Battle of the Mega-Phones: We compare Microsoft’s flagship Lumia 950 mobile to the Sony Xperia Z5, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G4 and Apple’s iPhone 6s, to see which of these premium phones is best for you.
We’ve just reviewed the Microsoft Lumia 950, the first flagship Windows 10 handset, which packs some awesome features such as a 20-megapixel camera, iris recognition and a super-sharp Quad HD screen. But how does it stack up to the very best Android and iOS phones of 2015 from Sony, Samsung, LG and Apple? And which is best for you? Here’s our full comparison review to help you out.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: At a glance
|Phone||Lumia 950||Xperia Z5||Galaxy S6||LG G4||iPhone 6s|
|Processor||Snapdragon 808||Snapdragon 810||Exynos 7420||Snapdragon 808||Apple A9|
|Storage||32GB + microSD||32GB + microSD||32/64/128GB||32GB + microSD||16/64/128GB|
|Security||Iris recognition||Fingerprint sensor||Fingerprint sensor||PIN + Knock Code||Fingerprint sensor|
|Cameras||20Mp + 5MP||23MP + 5.1MP||16MP + 5MP||16MP + 8MP||12MP + 5MP|
|Bonus features||Continuum||Remote Play||Heart rate sensor||Leather backing||Force Touch|
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Design
When it comes to sexy good looks, all of the phones here put in a good fight – with the exception of one.
If you like shiny metal and glass, check out the Xperia Z5 and Galaxy S6. Their smooth glass rear ends look great and come in a range of colours, to stand out from the slew of plain black and white mobiles out there. We personally prefer the Xperia Z5’s frosted glass surface, which hides scuffs well, although it is very fragile too – a short drop onto a carpeted floor has already cracked the rear. The Galaxy S6’s reflective back is a grease magnet, but those rounded corners make a more pleasing fit for the hand.
The iPhone 6s is again a great phone for one-handed use and pleasingly slim, with a solid all-metal rear that still looks good. Meanwhile the LG G4 is the beast of the bunch, best suited to two-handed use. Still, the leather backing (an optional feature) feels great and really stands out from the crowd.
Our least favourite design is the Lumia 950’s, with a rather boring plastic finish that belies the premium price. However, only the Lumia 950 and LG G4 here can be opened up, to access a removable battery and SIM/memory card slots.
As for water resistance, your only option is the Xperia Z5, which can survive for up to half an hour in a metre of fresh water.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Screen and media
If you’re after a phone to keep you entertained on the move, the good news is that all five phones here boast excellent displays.
The iPhone 6s may rock the smallest screen here at just 4.7-inches, but that’s still perfectly fine for enjoying a movie on the go. Colours are realistically reproduced, while the Galaxy S6 sits at the other end of the scale with super-vibrant images. The Xperia Z5, LG G4 and Lumia 950 all allow you to tinker with colour dynamics in the display settings to suit your own tastes.
You can also pick up the Lumia 950, Xperia Z5 and iPhone 6s in bigger sizes – the Lumia 950 XL, Xperia Z5 Premium and iPhone 6s Plus respectively. Of those, the Xperia Z5 Premium is the stand-out model thanks to its world-first 4K screen – although in reality, it adds very little to the everyday experience. Check out our Xperia Z5 4K screen review for more info.
And the Galaxy S6 kind of comes in a bigger size too, in the form of the Galaxy S6 Edge+. Sadly the battery life is rubbish and it’s far too expensive for what you get.
When it comes to audio quality, we’d recommend using earphones with all of these handsets – especially the Xperia Z5, which boasts noise cancellation (with compatible headphones) and support for High-Res Audio. The built-in speakers on all five phones are merely fine for enjoying video, lacking the punch and power of something like the HTC One M9’s BoomSound speakers.
If you want to carry around a large collection of movies and music to enjoy offline, then you should avoid the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s – unless you’ve got bags of cash for the 64GB or 128GB models. The other phones here have less built-in storage but can be expanded cheaply and easily via a microSD memory card slot.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Features
The Lumia 950 is the first phone (along with its sibling, the Lumia 950 XL) to run Windows 10 and unfortunately right now it’s a bit of a buggy mess. Microsoft will hopefully rectify the situation in the coming weeks, but at the moment it’s difficult to recommend over Android and iOS. Check out our Lumia 950 review for more info.
Both Android and iOS have plenty of great features to offer, including excellent app stores packed with the latest software and games. Apple’s biggest new feature is the 3D Touch screen on the iPhone 6s, which can register how hard you press on the display, for different actions – so for instance, you can glimpse a web link or photo instead of actually opening it up by poking it harder. It’s under-implemented at the moment, but it’s a nifty feature with plenty of potential.
Read next: Five actual uses for 3D Touch
Meanwhile, Android Marshmallow (used by the Sony, Samsung and LG phones here) is more efficient than ever, giving direct control over your privacy settings – so you can stop apps from accessing specific features such as your camera or location. And the Smart Lock feature means you can bypass PIN security if your phone detects a trusted Bluetooth accessory or recognises that you’re at home or another pre-set familiar location.
Security-conscious users will love the Xperia Z5, Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s fingerprint sensors, which are highly accurate and impressively responsive. You can skip straight past your phone’s lock screen in next to no time, confident that no one else can access your private data. The Lumia 950 uses iris recognition instead, but it’s a hit-and-miss technology that takes too long and fails in dark environments. Meanwhile the G4 has Knock Code, a simple variation on the standard pattern unlock method.
All three Android phones here offer very similar features, but the Sony is best for Playstation gamers thanks to its Remote Play feature, which can stream games direct from your PS4. If you’d rather go for a jog than shoot bad things in the face, then the Galaxy S6 is more up your street, with a built-in heart rate sensor and the decent S Health app to track your daily efforts.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Performance
Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is still the best performer here, thanks to the excellent Exynos 7420 processor. Not only does it rule in benchmarking tests, but it provides silky smooth everyday performance, even when multi-tasking or playing memory-hogging games.
That said, the other phones here also perform well under everyday use. We’ve seen the occasional stutter on all four, but for the most part they’ll happily stream HD movies and play the very latest games with a dependable frame rate.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Battery life
The iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6 and Lumia 950 all offer roughly a day of life per charge, providing you don’t go overboard. However, the best battery life belongs to the LG G4 and Xperia Z5, which will keep you going for a full day and a half between charges.
Both the Lumia 950 and Galaxy S6 offer out-of-the-box wireless charging, although you’ll have to stump up for a wireless charging pad if you want to ditch the cables. The LG G4 can be charged wirelessly too, but only if you buy LG’s Quick Circle case, while the Xperia Z5 and iPhone 6s have no support for cable-free charging.
If you find yourself always forgetting to charge your phone until ten minutes before you step out of the door, the Lumia 950, Xperia Z5 and Galaxy S6 are your best bets. These phones charge the fastest, offering 50 percent charge in just half an hour and at least a couple of hours of use from just ten minutes at the mains.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Cameras
We’ve already compared the Xperia Z5, Galaxy S6 and LG G4 cameras in our massive mobile camera supertest, with full photo galleries so you can see the differences. All three phones produce detail-packed results, although the Xperia Z5 is best for general day scenes thanks to its excellent HDR while the G4 is best for low light situations.
The Lumia 950 and iPhone 6s also offer strong optics to rival the other phones here. Microsoft’s ZEISS lens is fast and the post-processing helps to clean up shots, while the iPhone 6s offers the best Apple camera to date. No matter which phone you wield, you should be happy with your everyday snaps. Check out our Lumia 950 camera review for more info.
All four phones here can shoot 4K and HD movies too, although the Lumia 950 produces the weakest results, with a focus that occasionally struggles and poor image stabilisation. As for selfie cams, all five phones are fine for shooting your mug, with a minimum five-megapixel snapper on offer.
Lumia 950 vs Xperia Z5 vs Galaxy S6 vs LG G4 vs iPhone 6s: Verdict
The Lumia 950 is our least favourite phone in this round-up sadly, thanks to Windows 10’s buggy nature. The other phones have varying strengths and weaknesses, but all of them boast sharp displays, attractive design and capable cameras. Which one suits you best will therefore depend on your personal needs.
If battery life is a big issue, check out the Xperia Z5, which keeps going for a day and a half between charges and can be powered back up quickly. Gamers and music lovers will also get a kick from the Z5 thanks to Remote Play and support for High-Res Audio. The Galaxy S6 has broad appeal thanks to its all-round brilliance, plus great features like wireless charging support and unique extras like the heart rate sensor.