Entertainment of Thursday, 29 January 2015
Samsung and Apple’s rivalry for the hearts and minds of phone owners has now moved into the phablet arena with the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus. But which should you buy?
The Galaxy Note 4 moves away from Samsung’s all-plastic aesthetic of yore, and despite having an extremely thin plastic back, it now clips onto a solid metal chassis, giving it a bit more heft and premium-style feel.
The silver highlighting around the rim on both sides lends a bit of class too, though the weight has now increased from the Note 3’s 168g to 176g and it’s still a fairly svelte 8.5mm. On the back the camera’s LED flash doubles up with the Samsung heart rate and blood oxygen level monitor — something you won’t find on the 6 Plus.
The 6 Plus is a big change for iPhone, quite literally. The biggest phone that Apple has yet produced is every bit as sleek and slim as we had expect and no aesthetic compromises seem to have been made to achieve the bigger dimensions.
The premium grade metallic casing feels very classy and carries its size very lightly at just at 7.1mm thin and 172g. In fact, it feels even slimmer thanks to the curved edges. And those bending rumours? Yes, it’s possible, but it is with many phones if you don’t treat them right.
There are still plenty of features to play with, including the shortcut menu that slides in from the right, but they’re designed to enhance your experience rather than get in the way you don’t have to use them. And if it all gets too much, you can always switch to the stripped-down Easy mode.
The Multi Window feature adds an extra dimension to multitasking, so you can keep your web browser open at the same time as you’re reading your emails for example. You can resize the window for each and now you can open little pop-up windows too which you can move around the screen.
Phablets are designed to be used with two hands of course, and the Note 4 wears this fact on its sleeve with its S Pen stylus, now boasting over 2,000 levels of sensitivity which makes all the difference when you’re trying to draw detail.
The latest iOS 8 continues the clean lines of its predecessor but has also some significant improvements — so apps can now talk to each other at last, and the addition of Swype and SwiftKey keyboards help to bring it up to the ability that Android users have been enjoying for ages.
For versatility, the Note 4 is ahead, but for simplicity and ease of use, the 6 Plus plays to Apple’s time-honoured strengths. And if it all starts to feel a bit, well, big, Apple’s new Reachability feature contracts the interface so it’s easier to reach with one hand.
Both cameras are capable of great pictures, but the Note 4 has the edge for resolution versatility. The selfie(means picture taken by oneself) camera’s better on the Note, whereas low-light photography really shines on the iPhone.
Both phones have these as a security option, but Samsung’s is a bit fiddlier to use. You need to swipe your finger rather than just touching it, and its ability to recognize us consistently wasn’t as reliable as that of the 6 Plus.
Each phone has a good-sized battery and in both cases we found that they could handle a day’s worth of heavy use fairly comfortably — not a lot to choose between them here, though the Note 4 also offers additional flexibility with its Ultra Power Saving Mode and fast charging abilities.
These are both excellent phones, and whichever you choose you’ll get a terrific screen, powerful performance and a fine camera. Scribblers and artists will get most out of the Note 4’s clever S Pen stylus but your preference is most likely to be decided by your fondness for each operating system — the enviable but limiting slickness of iOS or the versatility of Android. This will be the main deciding factor because in hardware terms, there aren’t great deal to choose between them.