Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S6 full review

If your contract is coming to an end and you’re wondering whether to go for the iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy S6 as your next phone, we’re here to help with our Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison. See also: best smartphones 2015 and best new phones coming in 2015.

Clearly you could wait and see what Apple launches later this year, but it’s going to be a long while before Samsung updates its flagship phone. Here are the rumours about the iPhone 6s

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison: Price

We’ve talked about contracts, but the range of prices is too complex to go into here, and this is the same reason we mainly compare phones on their SIM-free prices.

The best deal you can get on an S6 or a 6 Plus will depend on whether you can persuade your existing mobile provider to discount the monthly fee as you’re a long-time customer, give you an upgrade ahead of time and other benefits.

Essentially, you can get an S6 for free (no up-front cost) if you pay around £30 per month, while it’s almost impossible to get a free iPhone 6 Plus. Usually, you’ll pay between £10 and £100 depending on the monthly contract price, which is typically over £40 per month.

Buying the phone outright seems expensive, but is the cheaper option overall. The S6 costs £599 for the 32GB model and £660 if you want 64GB.

The iPhone 6 Plus is one of the most expensive smartphones you can buy at £619 for the 16GB version, rising to £789 for the 128GB model.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison: Design

Again, both are flagship smartphones and are superbly built and look great. Style, of course, is a personal thing so you’ll have to decide which you prefer.

It’s a similar situation with software. Android and iOS are both great mobile operating systems, but they each have their strengths and limitations. If you already own other Apple products, an iPhone might be enough to persuade you to spend the extra on the 6 Plus, while those who prefer the open nature of Android will lean towards the S6.

But since we’re talking about specific phones rather than their software, let’s get into the detail.

First off: colours. The iPhone 6 Plus comes in Silver, Gold or Space Grey, all of which are anodised aluminium and look great. The S6 offers a choice of Blue Topaz, White Pearl, Gold Platinum and Black Sapphire. The Blue Topaz and Gold Platinum are an acquired taste with a shiny mirror finish so it’s well worth taking a look at one in the flesh before ordering.

The S6 has a 5.1in screen, which is a little smaller than the iPhone’s 5.5in display. It’s the S6 with the higher resolution at 2560x1440, versus the 1920x1080 of the iPhone. If you care about pixels per inch, it’s 577 against 401 for the iPhone.

Their technologies differ, too. Samsung uses its Super AMOLED panel with vibrant colours (some would say garish) while Apple sticks with more traditional IPS LED. Both are great screens, and we’d argue that you don’t really need the higher resolution offered by the Galaxy S6. It’s nice to have, but far from essential.

You’ll struggle to fit the iPhone in your jeans pocket. It’s 158mm tall and 78mm wide. The S6, on the other hand, is 143x71mm. The S6 is hardly tiny, but it might just make the difference for some people.

Weight is also noticeably different with the S6 at 138g and the iPhone 6 Plus tipping the scales at 172g.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison: Connectivity

These are both 4G phones with a single SIM slot, so if you’re after a phone that can take two SIMs, look elsewhere.

The iPhone has no expandable storage (it’s unlikely Apple will ever deviate from this way of doing things) and it’s a similar story with the S6. You’re stuck with what you buy. So buy big, if you can afford it.

You get dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi on both handsets, as well as GPS, Bluetooth Low Energy and NFC. With the iPhone you can use NFC only for Apple Pay, though. Both have fingerprint scanners, neither of which are the old ‘swipe’ type.

The Samsung has extra features such as a heart-rate sensor, an IR blaster for controlling your TV (and other gadgets that work via infrared) and also supports USB OTG.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison: Cameras

Both phones have protruding rear cameras, but this is irrelevant if you’ll stick them straight in a case. The S6 has a better camera than the iPhone 6 Plus, not simply because it can capture more detail with 16Mp against the iPhone’s 8, but because the photos it takes simply look better. For photo examples, see our best phone camera comparison

That’s not to say the iPhone has a poor camera. Far from it. It takes excellent photos – we just wish it had a higher-resolution sensor for those times when you want to crop in or zoom.

Both have their own special shooting modes, but we prefer Apple’s 240fps Slo-mo and speeded-up Time-lapse over Samsung’s selfie-oriented fare (the S6 will shoot 240fps slo-mo as well, but we still prefer Apple’s implementation including the editing options).

For video, the iPhone tops out at 1080p but has clever ‘focus pixels’ which mean footage is always sharp and focused on the right object. While the phone has optical stabilisation, this is used only for photos taken in low light. The cinematic quality you get in videos would appear to be done in software.

The S6 can shoot 4K video at 30fps which is a neat trick, especially if you have a 4K TV on which to watch clips. It’s decent quality, too, although not at the level you’ll get from a camera which a larger sensor such as the Panasonic GH4.


Samsung Galaxy S6: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus: Specs

  • A8 processor chip with 64bit architecture and M8 co-processor
  • 5.5-inch 'Retina HD' screen with resolution of 1920 x 1080, pixel density of 401ppi and 1300:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • Rear-facing camera ('New iSight camera') with 8Mp photos, ƒ/2.2, optical image stabilisation and 1080p video recording
  • Front-facing ('FaceTime' camera) with 1.2Mp photos, ƒ/2.2, 720p video recording and burst mode
  • 16GB/64GB/128GB storage
  • Lightning connector
  • Touch ID fingerprint scanner
  • 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm
  • 172g