Head-To-Head: Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

Device releases continue hot and heavy as the market gears up for the make-or-break holiday buying season. Samsung Friday began shipping the Galaxy Note 4, this year's edition of the company's plus-sized smartphone. How does it compare with the Apple iPhone 6 Plus? Here's a head-to-head comparison of iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4.

64-bit vs. 32-bit

The iPhone 6 Plus has Apple's new A8 SoC, a 64-bit custom processor running at 2.0GHz. It also has the M7, a second processor that's dedicated to sensory input. The Note 4 for North American markets will come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 32-bit quad-core SoC running at 2.7GHz. In Asia and other markets, the Note 4 will incorporate Samsung's own Exynos 7 Octa 5433, which has eight 32-bit ARM Cortex cores, four running at 1.9GHz and four at 1.3GHz. Having four 32-bit processor cores (and certainly eight) is plenty powerful, but even one 64-bit processor can address more memory and run more sophisticated code like encryption with less effort than 32-bit cores. Still, Apple still supplies just 1 GB of RAM with iPhone 6 Plus; Note 4 comes with 3 GB.

Graphics Processor

The A8 SoC incorporates Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GX6450, which processes graphics with a quad-core engine plus dedicated co-processors for pixels, tiling and other specialized tasks. The Note 4's Snapdragon 805 has an Adreno 420 GPU, which Qualcomm says can automatically adjust its rendering style and dynamically allocate pixel- or vertex-shaders depending on the graphical workload, thereby maximizing performance and power efficiency.

The Display

The iPhone 6 Plus -- Apple's biggest ever -- mis built around a 5.5-inch IPS panel with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. That's a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. The Note 4 has a 5.7-inch PLS panel (Samsung's version of IPS), and puts out 2,560 x 1,440. That's 515 ppi. Samsung's super active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED, "super" because the digitizing layer is built in) screens are remarkable. They put out bright images and highly vivid colors, and because they use fewer filtering layers than most other panels, AMOLED panels allow more backlight to penetrate for improved outdoor viewing, better contrast and blacker blacks.

Weights, Measures

Despite the Note 4's diagonal measurement that's two-tenths of an inch larger than iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung's device is essentially the same width as Apple's and is about two-tenths of an inch shorter. The iPhone 6 Plus measures 6.2 inches long, 3.1 inches wide, 0.28 of an inch thick. The Note 4 is 6.04 inches long, 3.09 inches wide and a third (0.33) of an inch thick inch. As for weight, the iPhone tips the scales at 6.1 ounces. The Note 4 is heavier by a feather; it weighs 6.2 ounces.


Samsung delivers more than double the number of pixels of Apple in both of its cameras. In the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple stuck with 8 megapixels in its iSight camera and put 1.2 megapixels in the FaceTime camera. The main camera in the Note 6 has 16 million pixels and its selfie camera has 3.7 megapixels. The main cameras in both devices include optical image stabilization, high dynamic range, slow-motion and time lapse capabilities. Apple's can capture 1,080p video at 30 or 60 fps; Samsung's can grab 5,312 x 2,988 stills and ultra high-definition video (3,840 x 2,160) video at 30 fps. Samsung can operate both cameras a once and the front camera has normal and wide-angle selfie modes.

C ommunications

Apple and Samsung both include the high-speed Wi-Fi ac, but only Samsung has Bluetooth 4.1, which eliminates near-band conflicts with LTE and improves protocols for device reconnection and bulk data transfer (Apple is still at v4.0). Both devices can switch seamlessly from cellular to Wi-Fi calling (if the carrier supports it). However, Apple claims that it can do so while a call is in progress. Note 4 includes an IR emitter for controlling nearby devices, and Wi-Fi/LTE channel bonding for quicker downloads. Note 4's USB 2.0 charging and data port is MHL 3.0-compliant for connecting to monitors and other compatible peripherals. The iPhone's Lightning connector is reversible and more durable than micro-USB. Apple implements its own protocol for displaying iPhone contents.

iOS 8 vs. Android 4.4

The new iPhones come with iOS 8, which is tightly integrated with Mac OS Yosemite, Apple's latest desktop operating system. While the 32-bit Note 4 is stuck on Android 4.4, Samsung's TouchWiz UI overlay can split the screen between two apps, float a third one on top, and do lots of really sophisticated recognition trickery with the included stylus.

The Bottom Line

The iPhone 6 Plus has been shipping since Sept. 19 starting at $299 with a contract from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. It's available in white, silver and gray. After a delay of about a week, Samsung Oct. 17 began shipping the Galaxy Note 4 (in black or white) for around $299 for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.