The long-standing competition between Apple and Samsung has never been as close as it is today.
Earlier this month, Samsung officially launched the Galaxy S6 — which is arguably its best phone to date. Some may even call it the best Android phone on the market right now.
Samsung has improved its latest Galaxy phone in all the right ways — from the way it looks and feels to the software and how well the camera works. But is it enough to convince iPhone users to switch?
We’ve compared the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 side-by-side to see exactly how they compare in terms of display quality, performance, battery life, and more.
For a long time, the iPhone was the best-looking phone out there by a long shot. It was the only one with a metal, unibody design that looked and felt elite, sleek, and beautiful. That’s not necessarily true anymore — HTC’s One set a new standard for other Android phones in terms of design when the One M7 launched in 2013.
Now, two years later, Samsung has released its most gorgeous phone yet.
The Galaxy S6 still has the same shape as its predecessors, but it feels much more premium. The back is made of a smooth glass, while Samsung uses brushed aluminium for the edges. It’s really light too — Samsung sacrificed a few things to make improvements to the phone’s design (i.e. there’s no removeable back so you can’t change the battery), but since it’s not completely made of metal, it’s not any heavier than previous Samsung phones.
The iPhone looks and feels just as premium, but most of the phone is made of brushed aluminium. It’s ever so slightly thinner than the Galaxy S6, but you really only notice when stacking the two on top of one another.The iPhone 6 is 6.8mm thin, while the Galaxy S6 is 7mm thin.
There are positives and negatives to both phones in terms of design — the iPhone can be slippery if you’re using it without a case, while the Galaxy S6 gets smudged up with fingerprints really easily if you’re using it cover free.
Overall, I prefer the Galaxy S6’s design, mostly because it feels more durable and less like I’m going to drop it. I also really like the way the metal frame looks against the glass body. There’s no doubt that it bears some resemblance to the iPhone, but if anything, it took the best design aspects of the iPhone and combined them, in my opinion. The metal edges look like those of the iPhone 6, but the glass front and back are a lot like the iPhone 4/4s.
Winner: Galaxy S6
Both phones come with gorgeous screens, but here’s where they differ: the Galaxy S6 exaggerates colours a lot, but the iPhone’s screen is brighter. I really noticed this while watching a trailer for the new “Daredevil” series on Netflix. Even in dark scenes, the areas of the screen that are colourful appeared much brighter on the S6.
This photo of the Marvel logo on both phones really illustrates the difference:
Some may argue that the iPhone’s colours are more accurate, but I generally preferred viewing photos and videos on the Galaxy S6. I should preface this, however, by saying that both phones have really good screens. If you were to watch a video on either one, you would be satisfied with the quality. It just so happens that colours pop a lot more on the S6.
And, even though the Galaxy S6’s screen should be sharper and more detailed than that of the iPhone based on specs alone (the iPhone 6 has a 1334 x 750 screen while the Galaxy S6 has a 2560 x 1440 resolution screen), I didn’t noticed a difference in that area.
Since the iPhone’s screen is brighter, however, you might have an easier time seeing it in bright sunlight.
Winner: Galaxy S6
The battery life is nearly the same on both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6, but the iPhone’s is slightly better. My colleague Steve Kovach wrote that both phones lasted for about full workday after normal to heavy usage, and I’ve experienced the same.
Tech site AnandTech performed a formal battery test, which consisted of consistently browsing the web on each phone. The iPhone 6 lasted almost 11.5 hours, while the Galaxy S6 lasted for a little over 10 hours. The iPhone 6 Plus trumped every phone on the list with a battery life of over 13 hours, according to AnandTech’s testing.
It’s also worth noting that the Galaxy S6 comes with quick-charging, as long as you’re using the charger that comes with the phone. Plus, supports wireless charging and is compatible with any wireless charging pad you can find at Best Buy.
Winner: iPhone 6
The past several generations of iPhones have all had top-notch cameras, and the iPhone 6 is no different. But Samsung has made several improvements to its camera, too, including the ability to shoot better photos in low-light. The Galaxy S6’s camera, like its screen, does tend to favour colour. You can tell that the yellow shade in the banana below is a bit bolder on the S6’s photo.
I generally preferred the iPhone 6’s indoor photo, though. In the photos below, which were taken in a somewhat dim living room, the iPhone preserved more detail.
It’s a tough call, but this round goes to the iPhone, simply because I believe the colour is just more accurate than that of the Galaxy S6. To be clear, though, the S6’s camera is pretty excellent, and is definitely better than that of the HTC One M9, as you can see in my in-depth camera comparison here.
Winner: iPhone 6
Interface and apps
It’s hard to argue whether or not iOS is better than Android — ultimately, it comes down to a personal preference. Android is much more customisable than iOS: you can add widgets to certain apps and tools to your home screen, add different themes, and install launchers that give you access to different apps and features straight from the home screen. You can’t do anything like that on the iPhone, although Apple did add a widget-like feature for the notification center when iOS 8 came out last year.
Samsung’s latest flavour of Android, which it calls TouchWiz, is its best yet. It’s less busy and cluttered than the software you’ll find on the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4. It looks more like the basic version of Android that ships on Google’s Nexus phones, but you still get the few Samsung features that are useful. For example, you can open more than one app in separate windows on the home screen, and you can swap out various quick settings options when dragging down from the top of the screen. It’s slick, clean, and fast.
Apple’s iOS is much more closed and restricted. You can’t change the theme, add widgets, or anything similar in that regard. But the simplicity is part of what makes iOS so appealing — anyone can pick it up and figure out how to use it. Your apps are right there on the home screen, and that’s really all there is to it.
Even though it’s really about preference, there are two areas where iOS has an advantage: since it’s all controlled by Apple, every iPhone and iPad gets updated to the next version of iOS at the same time. With Android devices, including those made by Samsung, it could take months to get the latest Android software update. Popular apps also tend to come out on the iPhone before they’re released for Android. Take Instagram and Vine for example. Mostly for those reasons, I’m giving the apps and interface section to the iPhone.
Winner: iPhone 6
Both the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 come with a fingerprint sensor for unlocking your phone and approving purchases, but Samsung’s phone simply has more extras. The Galaxy S6 comes with Samsung Pay, which works at any payments terminal as opposed to the iPhone 6’s Apple Pay, which only works where NFC is supported (Samsung’s phone also has NFC, too).
The Galaxy S6 also has a heart rate monitor and supports wireless charging, which my colleague Steve Kovach found to be extremely convenient in his review. Samsung wins this round.
Winner: Galaxy S6
If you were to calculate each round, you would see that both phones are tied. But, it’s not the number of rounds you win, it’s which rounds you win. My personal preference is the iPhone, because it succeeds in all of the areas that are really important to me: battery life, apps, and camera. That’s not to say the Galaxy S6 performs poorly in either of those areas — it’s an excellent phone with a great screen, and it’s just as good-looking, if not better looking, than the iPhone. But, because I know that apps tend to launch on the iPhone first, and I prefer the cleaner look of iOS compared to Android, I’m sticking with the iPhone. The Galaxy S6, though, is probably the best Android phone you can buy at this point.
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