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Apple iPhone 6s Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Which is best?

We compare the Apple iPhone 6s Plus with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to see which has the best camera, screen, features and more.

Design

The iPhone 6s Plus enjoys a very similar build to the Galaxy Note 5 as well as last year’s iPhone 6 Plus, making it rather tricky to hold and operate with just the one hand. Both phones demand a firm grip with two mitts, especially given their smooth exteriors that make them easy to drop if you’re not being careful.

In terms of looks, they’re both gorgeous handsets with curvy corners and a premium finish; glass and metal for the Note 5 and Apple’s tough-yet-light Series 7000 aluminum on the iPhone 6s Plus, which also packs Apple’s most durable screen glass to keep it nick-free (although we’re still not sure it’ll survive a drop to the pub floor).

Features

Both phones pack a fingerprint sensor for boosted security, to keep thieves and ne’er-do-wells out of your private data. However, while Samsung’s Note 5 sensor can be used to verify PayPal transactions, the iPhone 6s Plus’ sensor is used for Apple Pay transactions.

If you want to get creative, your best bet is the Galaxy Note 5 with its pull-out S Pen stylus. The S Pen allows you to scribble and draw with accurate pressure-sensitive feedback, making it an ideal way to doodle, edit docs with little notes and so on.

iPhone 6S v Galaxy Note 5 - The 6S doesn't have a stylus but it does have 3D Touch.

The iPhone 6s Plus might not pack a stylus, but it does have a 3D Touch screen that can register how much pressure you put on it with your finger. This can be used for smart input, to make navigation into and throughout apps a little easier – check out our full iPhone 6s 3D Touch feature for an explanation and real-life uses.

Screen and media

Both the iPhone 6S Plus and Galaxy Note 5 pack a mighty screen, with the Note 5’s coming in a tad larger at 5.7-inches versus 5.5-inches. The Note 5 also wins for resolution, boasting a Quad HD screen (518 pixels-per-inch) compared with the iPhone 6s Plus’ 401 pixels-per-inch.

That said, it’s hard to notice much of a difference between the two screens. They’re both pin-sharp and attractive when viewing movies, although the iPhone 6s Plus’ IPS screen produces more realistic colours while Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen dazzles with vibrant hues.

iPhone 6S V Galaxy Note 5 - The Note 5 has a slightly larger screen and better resolution.

The Galaxy Note 5 comes in 32GB or 64GB flavours, while the iPhone 6s Plus comes in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models. Neither phone has a microSD memory card slot so you can’t expand the storage, bad news if you want to carry dozens of Ultra HD movies around.

Read next: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 vs Note 4, what’s the difference?

Performance and battery life

If you’re after nippy performance, the Note 5 and iPhone 6s Plus are two absolute power-houses. The Note 5 packs Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 processor while Apple’s A9 chip resides in the iPhone 6s Plus and both are at the top of their game, handling everything you can throw at them – be it video editing, the latest games or memory-intensive business software.

As for battery life, we’re yet to fully test both handsets with our media trials and real-life longevity tests, but we’ll report back when we do.

The Galaxy Note 5 supports Quick Charge and wireless charging, but if you want to charge your iPhone 6s Plus without cables, you’ll need to connect a case or accessory that supports it.

Cameras

If you want an oversized phone to snap your surroundings, you came to the right place. The Note 5 and iPhone 6s Plus both pack incredible mobile camera tech that rivals the very best out there.

The Note 5 wins on sheer numbers, with a 16-megapixel camera that captures impressively sharp shots with an excellent auto mode. There’s Full HD and 4K video recording, and Samsung has slimmed down its old camera interface to make it less confusing and feature-packed than before.

Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus sports a 12-megapixel snapper that can capture detailed shots just like the Note 5, with a typically easy-to-use interface that switches between photo, Full HD video, 4K video and slow-mo modes.

As for front-facing selfie cams, both phones pack a 5-megapixel lens that can shoot your mug in 1080p. the iPhone 6s Plus also has a software ‘flash’ built-in, where the screen lights up to illuminate your face when you take a selfie.

Verdict

Both the iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy Note 5 offer a fantastic all-round user experience for anyone after a phablet device. They’re solid media machines despite a lack of expandable storage thanks to their sharp, eye-pleasing screens, while amateur photographers will love the high-tech optics. Security-wise you’re sorted too, but the tipping point may be the Note 5’s S Pen stylus, which is a serious bonus for creative and business users.

Check back soon for full reviews of the Note 5 and iPhone 6s Plus, and the best iPhone 6s and 6s Plus UK deals. Here’s our iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6: what’s the difference feature, highlighting the best new bits.

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