With our generation’s biggest smartphone-and-tablet titans announcing the release of their latest masterpieces; the iPhone 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, it is obviously hard to conclude which is ‘better’. We at Buzzle, bring you the ultimate face-off between these two ‘Big Screen’ rivals.
D-DaySamsung Galaxy Note 4
Announced on September 3, 2014, it is expected to be available in the United States of America from October, 2014.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Announced on the September 9, 2014, it is scheduled to be available in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia from September 19, 2014, although pre-ordering is scheduled to begin on September 12, 2014, itself.Since last week, bloggers and tech magazines all over the internet were in a flurry over the news of Apple announcing the release of the iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus, until Samsung poured cold water over this wildfire by releasing a handful of commercials that mocked Apple’s better-late-than-never brainwave of increasing screen size, and also their three-seasons-late smartwatch concept.
With the impending release of Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which, evidently, is the iPhone 6 Plus‘s biggest rival, one cannot help but wonder which of these phablets (a portmanteau of ‘phone’ and ‘tablet’; an apt description of a gadget whose screen size, and functionality is in between a smartphone and a tablet) would prove to be a wiser choice?
A Summary of Specs and Features
Apple has packed a plethora of interesting features in their new smartphone model. While some of them seem to be lifted from successful previously-released models of their competitors, others are quite innovative, and even give the new iPhones an edge over their rivals. Right from unveiling a new operating system, and implementing improved processor architecture, to adapting a larger screen size, with previously unseen (in Apple iPhones) display characteristics, and offering more flexibility with the camera, the developers of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus seemed to have taken a step away from the tried-and-tested classics that one can identify iPhones with.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is nothing less than the flagship phone-tablet of recent times. From adopting successful attributes from the recently released Samsung Galaxy S5, like the heart rate monitor and fingerprint sensor, to improving the S Pen―a stylus that is a stereotypical prerequisite for any note-taking tablet or phone―in such a way that it feels a lot more like a real pen, and enhancing its capabilities as well, to camera enhancement, a more attractive design, better performance in comparison to its predecessors, and lots more. With having “Samsung Galaxy” and “Note” as part of its name being enough reasons to prefer this phablet over any other, being filled to the brim with attractive and useful features only increases its chances of being a best-seller when it releases.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Display The iPhone 6 Plus has a screen size of 5.5 inches, and a thickness of 7.1 mm, making it the first of its kind for Apple, and the thinnest phablet till date. It comes with a resolution of 1920×1080, and uses a display technology that Apple has christened Retina HD. The Retina HD display comes with a full sRGB color standard, and improved contrast, color accuracy, and viewing angles. It achieves this by positioning the crystals of the LCD screen precisely by making use of UV light, and by using dual-domain pixels and a polarizer. Also (a feature never seen before in iPhones), only the iPhone 6 Plus (not even the iPhone 6) allows one to view their home screen and many proprietary apps (for e.g., email, gallery, etc.) in the landscape mode. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 markets its display as Quad HD, a terminology for a resolution that is 4 times as vivid as HD. True to its claim, the 5.7-inch, 2560×1440 display has an incredible pixel density of 551 ppi, resulting in superior calibration of color and amazing contrast. In addition to that, Samsung’s practice of using Super AMOLED screens gives one the benefit of truer blacks (the technology of AMOLED turns off the entire pixels to depict black color), and hence more lifelike colors, especially while using the camera or browsing online. Back to IndexProcessor Architecture, Sensors, and Memory Not that the numbers on the new addition, the A8 chip, a dual-core CPU running at 1.38 GHZ which is built on second-generation 64-bit, are very impressive when compared to the performance leap of the A7 chip with respect to its predecessor, yet, the iPhone 6 Plus can boast of optimization of graphics and visual effects while playing games or viewing videos, with the help of a technology that Apple likes to call Metal. The M8 coprocessor employs various sensors like an accelerometer, a compass, a gyroscope, and even a barometer, which, apart from helping the phone detect distance traveled, elevation, etc., and assisting the camera, and other inherent features in their performance, are integral to the iPhone’s health apps. The iPhone 6 Plus comes with a 1GB RAM, and in variants having an internal storage capacity of 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB, the third one being another step for Apple out of its comfort zone, when it comes to phone memory. However, expandable memory still seems to be a taboo concept for Apple, and they have steered clear of offering that option. An unexpected twist; the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be released in two variants, carrying two different processors, and the availability of each will depend on the market. One will be running the Exynos 5433, which is an octa-core processor, and runs at 1.9GHz, the other will be running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset, a 2.7GHz quad-core processor. The developers of the Galaxy Note 3 turned a lot of heads when they incorporated the Exynos 5420, a 1.3GHz octa-core processor. But soon, it became evident that eight cores could not be simultaneously engaged, rather, the technology enables better efficiency, and the interest in it wore off. But in the Exynos 5433, eight cores can indeed run together. Although in the Galaxy Note 4, it functions using a 32-bit architecture, which is pretty good in itself, this processor provides for operating the 64-bit architecture as well. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 is a whole different story. Running at 2.7GHz is a clear improvement over its predecessor, which clocks at 2.3GHZ. The GPU, Adreno 420, performs better than the one used in Note 3, and the result is better graphics while playing games, clearer, easier-to-read text while browsing, and more options with photographs. The performance of the CPU, however, has not seen any major change. Samsung has been marketing interesting, never-imagined-before sensors with all its smartphones and tablets in the past, right from the Air Gesture feature, to various sensors that work in collaboration with health-related apps. Although there are no new sensors exclusive to the Galaxy Note 4, the fingerprint reader and heart rate monitor that were recently introduced in the Galaxy S5, are going to be seen in this gadget as well. Both the variants come with a 3GB RAM, and 32GB built-in memory. The Galaxy Note 4 allows for expandable memory up to 64GB. Back to IndexCamera A far cry from the cameras proudly carried by contemporary smartphones, the iPhone 6 Plus perpetuates the tradition of the iPhone 5S, and comes with an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel front camera. Yet, the silver lining for Apple fans is that the inclusion of a number of camera sensors plays a substantial role in the improvement of the whole photography experience. The rear camera, called the iSight camera, is bursting with enhancements, such as allowing for up to 43 megapixels in the Panorama mode, improved face detection, image stabilization; a feature that compensates for hand-shake, motion blur, and low light, and a better focusing capability. The iSight camera has also seen significant improvement in its video-shooting ability; the camera supports 1080p HD video-capture at 60 fps (frames per second), time-lapse videos, auto focus in videos too, and slow motion video-capture at 120 fps or 240 fps, but in 720p. One can also slow down prerecorded videos. The price of reducing the overall thickness of the iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus, is paid by the camera; there is a lens-bulge at the back of the phone that loyal owners of previous iPhone models will find difficult to get used to. The front camera, called the FaceTime camera, is also fitted with new sensors, because of which, it has improved face detection, HDR mode photography in 720p, and also, one can click pictures in burst mode (where around 10 images are clicked in a fraction of a second, enabling one to pick out the perfect photograph, and discard the rest). Why buy a digital camera when you can click such beautiful, crystal clear, and easily editable photographs (the proprietary photo-editing software on Samsung phones is also quite user-friendly) on your Samsung Galaxy Note 4 itself? The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a rear camera of a whooping 16 megapixels, and a 3.7 megapixels-front camera. Like icing on a cake, these cameras come with some very exciting features. The 16 megapixels rear camera is a smart borrow from the Galaxy S5, seeing that it comes with a 16 megapixels camera sensor, that brings with it optical image stabilization (a feature which will totally wipe out the possibility of photos being ruined by motion blur, and the difficulty to keep one’s tablet or phone stable while clicking). Additionally, the only drawback of the Galaxy S5’s camera also has a solution in the camera carried by the Galaxy Note 4; better low light performance. Other awesome camera features like Panorama mode, HDR mode, etc., are also possible with the Galaxy Note 4’s camera. But the most anticipated feature of the Galaxy Note 4’s camera is the Wide Selfie option in the front camera. This feature essentially ensures that the entire group can manage to find their place in a selfie. Back to IndexBattery Life A bigger phone, with a faster processor, generally implies a requirement of higher battery endurance; a domain that has been proven to be the Achilles heel of other leading smartphone brands, like Samsung and LG, in the past. However, Apple has a good track record in this case; complaints of depressing low battery life has never been common among iPhone owners, irrespective of the model. In case of the iPhone 6 Plus too, the manufacturer’s endurance tests revealed the following statistics:
Audio Playback 80 hrs HD Video Playback 14 hrs Wi-Fi Browsing 12 hrs LTE Browsing 12 hrs 3G Browsing 12 hrs 3G Talk 24 hrs Standby 16 days (384 hrs) However, Apple has left their main battery idiosyncrasy unchanged; the battery of the iPhone 6 Plus cannot be detached from the handset.
Pathetic battery performance tops our, and any other smartphone enthusiast’s list of reasons not to buy a phone that runs the Android operating system. But since the earlier days, a lot of work has gone into improving battery life and efficiency of newer smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes with a monstrous 3220 mAh battery. Carrying with it a whole variety of power saving modes, including the Ultra Power Saving Mode (seen previously in the Galaxy S5), which grants 24 hrs more battery life when there is just 10% battery remaining. Samsung has chosen to market the fact that the battery in the Galaxy Note 4 will have the ability to charge from 0 to 50% in 30 minutes itself, a process that would take almost double the time normally, and it can charge even faster in the Ultra Power Saving Mode.
Network and Connectivity
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus provides the most advanced support for LTE, (or 4G) in comparison to any other smartphone till date; there are around 20 LTE bands available. It allows a data rate of up to 150 mbps, and support is also provided for Voice over LTE (VoLTE). The phone also supports Wi-Fi, standard 802.11ac, a technology 3 times as fast as its predecessor, standard 802.11n. One can also make phone calls using one’s own phone number, over Wi-Fi (a very useful feature in a scenario where the network signal is poor, but Wi-Fi is available), and later smoothly transition into VoLTE. The Apple iPhone 6 Plus also provides support for NFC and Bluetooth 4.0
Both the Exynos, and the Snapdragon processors provide support for LTE (Snapdragon can even optimize LTE Category 6). What this means is that, if an LTE network is available, your Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will give you the best possible reception, and improved speed while browsing and streaming online data. Connectivity is never an issue with Samsung Galaxy series smartphones; one can be assured that support for compatibility with the latest telecommunication standards will be provided. The Galaxy Note 4 is compatible with all standards of Wi-Fi including 802.11ac, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0, and, as in other contemporary smartphones, an IR transmitter which can be used for universal remote control.
Operating System and Special Features
The new iPhone launch also brings with it the worldwide release of the new operating system, iOS 8. While this fantastic new operating system resembles its forerunner, the iOS 7, with respect to the way it looks, it brings with it a host of new features. Apple Pay allows one to make payments not only online, but also in a large number of actual stores, using one’s iPhone 6. It works using NFC, and Passbook (an app that can store credit/debit card details, and other physical ‘paper’ that you want to do away with carrying around, like your boarding pass, coupons, etc.). By hovering one’s phone over a particular icon which can be seen at checkout counters of all major stores and restaurants, and using TouchID to verify oneself, cashless, card-less payments can be made using the iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. TouchID, the feature we briefly mentioned above, is a new technology introduced by Apple to improve security and privacy. There are fingerprint sensors located below the Home Button in the iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus, and hence when one’s fingerprints are registered, merely touching the Home Button will allow the phone to recognize the user, and this can be used to unlock the phone, authenticate payments, and lots more. Apple has also tried to venture into home automation and health. The iOS 8 has made it possible to use Siri to control your home’s thermostat, lights, and so on. Meanwhile, health and fitness apps not only collect data (like your heart rate), with the help of sensors, but can also directly communicate with your doctors and send your data to them. The iOS 8 also brings a smarter keyboard, which learns as you type, and makes sending text messages, and emails, much easier. The iOS 8 has many features that are at par with OS X Yosemite. This means integration across two platforms, and Apple has thoughtfully allowed for one to pick up on another device from the same place where one has left their task, with the help of Handoff and iCloud. One can even answer phone calls to their iPhone 6 Plus using their Mac, as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi network, and are connected using the same iCloud account.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 does not have a sensational new operating system to look forward to, mainly because Android 4.4 and its subversions (KitKat) have been out and running for almost a year now, since the launch along with the Nexus 5 smartphone in 2013. Still, KitKat is an amazing operating system, and the Galaxy Note 4 by itself has certain specifications unique to it that do not have much to do with the operating system it runs. The new Galaxy Note 4 phablet supports multi-tasking in a whole new way, allowing users to view more than one app at once in a multi-window, a split-window, or a pop-up format One simply cannot write about the Galaxy Note 4 and fail to mention what truly makes it stand apart; the S Pen. This time around, the S Pen has can sense 2048 pressure levels, giving it double the sensitivity as that of the Galaxy Note 3. It can be used to do many imaginative things, like one can select and share text from any source, or use the Photo Note app that lets one put anything, be it analog, digital, handwritten, text, photography, together, and make changes on them. Not only that, the improved S Pen looks and feels like a real pen, and the Galaxy Note 4 comes with a larger number of handwriting styles for the S Note app. The cherry on the top, this stylus can be used the way one uses the mouse on PCs, to select, click, drag-and-drop, and so on. This functionality is aided by the S Pen’s pressure-sensitivity enhancement.
Outlook for the Future
While the grueling face-off between two of this generation’s most popular smartphone-and-tablet-kingpins’ landmark launches may have left you completely dazed, you must remember that the base of any phone or tablet, or in our case, phablet, is its operating system, and that the iOS and Android operating systems are vastly different. The iOS is essentially designed to use native code, which means it has a better responsiveness, and also that it can run perfectly normally with a simpler processor, whereas the working of Android is more complex, and hence, it requires a lot more processing capacity. This can also explain why the biggest grievance of Android phone users, since time immemorial, has always been the battery drain. Yes, Android developers have been constantly working on it, and in their newer releases, the effect of this problem has reduced. One of the ways of achieving this has been the employment of more efficient, and faster processors. Hence one cannot judge a phone by its processor and speed, if it runs different operating systems.
When it comes to display, the resolution of the iPhone 6 Plus, although ideal for video-viewing, has been criticized, because at the moment, not too many apps in the App Store are optimized for 1080p viewing, and the iPhone 6 Plus‘s scaling mechanism is not exactly up to the task. However, the outlook is good for app developers. Meanwhile, advocates of Apple have rightly pointed out, that increasing the pixel density in the Galaxy Note 4 is not going to make much of a difference to the naked eye, that has a limiting resolution of its own, and to which the density offered by this phablet’s predecessors were already beyond that limit. In return, Samsung fans congratulate iPhone aficionados on finally being able to look at their phone in landscape mode.
Merely considering the capability of the camera, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is light years ahead. While an outstanding camera is obviously desired, the camera provided in the iPhone 6 Plus is quite adequate for a satisfying experience, in fact, with all its add-ons, it is a huge improvement with respect to what iPhone cameras could do in the past. Anyway, the sole decision-making factor for which phone one should buy should never be the camera it carries.
Lastly, the network and connectivity support in both the phones is almost at par, and the true hero here is not actually the smartphone’s features itself, but the advancement in the underlying telecommunication technology. When it comes to software, both the iOS 8 and the Android 4.4 KitKat are superb in their own way; the features and benefits of each, are completely mind-blowing. The transition from cash to card-less that Apple wants to achieve, and the kind of integration into real life that the Samsung Galaxy provides, are milestones in the world of technology.
Only time will tell which of these two ‘big screen rivals’ will outlast the other.
Author: Padmini Krishna