Updated: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Introduction and key features

When the Samsung Galaxy S6 launched, its closest Apple rival was the iPhone 6. That was a while ago and the Cupertino firm has since updated its range with the iPhone 6S.

The iPhone 6 hasn’t disappeared though, it can still be picked up and even better it’s now a bit cheaper – as is the Galaxy S6. The iPhone 6S meanwhile, still sports its original lofty price tag.

If you want to see how Apple’s latest phone compares to the latest from Samsung, check out our iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6 comparison.

At a time when the choice between these two smartphone platforms arguably comes down to personal preference more than how much you can afford or obvious feature deficiencies, that makes a detailed comparison all the more essential.

A close look at these two phones side by side yields more fascinating differences than suspicious similarities. What’s undeniable, though, is that they’re both gunning for a similar premium market.

Both have classy metal-and-glass designs, class-leading cameras, and powerful processors – but their top-end price tags have dropped.

Both phones also mark sizeable departures from their predecessors. In the iPhone 6, which was launched in September 2014, Apple finally ditched the restrictive and arguably outmoded 4-inch display size of previous iterations.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

It also switched away from the striking square-rim design language that had been part of the iPhone range ever since the iPhone 4 in 2011, returning to a softer and more rounded approach that’s reminiscent of earlier handsets.

Samsung’s design overhaul has been even more radical. The Samsung Galaxy S6, launched in April 2015, marked a fundamental change in philosophy for the South Korean manufacturer.

Gone is the function-over-form mantra, the gaudy-but-robust plastic construction, the emphasis on box-ticking gimmick overload ahead of a crafted user experience. In its place is an elegant handset that concerns itself with how pleasant it is to live with rather than how many things it can do.

Samsung even went as far as to make a variant of the S6 in the form of the Galaxy S6 Edge, with curved dual displays for an even more premium look and feel.

Then there’s also the elephant in the room – the Samsung Galaxy S7. Samsung is set to announce a new phone in February 2016 and it’s expected to be even better than the Galaxy S6, so will this put the phone from 2015 to shame?

We won’t know until we get our hands on it. So how do the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6, separated by six months, compare in the here and now?

Key features

The parallels between these two major phones can be be seen by breaking them down into their key selling points. In this respect, at least, it can be said that the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 precisely mirror one another.

After all, both phones sell themselves on sleek new designs, improved screen technology, and stellar cameras.

And yet, in each key respect, the two phones take a very different approach, as we’ll discuss in greater detail in the appropriate sections.

In isolation, the iPhone 6’s design is notable for marking a big departure from the iPhone 5S before it. It’s bigger, slimmer, and more rounded, and it reverts to the gentle curves of the iPhone 3GS after a prolonged spell of palm-grating angles.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung’s phone, meanwhile, marks a radical rejection of the plastic and faux-leather effects typified by the Samsung Galaxy S5. In its place we have a metal rim and two shiny glass surfaces.

Yes, Samsung has evidently learned a thing or two from Apple in this regard, but as we’ll discuss in the next section it’s not quite as blatant as you might think.

Both phones represent notable leaps forward in screen technology, too, but in very different ways. The iPhone 6 marks Apple’s belated realisation that a lot of people quite like larger phones. As such, its display has grown 0.7 of an inch over its predecessor’s.

That doesn’t sound like a lot – and indeed, in Android terms it would still be seen as a ‘mini’ phone – but it instantly makes the iPhone a much better multimedia device than before.

It’s not the sharpest display we’ve ever seen, though. With an unusual 1334 x 750 resolution, it produces the exact same pixel density of 326ppi as previous iPhones.

In everyday use this is actually perfectly fine. Thanks to Apple’s tight hold on its software, everything feels optimised and native on this display, unlike on many 720p Android phones that we could mention.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Still, we imagine plenty of industry-aware Apple fans will wince when they spot the Galaxy S6 display’s vital statistics. It’s a 5.1-inch QHD Super Amoled display, which offers a whole heap of advantages over the iPhone 6 equivalent.

For one thing, it’s about half an inch bigger, meaning that websites and media content are larger and clearer. Also, QHD means that the display has a 2560 x 1440 resolution. We’re talking something not too far shy of four times the number of pixels found in the iPhone 6, and a 577ppi pixel density that’s almost double.

Honestly, in general usage, the difference simply doesn’t feel that pronounced. There’s still much debate over the need for a QHD resolution in smartphone displays.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t see the benefits at all, though. Running the same 4K or 2K video side by side on each, you can undoubtedly pick up more detail in the Galaxy S6. The same advantage sees viewing high quality photos on the Samsung a superior experience.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

As for the differences between Super AMOLED and LCD, well, those are a little more subjective. The Galaxy S6 screen has colours that pop more, deeper blacks, yet a generally redder tinge to it. The iPhone 6’s screen is colder and bluer.

Looking at the TechRadar homepage on both, with its whites and greys, the Galaxy S6 looked surprisingly murky and tinted by comparison. It’s not, of course. In fact, the Galaxy S6 gets incredibly close to the 6500K reference standard for colour accuracy, while the iPhone 6 comes in well above that level.

But if you’ve become used to Apple’s distinctive blue tint, and particularly its icy whites, the difference can be jarring.

The iPhone 6 screen also comes across as brighter than its larger, sharper rival. It’s one of those rare phones that can make the S6 seem almost muted. It means that holding the two screens side-by-side isn’t the knocked-out-of-the-park win for the Samsung that we were expecting.

Finally, both phone manufacturers have pushed their handsets’ photographic chops as a major selling point. Both manufacturers are quite right to do so.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

These are two phenomenal camera phones, both capable of replacing all but the best dedicated point and shoot cameras in terms of image quality – and any camera you care to mention in terms of ease of use and speed of operation.

The iPhone 6 camera is an 8MP example with phase detection autofocus, making for super-snappy snaps.

As elsewhere, the Galaxy S6 outspecs the iPhone 6 on the camera front. It’s a 16MP unit which also comes with phase detection technology, as well as a bunch of additional features like OIS for steadier shots.

We’ll go into the details in the appropriate section, suffice to say that the Galaxy S6 offers the first genuine rival to the iPhone range on the camera front in years. It’s arguably the more sophisticated camera, too, with more functions and options for advanced shooters.

We still love the iPhone 6’s solid, dependable point-and-shoot nature, though. When it comes to firing and forgetting, there’s still nothing better.

Like we said at the outset, these two flagship phones set out with similar basic intentions, but go about executing in surprisingly different ways. What’s undoubtable is that both have arrived more or less where they wanted to be right near the top of the smartphone tree.

Design and display

Samsung’s newfound design-led approach has been widely attributed to the ongoing success of the iPhone range, and there are fundamental similarities between these two phones that can’t be denied.

From the rounded metallic edges to the drilled speakers and general button and port placement, there’s definitely a shared approach to basic smartphone design here.

But anything more than a cursory glance will reveal notable differences. The Galaxy S6 has a metal edge, but the predominant material is glass. There’s tough Gorilla Glass 4 covering both front and back.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

The iPhone 6‘s body, by contrast, is a single piece of metal. Only the front section is coated in glass. That, too, feels different to the Galaxy S6, with a pronounced tapered curve at the edges.

Rather surprisingly, the Samsung feels like the more delicate, jewel-like device here – and who would have predicted that just a year ago?

That’s because Samsung’s much-documented shift to a more design-focused philosophy has coincided with Apple producing its most functional (I hesitate to use the word utilitarian) phone for years. It’s no ugly workhorse, but the well-used iPhone 6 handset before me wears its scuffs and scrapes better than the flashier Samsung.

The bevelled edges of the Galaxy S6 show up nicks far more readily than the simple, matte-finished metal of the iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Another reason I got this impression was that aforementioned heavy use of glass in the S6. It just feels like it’s a moderate drop away from a wince-inducing shattering incident, front and back.

In actual fact the glass is relatively tough, but it serves to make the whole handset more vulnerable thanks to its unique properties. Quite simply, the Galaxy S6 is extremely slippery.

I’ve had the Samsung Galaxy S6 for the best part of a month, during which time I’ve written a couple of these comparison pieces. In those pieces I noted that I’d experienced a few near misses where the Galaxy S6 had taken bizarre plunges off my flat sofa arm, it’s super-slick back acting like a ski does when put down on a seemingly flat stretch of compacted snow.

My luck ran out on the final day of shooting with the Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6. Placed down for a second on what seemed to be a flat, grippy wooden bench, the next thing I heard was the sickening sound of metal on stone as the S6 plopped around two feet onto the ground.

This left a small but ragged ding in the rim of the phone, its beautifully sculpted metal proving incapable of absorbing the impact of even a relatively a short drop.

I had previously experienced the same issue with the glass-backed Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, but that phone also has the benefit of a sturdy plastic rim that successfully absorbs such minor mishaps (at least in my experience).

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Compare that with the iPhone 6, and Apple’s handset feels more capable of bearing similar wear and tear. The iPhone 6 I tested is something of an office run-around, and it’s evidently had to share a few pockets with keys and change in its time. However, the handset’s matte metal has worn these everyday scuffs and scrapes surprisingly well. It suits the ‘distressed’ look quite in a way that the Galaxy S6 won’t.

Apple has also dropped the bevelled edge of recent handsets. This fits in with iPhone 6’s flowing design, its subtly rounded display melting into the body seamlessly. However, it also removes an infamously nick-happy element of previous iPhone designs. The S6, by contrast, has retained that polished bevelled edge, and while it looks great… well, let’s just say you’ll probably want to invest in a case as a matter of priority.

Perhaps surprisingly, there’s not a great deal of difference in size with these two phones – and that’s to Samsung’s credit. Despite the Galaxy S6 having a much larger display, it occupies a similar footprint to the iPhone 6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

At 138.1 x 67mm, the iPhone 6 is slightly smaller than the 143.4 x 70.5mm Galaxy S6, but at 6.9mm it’s a hair thicker too (only by 0.1mm mind).

This is because Samsung seems to have been far more aggressive with its screen bezels, particularly when it comes to the top and bottom examples. Apple’s big round recessed home button may be more reassuring to press than Samsung’s squished lozenge, but it seems to take up a lot more space as a result.

Display

The iPhone 6 is the top choice on the market for those who remain convinced that a smartphone should be completely operable with a single hand.

Even more than its slim design, that can largely be attributed to its 4.7-inch display. In keeping the iPhone 6’s screen well below 5-inches, Apple has ensured that those with medium to large hands will be able to reach all corners of the screen with the thumb of their holding hand – though Apple’s insistence on placing the virtual ‘back’ button at the top left of the screen makes it a bit of a stretch at times.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

If you’re one of those busy sorts who often finds themselves furiously tapping out a message whilst walking along the street with a hot beverage in the other hand the iPhone 6 is for you. Commuters who find themselves catching up on their Pocket reading list whilst holding onto a Tube train handle will also appreciate the iPhone screen’s compact dimensions.

For those that can’t quite reach, there’s a slightly clunky reachability function that drops the display down with a light double tap of the home button, but I never used it.

The Galaxy S6 isn’t quite so easy to wield in this way, what with its 5.1-inch display. But one-handed usage isn’t completely out of the question for certain tasks, particularly if you have large and limber hands.

Where the Galaxy S6 display really shines, though, is in its sheer fidelity. Its QHD resolution makes it the sharpest smartphone screen out there, for one thing.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

As I’ve mentioned, the Galaxy S6’s 577ppi pixel density is almost twice that of the iPhone 6’s, and it’s undoubtedly noticeable when you’re looking at high resolution media content on both phones side by side.

In general usage, particularly when used in isolation, it’s difficult to say that the 2K resolution is justified here, however. You simply won’t see a marked benefit over the 1334 x 750 iPhone 6 screen.

Besides its smaller dimensions, the main reason for this is that the iPhone 6 display is so very bright and clear. The picture almost looks painted on. Add in its greater brightness and Apple’s piercingly cool colour temperature, and it manages to hold its own against the Galaxy S6’s bigger, sharper, more colour-accurate Super AMOLED screen.

It also helps that so many media, website, and app assets are optimised for this popular screen, whereas it still feels like content creators are rather slowly latching on to the QHD standard – at least when it comes to mobile optimisation.

Still, there’s no doubting that by most meaningful metrics, the Galaxy S6 screen is better. In fact, we’d say it’s the best smartphone screen on the market. If you fancy showing off to your friends even more, splash some extra cash on the futuristic Galaxy S6 Edge. It has a screen which curves round either side of the handset.

Interface and Performance

Ah, the old iOS versus Android debate. Which is better? No one can say for sure. Not categorically anyway. These two leading mobile operating systems are just too good in too many distinct ways.

It’s a little easier to make a judgement call when comparing the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 interfaces, because Samsung does insist on layering its own inferior software modifications over the perfectly fabulous Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

Google’s Android 6 Marshmallow update is beginning to roll out to the Galaxy S6, but it’s taking some time to hit the major markets. Plus when it reaches the UK and US we will also need to wait for networks and carriers to release the update to customers.

With Android Lollipop the Korean manufacturer has pulled back from its irritatingly meddlesome ways to a fairly significant degree. TouchWiz remains difficult to love, but it also stays out of your way far more than before.

You still get the sluggish, pointless Flipboard-powered magazine view when you scroll to the left of the main homescreen, and the settings menu is still a bit of a mess of gaudy toggles and options.

But there’s less bloatware, fewer sluggish animations, and a generally cleaner, leaner look and feel to its icons and menus. You get a fairly classy little clock widget overlaying the main homescreen rather than the stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb widget of yore.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

You still get the best features of Android 5.1.1 here too, and almost unfiltered at that. Multitasking adopts Google’s slick, endless carousel approach (which also splits up individual web tabs), while the power and clarity of the notification system still knocks iOS 9‘s vague approximation into a cocked hat.

The iPhone 6, of course, comes with iOS 9 (it originally launched with iOS 8) unfiltered. There is no other kind of iOS 9. It’s one of the biggest strengths of Apple’s ecosystem – there’s no clunky elaboration from manufacturers who think they know better.

It’s also just a simple pleasure to use. Despite the major aesthetic overhaul Apple brought about with iOS 7, and the major enhancements added in iOS 8 (many of which are lifted from Android), this is still at heart the same iOS that defined the smartphone industry back in 2007.

iOS 9 brings improvements to Siri, adds transit directions to Apple Maps, tweaks the keyboard and more.

This means that using the iPhone 6 won’t thrill or excite you, but it also means that it feels instantly familiar and dependable. It trades novelty and freshness for well-honed functionality, which is precisely why it’s such a hit with those who don’t trawl tech blogs for the latest news and reviews every hour of every day.

Where Apple has embellished its operating system over the years, it’s almost always been thoughtfully executed and well integrated. Control Centre is a case in point. At heart, Apple’s drag-up menu is similar to the options presented in the drag-down Android menu, offering instant access to things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness, and a bunch of handy tools besides.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

But it just feels that bit slicker and more intuitive here, not crowded in with a load of other toggles and functions. It’s something I use an awful lot, whether setting a timer for some cooking pasta, fumbling to find my front door lock in the dark (thanks to a handy torch function), or blearily flicking into airplane mode for the night.

If there’s a learning curve to the iPhone 6’s operating system, then, it manifests itself at the gentlest of angles.

Performance

Performance across these two phones is uniformly tight. There isn’t a single task or app that stretches either, it seems. 4K video, 3D gaming, photo editing – all are handled with consummate ease.

However, the Galaxy S6 is undoubtedly the more powerful device in purely technical terms. Its Exynos 7420 CPU is an octa-core (in effect two quad-cores) chip clocked at 1.5GHz. That compares favourably to the iPhone 6’s A8 chip, which is a dual-core 1.4GHz example. The S6 also has three times the RAM of the iPhone 6 at 3GB.

Of course, Apple’s custom approach to processor tech yields results that frequently exceed the best that the Android crowd can manage with their off-the shelf parts. That’s particularly the case with single-core performance, which still plays an important role in most smartphone tasks.

However, Samsung has also gone the custom route with the S6’s chip, and it’s produced a stunner. In my Geekbench 3 benchmark tests, the iPhone 6 was only slightly faster in single core terms (scoring just 100 points higher on average), while the S6 was massively faster in multi-core terms (2300 more on average).

This is actually pretty meaningless, though, thanks to the vastly different operating systems each runs. Android and iOS utilise processors and memory resources in completely different ways.

In practical terms, then, both phones are as fast as they get for their respective platforms – and that’s all that you really need to know when making a decision between the two.

Battery life

As always, the iPhone is the best phone there is at not being used. That sounds like I’m having a sly dig at Apple here, but I’m really not.

The iPhone 6 is like its predecessors in its ability to only use power when it’s actually being used. Leave it on airplane mode over night and the battery reading will barely budge. If you have a quiet day with few calls, messages, or other reasons to light up that screen, it’ll last a decent spell.

During a fairly quiet weekend where the most intensive activity was the taking of the camera sample images for this piece, I got through a whole 24 hours (with the aforementioned overnight airplane mode) with 42 percent left in the tank.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

This is despite the fact that the iPhone 6 only comes with an 1,810mAh battery. That’s pretty small, at least by Android phone standards, but it goes to demonstrate how well balanced and efficient Apple’s combination of hardware and software is.

The Samsung Galaxy S6, by contrast, comes with a 2550mAh battery, and yet that’s widely seen a regrettable step back for the range.

Sure enough, the Galaxy S6’s battery life is a disappointment. It simply didn’t match up to the iPhone 6 in my day to day usage, as I’d get to the end of a day of light to moderate usage with around 20 percent left in the tank. This varied a fair amount, but that’s a bit of a concern in itself.

If you use both phones heavily, you can still get through to bed time with the iPhone 6, while you’ll probably need to top up before the the day is done with the Galaxy S6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

What’s all the more curious is that the Galaxy S6 seems to have been optimised for handling media. In our 90 minute 720p video test, the Galaxy S6 (with display brightness cranked right up) ate through a mere 13 percent of its charge. That’s very good going.

The iPhone 6, by contrast, chewed through 25 percent in the same test. Given its lower res display and power-sipping performance in general usage, such underperformance is a bit of a surprise, but perhaps sustained grunt work is where that difference in pure capacity comes in.

Camera

These are two of the best smartphone cameras available, no question, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Samsung and Apple take two very different approaches to the matter.

The iPhone 6 is undoubtedly the lesser specced of the two. It’s an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 lens, which appears to compare unfavourably to the Samsung Galaxy S6‘s 16-megapixel camera with f/1.9 lens. In addition, the Galaxy S6 features optical image stabilisation (OIS) for steadier shots – which is particularly useful for low-light conditions.

Both phones have 1/3-inch image sensors and phase detection autofocus for super-quick focusing.

However, the iPhone 6’s strength – and something that it still rules supreme on – is taking great pictures with the absolute minimum of fuss. Whip out the phone and take a quick snapshot in all but the most challenging of conditions (i.e. in poor lighting) and nine times out of ten you’ll capture the moment spot on.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Apple’s camera interface remains our favourite in this respect, and the phone’s snappy A8 processor ensures that you can jump straight to the camera with little delay.

Meanwhile Apple’s auto-HDR mode takes care of those scenes that contain extremes of light and dark without having to manually fiddle with the settings.

The Galaxy S6 also makes it very easy to capture good shots. In particular, I loved the ability to jump straight to the camera app with a double press of the home button, making this initial boot-up process even more dependable in a pinch than the iPhone 6.

Samsung’s partial auto-HDR mode also deals with extremes of light and dark without as much of a false, otherworldly appearance as many full-on HDR modes (particularly on Android phones) can produce. The results aren’t as natural as the iPhone 6’s, though. In the Galaxy S6’s favour, it shows you a real time preview of what that HDR shot will look like on its display.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

However, the Galaxy S6 interface just isn’t quite as nice or intuitive as the iPhone 6 with its simple scrollable functions. It’s not bad by any means, but Apple’s is on a whole other level of intuitiveness.

Whether you prefer the Galaxy S6 camera’s widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio or the iPhone 6’s more traditional 4:3 will be a matter of pure preference, as always.

Where the Samsung Galaxy S6 trumps the iPhone 6 is when you want to take a little extra time and care over your mobile shots. The phone’s new Pro mode offers full control over things like focus, white balance, ISO, and exposure. It’s both slick and powerful, and there’s nothing like it on the iPhone 6.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

As for image quality, both phones are capable of taking great shots. On this front, however, we’d have to give the nod to the Galaxy S6 for its greater low light capabilities and potential for capturing more detail. Zoom in on any picture and that extra information is apparent.

The S6 camera is perhaps slightly less consistent, and you might need to work a little harder to get the perfect shot (though only a little), but again, that’s partially mitigated by that killer home button shortcut.

Camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Media and the essentials

Both phones perform well as media players, but again have difference strengths. We’d give the edge to the Samsung Galaxy S6, though.

For video, the Galaxy S6 is the clear champion. With a bigger, sharper, more colour-accurate display, it really isn’t even close. Not that the iPhone 6 is a bad video player, you understand, but it’s operating in a different class.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

When it comes to music, both phones are strong – though both have relatively weedy single speakers. Also, both speakers are placed poorly in the same position on the bottom of the phone. This leads to numerous occasions where you cover it up with your finger when watching videos and playing games in landscape view.

Now that Apple Music has rolled out on iOS, both come with very similar music streaming subscription services – the Galaxy S6 coming with Google Play Music preinstalled. While Apple has been pushing its service hard of late, the only real difference between the two is Beats 1 radio station on the iPhone. If you don’t care for Zane Lowe and crew’s particular idea of ‘cutting edge’ music, that won’t even be a factor.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Going back to games, both phones have more than enough power on tap to play the best that the App Store and Google Play Store have to offer without any issue. However, Apple’s app store still has the greater range of high quality games, and they tend to be optimised a little better thanks to Apple’s narrower range of hardware (and the fact that the App Store is just plain more lucrative for developers).

Conversely, the Galaxy S6’s extra screen space undoubtedly offers a better view of games – particularly when they have virtual controls that require you to place both thumbs on screen.

The essentials

You have to give it to Samsung, while its smartphones often come with a whole range of features and gimmicks, they always do the basic stuff well too.

Placing calls on the Galaxy S6 yields clear results, and you won’t find great variances in signal strength despite the switch away from signal-friendly plastic to troublesome metal.

The iPhone 6, too, is a great caller. With the switch to a new all-in-one metal back and sides, Apple has added some fairly chunky plastic antennae to the to and bottom sections of the phone. They’re not pretty, but they mean that calls come through loud and clear.

Sure enough, I didn’t experience any unusual signal drops or dropped calls during my time with either.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Both phones are great for messaging too. The Galaxy S6 uses Samsung’s own Messages app, which is perfectly functional and actually quite sharp-looking. This is because Samsung has adopted Google’s own Material Design language for it, which results in a far more modern-looking app than Samsung used to produce.

I also appreciate how you can add your favourite contacts to a bar along the top of the main Messages screen for quick access.

One continued weakness, however, is in Samsung’s own keyboard. Unlike the Messaging app, it hasn’t had a Material Design-influenced overhaul, and it looks like it belongs to an older version of Android.

Typing on it is reasonably solid, but the lack of a ready-to-hand comma button continues to grate, as will the lack of an integrated swype-to-type system if that’s your bag.

Apple’s own Messages experience is a little more pleasant. It’s a lot sparser-looking, with a simple, colourless list of messages serving for the default screen. However, that cleanness works in its favour when you get to the messages themselves, with an easy to follow colour-coded speech bubble style.

Blue means the recipient also has an iOS device for more feature-filled iMessages, while green means you’re probably dealing with an Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry phone for regular SMS messages.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Apple’s keyboard is much improved over previous versions, with a world suggestion system that will feel familiar to Android users. Again, there’s no swype-to-type system, though.

Fortunately, both iOS and Android enable you to download third party alternatives – though the Galaxy S6 and Android have a definite edge here for sheer range and tight integration. Plus it has access to Google’s own keyboard, which is one of the best there is.

Of course, when it comes to typing the Galaxy S6 has the slight edge, thanks simply to its larger size. Having said that, single-handed typists will fare better with the iPhone 6.

The Galaxy S6 also has the edge with web browsing. Again, it’s thanks to that larger display, but this is also where that QHD resolution can sometimes tell. If the website provides the necessary mobile-optimised high resolution images and typography, web content can really shine on the S6.

Having said that, while we love the cross-platform flexibility and power of Chrome on the Galaxy S6, the iPhone 6 comes with Safari. Nowadays, Safari on iOS is a silky-smooth delight. Being able to bring up a large favourites menu simply by tapping on the address bar is also a killer feature that Chrome lacks.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

Apple’s phone also gets bonus web browsing points if you use a Mac, because the built-in Continuity feature lets you continue web browsing sessions seamlessly from one device to the other.

Of course, most people in the world now use Chrome on their desktop computers – but then, you can also download Chrome for the iPhone if you want to benefit from cross-device history and bookmarks.

Browsing on the web on iOS is arguably a little slicker and smoother, then, but the Galaxy S6 wins out for the sheer quality of its display. Remember, also, that the Galaxy S6 grants speedy access to Google Now, which is a whole other pre-emptive level of web browsing right there on your homescreen.

Price and verdict

Neither of these phones were cheap at launch, but quite some time has passed since both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 hit the market and prices have dropped.

When the S6 launched the two handsets were very similarly priced. The Samsung Galaxy S6, SIM-free prices started at £559.99 ($750, AU$999) for the 32GB model. The base 16GB iPhone 6, meanwhile, started from £539 ($649, AU$999) – that’s slightly cheaper, but don’t forget that extra storage.

A direct like-for-like comparison is impossible, because there is no 32GB iPhone 6. The 64GB model is the next up (a mistake in itself – Apple should have ditched the inadequate 16GB model instead) for £619 ($749, AU$1149) at launch.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 has witnessed some major price drops. Shop around and you’ll be able to pick up a SIM-free handset for around £380, $540 – a huge saving over the original price.

The iPhone 6 has dropped in price too with the launch of the iPhone 6S, but not by as much, with the 16GB version now retailing for £459/$549/AU$929, while the 64GB model costs £539/$649/AU$1,079.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

You might think that this makes the price consideration obvious, but it’s arguably more problematic for the Galaxy S6. Android phones invariably lose their value quicker than iPhones, which will retain their full price right up until the launch of the next iPhone.

Even after a new model is out, the price of an iPhone won’t drop by as much as an equivalent Android phone will. This means that the iPhone 6 probably has greater resale value than the Samsung Galaxy S6, despite the latter being six months newer.

If you’re only interested in the experience, then, price shouldn’t be a determining factor for your purchasing decision. These two phones cost about the same, and both are the best in their field. Your decision should come down to every other factor discussed in this article ahead of price.

The only way cost should come into it at this level is if you can envisage yourself selling your phone two years down the line, in which case you might want to take into consideration that you’ll probably get more for your iPhone 6.

Verdict

As you’ll know if you’ve read the latest techradar smartphone roundup, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6 were both in the top five smartphones in the world.

Both have beautiful metal-and-glass designs, vibrant displays, fluid software, and class-leading cameras. It’s in the different approaches to each of these elements that your decision must be made.

We actually picked the Galaxy S6 as our number one choice in that round-up, but hopefully this feature has shown that they’re pretty interchangeable depending on your priorities.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone 6

If you’re a power user who prefers a large-screen experience for things like watching HD videos and intensive web browsing, the Galaxy S6 is the better pick. Its 5.1-inch QHD display is bigger, sharper, and more accurate than the iPhone 6. It’s a stunner.

If you prefer a phone that does the basics to the best possible standard, that favours balance and intuitiveness above all, or if genuine single-handed usage is still a major factor, then the iPhone 6 is for you.

In particular, the iPhone 6’s iOS platform is just slicker and more intuitive than the Galaxy S6 equivalent, which still suffers for Samsung’s sub-par (though much improved) custom UI.

We all like taking pictures on our smartphones, and these are two of the best cameraphones money can buy. You will not be disappointed with the images capture by either, we guarantee. But if you’re choosing between these two phones on a photographic basis, ask yourself this: exactly what sort of mobile photographer are you?

If you’re a serious photographer who likes to take full control of your shots, composing them with care and attention, then the Galaxy S6 is a clear winner. Not only do its shots pack in more detail than the iPhone 6, it also comes with a comprehensive manual mode that the iPhone lacks.

Still, when it comes to just whipping your phone out for a hasty auto shot, you’ll get better – or rather more consistent – results with the iPhone 6. It remains the fire-and-forget champ, thanks to Apple’s dependable camera software and intuitive UI.

iPhone 6

While this is one of the trickiest recommendations to make, then, it’s also one of the easiest. Because when it comes to choosing between the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6, there really is no wrong answer.

Apple has since launched the iPhone 6S, so if you’re wondering whether that makes the choice any clearer head over to our iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6 comparison.

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