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iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: the bigger battle

It’s the clash of the titans, an epic battle between two giants. Yep, it’s our iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison, which puts Apple’s freshly announced phablet up against the enormous Korean contender. Which one will win? There’s only one way to find out.

samsung galaxy note 5 iphone 6 plus back
The Galaxy Note 5 (right) a sleek metal and glass design. The iPhone 6s Plus will have similar looks to the 6 Plus (left). / © ANDROIDPIT
Amazon price for Apple iPhone 6s Plus
Lowest price: Apple iPhone 6s Plus
Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy Note 5

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: design and build quality

As we’ve come to expect from Apple’s S models, the iPhone 6s Plus doesn’t look dramatically different to the iPhone 6 Plus: the design still feels fresh though, and we’re sure the new rose gold option will have plenty of fans. It appears to be another well built Apple device and this year’s model is tougher than before, made from stronger aluminum to ensure it doesn’t go banana-shaped if you sit on it.

The Galaxy Note 5 is better than its predecessor, with a glass and metal case that gets shot of the horrible fake-leather of its predecessor, and we think it's a fine looker. The Note 5 also has Samsung's S Pen, which many people find useful, although some people choose not to use it. There does appear to be one design problem though: as you’ve probably heard by now, putting the S Pen in the wrong way can cause serious damage to the Note.

samsung galaxy note 5 s pen back
Samsung has dumped the faux leather plastic back, and the Note 5 looks better as a result.  / © ANDROIDPIT

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: Display

The iPhone 6s Plus has the same 5.5-inch display as the 6 Plus, with 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution and 401 ppi. The important difference in the display is the implementation of Apple's 3D Force Touch technology, a pressure-sensing system similar to the one in recent MacBooks and the Apple Watch. It doesn’t just detect taps, but presses and long presses too, and is baked right into Apple’s operating system.

An example of how 3D Touch functionality can be applied to messages and emails was shown in Apple's recent announcement. In the iPhone 6s Plus's email app, you can press on a  message and it will pop it out in a preview window. As soon as you let go, it will hide. 

This functionality can also be applied to apps and it’s impressive software because it means you don’t need to close and re-open tabs or windows constantly for small tasks, you just use the touch gestures to load a preview. 

samsung galaxy note 5 air command s pen
The Note 5 has the higher resolution display, plus the S Pen. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Note 5 has a 5.7-inch AMOLED display running 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at 515 ppi. It’s one of the best displays ever fitted to a mobile device and it’s particularly good if you like your colors to pop and zing. It’s denser than the iPhone display, and brighter without being oversaturated like earlier AMOLEDS were. 

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: processor and storage

The iPhone 6s Plus comes with the new 64-bit A9 processor with an M9 motion co-processor. A direct comparison with Android devices isn’t really possible here because Apple’s control of hardware and OS means it can optimize its devices in a way Android firms can’t.

On paper, iPhones with less impressive specs than Android devices often deliver better performance than their rivals, and that’s likely to be the case here. Apple touts 70 percent faster CPU tasks and 90 percent faster GPU tasks from the A9 compared to its previous chip. The 6s Plus comes in 16, 64 and 128 GB storage options, all with 2 GB of RAM.

The Galaxy Note 5 has Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 processor, running eight cores at up to 2.1 GHz, and it’s backed with 4 GB of RAM and either 32 GB or 64 GB of on-board storage.

Inside every Note 5 is Samsung's Exynos octa-core processor. / © Samsung

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: camera

Apple has long concentrated on image quality rather than mere megapixels, but with the iPhone 6s Plus the megapixel count is up from 8 MP to 12 MP, while retaining the optical image stabilization of the previous Plus. The front-facing snapper comes in at 5 MP, with the display now acting as a flash.

The iPhone 6s Plus can record video in 4K, meaning Apple is catching up to Android on that score, and by default the camera will turn photos into short videos. This looks like the same kind of software as HTC Zoe: the 6s Plus takes a 1.5 second video either side of the photograph so that you can press on them in the gallery to play a short clip. It looks impressive, but whether or not if will be more successful than Zoe we don't yet know. 

The Note 5 has one of the best cameras around. It’s a very impressive 16 MP shooter with LED flash, image stabilization and excellent low light performance. The front facing camera is 5 MP. On paper, then, the Note camera is better, but if Apple has worked its usual magic with the camera sensor there’s a good chance the iPhone 6s Plus may still take the better photos.

In Apple's announcement they showed a number of unedited photos taken with the iPhone 6s Plus camera, and they did look stunning.

samsung galaxy note 5 iphone 6 plus camera
Samsung's camera is one of the best around, although Apple does great things with its sensors. / © ANDROIDPIT

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: software

The iPhone 6s Plus ships with Apple’s iOS 9, which is a relatively minor update: the headline features are improved Siri voice recognition and a Google Now-esque notification system called Proactive. The real work will be under the hood to improve performance and battery life. 

The Note 5 ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, Samsung’s slimmer-than-before TouchWiz and the usual Samsung and S Pen apps. Of course, the Galaxy Note 5 will be inline for the upcoming Android Marshmallow update.

wwdc15 keynote shot 15
iOS 9 includes the very Google Now-esque Proactive search. / © Apple

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: battery

The iPhone 6s Plus battery comes in at 2,750 mAh, a little smaller than the iPhone 6 Plus' 2,915 mAh. That may be compensated by iOS 9’s power management and what we assume is a more efficient processor, as the likelihood of Apple releasing an iPhone with worse battery life than before seems rather small.

The Note 5 has a 3,000 mAh battery and unlike Apple, it supports fast charging and fast wireless charging. However in the real world we expect both devices to deliver a day’s battery life in normal usage.

samsung charging station
Fast charging without cables? Yes please, Samsung. Apple will probably do this in a few years. / © ANDROIDPIT

iPhone 6s Plus vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: early verdict

Any decision between the iPhone 6s Plus and the Galaxy Note 5 is likely to be based on personal preference, rather than hard facts. Many people prefer the iPhone's style, or prefer iOS to Android, and for those people the Note simply won’t figure: they like iPhones, so they’ll buy iPhones. On the Android side there are people who want like the S Pen and want the ability to get their devices just so, and they’d go for the Note.

If you haven’t already picked a team in the Apple vs Android battle and you’re want the most powerful phone around, the Samsung has more horsepower, probably a bigger battery and more scope for personalization, while the Apple is more efficient, more elegant, likely to take better photographs.

But it’s worth considering the wider picture too, because when you choose a phone you also choose an ecosystem: Apple Pay vs Google Pay, Apple Music vs Google Music, Apple’s App Store vs Google Play, Apple TV vs Chromecast, Apple Watch vs Android Wear and so on. Naturally we’re going to recommend going down the Android road with the Note 5, but if you’re planning on buying an Apple Watch, Apple TV or Mac in the near future, then you might want to go for the iPhone 6s Plus instead.

samsung galaxy note 5 iphone 6 plus screen
The iPhone 6 Plus (left) has basically the same dimensions as the 6s Plus, but it is heavier. / © ANDROIDPIT

Then there's 3D Touch. Though similar technology will hit Android soon, there's no denying it is a credible feature that the iPhone 6s Plus can hold over the Galaxy Note 5. 

If we’re being totally honest, at this point the iPhone 6s Plus seems like the more impressive handset. Irrespective of what has changed or what is new compared to the previous generation, looking at both phones like-for-like, the iPhone 6s Plus just seems to provide more impressive functionality and better usability. 

What do you think? Are the latest big phones a big deal, or are you saving your cash for next year’s models? Let us know.


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  • The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have been on the market for quite some time now. These devices have been well received and were ultimately a success. If you own one of these devices or are planning on buying one then it is important to not that smartphone should be protected by cases and covers to ensure they don’t damage due to accidental drops. And let’s be honest we all get clumsy sometimes. We have listed the very best iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S cases here so you can easily choose one.
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  • +Improved speed everywhere (new processor, faster wireless, quicker Touch ID sensor), Excellent build quality, Beautiful design, High-quality display, Excellent battery life (iPhone 6s Plus), Consistently good camera quality, 3D Touch has great potential, Live Photos are are great, Touch ID speed improvements, iOS still has the best apps.

    -Expensive, Mediocre battery life (iPhone 6s), 16GB base storage is too low, Low-light camera performance regression.

  • OTACORB Oct 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Tried them both and stuck with the iPhone 6s Plus. I had the Note 3 and 4, then tried the 5. Sorry you folks can say whatever the heck you want, but in my side by side the iPhone was smoother all around. The camera loads faster, takes pictures faster, focuses faster. After 10 days the Note 5 was already showing signs of slowing down, which is typical for Samsung phones. Now when I say the iPhone was faster, I don't mean knock your socks off faster, but faster nonetheless. You guys talk about all the added features that Samsung has on the Note, I can't argue that point. However, for me at the end of the day, I don't give two cares about all the customization in the world, or the s-pen. What I want is a buttery smooth phone that response to my touches, with no lag that gets worse over time. Oh and one more thing I want.. I want my phone to be able to store my music, stream it via bluetooth to the head unit in my various cars. What I don't want is stuttering/skipping and stopping which are common traits with the Note from the 3 up to the 5. I was amazed that the Note 5 still has this issue. The note 5 is a darn good looking device, no doubt about it. I actually like the way it looks better than the iPhone. Again it comes down to being satisfied about performance and usability and Apple with their hardware and software so well integrated to all work together just beats out anything that Samsung has. Sorry that is my experience and nothing that anyone says is going to change that. Also forums are full of complaints about the restarting, memory management, I don't have to make those issues up they are real. Samsung has quad-core processor and 4GB of ram and yet it can't outperform the iPhone which is dual core with half the ram. Just imagine the experience of the Samsung if it had the same specs as the iPhone. LOL

  • A low cost Iphone case is available in Amazon. I have been using it for 2years. It is perfectly fit for Iphone 6 plus cover and easy access of all the phone device. This ultra thin flip case specially designed for Apple Iphone 6plus.

  • Please let me know what makes the IPhone 6s plus more impressive, lesser features. I am the owner of a note 3 and while I am not happy with some of the features that the note 5 has taken away it still offers way more functionality and features than the 6s plus. It has a better design and better technology. Many of the features that the 6s plus is just getting I have had on my note 3 for over 2 years and more. How can anyone compare feature for feature an say that the 6s plus can come out on top. If you think that 3D touch or force touch is so innovative then check what the s-pen can do. Why do you think that Apple is copying these features with its Ipad pro and inferior pencil.

    • Same thing I'm wondering.... these editors try to be politically correct instead of telling the Truth! Logic can't even make sense out of this claim that iPhone is more impressive yet the Note 5 is better??? The review didn't even go over multitasking capabilities which blows the iPhone out the water. Samsung Pay which runs the world! IPhone 6 plus is the same iPhone with pressurized touch and an enhanced camera. Tell the Truth! Apple users will still settle for less they don't care that Samsung is better.

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