August 13, 2015
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The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is finally here, and though there are plenty of other large-screen handsets out there, we know most of you will be looking for one specific comparison. Yes, we are talking about Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, which will definitely be the new Samsung phone’s main competitor.

Which of these handsets is worthy of your hard-earned cash? We have finally gotten to play with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and spent some time comparing it to the iPhone 6 Plus. These phones are more different than we would think, so let’s take you through all the details.

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Design

Samsung’s Galaxy S series was never recognized for outstanding designs. In fact, up until the Galaxy S6 most people criticized these phones’ aesthetics and build quality. With the Samsung Galaxy S6, the Korean manufacturer took the team back to the drawing board and created a phone worthy of envy.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 adopts the same design language. It sports a metal edge, paired with the same glass front and back. The only main difference is there are now a couple side edges on the back of the phone (like the Galaxy S6 edge, but on the opposite side).

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Apple will have a harder time competing with Samsung this year, as Sammy’s phones are actually very well-built this time around. But it will still be a matter of personal preference, as the iPhone 6 Plus is also a great-looking handset. Apple’s phablet sports a metal unibody design and glass front. Do you prefer mostly glass or mostly metal? That is the real question.

Let’s just hope the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 doesn’t bend like the iPhone 6 Plus was known to do. That will likely be a huge deciding factor for customers.

These phones are pretty similar in other ways. Both have the volume rocker on the left side, the power button on the right and the home button/fingerprint reader right under the screen. The manufacturers went as far as copying each others’ annoying protruding cameras.

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Another main difference is, of course, that the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 comes with that S-Pen slot on the bottom-right area of the phone.

Display

There’s really not much fight here. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a QHD (2560x1440p) resolution. That would equate to a 515 ppi pixel density. Meanwhile, the iPhone 6 Plus stays in the dust with its 5.5-inch IPS LCD Full HD (1920x1080p) screen, featuring a much lower 401 ppi density.

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This means text, images and video will be much crisper and clearer on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Blacks will also be deeper and colors more vibrant, but that may not be to your liking. If you prefer more color accurate screens, IPS LCD panels are great at reproducing precise imaging. With that said, the Note 5 offers the option to tone down the colors for a more natural look, if that’s what you want.

Performance

We have to accept that great hardware doesn’t always make a huge difference in performance. Hardware can be adapted to software, making lower resources much more efficient. This is why gaming consoles with inferior specs (PS4, Xbox One, etc.) can often achieve better performance than fairly powerful computers.

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With that in mind, we must also agree the difference between the Galaxy Note 5 and iPhone 6 Plus specs is quite significant. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has an Exynos 7420 chipset, which we have previously seen in the Samsung Galaxy S6 and we know to be stronger than Apple’s A8 processor.

In addition, the difference in multi-tasking prowess will be immense. Not only because of software, but also due to the 4 GB of RAM on the Note 5, which quadruple Apple’s mere 1 GB of RAM.

Hardware

Other specs are rather similar. Neither handsets have removable batteries or microSD card support. The iPhone 6 Plus does offer higher storage options at 16/64/128 GB, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 offers only 32/64 GB options. Furthermore, they are pretty similar in the battery department: the Note has a 3000 mAh battery, which is only slightly bigger than the 2915 mAh battery in the iPhone. The Note has always be known as the phone to choose if you’re looking for battery life, and we look forward to see if the Note 5 continues that legacy, even if its battery capacity is actually smaller than the Note 4’s.

The presence of microSD and removable battery has been one of the key features that Note fanatics have long touted, and there’s no small amount of controversy regarding their absence from the Note 5. The playing field is definitely more even now between these two competitors.

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Camera

There’s not much to discuss here. It has been proven time and again that the Samsung Galaxy S6 camera beats any other smartphone shooter, including the iPhone 6 Plus’. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 happens to have the same camera technology. This would be a 16 MP camera with f/1.9 aperture and OIS. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus sports an 8 MP camera with OIS and an f/2.2 aperture. On the front, the Note 5 gets an update to 5MP compared to just 1.2 on the iPhone 6 Plus.

One notable new software feature of the Note is the ability to stitch together multiple videos in animated collages. That’s a neat little trick, but probably few users will actually use it.

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Software

We won’t get into the Android vs iOS debate here. What we can tell you is Android 5.1.1 and iOS 8 are very different, and choosing between one or the other is a very subjective matter.

Android is known for its superior customization, open ecosystem and flexibility. Apple’s operating system is famous for its simplicity, intuitive interface and constant updates. Which style do you prefer? Do you want to geek out with Android, or do you want iOS to “just work”? That’s especially true given how the differences between the two operating systems have shrunk in time.

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There is one main difference here, though. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 does have that included S-Pen stylus. Along with the software optimizations, this can become a great tool for making you a much more productive individual. New S-Pen features coming on the Note 5 are the ability to write down notes even when the screen is sleeping and a redesigned Air Command menu that looks a lot better in our opinion.

Wrap up

Do we have a clear winner? Not really, but we would say the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has the upper hand in this battle. So far it performs better, looks great, has a better camera, and the software includes a plethora of shortcuts and helpful tools.

The iPhone 6 Plus will be the better option only if you prioritize internal storage. Or if you happen to have an inclination towards Apple’s design language and software. Otherwise, the iPhone 6 Plus is falling behind and we hope its successor can give these new handsets a better fight.

Which phone would you guys prefer? Hit the comments and give us your 2 cents!

Joshua Vergara
Writer, blogger, and videographer - Josh is a former support technician that learned much about technology by fixing everyone else's. On the side, he wrote and performed spoken word, maintained his own personal blogs, and began his own video podcast. Now, he's here at Android Authority looking to put it all together!
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