iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Comparison

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Comparison

This is a comparison that I’ve been wanting to write for awhile. Unfortunately, as the comparisons I write become more and more extensive, they take longer and longer to write.

I compared the iPhone 6S to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Unfortunately, the iPhone 6S failed me. I found that the battery life was terrible. I also found that the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 had a better camera than the iPhone 6S for a number of reasons, all of which I blamed, at the time, on optical image stabilization (OIS). That’s why I was looking forward to comparing the iPhone 6S Plus and the Galaxy Note 5.

I highly recommend at least skimming through the iPhone 6S and Galaxy Note 5 comparison, because there are certain things that I might not cover again, things that don’t change between the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus.

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Specs

iPhone 6S Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 5
CPU 1.85 GHz Dual Core A9 Samsung Exynos 7420, 2.1 GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex-A57, 1.5 GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex-A53
GPU PowerVR GT7600 (six-core graphics) Mali-T760MP8
Display 5.5″, 1080p, 401 ppi, IPS LCD 5.7″, 1440p, 518 ppi, AMOLED
Body 158.2×77.9×7.3 mm, 192 g 153.2×76.1×7.6 mm, 171 g
Camera 12 MP, 4032×3024, 5 MP Front 16 MP, 5312×2988, 5 MP Front
Video 4K – 30 fps, 1080p – 60 fps, Front 720p – 30 fps 4K – 30 fps, 1080p – 60 fps, Front 1440p – 30 fps
Aperture f/2.2 f/1.9
Sensor Size 1/3″ 1/2.6″
Focal Length 29 mm 28 mm
Storage 16/64/128 GB 32/64 GB
Battery 2750 mAh 3000 mAh

It’s not fair to compare specs between two phones that run different operating systems. They’re both optimized for different chipsets and they both require different amounts of resources.

Looking at the hardware objectively, each phones use the two most powerful smart phone processors that exist at the moment. The Samsung Exynos 7420 is the most powerful multi-core chip, while the A9 is the second most powerful multi-core and the most powerful single core, but we can go more into that later.

Personally, I think that Apple would rather not tell anyone the specs of their phones. That’s why they don’t tell anyone how much RAM there is. I think they would rather have users judge the phone based on performance alone, which, to be honest, is how it should be.

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Design and Display

The iPhone 6S Plus is the model where Apple loses on design. It’s a beautiful phone, but it’s super uncomfortable to hold. It has large bezels and it’s completely flat.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a larger display with a smaller body. The back is curved, making it easier to hold. Both are beautiful phones, but the Galaxy Note 5 is more comfortable to hold.

The display is better on the Galaxy Note 5 as well; however, not because of the resolution. There is no advantages to a 1440p display, unless you use a VR headset, such as a Google Cardboard. On the other hand, there are a bunch of disadvantages, such as a drain on the GPU and the battery.

Note that the iPhone 6S’s 750p display is about 1 MP. The 1080p display in the iPhone 6S Plus is about 2.1 MP. The 1440p display in the Galaxy Note 5 is about 3.7 MP. It’s a lot more pixels for the GPU to push and for the battery to power.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has the better display because it is AMOLED and the iPhone 6S Plus is IPS LCD. AMOLED tends to have more vibrant colors and blacker blacks, as pixels can be turned off. An LCD panel is completely backlit, which is why when your television is completely black, you can still tell that it’s on.

To be fair, Apple does use a great LCD. Some LCDs, like the ones HTC uses, have colors that are way off balance. Apple has great color balance. Samsung’s is just better.

There is a disadvantage to AMOLED, however. AMOLED is subject to burn in. I would point out that if you use your smart phone for two years for average amounts of time, you won’t experience this problem.

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Fingerprint Scanner

Up until Samsung produced the Galaxy S6, Samsung phones with a fingerprint reader required the user to swipe his finger across Samsung’s home button to read the fingerprint. It was terrible. Starting with the Galaxy S6, Samsung’ fingerprint reader acted much more like Apple’s.

Unfortunately, it’s still not very good. It’s my experience with the Samsung fingerprint readers that, the more fingers you program, the worse the performance gets. Personally, I like to program four fingers to a fingerprint reader, both thumbs and both index fingers.

Apple has brought TouchID to a whole new level. In fact, I would say that it’s the biggest change in the iPhone 6S/6S Plus.

The way it would work previously is that the user had to press the home button and then keep his finger on the button for about a second. The phone was unlocked. As far as I can tell, it’s still one of the best fingerprint scanners on the market.

TouchID 2.0 only requires the user to tap the home button. It actually requires the user to change the way he uses his phone. Notifications are on the lock screen, so if you want to see those notifications or swipe up on the lock screen to use the camera, the user must use the power button on the side.

There’s so much debate over which fingerprint scanners are the fastest. Honestly, what matters is the accuracy. The iPhone 6S Plus has a much better fingerprint reader than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: 3D Touch vs S Pen

Both the iPhone 6S Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 have unique features, which is 3D Touch and the S Pen, respectively. First of all, before you start leaving nasty comments, I know they’re not unique. I know that there are other phones with WACOM pens and other phones with pressure sensitive screens, but these are the most evolved.

3D Touch is a tough thing to talk about. When I got the iPhone 6S, I didn’t like it. I didn’t think of it as anything I would use because I was already dealing with the fact that TouchID 2.0 was already changing the way that I use my iPhone. We’re human beings. Change is uncomfortable.

As I got used to the phone, I found 3D Touch to be a useful feature. The one part about it that I don’t find useful is Force Touching on an icon for shortcuts. Things like Force Touching to get to the multitasking screen is the most useful thing, although it doesn’t work from the home screen. Also, Force Touching the keyboard to move the cursor is useful as well; however, is doesn’t work on third party keyboards, and I’m a Swiftkey man.

Many have compared 3D Touch to right clicking, which is arguably one of the most useful things ever invented. It’s not. If I see a picture on the Internet and want to save it, I can only do so by right clicking. 3D Touch is all about shortcuts to things that you can achieve in other ways.

The S Pen was something that I found to be useless in earlier models of the Samsung Galaxy Note series, but it’s come a long way. The applications for note taking are awesome. It’s the same thing that drew me to the Surface Pro 3.

By removing the S Pen when the phone is asleep, the user can immediately begin taking notes. Removing the S Pen while the phone is unlocked gives the user a number of selections, which includes taking a screenshot and writing on it, selecting a portion of the screen and doing the same, or up to three shortcuts that you want to set yourself.

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Rear Camera

For this comparison, we’re going to be looking at 12 MP photos from each camera. Unlike most smart phone cameras, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 actually records the highest resolution at a 16:9 aspect ratio. If you’re any kind of amateur photographer (or a pro photographer), you know that you should be taking photos at 4:3.

Of course, the iPhone’s highest resolution can be achieved at 4:3 because Apple doesn’t even allow the user to change the aspect ratio. I thought that this was something that would change this year because the Live Photos showed in the demo were 16:9. It’s not the case.

Apple’s Camera app is a very simple one. The user only has a limited amount of options. By swiping across, he can switch between photo, square photo, video, slo mo, time lapse, and panorama. Options include toggles for the flash, HDR, Live Photos, a timer, and a toggle to switch cameras. There. I just listed all of the options of the iPhone Camera app in one paragraph.

Of course, you really don’t have to provide a lot of options if you’re producing a great result. I said this when I reviewed the Amazon Fire Phone and I’ll say it again. The only way that you can make a locked down environment work is to make it good enough so that the user doesn’t want to change that environment.

Samsung has a ton of options in the Galaxy Note 5’s Camera app. There is a Pro mode for manual controls. They added YouTube live broadcasts. There’s also downloadable plug-ins, most of which are leftovers from when Touchwiz was so bloated. Those include options like Rear-cam selfie, Dual camera, and Animated GIF.

Speaking of the Animated GIF option, I would note that it produces a similar result to Apple’s Live Photos, except it’s much more shareable since it’s in a recognized format. Yes, I know that more apps are going to support Live Photos in the future, but will I ever be able to post one on this article? I can show you an animated GIF taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 GIF
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 GIF

Let’s take a look at a bunch of samples from each camera.

iPhone 6S Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 5

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 tends to look better for macros. Honestly, they look edited. The photos are oversaturated and they do look great. Of course, the iPhone 6S Plus photos look more natural.

It would be really nice if Apple allowed user to save a RAW file. That way, users could edit their photos to look like this. Of course, they could edit the JPEG that they get from the camera, but JPEGs degrade when they’re edited.

By the way, when I compared the iPhone 6S and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and I blamed the differences in the camera on OIS, I was dead wrong.

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iPhone 6S Plus – Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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iPhone 6S Plus – Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Front Camera

Apple made a massive improvement to the front camera this year (which I predicted, thinking that S would stand for speed, Siri, security, and then selfie). The resolution is 5 MP now, which is standard these days in most phones; however, last year’s iPhone 6 was 1.2 MP, which simply isn’t enough.

Samsung uses a 5 MP sensor as well in the Galaxy Note 5, up from the Note 4’s 3.7 MP front camera. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Samsung’s 5 MP front camera is that it uses the same f/1.9 aperture as the rear camera.

Apple also added a flash to the front camera. It’s a software flash, lighting up the display. It’s a feature also found in the new Moto G, along with a whole bunch of LG phones. It is not, however, found in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

First of all, the iPhone 6S Plus front camera is terrible in low light. I guess that’s why they gave us a flash. Also, the Galaxy Note 5 has a larger field of view. I really thought that was something that Apple would work on when they gave us a larger resolution, as there’s more room to crop without losing quality.

Another thing that I want to point out is the sharability of iPhone photos. Anything taken with the front camera gets flipped over and turned around. Seriously, if I upload a photo taken with the front camera to an article, it comes out upside down. I could rotate the photos so they’re correct, but then iPhone users see them as upside down. It’s a serious problem for Apple.

iPhone 6S Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 5: Benchmarks

I always save benchmarks for last. The reason being that they never really provide any insight into the actual real world usage of the device. They test the hardware, which is useful to some people that are interested, but most people just want to know about the real world usage, and that’s what I prefer to write about.

First up is going to be battery tests, which are really the least reliable of benchmarks. The iPhone 6S tests were pretty strong and the Galaxy Note 5 rests were even stronger, yet I struggled to get through the day with both of them. The iPhone 6S Plus has some of the best battery life I’ve ever seen. Nevertheless, I urge you to take battery tests with a grain of salt.

Geekbench 3 has two settings, with the screen dimmed or not. First up, we’ll show the dim screen toggled off and the second will be with the dim screen toggled, you guess it, on.

iPhone 6S Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 5

iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 Battery Bright

iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 Battery Dim

The one thing that you can really take away from tests like this is how much brightness effects battery life. It definitely appears to effect the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 more than the iPhone 6S Plus.

Next up, Geekbench 3 tests.

iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 Geekbench

As I said, Apple’s A9 has the best single core score out there, which is great since most apps only run on a single core. Samsung definitely has the best multi-core score out there, making it one of the most powerful phones in existence.

Next up, AnTuTu.

iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 AnTuTu

AnTuTu is really good because it tests the GPU more and it provides an overall score. After seeing the Geekbench 3 score, there’s no surprises here.

Next up is graphics tests from GFXBench. Here, I did three full sets of tests from the iPhone 6S Plus and two from the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. With the iPhone 6S Plus, I did GFXBench 3, GFXBench 3.1, and GFXBench Metal. For the Galaxy Note 5, there’s only GFXBench 3 and GFXBench 3.1, so I paired GFXBench Metal with GFXBench 3 on the Galaxy Note 5.

GFXBench 3

iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 GFX 3 1 iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 GFX 3 2

GFXBench Metal

iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 GFX Metal 1 iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 GFX Metal 2

GFXBench 3.1




iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 GFX 3.1 1 iPhone 6S Plus Note 5 GFX 3.1 2

As you can see, the iPhone 6S Plus shines on all fronts when it comes to GPU tests. There are a number of reasons for this. One of those reasons is because Apple sticks to a lower resolution display. As I mentioned earlier, 1080p is 2.1 MP and 1440p is 3.7 MP. That’s over one and a half million more pixels for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5’s GPU to push around the screen.

The iPhone 6S Plus also has a plain old powerful as shit GPU. The 1080p offscreen tests compare the two devices objectively and the iPhone 6S Plus still wins.


About the author
Rich Woods

Being a computer programmer wasn't enough to fulfill his love of technology. In 2013, Rich founded For the Love of Tech and has been writing about his love of tech ever since.