Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs Apple iPhone 6 full review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review

How does Samsung's fastest Galaxy stack up against the brand-new iPhone 6? We compare the specs to see which is the best smartphone in our Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review. Also see: Best smartphones and Best phablets. 

We should be comparing the Note 4 to the iPhone 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 to the iPhone 6, right? Well, yes, and we have. But both the iPhone 6 and Note 4 are six months more advanced than the Galaxy S5, and if your choice is between the best Samsung and the iPhone 6 then this is the comparison for you. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Price and UK availability 

SIM-free you can buy the 32GB Samsung Galaxy Note 4 on Amazon UK from £578. Its RRP is £599, but you can expect this to continue to drop. 

There's no 32GB iPhone 6 with which to compare the Note 4, but the 16GB model costs £539, 64GB costs £619, and 128GB costs 128GB. You'll get it cheaper only if you buy secondhand or refurbished, or wait for the iPhone 7.

While the iPhone 6 doesn't let you add removable storage, making your choice of model important, the Note 4 has a microSD slot that accepts cards up to 128GB in capacity. You'll need to factor in the price of a microSD card, and the 128GB versions are fairly pricey, but it won't bump up the price as high as Apple's £699. 

Both smartphones are available on contracts (see our Best mobile phone deals), but you will pay less in the long run if you can afford to buy the phone upfront and get a SIM-only tariff. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Design and build 

The 138.1x67x6.9mm, 129g iPhone 6 isn't Apple's biggest phone - that's the 5.5in screen iPhone 6 Plus - and it's not as big or heavy as the 153.5x78.6x8.5mm, 176g Note 4. But it is still a big phone, and some loyal iPhone users will find even this model too big. (And if that's the case, they can forget the Note 4.) 

Apple has addressed this with Reachability. A double-tap of the Home button causes the top half of the iPhone 6's 4.7in screen to slide down, bringing even the furthest elements within reach when used in one hand. Samsung's Multi Window and pop-up window features can also be used in this respect, but you're far more likely to use this phablet in two hands - particularly when used with the S Pen. 

The metal iPhone has the better build quality. Its newly rounded edges and low weight make it feel more manageable in the hand and smaller than it actually is, although we don't like the way its camera protrudes slightly at the rear.  

Samsung's Note 4 also has a metal frame, but it's obvious only at the edges. A flimsy faux-leather textured rear cover makes it feel a little cheap. On the plus side a removable rear panel makes for a removable battery, too. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Display 

We think Samsung wins hands-down on the screen, but at 5.7in it may be too large for your tastes. If you can handle the size, this quad-HD (2560x1440) Super AMOLED panel will be a perfect companion for watching video, playing games, viewing photos and even catching up on some work. 

Apple's 750x1334 screen is a good second-best, though. It's not actually any different than that used on the iPhone 5s - there are more pixels simply because it is wider and taller - so if you're a fan of that screen you'll like this one. It's the same, but bigger. 

Apple fits its iPhone 6 with an IPS panel, while Samsung uses Super AMOLED (like AMOLED, but thinner, lighter, more easy going on the juice and easier to see in direct sunlight, with one layer fewer used in manufacture). Super AMOLED tends to provide better contrast but sometimes overly saturated colours, plus it has less of an impact on battery life since no backlight is required; IPS is typically brighter, with better viewing angles and sharper images, although the Note 4 has the higher pixel density here with 515ppi against the iPhone 6's 326ppi. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Hardware and performance 

These are two of the very fastest, most powerful phones you can buy (also see: What's the fastest smartphone 2014), so comparing their performance is a little like splitting hairs. You will not be disappointed with either phone. 

For what it's worth, on the inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has in the UK got a 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chip with 3GB of RAM and Adreno 420 graphics. Apple's iPhone 6 features the company's 1.4GHz A8 64-bit processor and M8 motion coprocessor, which it pairs with 1GB of RAM. Don't get caught up on the smaller RAM complement and slower-clocked processor, though. 

Synthetic benchmarks are easily cheated, so take our results with a pinch of salt. However, while we found the Note 4 faster in Geekbench 3's multi-core component, with 3272 points against the iPhone's 2794, the iPhone 6 didn't just steal but ran away with Samsung's thunder in SunSpider (351ms against Samsung's 1367ms) and GFXBench T-Rex (49- versus 27fps). With few smartphones out there are able to match this performance, we don't think you'll find any cause to complain with the Galaxy or the iPhone. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Connectivity and extras 

Samsung takes back that lead in connectivity. Apple has finally added NFC to its phones, but only for Apple Pay, which right now isn't of any use in the UK. The Note 4's NFC is therefore of more use. 

Both are 4G phones, with the iPhone 6 supporting more bands for roaming but the Note 4 theoretically faster with Cat 6 (up to 300Mb/s) rather than Cat 4 (up to 150Mb/s) 4G. The pair also support 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2x2 MIMO for Samsung), Bluetooth 4.0 (4.1 for the Note 4) and GPS. The Note 4 adds MHL, an IR blaster and Samsung's Download Booster, which combines the power of 4G and Wi-Fi for faster downloads. 

Both these smartphones have fingerprint scanners, but only the Samsung is sold with a built-in heart-rate monitor and UV sensor, and comes with an S Pen stylus. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Cameras 

The 8Mp iSight camera found on the iPhone 6 is almost identical to that of the iPhone 6 Plus, except that it uses digital rather than optical image stabilisation. By comparison, the 16Mp Note 4 uses Smart OIS. Each has their plus points, with the iPhone 6 able to shoot time-lapse video and slow-mo at 240fps, and the Note 4 capable of 4K recording. 

Photos taken by either device are sharp with good exposure and accurate colours. 

In terms of the front-facing camera we think Samsung has done the better job, with a 3.7Mp snapper with a Wide Selfie mode and the ability to shoot full-HD video. Apple's FaceTime HD alternative is a 1.2Mp camera that shoots 720p HD video. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Software 

Software is a key difference for these two phones, with the Samsung running Android KitKat (soon to be upgraded to Android Lollipop - see Android KitKat vs Android Lollipop) with TouchWiz, and the iPhone 6 running iOS 8 

Both are excellent mobile operating systems. I'll put my cards on the table here and say my personal preference is Android, so for a less subjective comparison of the two read our Android Lollipop vs iOS 8 comparison review - written by Ashleigh, who also writes for our sister site Macworld. 

Samsung has, as always, added some stuff. There's Multi Window, letting you run two apps in a split-screen view, and the ability to run an app in a pop-up window. S Note works with the bundled S Pen stylus, and it's been improved for the Note 4. There are some Samsung staples, such as S Health and S Voice, the former working with the Note 4's heart-rate monitor, plus a customisable Flipboard-style Magazine feed a single swipe from the homescreen. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Battery life 

Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 has by far the bigger battery in this comparison, with a 3220mAh cell against Apple's 1810mAh. While the iPhone could last a day with careful use, the Note 4 will last a day and then some. 

Both phones are fast to charge, but the Note 4 faster, able to reach 50 percent in 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 6 gets to 50 percent in one hour. 

The Note 4's battery is removable, too, which will appeal to many users (we prefer to use a power bank). Samsung also offers an Ultra Power Saving mode, which longs out the last little bit of juice by switching off screen colours and inessential features. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 comparison review: Verdict 

For me this is a no-brainer. Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 is a little pricier than the entry-level iPhone 6, but it works out better value when you take into account storage and the fact its price will quickly fall. It has a better screen, better connectivity options, better battery life, a better front camera and although it might not be as fast as the iPhone 6, it's certainly fast enough.  

There are plenty of reasons to choose the iPhone 6, though, including better build quality, faster performance and, as some people might argue (not me), a better operating system. 

 Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.


Apple iPhone 6: Specs

  • Apple A8 processor
  • 16/64/128 GB storage
  • 1 GB RAM
  • iOS 8
  • 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
  • 1.2 MP secondary camera
  • 750 x 1334 pixels, 4.7 inches LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
  • 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm
  • 129 g

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.7in SuperAMOLED display (1440x2560), 515 ppi
  • 2.7GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU
  • Adreno 420 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 16Mp rear camera laser AF with optical image stabilistaion
  • 3.7Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 4K
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • NFC
  • Infrared
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Heart rate monitor
  • UV sensor
  • A-GPS
  • 4G LTE (Cat 6)
  • Micro-SIM
  • 11.9Wh (3220mAh) battery
  • 79x154x8.7mm
  • 175g