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iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6 - specs comparison

Katharine Byrne
10 Sep 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6
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How does the iPhone 6S stack up against the best Android phone of the year? We put its specs to the test against the Galaxy S6

The iPhone 6S is finally here, but the big question on everyone's lips is how does it fare against the competition? Of course, it's still very early days at the moment and we won't know for sure until we've had a chance to put it through our Expert Reviews phone labs, but now that Apple has released the iPhone 6S's official specs, we've done an early comparison against this year's best Android smartphone, Samsung's mighty Galaxy S6

This should give you a rough idea of whether it's worth holding out for the iPhone 6S, or whether you're better off saving your money and going with Samsung instead. We'll update this article with full benchmark results as soon as we have them, but for now, here's how the iPhone 6S currently stacks up against the Galaxy S6. 

Design

Dimensions: The Galaxy S6 is pretty compact for a 5.1in smartphone, as it only measures 143x71x6.8mm and weighs 138g. That's only a little taller than the iPhone 6S, which has a smaller 4.7in screen and measures 138x68x7.1mm and weighs 143g. That's still shorter and narrower than the Galaxy S6, but it's a little thicker and heavier. I expect that they'll both feel pretty similar in the hand, though. 

Materials: Samsung has finally gone with a full-metal chassis for the Galaxy S6, as well as a glass rear. This is a big improvement over the plastic, faux-leather combo of the Galaxy S5, but I do find the S6's glass rear to be rather slippery. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 screen

Not that the iPhone 6 was much better, mind, as its smooth, rounded corners also felt very slippery in the hand. I don't expect this to improve much with the iPhone 6S either, as this reprises its predecessor's metal chassis almost down to the tee.

However, Apple's been very keen to point out that the iPhone 6S should be more durable this time round, as it's used a new custom aluminium alloy for the main body, as well as a dual ion exchange process for the front glass panel, hoping putting paid to those cracked screens and the dreaded 'bendgate' which haunted the original iPhone 6 launch. 

Apple iPhone 6S hands-on 5

Display

Screen size & Resolution: The Galaxy S6 has a 5.1in 2,560x1,440 resolution display but the iPhone 6S has the same 4.7in 1,334x750 resolution display as its predecessor. This gives the Galaxy S6 a much higher pixel density of 576ppi compared to the iPhone 6S's 326ppi, leading to a sharper, crisper display.

Of course, Apple still claims the iPhone 6S has a Retina class display, i.e.: the point at which you can no longer see individual pixels, but when you compare the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 side by side, the difference is palpable. Text is shaper and everything from the interface to app icons looks visibly more defined, leaving Apple's display looking rather lacklustre by comparison. 

Screen technology: Samsung always uses its Super AMOLED displays for its top-end smartphones, and the Galaxy S6 is no different. These always hit the full 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and have perfect 0.00cd/m2 black levels, but they don't tend to be as bright as their LCD counterparts. However, Samsung has countered this very effectively with the Galaxy S6, as switching to Auto brightness will dramatically increase the screen brightness to near LCD levels when you're outside in bright sunshine, combining the best of both worlds. 

Samsung Galaxy S6 hero shot

Apple, on the other hand, has always used LED-backlit IPS screens in its phones, and the iPhone 6S has one as well. Traditionally, Apple's displays have always had very good image quality, but they don't tend to be quite as accurate as an AMOLED panel. 

However, the iPhone 6S has Apple's new 3D Touch technology as well. This means the screen has extra sensors in them, allowing it to tell the difference between a light tap and hard push, just like on Apple's new Macbook and Apple Watch. This lets you interact with your phone in new ways.

Read all about Apple's 3D Touch technology here

For instance, press down on your camera app on the home screen and a drop-down menu will appear, allowing you to jump straight into slow-mo video mode or selfie mode without having to open the app and navigate to it manually. We'll have to see how useful it really is in everyday use when we get in for review, but in theory the iPhone 6S could have a more useful touch screen, but Samsung will have the edge when it comes to image quality.

Performance

Processor and Graphics: The iPhone 6S has Apple's brand-new A9 chipset but the company has yet to confirm how much RAM it has. We're hoping it will have 2GB of RAM, but there's every possibility it may stick with 1GB like the iPhone 6. Still, Apple stressed that the A9 was up to 70% faster than the iPhone 6's A8 chip in CPU tasks, as well as 90% faster in games, so it should have a significant edge over the iPhone 6. 

Samsung, on the other hand, has used its own octa-core 2.1GHz Exynos 7420 chip in the Galaxy S6, which is by far the most powerful processor we've seen on an Android smartphone. It also comes with 3GB of RAM. However, we'll have to wait and see how the iPhone 6S fares in our benchmark suite before we can see which one is best: typically, on-paper, Apple's phones look slower, but an efficient OS and processor typically gives excellent performance. 

Battery: The Galaxy S6 has a 2,550mAh battery, but it looks like the iPhone 6S will have the same 1,810mAh model that's currently on the iPhone 6. This may sound quite smaller on paper, but in practice it's no bad thing, as the Galaxy S6 only lasted 40 minutes more than the iPhone 6 in our continuous video playback test. Given the more energy-efficient processor in the iPhone 6S, we expect the battery life to increase a little on the new model, so expect the phones to have both have similar battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S6 fingerprint reader

Storage

The Galaxy S6 is available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models, but the iPhone 6S only has 16GB, 64GB or 128GB storage options available. 16GB is a little stingy in our eyes, as it doesn't leave a lot of room for apps, games and media files. I was hoping Apple might finally introduce a 32GB entry-level model, but unfortunately this is still nowhere to be found.

Camera

The iPhone 6S has a brand new 12-megapixel camera. This is still some way off the resolution of the Galaxy S6's 16-megapixel snapper, but the iPhone 6S's camera has up to 50% more pixels than the previous model, as well as 50% more focus pixels, leading to faster autofocus times.

Apple iPhone 6S hands-on 3

Of course, Samsung's flagship camera is one of the best I've seen, so Apple certainly has its work cut out for it. However, the iPhone 6S does have one trick up its sleeve in the form of Live Photos. By extending the capture time both before and after you take a photo, Live Photos create tiny, short videos of that moment, which you can then play back with the 3D Touch feature. It's always on, too, so you don't have to do anything extra in order to take them. We'll be examining the quality of these Live Photos over the coming weeks, but it's certainly a fun additional feature that could give Apple's camera the edge over Samsung's. 

Price

Just like last year's iPhones, the new iPhone 6S costs £539 for the 16GB model, or £619 for the 64GB version or £699 for the 128GB model. The Galaxy S6, on the other hand, has just had a huge price drop, with 32GB models now available for as little as £410 SIM-free. The 64GB model, meanwhile, can be found for £515, while the 128GB model is around £540

Verdict

It's currently very difficult to judge which one will be best overall and this article is really just to show how the two phones are shaping up at the moment. Post event, I'll have a better handle on the true story. Either way, the iPhone 6S certainly looks to be a significant upgrade over the current iPhone 6, so it may well pip Samsung to the post when we get one in for review. That probably won't be for another couple of weeks, as the iPhone 6S doesn't officially go on sale until 25th September, but I'll bring you our final verdict as soon as I can. 

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