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Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Apple iPhone 6: Which is best for me?

All the sixes; the new Galaxy S6 and Apple’s iPhone 6, we take a look at the latest in a long line of power struggles between these South Korean and Californian tech giants.

At a glance

  Samsung Galaxy S6 Apple iPhone 6
Weight 138 grams 129 grams
Screen size 5.1-inches 4.7-inches
Screen resolution 2560×1440 1334×750
Processor Exynos 7420 2.1GHz/1.5GHz octa-core chip Apple A8 1.4GHz dual-core chip
Storage 32GB/64GB/128GB 16GB/64GB/128GB
4G? Yes Yes
Rear camera 16-megapixels 8-megapixels
Front camera 5-megapixel 1.2-megapixel
Price £599.99 (32GB model) £539 (16GB model)

Design: Big changes

Both flagships signal big changes for both companies. On the surface the iPhone 6 finally breaks the mould by adopting a larger overall footprint, whilst Samsung’s S6 shrugs off the company’s penchant for plastic bodywork and takes on more premium glass and metal styling.

The smaller display of the iPhone dictates its tighter dimensions; neither phone is bulky by any stretch, but Apple’s smartphone is technically smaller, and sure the Galaxy S6 is 0.1mm thinner, but that excludes its camera bump, which in fact ‘out-bumps’ the iPhone 6’s camera when compared on a flat surface. These are of course minute details, best serving the forever-flame-war that is Apple versus Samsung.

Aesthetically, the S6 gives you glass on the front and back with a metal frame, whilst the iPhone’s metal bodywork wraps from the back, around its sides in a single piece. They’re both as easy to scuff and mark as each other, but whilst we weren’t in the mood to test the backs of each device falling onto the corner of a knee-high brick wall, the iPhone will probably retain its good looks for a little longer.

As ever the key to keeping either of these devices looking sexy is to surround them in a protective case, but pick one you’ll be happy looking at and handling often, when you lay down the kind of cash needed for either of these handsets, you’ll seldom want to leave them naked and unprotected.

Screen: Pixel perfect

With Apple’s decision to release a bigger phone, the company had to think about upping the resolution and the 4.7-inch Retina Display on the iPhone 6 is undoubtedly a thing of beauty; accurate colours and strong viewing angles are among its greatest strengths, but in this instance Retina resolution (1334×750) doesn’t quite cut it against the competition.

Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6 - screens

Samsung already had a few smartphones in the market packing enough pixels to reach beyond the realms of Full HD, but the Galaxy S6 (and its launch partner the Galaxy S6 Edge) is in a league of its own. The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display used by Sammy’s latest flagship manages to achieve an insane 577 pixels per inch, versus the iPhone’s lowly 326ppi.

Not only is imagery bright, colourful and so close to the surface that you can almost touch it, it’s so sharp that even with a macro lens you’ll struggle to see the individual pixels – it’s the best screen on the market right now, without question.

OS: Complicated simplicity

iOS is in its eighth significant iteration and that brings with it a number of benefits. The user interface is clean and clear following its rebirth in iOS 7 and the refinements Apple subsequently released have bestowed the iPhone with more features and functions without compromising on its user friendly design. The likes of Apple Pay and Health are now also on-hand to expand the iPhone’s functionality beyond the confines of its own four sides, provided there are the appropriate terminals or accessories available for it to interact with.

It’s taken Samsung a lot longer to realise what needed to be done in order to refine and improve the awkward TouchWiz UI of old, but the Galaxy S6 feels like its boldest step in the right direction yet. It’s clearly taken a leaf or two out of Apple’s playbook with simpler menus, flatter, cleaner iconography for its own-brand apps and new offerings like Samsung Pay, but it still ultimately makes it one of the most compelling rivals for the iPhone on the market as a result.

It’s still a case of stripped back simplicity in the iPhone versus a greater, but more convoluted feature set on the S6, but the gap between these latest experiences is smaller than ever. We’d side with the S6 as you’re given more control over features and functions when compared to the iPhone, but if you still fancy the Apple way of life, you won’t find anything but a great running experience in day-to-day use.

Performance: Bigger is genuinely better

There are no two ways to cut it, despite the bloated, poorly optimised nature of Android out-the-box, whether through the software refinements of Samsung’s engineers or the raw power of the phone’s internal hardware, the Galaxy S6 is the snappier of the two phones. Understand that the iPhone’s A8 chip is no slouch either and actions like multitasking are still a joy; the gap in performance doesn’t feel big, but it’s unmistakably there.

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S6 - performance

The bigger, smarter battery on the S6 trumps the iPhone too, by pushing beyond the requirement of charging every night to doling out up to a day and a half of use, and that’s before you even touch the multitude of power-saving modes on offer – a feature set absent on the iPhone entirely. Samsung has also jumped on the same non-expandable storage route as Apple this time around, but the S6 offers up more free cloud storage space and as with every Android device, the drag-and-drop convenience iPhones have forgone since forever.

Camera: Snappers at dawn

When you’re playing in the smartphone big leagues, there are few features more important than a killer camera experience and both of these handsets bring their ‘A’ game to the table. The iPhone as ever packs a wonderfully simple user interface, with room for real-time filters, multiple shooting modes including slow motion and time lapse video, accessed by swiping left or right and the option of automatic HDR.

Check out the full camera comparison here.

It’s also one of only a handful of phones with advanced auto-focus features like phase detection (something Apple branded as ‘Focus Pixels’) and in general use this thing is insanely quick, snapping in a split second and letting you capture shots by tapping on the shutter as quickly as your fingers allow.

The basic interface of the S6 Is vastly improved from previous iterations of Samsung’s camera apps and in ‘auto’ mode it matches the iPhone feature for feature. It too packs a fast camera (although it’s fractionally slower to take than the iPhone) and should you prefer more control, you can dip into a rich settings menu for 4K video, slow motion and a ‘pro’ mode for greater management of white balance, aperture and other manual features.

If you missed our most recent camera shootout, the extra megapixels offered up by the S6 bestowed it with shots packing significantly better detail and nicer overall contrast and composition when placed alongside the iPhone’s, however despite its impressive F1.9 aperture we preferred the low light offerings from the iPhone 6 with regards to noise handling, colour accuracy and white balance.

Verdict: Try some more ‘S’ with your 6?

Apple might have been first to the table for many of the great features these phones offer, but that simply gave Samsung time to tweak and tune the S6 in order to turn it into the perfect predator. To dredge up a dated reference, right now the Galaxy S6 is the closest thing to an ‘iPhone killer’ around.

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S6 - verdict

Apple’s latest iDevice is still one of the best on the market, not least because the developer community continues to put iOS first, but Samsung’s new Galaxy is the most compelling Android phone out there right now and a veritable gymnast in terms of flexibility, features and performance when sat alongside the iPhone 6.

We’re enamoured with this new Samsung and the S6 will keep you smiling for the full term of your average two-year plan, but if Apple has already made its way into your life by means of computers or tablets already, the iPhone 6 will make a great accompaniment too.

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