(I know this is too long a read. But do go through it for a detailed comparison. It might help you reach a decision! Took quite sometime to research and write)
As a Phone, the phablet feels fantastic in hand. The marginal boost in heightcompared to the predecessor is obviously because of the bezels, the displaysize being the same. After a good five days with it, I would call the tallerprofile a blessing in disguise since it gives you bigger capacitive and homebuttons at the bottom, making them easier to access with your thumb. As far asI remember, the smaller capacitive and home keys on the Note 3 were quitetroublesome for the thumb. So the taller profile actually helps. Add to thisthe fact that the Note 4 is slightly narrower than its predecessor and suddenlythe Note 4 is a significantly better device to handle, especially in case ofone-handed use.
iPhone 6 Plus –
This is not the Apple we know, actually. The arrogance when Apple dismissedanything above 4.5” as being ‘too big for comfort’ is missing. Till last year,when anyone would mention a ‘Phablet’ or a ‘bigger smart phone’, Apple used tobe facetious about the same and would dismiss the case instantly. This attitudeis missing. That this is all missing for the better is a different thing. Wedesperately needed an iOS powered Phablet, or at least a bigger smart phone. Wenow have both. The 4.7” Apple iPhone 6 and the 5.5” Apple iPhone 6 Plus. Andboy is this changing the game. Speaking more about the iPhone 6 Plus, at 158.1x 77.8 x 7.1 mm, the iPhone 6 Plus is radically and unabashedly bigger thananything Apple has made so far. It’s significantly bigger than even it’ssmaller sibling, the iPhone 6 which in itself is a significant leap overApple’s last year offerings. The iPhone 6 Plus weighs in at 172 grams and sportsa unibody design. The right side of the Phone houses the Power Key, which, inlieu of the bigger size, has been rightfully moved to where it is. If it wouldhave been on top, like it is with all of the previous generation of iPhones, itwould have been extremely painful. The bottom is home to the 3.5 mm jack, amic, and the loud speaker grill. The left side of the Phablet has the typicalvolume rocker keys and the useful ‘silent-switch’. On the top is an ambientlight sensor and the 1.2 megapixels front facing camera. The chamfered edgeshave now been replaced by meticulous curves. The back panel has the 8 MP cameraand the dual-tone LED setup while the secondary mic stands exactly between thetwo. Unlike the previous generation iPhones, the back-panel is all made of asingle-color (depending upon what color you go for) and the same material andis separated by, frankly put, ugly looking bands that are home to the antennas.I would have preferred a different arrangement for the antennas considering howcheap they look and how definitely they hamper the overall looks of the iPhone6 Plus. These ugly looking stripes definitely take quite a few brownie points away from the overall incredible design.
If we were to pit these two against each other, the iPhone 6 Plus will win theargument hands down, if it was only about the overall materials used, that is!
If you take into consideration the looks, ergonomics and the overall usability,the story could take a twist. As beautiful as the iPhone 6 Plus is, there’s nodenying the fact that the unusually large bezels at the top and the bottom ofthe Phablet make it look, dare I say, a bit too odd for my liking. Note 4, onthe other hand, has bezels slightly bigger than its predecessor (which as Imentioned earlier actually helps the Phablet in terms of the use of thecapacitive keys) but are still proportionate enough to not make the Phabletlook odd. I would say, and let me say this is entirely subjective, in terms ofthe overall build, the iPhone 6 Plus scores a few points over the Note 4. But,let me say, and let me reiterate that this is subjective, in terms ofergonomics, usability and handling, the Note 4 is easily the better of the two.During my tryst with the iPhone 6 Plus, I would find myself bamboozled, staringat the disproportionate bezels of the iPhone 6 Plus.
Coming back to the specifications, the Note 4 is powered by the class-leadingSnapdragon 805. Four Krait 450 cores clocked at 2.7 GHz couple with 3 GB RAM totake care of anything and everything and all sort of multitasking you do onyour Note 4. Adreno 420 takes care ofall graphics intensive activities, including gaming, you carry on the Phablet. A3220 mAH juicepack keeps running the show while a stunning 1440p QHD SuperAmoled Panel tries to please your eyes. An improved Sony sensor builds thebackfacing 16 MP OIS Camera that’s capable of shootin 2k videos whereas there’sa 3.7 MP front facing camera with a wide angle for the selfie enthusiasts. Ithelps for your video calling too. The primary camera, i.e. the 16 MP shootergets rid off the ISOCELL sensor we saw on the Galaxy S5. This is may be becausethe ISOCELL doesn’t yet support the OIS whereas the Sony Exmor does. And theOIS does make a considerable amount of difference as the Photos shot with theNote 4 pretty comfortably outdo the ones shot with the Galaxy S5. A heartbeatmonitoring sensor and the fingerprint scanner complete the Note 4’s specsheet.
The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, is pretty simple in terms of thespecifications, like any other iPhone. It’s powered by a much, much modest,albeit 64-Bit Ready, Arm-V8 based Dual Core Cyclone clocked in at a paltry 1.4GHz. A Gig of RAM couples with the Cyclone to help the Phablet complete youractivities. A 2915 mAH Battery keeps the Phablet going whereas a wonderful1080p IPS LCD Display takes care of the viewing pleasure you expect from aflagship. The Phablet has an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness. And8 MP primary camera, capable of shooting full HD videos, albeit with mono audio,takes care of the Cameraphiles. The f/2.2 aperture does improve the low-lightperformance by several notches. The 1.2 MP secondary Camera is a sort of adisappointment though, considering how rapidly the selfie-culture is gainingprominence everywhere.
On paper, this looks like a straight-forward victory for the Note 4.Comparisons, though, are not made on paper. In real time, the iPhone 6 Plusmatches the Note 4 head and shoulders in terms of day-to-day activities. It isduring the more demanding activities, like graphics designing or 4k Videoplayback or heavy multitasking does the Plus succumb to it’s out-of-date specs.The Note 4, on the other hand, breezes past everything hurled or thrown at it.For a majority of users, though, it’s real time performance that matters morethan anything else. I’ll still put the Note 4 a touch above the Plusconsidering the fact that it houses all of the latest and the best hardwareavailable in the Market.
The specs, the design and everything ultimately comes down to how thePhablet or the Phone concerned performs in real time. To make it simple andstraight-forward, I’ll divide this section in five key sections – namely, UIPerformance, Display Quality, Audio Quality, Camera Quality and Battery Life.
1) User Interface Performance :
The iOS is smooth and sleek. It’s as simple as it gets. It has a rosy design.It has a straight-forward approach. It seldom stutters. The settings forall/any app are unified. The homescreen, though at times redundant, is simpleand sweet. It doesn’t allow the use of widgets on the homescreen, though youcan surely add quite a few of them on the Notification Central. They are notvery user friendly though.
Plus relies heavily on the iTunes for loading any content. In case you need toload any videos, you’ve to first get them converted to supported formats andthen add them to iTunes from where you can load them into Plus. Same goes foryour favorite music and photos. Though the overall management through iTunes isquite polished, it is mostly painful and occasionally frustrating to go throughthe same process for every little addition.
During my day to day use, I encountered quite a few problems with the Plus. Andwhat was frustrating was the fact that they were all small problems that Ibelieve Apple should have fixed way back during the iOS 5 or iOS 6 days. Beinga professional, I often need to attach files to Emails and send them todifferent people quite a few times. I could never find a file manager or asimilar setup for the Plus. If I had to attach a file to an email and send itto someone, I’d have to find an Email that contained the same file, pick it upfrom there and then forward it to the person I wanted to forward. Or I wouldhave to make use of a virtual Drive. Sounds painful, doesn’t it.
Being a social person, I would find myself in a situation where I would have toforward media content within a social network or from one network to other.Alas, there’s no option to forward multiple media files within a network orfrom one network to another. I had to go to that contact separately and thensay ‘attach media’ and then select the respective media from the relevantlocation. Baseless, I will say.
Unified settings make any setting easy to find, and I did feel comfortableusing it. I did not have to start an app to change its settings to be able toapply them in some other App. I could simply open settings and change them fromthere. Flip side- If I was in an app and wanted to change one of its settings,I would find myself huffing and puffing my way to the ‘Settings Central’.
By the way, strangely enough, Whatsapp, for some strange reason, with the 2000+Contacts and 125+ Whatsapp Groups I have (at least 100 + chats at any givenmoment), stuttered badly during my day-to-day use whereas the same Whatsapp onthe age old iPhone 5s or the Note 3 or the Note 4 or the S5 or even the Plus’ssmaller sibling, the iPhone 6, did a brilliant job. This is probably because ofthe difference between the actual screen resolution and the resolution at whichthe iPhone 6 Plus renders frames and images. This is evident when you take aScreenshot on your Plus. The screenshot’s resolution and the Display’s hardwareresolution are different. May be Apple wanted to go in with a higher resolutionDisplay panel on the Plus, but for some reason, couldn’t, probably because ofproduction issues. We might as well be treated to a higher res display in thenext generation of the iPhone Plus which is, in fact, a good news for Appleenthusiasts. Back to UI Performance, things as simple as deleting media too aremade unnecessarily difficult, I felt. For example, if I had to delete say 11 songsand 7 videos on my Plus, I never had the simple liberty to select multiplefiles and delete them all together. I would have to painfully go through eachfile individually and delete them one by one. Don’t know why this stillremains. This surely hampers the overall user experience.
Talking about the Android 4.4 on the Note 4 (yes, with the Touchwiz sittingatop it), we hardly encounter any problems with the UI. Even a rendezvous withthe Note 4 tells you that the Note 4 is indeed the beast Samsung is trying toportray it to be. It breezes and whizzes past anything you throw at it, withutmost ease. Day-to-day activities on the Note 4 work like a charm. Seldom doesthe Phone stutter or lag. Android 4.4 on the Note 4, albeit with all of theTouchwiz customizations, feels premium, solid and a lot more stable than whatit used to feel with previous versions. It’s redesigned and re-engineered tomake it feel a lot better. It even looks a lot better. It’s less cartoonish andmore characterized now. At places where Touchwiz used to be redundant, it’sbeing revisited and made to look simple and sensible. Be it a work Email, or asimple Whatsapp message or be it attaching files to an Email or be ittransferring files within a social network or from one social network; or be itdownloading an important attachment from a colleague on your work email, torevisiting it in the File Manager and picking it up from there and forwardingit to someone, Note 4 did it all with utmost ease. And the iPhone 6 Plus simplycouldn’t. I wouldn’t scoff on the makers of the ‘most advanced Mobile OS’ forthis, but I must say, this irritated and frustrated me no end. I really hopeApple fixes this ASAP.
Even making a Phone Call felt a lot easier on the Note 4. Simply open the stockPhone App, start dialing a number, or start dialing a name as per thecharacters, and it starts suggesting names. And now the new touchwiz learns,too. So if I have two ‘Abhijeets’ saved in my Phone, let’s say Abhijeet Avhadand Abhijeet Kale, it’ll suggest me the one I more frequently dial when I startspelling Abhijeet on my dialer. This feature had, for reasons known to onlySamsung, been missing whereas something similar is already available with anyother OEM’s stock dialer for ages now. And btw, if you still find the SammyDialer inconvenient, there are a lot many to choose from the Market. Apple, onthe other hand, has it’s own dialer that doesn’t even suggest, let alonelearning from your dialing habits. Yes, you can add your day-to-day Contacts inyour ‘Favorites’ (something you can do in Sammy’s dialer as well) and thenaccess them from there. But then there are instances where you have to dialnumbers that you normally don’t dial. And for that, you have to visit the‘Contacts’, which is, yet again, frustrating and illogical to say the least.And yes, you have no third party dialers to choose from.
Typing is an integral part of any UI these days, and that’s where Keyboardscome in. Comparing the stock, I must confess the typing experience on theApple’s keyboard is loads better than what it is on Sammy’s traditionalkeyboard. And with the suggestions now on the Apple keyboard, it sounds like acomplete though it still doesn’t feature Swipe. Surprisingly, the iOS is nowopen to third party keyboards and SwiftKey has already come up with their ownapp whereas Swype plans to come up with one soon. The SwiftKey on the iOS stillneeds a bit of a polish, though. But with the stock Apple keyboard so good, Idon’t think a lot of people will need anything else on their iPhones, unlessyou find it absolutely necessary to swipe.
Apple, as I mentioned, relies pretty heavily on the iTunes for loading any sortof media content. The Note 4 is pretty easy to manage in this regard. You canconnect the Note 4 in mass-storage mode or receive content from any other Phonevia Bluetooth or Wifi Direct or a host of other options Sammy and Androidtogether open up for you. Either way, you can simply download and store thecontent of your choice on the Note 4, something you can’t do with your iPhone.
Apple does pull a couple of points with its ‘Reachability’ thing. Just doubletap the button and the top of the screen slides down for you to select whateveryou want from there. Once you select what you want to, the screen goes back upagain. During my testing, I found this quite useful, particularly when Icouldn’t employ my second hand for the Phone or when I wasn’t comfortablejiggling the Phone in my hand to make my thumb reach the top, something I haveto do quite often with the Note 4 that lacks such a feature. Although useful,features like this are nowhere close to being deal breakers or deal makers. SoApple has a few of these changes with the new iOS, but then the basicabove-mentioned problems do make it difficult.
Did I mention the Stylus? Once laughed upon as an already outdated piece oftechnology, the Stylus’s reincarnation has to be attributed and credited toSamsung. Samsung redesigned and reinvented the stylus to the level that it hasnow become an integral and a defining part of the Note series. With the styluscomes a lot of added functionality. You can now use the stylus like a mouse andcopy content, select media, select documents or files of whatever sort or eventext. You can take a screenshot and edit it right then and there and share themthrough whichever app you like to. There’s a lot more added functionality withthe stylus which I’ll cover in my Note 4 independent review.
Samsung has made use of the larger screen in a way Apple couldn’t with thePlus. There are these floating apps now. You can transform an open app into afloating app by simply swiping from either top corners of the Phone across tothe middle of the screen and the app minimizes to a small window. You can thenfurther minimize it to look like an icon that floats anywhere you want on thescreen and open it (again in the smaller window) by merely tapping it. So youcan minimize the social network of your choice or Facebook or your documentsand continue working and do not bother to exit the app you’re working on justto check if there’s an update in the app you reduced to a floating app. You canopen as many as ten floating apps at a time. Extremely useful indeed. Apple hasnothing of this sorts to make use of the bigger screen. It merely has the UI thatruns on the iPhone 5s or its smaller sibling, the iPhone 6, stretched to lookbigger. That’s about it.
To put it in a sentence, Apple needs to revamp the functionality of the iOS sothat it matches the utility levels of the Android, which, in my opinion, is farahead of Apple in terms of usability, utility and simplicity, if not in termsof look and feel.
2) Media -
And now with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple still relies on iTunes to load music,photos or videos or movies. For games, there’s the famous App Store which Iwould say is slightly better organized than Android’s Play Store though thePlay Store has improved by leaps and bounds with every update and is closing inrather too quickly. Android relies on the classical mass storage mode in caseyou need to load media from your Desktop PC or Laptop PC. You can even downloadand store files and access them the way you want or also go for high-speedPhone-Phone transfers. Games can be downloaded from the Playstore. An advantageNote 4 has here over the Plus is that the Note 4 can download any size from thePlaystore using the Mobile Data Connection whereas the Plus can download anfrom the App Store only if the same is under 100 MB. If the size of the Appexceeds 100 MB, you simply have to use a WiFi connection to download it. Youcannot use your Data connection. And in a country like INDIA where WiFi isseldom found, this becomes a problem.
As a video player, the Plus has ridiculous limitations whereas the Note 4sweetly plays almost anything hurled at it. Right from converting a video andloading it on the Plus to viewing it there, its too painful to go through. On acouple of occasion after trying out a lot, I finally gave up on watching myfavorite movie on the Plus. Again, the Note 4 made it extremely simple andhassle free for me. Hope Apple fixes this very soon and lets its loyalconsumers make some real use of that gorgeous 1080p 5.5” panel.
In terms of gaming, the Note 4 has a better overall experience because of abetter display in general. The loudspeakers on both sets are mono and aren’ttoo different from each other. The Plus has a small advantage over the Note 4in terms of the availability of games. The iOS boasts of quicker and firstavailability since it’s still the developer’s favorite OS.
And with the newly launched metal, graphics on the Plus and the 6 too, will getbetter than what we used to see on the 5s.
The advantage Note 4 has here is that because of Android being an Open OS,there are many ways of loading games in the Note 4.
All in all, though with a great media management app in iTunes, the Plus failsto match the Note 4 in terms of Media. An easy victory for the Note 4 here.
3) Display –
The color correction is fantastic, so is the vibrance. Blacks are deep enoughand the White Balance is as perfect as it gets. Sunlight legibility is classleading. As mentioned in the above section, the software doesn’t make use ofthe brilliant display and bogs it down somewhat.
The Note 4 has a Quad HD 2560 x 1440 Super Amoled display that drives anastonishing 515 pixels per inch. It’s a typical Samsung Super Amoled, albeitwith more realistic colors this time around (thankfully). They do look punchierwhen put next to an IPS LCD, but they are a lot more realistic too this timearound and that’s what gives the Amoled an upperhand in terms of overallexperience and visibility.
Viewing angles on both displays are brilliant.
In terms of sunlight legibility, I would rate iPhone 6 Plus slightly above theNote 4 because of the way it hits high nits. It’s a lot quicker too, to reactto the surrounding lighting. The Note 4 does become brighter (obviously when onauto brightness) as quickly as the iPhone 6 does, but takes its own time tocome back to normal when there’s a sudden change in the lightning. A few morepoints to the Plus’s ambient light sensor for this! There’s a strange thingabout the Note 4’s display by the way! When exposed to harsh sunlight, and Imean really, really harsh sunlight, the Note 4’s display goes into the 8-bitmode and shows extremely over saturated. It’s so oversaturated that for amoment, I thought I was dished out a faulty device. I later realized Sammy didthis on purpose to make working on the Phablet easier in case you are subjectedto harsh sunlight. Does it work? Yes it does. Is it good? Well, this issubjective and I’ll leave it to you guys to decide based on your experiences.
Not that loading an HQ video on the iPhone 6 Plus is an easy job, but aftergoing through all the pain and finally loading the same video as loaded on theNote 4 with utmost ease, I would say the Note 4 performs a lot, lot better thanthe Plus. Not that the Plus performs badly. It’s just that it cannot match upto the punchy colors of the Amoled and also gets beaten comprehensively by theQuad HD resolution on the Note 4. Same goes for HD Photos too.
4) Battery -
Whenever I drive, around 30 minutes per day on an average, Iconnect my Phone to my Car using Bluetooth and listen to music. After all thisusage, all I could extract from the Plus was a mere 8-9 hours. To be moreprecise, these 8-9 hours would consist of roughly 3.5 hours of SOT, 70 mins ofvoice calling, all the mailing I did, using my social networks, having quickpeeks at FB or Twitter and Whatsapp messaging. Whatsapp, in particular, wasmore demanding. If I engaged in some long conversation on Whatsapp, say around30-35 minues, I would end up losing almost 10 percent. I do not understandwhere the 2915 battery was going, considering the simple UI, and the fact thatthere were no extraordinary sensors to power. Apple really needs to pull itssocks and get in some crazy optimizations through updates to improve thebattery life. What’s more painful is the speed at which the Battery charges.Apple ships the standard charger with 1.0 A output, the one that ships with the5s and the smaller sibling, the 6. And the 1A charger takes an eternity tocharge the 2915 mAH battery. This makes for a terrible combination – badbattery life and a battery that charges ridiculously slowly.
With this experience behind me, I unboxed the Note 4 with a bit of anapprehension and pessimism as far as Battery Life was concerned. Afterall, theNote 4’s battery had the burden of powering a Quad HD Display, a quad-corepower-hungry Snapdragon 805 plus all the heavy sensors and software tricks ithad to power. It was 60 percent charged when I first put the battery in. Andtill I setup the show, it was already down to 30 percent (a long setup!). Iplayed with it for the rest of the evening and when it was down to 1 percent, Iplugged in the charger. I remember Sammy had said they were shipping a fastcharger with the Note 4 and that it would charge 50 percent within 30 minutes.With 3G on and all accounts syncing, the Note 4 took 41 minutes to hit the 50percent mark, far from what Sammy has claimed, but this is still a lot betterthan the ridiculous 79 minutes the Plus took with a similar setup. The nextcycle, I tried to go from 0 to 50 with Mobile Data Connection or Wifi put offand the Note 4 hit the 50 percent mark within 32 minutes! Staggering. Pit thisagainst the 61 minutes the Plus took, and it sounds even more special. TheBattery life notwithstanding, this feature all by itself can make the Note 4better than the Plus as far as the Battery aspect is concerned. And now, whatif I say the Note 4’s battery is a 30-40 percent better than then Plus! This willseal the deal here itself! Well, the Note 4’s Battery actually consistentlyperformed 30-40 percent better than the iPhone 6 Plus with a similar setup; alltime on 3G and with all those accounts syncing in the background, for similarusage patterns. To make the Battery Life tests more interesting, I never didanything outrageous with the either the Plus or the Note 4. I went on with myregular business and usage patterns to ensure accuracy in the Tests.
And average of 35 percent better Battery Life delivery and around 40 percentfaster charging- there’s no need to say anything more. This is indeed a huge,huge victory for the Note 4. And a really, really significant one.
Talking about the platforms, considering the fact that the iOS launched earlierthan Android and the fact that Android had pathetic battery life in the earlierdays, it’s laudable that Android has come of age and has managed to deliverstaggering battery life compared to iOS which hasn’t improved by leaps andbounds, and at best, delivers average battery life.
5) Camera -
The Note 4 is capable of recording 2160p videos at 30 fps and 1080p at 60 fpsand it also goes on to record stereo sound. Again, this is an easy victory.
With regards to Photography, I found the Note 4 significantly more potent thanthe iPhone 6 Plus during day time. It consistently shot better Photos than thePlus. The colors were a lot more natural and better and a lot more detailed toothan what they were with the Plus’s sensor. The Plus wasn’t left far behind andwas by no means a mediocre performer. It performed good enough to comfortably outdothe likes of the LG G3, the HTC One M8 and the more recently launched SonyXperia Z3.
In terms of low-light photography, because of the better aperture, the Plusmatched the Note 4 head and shoulders and on a couple of occasions, even outdidthe Note 4. In a closed dark room, though, the Note 4 outdid the Plus becauseof a better Flash.
6) Audio Quality -
I don’t have much to write here since I don’t have all those lab equipmentsused to denote the accurate readings.
But all in all, I found the iPhone 6 Plus slightly better than the Note 4 inheadphones. It was ever so slightly cleaner than the Note 4. Loudness was thesame though. Bass too was as punchy as was in the Note 4.
In terms of loudspeaker performance, the Note 4 was pleasantly loud and is asloud as the Plus. The speaker placement is better on the Plus, though, andthat, in my opinion, gives the Plus a slight advantage over the Note 4.
With Plus, Apple has tried to get into the territory Samsung invented threeyears ago and have become masters at. It’s not easy to enter a territory anddethrone the ruler right in the first attempt. But knowing Apple, they won’tapproach something conservatively. As aggressive as they are, they make greathardware too. And they generally excel in what they do.
The story with the Plus is different though. The company that once called 5inchers cumbersome goes on to make a 5.5 incher the very next year is slightlyodd – and more so when that Company is Apple. Their first attempt at making abig screen is decent. Not great though.
When compared with the Note 4, the Plus pales in almost all areas. The bigscreen is there, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary that makes use of thebigger screen real estate. The bigger battery is there, but the end batterylife is poor to say the least.
Hardware with the Plus is top-of-the-line. The software’s the culprit. Not onlydoes it lack basic functionality, it also doesn’t to anything extraordinary todo justice to a flamboyant display.
The Note 4, on the other hand, is a lot better than its predecessor (yes, theNote 3 too can stand up against the Plus and defeat it, too) and takesfunctionality and usability to an altogether different level. A great softwareexperience is made even better. Every area of the hardware is improved. Withthe INDIAN bersion of the Note 4 being 4G enabled, the last glaringdisadvantage is gone too.
The Phablet Menu is all on the plate. And boy is it delicious!
I would have liked the Apple on my plate tastier, though.