Samsung’s Galaxy Note line has grown from a niche product at the time of its introduction, to its latest member, the Galaxy Note 4, being dubbed as “Samsung’s true flagship.” That said, the company’s original S series flagship line has been going strong as well, and while faltering a bit in 2014, with the latest addition to this lineup, the Galaxy S6, Samsung has come back as strong as ever. So how do these two very distinct flagship devices fare against each other? We find out, as we take a quick look at the Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Galaxy Note 4!
For the first time in a comparison involving two flagship Samsung devices, we’re looking at both smartphones featuring metal frames, a design element that was first introduced with the Galaxy Alpha, and has become the standard since. In the case of the Galaxy Note 4, plastic in the form of a faux leather back is still to be found, which is also removable, allowing for access to the microSD card slot and replaceable battery. The signature tactile home button up front is integrated with a fingerprint scanner, and 2.5D glass over the display adds some visual flair to the front of the device. As this is a Note device, you will also find an S-Pen stylus nestled into the bottom corner.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 may retain a lot of the design language of its sibling flagships, but introduces a complete overhaul with regards to build quality and material, with the device boasting a premium metal and glass unibody design. The metal frame keeps the tapered, raised look on the top and bottom corners that we also see with the Note 4, and is really nice. The curved sides do result in a more rounded look, compared to the rigid lines of the Galaxy Note 4, and the Galaxy S6 is as thin and sleek and you’d expect to see from a Samsung flagship. This design choice is not without its compromises though, with the battery now not being removable, and with the microSD expansion being given a miss as well. The camera module also tends to protrude quite a bit, which could be problem when sliding or placing the phone on its back on a flat surface.
Things are quite even on the display front, with both smartphones featuring Super AMOLED displays with Quad HD resolutions. The difference in size, 5.7-inches for the Galaxy Note 4 and 5.1-inches for the Galaxy S6, results in a higher pixel density count for the latter, but the difference isn’t significant enough to be particularly noticeable. Samsung is well-known for its display prowess, and that really shines through with both devices. Deep blacks, vivid colors, great viewing angles and fantastic brightness are all features of either display, and you’ll have a great viewing experience on both. While the Galaxy S6 gets the edge for its higher pixel density and more manageable size, the larger display of the Galaxy Note 4 is the better choice from a media-consumption and gaming standpoint.
In performance, we see Samsung setting a bit of a precedent going from the Galaxy Note 4 to the Galaxy S6, as former packs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, backed by the Adreno 420 GPU and 3 GB of RAM, with another version coming with the Exynos 5 Octa, also with 3 GB of RAM. As expected, the performance with either iteration is pretty great. But, with the Galaxy S6, Samsung has decided to give Qualcomm a pass this time, in favor of getting fully behind its in-house octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, also backed by 3 GB of RAM. The Galaxy S6 just oozes power, and it cannot be emphasized enough how smooth the performance was in the short time I got to spend with it, with the more streamlined version of TouchWiz certainly a contributing factor as well.
Things remain largely identical in terms of other hardware, with both smartphones featuring fingerprint scanners integrated into the home button, but in different implementations, with the touch type iteration definitely better than the swipe version of the Galaxy Note 4. Both also have heart rate monitors on the back, positioned slightly differently, but still in proximity to the rear camera. The Galaxy Note 4 does come with expandable storage and a removable battery though, and of course, the big selling point of the Note series is the availability of the S-Pen stylus and everything that it entails.
On the camera side of things, both smartphones feature similar setups when it comes to the rear camera, with its 16 MP shooters, and as such, we can expect the quality to be about the same, but of course, a more thorough testing of the Galaxy S6 camera is required before making any final judgments. There are some improvements in the case of the Galaxy S6 though, with the front-facing camera being upgraded to a 5 MP unit, and both the front and back cameras featuring f 1.9 apertures with auto HDR, which should allow for some great shots in low light.
When it comes to software, it has been quite easy to compare the overall experience between device iterations because TouchWiz is TouchWiz, a feature packed user interface, even more so in the case of the Galaxy Note 4, which features a slew of applications and features to take advantage of the S-Pen stylus and the larger screen real estate. That story has somewhat changed with the Galaxy S6 though. Even if things remain quite similar aesthetically, apart from any Lollipop-related changes that will make their way to the Note 4 a well, the number of pre-installed applications have been reduced, with users given the option to choose what they want. The experience on the Galaxy S6 is very fluid in its transitions, and the complete package doesn’t seem to be as overwhelming as previous versions.
|Samsung Galaxy S6||Samsung Galaxy Note 4|
|Display||5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display|
|5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display|
|Processor||2.1 GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 processor|
|2.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor|
Adreno 420 GPU
|RAM||3 GB||3 GB|
|32/64/128 GB, expandable up to 128 GB|
|Network||4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21/42 Mbps||4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21/42 Mbps|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, A-GPS / Glonass, USB 2.0||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready (Apt-X) 4.1, NFC|
SlimPort, A-GPS / Glonass, USB 2.0
|Software||Android 5.0 Lollipop||Android 4.4 Kitkat|
|Camera||Rear 16 MP with OIS. |
Front 5 MP wide angle lens
|Rear 16 MP with OIS. |
Front 3.7 MP
|Battery||2,550 mAh||3,220 mAh|
|Dimensions||143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm|
|153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm|
So there you have it for this quick look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Galaxy S6! These are the two giants of the Samsung ecosystem currently, and are certainly worthy of the term “flagship.” What matters here is what features you need to get the most out of your daily smartphone usage, and if that includes an S-Pen and a large display, the Note 4 is the way to go. The Galaxy S6 features a beautiful design and a sleek body, but isn’t without its compromises in terms of the expandable storage and replaceable battery, and those are two more factors that may lead to some favoring the Note series over the latest addition to the Galaxy S lineup.