring more than a few adventurous users to its side of the party.
So, who has the better product? We put the iPhone 6s Plus and the Galaxy Note5 head to head to find out which deserves the top spot on the podium.
The Eye Test
The Note5 measures 6.03 inches by 2.99 inches, allowing for a rather massive 5.7-inch display. By comparison, the iPhone 6s Plus measures a slightly taller 6.23 inches by 3.07 inches. Its 5.5-inch screen is smaller than the Note’s, and the elongated design feels a tad more unnatural when held — like it needs to be gripped just a little bit tighter to keep it from flying off into space.
That said, the 6s is a almost a half ounce heavier, and it feels more solidly constructed. The Note line has finally shed the plastic casing that made the Note5 feel somewhat flimsy and fragile. In its place is a sexy combination of glass and stainless steel, which is the suit this high-end device truly deserves.
In terms of sheer attractiveness, it’s a matter of preference. The iPhone 6s Plus is like the soft, curved corners of a Porsche while the Note5 is more akin to the hard lines of a Lamborghini.
Under the Hood
The Note5 is a huge technical leap over the Note 4 , which was no slouch itself. Samsung continues to offer users some of the most brilliant smartphone displays on the market, and the Note5 sets the benchmark with its Quad HD Super AMOLED display. It also sports a zippy Exynos 7422 Octacore 64-bit processor and 4GB of internal RAM, so running multiple apps simultaneously on the latest version of Android Lollipop still feels highly responsive.
In terms of processing power, the iPhone 6s Plus’ 64-bit A9 chip and 16GB still make it the phone to beat. The Note’s rear-facing camera does have an extra 4MP of photo resolution, but Apple has countered with a 12-megapixel front-facing iSight Camera, which allows for full HD Facetime sessions.
The Note5’s defining feature is the S Pen stylus, which provides a more paper-like interaction between the user and his or her productivity-based applications. In general, the larger screen, lighter feel and incorporation of a stylus suggest that the Note5 has been designed with the business-oriented smartphone user in mind.
Alternatively, Apple has always been stingy about the idea of a stylus (Steve Jobs is famous for hating them), but that hasn’t kept them from introducing a stylus in the newest line of iPad Pros. The iPhone 6s Plus can’t claim to be quite the productivity powerhouse that the Note5 is, but it’s still an incredibly appealing option for when the workday is done. In addition to the HD Facetime camera, Apple has also incorporated an app, called 3D Touch, which provides subtle vibrations that correspond with the user's actions. It’s a clever little addition that is likely to appeal to a wide audience who might not realize that Samsung has offered touch feedback with its Galaxy phones for years. Oh, and did we mention the Note5 is $50 cheaper?