Mobiles & Tablets

‘Phab-ulous’ face-off: 6 Plus vs Note 4

Sabyasachi Biswas | Updated on November 27, 2017 Published on November 12, 2014

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Does Apple's biggest offering stand tall against Samsung’s latest phablet?



Before we start off with the review, let’s take a look at these facts – the Galaxy Note series has been around for nearly 4 years now. Over the years, it has evolved as one of the best devices that we would recommend for productivity, what with its stylus integration and all. Also, we firmly believed that the iPad has been the best device to roll out from the Cupertino giant’s lab. That is, until they made the iPad Mini. It brought the same cool features of the iOS ecosystem into a more compact package. Who wouldn’t love that?

Under normal circumstances, we usually avoid comparing an iOS device with an Android device in the same segment, for very simple reasons – they belong to different ecosystems and it’s quite like apples and oranges. But Apple has now given us enough reason to pit its latest, biggest iPhone against a device from its most obvious competitor.

At Technophile, we have been walking around with these two mammoth devices, and we used both simultaneously, for the same things.

Bigger is better?

Ever since we started hearing rumours of a phablet from Apple, we wondered if the company would carry the same brilliance in design with the new device as well. And it did not disappoint us. The most talked-about feature of the iPhone 6 Plus was that of its tendency to bend under pressure, and we’d like to add here that it may have been because the phone is so sleek. We love the way the vast expanse of aluminium feels when it sits in the palm. The screen falls gently over the edges, and it’s a great experience when you’re using one of the swiping gestures.

But there are certain things that do bother us. For starters, the curved edges look great but feel slippery . The volume rocker could have been moved a bit down too, for lefties and also for making clicking with the volume button easier. The long reach for the buttons dampens the experience. On the other hand, the Note 4 has come out looking much better than its predecessor, or any other Samsung device (apart from the new Alpha – that’s the best looking Samsung in our opinion). The device comes with machined aluminium around the sides, and that makes it look good and we also assume that it would soak up some impact around the corners (where the screen usually breaks) should you let this phablet slip out of your hand and on to the floor. But that doesn’t look likely, because the ergonomics are spot-on. Despite the flat back, it offers a better grip than the iPhone 6 Plus.

But while we’re at ergonomics, we think that Apple has done a great job with Reachability – a light double-tap on the Home button brings the upper half of the screen down, making one-handed usage come to you on demand and smoothly. With Samsung, activating the one-handed usage mode is quite a few taps and slides away.

The better workhorse?

Most of us know this already, but we’d still like to mention this before we dive right into the performance bit – with Apple, the OS is tailor made for the hardware, while with an Android device, a manufacturer has to depend on specs to get the best out of the operating system (if the version of Android is customised for a manufacturer). Hence, comparing the specs isn’t really something that we’d want to do. But what we do want to compare is the ease of usage, the ability to multitask and how productive the devices are.

Samsung here has the obvious advantage because it has been making the phablet for quite some time. The stylus integration is absolutely great, and you can be very productive with it. In fact, even an entire email can be written using the stylus, making us believe that the handwriting recognition has gotten better with increased precision of the S-Pen. Apart from Reachability, the Apple doesn’t really have any phablet-like software integration to boast of.

But what it does excel at is the marriage of hardware and software. Even though the Note 4 is one of the fastest Android devices around, iOS 8 feels absolutely brilliant in the multitasking and app-switching department. The gestures are smooth and we didn’t find a single reason to complain about the iPhone 6 Plus’s software performance. But that doesn’t mean that the Note 4 is a bad performer – we just think that the UI has become too boring now. Samsung should think of a new skin. Also, Samsung should stop giving the Indian market the Exynos processor – more cores do sound lucrative but then it already has the best Snapdragon processor for the other markets.

Both phones give a battery life of well over a day, but in our opinion the Note 4 has a better and more balanced battery life in our mixed usage pattern, which involves using a plethora of apps over both WiFi and cellular data. On some occasions the Note 4 could give a battery life of more than a day and a half.

Also, while the biometric sensor on the iPhone 6 Plus is faster and easier to use for unlocking, it’s sad that the security is enabled only for Apple Pay, while the Note 4 uses that for PayPal. Moreover, we wish Apple had given the NFC radio more functions. The Note 4 taps its way to brilliance with NFC accessories and in terms of sharing data easily.

Better entertainer?

Apart from productivity, the other reason why one should go for a phablet is because it has a bigger screen, and hence better for keeping oneself entertained. And in this area it’s a close call. The iPhone 6 Plus’s screen, though a lower resolution than the Note 4, has better colour reproduction and viewing angles, making it really brilliant for watching videos. The speakers on the 6 Plus are also way better than the Note 4’s.

The latter, however, is a much better device for gaming with its fast GPU and a Super AMOLED display. It also packs in more pixels per square inch, so if you’re a mobile gamer, you’ll love the Note 4.

The iPhone 6 Plus wins the camera fight hands-down. The iPhone 6 Plus’s 8MP shooter, thanks to a bigger sensor, captures way more light than the Note 4’s 13MP primary camera. On the iPhone, colour reproduction is just brilliant, and low light performance too is fantastic. We used the phones for the same shots, and realised that the Note 4 actually has a slightly less warm colour temperature.

Video shooting is also better on the iPhone 6 Plus, with a superior optical image stabilisation, and the 720p @ 240 fps video actually lets you slow down videos to watch in slow motion.

If you’re a fitness enthusiast, we’d recommend the Note 4 over the iPhone 6 Plus, because the data it records is exhaustive and it is much easier and user friendly to access the database. Also, the Note 4 can readily pair up with its own Samsung wearables in the market now.

Verdict

There’s no easy way to settle the argument about which is better, because both devices are quite different, despite the apparent similarity. After spending a lot of time with both phones we feel that the Note 4 is a dedicated phablet meant for productivity and for people who’d like to have a lot of creative control with a stylus. The S-Pen and its features are the best things Samsung has ever made for a mobile device.

The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand is a good device for those who would like to get the iOS 8 experience on a bigger screen. Sure, it isn’t as productive as the Note 4, but we reckon Apple never meant to do that. It’s also the first generation of a phablet from Apple. It’s a bigger iPhone. That’s what it is.

Published on November 12, 2014

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