At a glance
|Apple iPhone 6s||Samsung Galaxy S6|
|Weight||143 grams||138 grams|
|OS||iOS 9.0.1||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop|
|Processor||Apple A9||Samsung Exynos 7420|
Technically as the Galaxy S6 has been out in the world far longer than the new 6s, we should be better acquainted with its design, but with the exception of the ‘s’ printed onto the new iPhone’s back it is in fact the spitting image of its predecessor, the iPhone 6.
On the upside this means you get an incredibly thin, elegant, metal-bodied phone that all your docks, mounts and cases will work with, without issue (provided you currently sport an iPhone 6).
On the downside that means those rather unsightly antenna lines are still very much a part of the equation and despite packing a smaller display and smaller dimensions in general, the fancy new screen technology actually renders the 6s a touch heavier than Samsung’s top dog.
Unlike its predecessor, the Galaxy S6 borrows more from Apple’s school of thinking than any of Sammy’s previous flagships. Gone are the removable battery and expandable storage and in their place is a sealed handset that is also slim (slimmer than the 6s by 0.3mm) and sports a sturdy metal frame. Instead of metal the S6’s back is toughened Gorilla Glass 4, which is prettier to look at, provided it isn’t covered by fingerprints, which is unfortunately all the time.
The iPhone 6s is the more subtle, conservative option aesthetically, with four muted colourways to choose from including a new rose gold option. The Galaxy S6 can be had in black, white, gold or a striking blue skew instead.
Both of these phones pack serious screens, but in notably different ways. The Samsung Galaxy S6 features a larger 5.1-inch Super AMOLED panel, ensuring overall brightness is strong and colours seriously pop. Its 2560×1440 resolution also means it’s got one of the sharpest looking displays of any smartphone on the market right now, boasting an insane 577ppi (pixels per inch).
If visual punch is what you’re after, then this is where the 6s gets left behind. Its screen is unchanged with regards to size or resolution over last year’s 6; you still get a 4.7-inch display with a 1334×750 resolution (that also means it offers a comparatively paltry 326ppi). In everyday use this isn’t a massive problem and it arguably uses a more true-to-life colour gamut too, but it’s what’s behind the screen that really sets the 6s apart.
An evolution of the company’s Force Touch functionality (found on the Apple Watch), the 6s includes what’s called 3D Touch – a pressure sensitive layer beneath the standard capacitive touchscreen components that adds a new dimension to user interaction.
Right now it lets you peek into messages, emails and apps by pressing into the display, whilst pushing even harder fully opens the message or app selected as if you’d simply tapped it. This should help users navigate around iOS faster and once developers make use of this new hardware addition it’s anyone’s guess as to what it’ll be used for. Whether this sounds like a game-changing feature however, is up to you.
Both devices are running the latest available builds of their respective operating systems (Android 5.1.1 for the S6 and iOS 9.0.1 for the 6s), but the fundamental strengths that have set these two experiences apart for years, endure.
iOS still prides itself on simplicity and despite a growing feature set year on year the 6s boasts a clean, clear, familiar interface that most will have encountered at some point since its debut in 2007. Thanks to that all-new screen tech you can quickly launch select features from supported apps; like jumping to your Instagram’s activity feed or your selfie camera with a hard press.
Apple Pay is also another big bonus of the company’s mobile experience and at this stage has a strong lead over Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which are still yet to touch down in the UK (Samsung Pay has just launched in the US however).
The S6’s Android interface meanwhile sports customisation options galore. You can unlock the device with a fingerprint, PIN or pattern, jump into specific settings like Bluetooth of WiFi with a simple swipe down, long press gesture and your home screens can hold apps, folders and widgets. There’s also support for a great range of media sharing methods including NFC and Android Beam as well as better file management capabilities.
It’s also worth noting that if you consider yourself an early adopter when it comes to new apps and services like Snapchat or Periscope, developers typically favour iOS and as such it receives apps and updates ahead of Android more often than not.
Whichever way you cut it, both of these devices are best-in-class for their respective operating systems. The new A9 chip in the iPhone 6s is impeccably fast and an improved multitasking experience means it’s the most capable iPhone ever.
It also comes well equipped for gaming and media streaming with enhanced graphics optimisation, multi-band 4G support and snappier MIMO-compatible WiFi on the connectivity front.
All that said, the Galaxy S6 boasts a similar level of blistering performance in the Android camp thanks to the company’s Exynos 7420 chipset and super speedy connectivity on par with the 6s too.
In addition Samsung has thrown in a heart rate sensor for fitness tracking purposes, an IR blaster to control devices like air conditioning units and TVs and superior Bluetooth and NFC compatibility.
The 6s is crippled somewhat by a notably smaller battery that means it’s trickier to last to the end of a full day’s use, whilst the cell inside the S6 is not only bigger, but supports fast charging and multiple standards of wireless charging, making it a more versatile beast overall.
You can also expect to pay less for more storage if you grab an entry level 32GB Galaxy S6 over an entry level iPhone 6s, which only offers half as much internal storage, but as you go up in capacity, the iPhone then becomes the more affordable option.
A megapixel boost for the iPhone’s primary snapper has been a long time coming and the 6s (along with the 6s Plus) finally offers consumers a solid 12-megapixel rear sensor and a selfie camera that’s been upped from 1.2 to 5-megapixels. It’s easy to see the improvements in image quality compared to its predecessor, but alongside the Galaxy S6 it’s a much closer fight.
The Samsung, as with its flagship siblings, tends to over-process, over-saturate and over-sharpen stills and video somewhat, although not to any unusable level. In fact for some users, the results might be preferred to the new iPhone, which easily features the more accurate of the two cameras in this face off.
Snaps on the 6s remain well-exposed more consistently than the S6’s camera system, but new additions like Living Photos feel a touch gimmicky and whilst 4K video is now on the menu too, the S6 is a more competent shooter for such scenarios, with more stable footage and more control over the camera’s output thanks to manual control support.
As ever, it’s a close fought battle between these age-old rivals and for most brand-loyal fans, minds will be have already been made up irrespective of the recommendations made here.
The iPhone 6s is a timely update that doesn’t blow our minds in the way of innovation over its predecessor, but rather brings some much-needed improvements to the table – namely in the camera department. There’s no doubt that the new 3D Touch functionality is also a big differentiator, but in this battle it feels as if Samsung’s made more meaningful, if predictable improvements to its flagship.
It wins out by way of both its battery and camera technologies and whilst it isn’t as hardy as its predecessor (the Galaxy S5 boasted water resistance), it now sports better materials and looks to match that of Apple’s top smartphone. The choice is as ever yours, but this time around, we’d rather pack a Samsung in our pocket than an iPhone, sorry Apple.