It's officially the fall of the premium phablet -- devices that extend well over 5 inches in diagonal width; are great for reading, movies, gaming and overall multitasking; and sell for a whopping $650 and up off-contract. And the devices dominating this season are the iPhone 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (on sale Friday) and Google's Nexus 6.
These are among the most advanced phone/tablet hybrids on the market, promising consumers advanced specifications, premium designs and gargantuan screens.
Once upon a time, Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Note line were the only large-screens on the market, but now big is the new black. Now there's a phablet for every taste, which leads to the question: Which do you choose?
Take a look at how these devices stack up against one another.
Let’s begin with the primary feature of all of the devices: their displays. This is a comparison of AMOLED displays and LCD displays. AMOLEDs tend to be sharper and provide brighter and more true-to-life colors, while LCD displays draw less battery power. Pixel density indicates the depth of resolution; a higher pixel density usually equates to fewer pixels being visible to the naked eye on a display.
Apple's iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch retina HD (1920x1080) IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 401 ppi.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 boasts a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 515 ppi.
The Nexus 6, co-developed by Google Inc. and Motorola, comes with a 5.9-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) AMOLED display with a pixel density of 493 ppi.
The processing chip in a device ultimately determines its speed, accuracy and power consumption. This is a comparison of the Apple A-series chip and the Qualcomm Snapdragon. Apple couples chips that exert less power with highly optimized software to maintain a streamlined user experience on its devices even without the most advanced technology. Qualcomm's chips generally boast the fastest processing speeds and support for the latest mobile features, including high-resolution displays, high-performance graphics and fast charging speeds.
The iPhone 6 Plus uses a 1.4 GHz dual-core A8 processor.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 features a 2.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor. There is also a Galaxy Note 4 model with a 1.9 GHz octa-core Samsung Exynos 5433 processor; however, this model will not be available in the U.S.
The Nexus 6 comes with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor.
The iPhone 6 Plus features an aluminum chassis with a flat, yet ergonomic design. The device is thin and light with deep curvatures at its edges. Apple is said to have opted for such a design due to the device’s size; previous iPhone models have been much smaller with sharper and boxier edges. Apple’s attention to gaming on its iOS 8 software also influenced the design. The iPhone 6 Plus is intended to be comfortable in the hand while held horizontally during gameplay.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 features a chassis made of aluminum, magnesium and plastic. Devices in the Galaxy Note line have always been big, but Samsung made a leap with the introduction of metal for a more premium feel. Even so, it's minimal and is reserved for the outer frame. The back panel of the Galaxy Note 4 still includes the polycarbonate material for which Samsung is known. The device’s high-resolution display and pink and gold color options also add to its high-end look.
The Google Nexus 6 features a chassis made of metal and plastic. The device adopts its design from Motorola’s Moto X (2014), adding a metal outer frame to its plastic back panel. The Nexus 6 features a curvature in its back for easier handling. Its white-and-blue color schemes gives the device a futuristic look.
The iPhone 6 Plus has an 8-megapixel iSight camera with autofocus and ƒ/2.2 aperture. Features include improved face detection, optical image stabilization, and panorama up to 43 megapixels. It captures video in 1080p and includes a 1.2-megapixel front camera.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a 16-megapixel camera with autofocus and ƒ/2.0 aperture. Its features include HDR (rich tone), optical image stabilization and selective focus. It captures video in 4K and includes a 3.7-megapixel front camera.
The Nexus 6 has a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus and ƒ/2.0 aperture. Its features include HDR+, optical image stabilization and dual LED ring flash. It captures video in 4K and includes a 2-megapixel front camera.
The iPhone 6 Plus includes a non-removable 2,915mAh battery. Apple claims it can support up to 24 hours of talk time, 16 days on standby and 12 hours of Wi-Fi, 3G or LTE browsing.
The Galaxy Note 4 includes a removable 3,220mAh battery. Samsung says the unit can support up to 20-hours of talk time and 26 days on standby. The Galaxy Note 4 includes an Ultra Power-Saving Mode, which allows the device to maintain a 10 percent charge for 24 hours. Its adaptive fast-charging technology allows the Galaxy Note 4 to charge 50 percent in 30 minutes.
The Nexus 6 includes a non-removable 3,220mAh battery. Google claims the battery in the Nexus 6 can support up to 24-hours of talk time, 300-hours on standby, 8.5-hours of Wi-Fi browsing and 7-hours of browsing on LTE data. The Nexus 6 supports wireless charging, and with its turbo charger technology, can gain up to six hours of power in 15 minutes.
The iPhone 6 Plus runs the iOS 8 operating system. The software includes features such as third-party keyboards, interactive notifications, Touch ID development, and updates to Spotlight, Mail, Messages and other applications.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is powered by the Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. The software includes features such as the immersive mode user interface, lock screen media controls, always-on hands free navigation, integration of messages and Google Hangout and a full emoji keyboard.
The Nexus 6 features the pure Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system. The software includes features such as the new material design user interface, updated notifications functions, and major updates for improving battery life, security, device sharing, performance and media.
Large displays means these devices are big overall, which can affect handing and comfort. While manufacturers use design and materials to optimize the handling experience, raw dimensions also give an idea of how these devices feel.
The iPhone 6 Plus is 158.1 mm in height, 77.8 mm in width and 7.1 mm in thickness. It weighs 172 g.
The Galaxy Note 4 is 153.5 mm in height, 78.6 mm in width and 8.5 mm in thickness. It weighs 176 g.
The Nexus 6 is 159.26 mm in height, 82.98 mm in width and 3.8 mm in thickness. It weighs 184 g.
Memory and Storage
Adequate memory (RAM) and storage are vital for smartphone performance. Apple uses software optimization to decrease the need for extra RAM while providing considerable amounts of internal storage. Android-powered devices often use lots of RAM and may have the options to expand memory beyond the standard capacity depending on the manufacturer.
The iPhone 6 Plus includes 1GB of RAM and 16GB, 64GB and 128GB internal storage options. It does not support expandable memory.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 includes 3GB of RAM and 16GB and 64GB internal storage options. It supports expandable memory up to 128GB with MicroSD storage.
The Google Nexus 6 includes 3GB of RAM and 16GB and 64GB internal storage options. It does not support expandable memory.
All three devices support the current mobile network standards including 2G, 3G, 4G and 4G LTE, and connectivity including Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth, mobile hotspot tethering.
Devices include a host of sensors that work together and with other applications and functions, and are ultimately what make a smartphone “smart.” Newer sensors on mobile devices include heart rate sensors, which often work with health-related applications, and fingerprint or other biometric sensors, which provide security.
The iPhone 6 Plus includes such sensors as fingerprint ID, pedometer, accelerometer, barometer, digital compass, GPS and gyroscope.
The Galaxy Note 4 features such sensors as fingerprint ID, UV sensor, heart rate monitor, accelerometer, barometer, digital compass, GPS and gyroscope.
The Nexus 6 offers a number of sensors, including accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity, ambient light, haptic feedback, hall effect and barometer.
Price and Availability
The iPhone 6 Plus 16GB model sells for $299 with a two-year contract while the 64GB sells for $399 and the 128GB sells for $499. Off contract, the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus costs $749, the 64GB model costs $849 and the 129GB model is priced at $949. The device is available at Apple’s retail and online stores, carriers include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and retailers include Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target and Walmart.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 32GB model will sell for $299.99 with a two-year contract on most mobile carriers, but each carrier has its own retail price. The Galaxy Note 4 will cost $699.99 on Verizon, $720 on Sprint, $749.76 on T-Mobile, $770.16 on U.S. Cellular and $825.99 on AT&T. The device is also available at retailers including Best Buy, Amazon, Costco. The Galaxy Note 4 was released on Friday.
The Nexus 6 32GB model will sell for $649 off contract, while its 64GB model will sell for $699. The device will be available at the Google Play Store and Motorola’s online website as well as at Best Buy, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and U.S. Cellular. Carriers have not yet announced their subsidized pricing for the Nexus 6. It will be available for preorder on Oct. 29 and will release in November. T-Mobile has announced it will begin offering the Nexus 6 on Nov. 12.