In the market for a "phablet"? Or maybe you’re just curious about these phone-tablet hybrids. In either case, you're probably aware of both the new Apple iPhone 6s Plus and Samsung's Galaxy S6 (GS6) edge+. The two smartphones are perhaps the most popular, high-end phablets on the market. However, despite the shared letter "s," numeral "6" and "plus" in their names, they have little else in common.
I purchased my iPhone 6s Plus two weeks ago, the day it was released, and I've been using the GS6 edge+ for more than two months. After a couple of weeks of side-by-side use, a number of notable strengths and weakness stand out for each grande smartphone.
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The following six sections detail the features, functionality and other options I miss most when I switch from the iPhone 6s Plus to my GS6 edge+.
This post is not a review, and it is not designed to suggest the iPhone is a "better" smartphone than Samsung's curvy new phablet. I found lots of ways the GS6 edge+ outshines the iPhone, and you can read the details in my companion post, "6 Things Galaxy S6 edge+ does that iPhone 6s Plus can't."
Things Apple iPhone 6s Plus does that Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ can't
1) iPhone 6s Plus has 3D Touch, Galaxy S6 edge+ has widgets
Apple's new 3D Touch technology is one of the most unique and valuable features in its new iPhones. It lets you apply different levels of pressure to the iPhone display to trigger different functions. You can, for example, press and hold the native Camera icon to open a pop-up menu that lets you quickly access the rear, front (or selfie), and video cameras, which takes less time than swiping through camera modes after you open the app. And 3D Touch lets you preview new messages in the Mail app with a light press of the screen, then open up full preview with a more forceful press, among other things.
Apple also offers a 3D Touch API, so third-party developers can build associated features into their apps. Each day, I check the App Store for application updates that enable new 3D Touch features in my favorite apps. It took me a while to adjust to the new input method, but now I constantly use the 3D Touch features in many of Apple's native apps, and also in Instagram, Swarm and others.
Some Android widgets provide similar functionality on the GS6 edge+. For example, you add Instagram and Swarm widgets to your Galaxy's home screen, and then quickly view photos or check-in. But widgets take up valuable screen real estate, in addition to their app icons, and most are dedicated to singular purposes. The iPhone's 3D Touch gives you quick home-screen access to a variety of features within apps. The system is also new, and relatively few third-parties currently use the technology, so it has the potential to become significantly more valuable in the future.
2) iPhone 6s Plus has 'Live Photos,' Galaxy S6 edge+ doesn't
Another brand feature in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: "Live Photos." After you enable the feature in your Camera settings, the iPhone 6s Plus records a few seconds of audio and video before and after you snap an image, which basically amount to tiny video clips centered around your image. You view Live Photos via 3D Touch by pressing and holding a finger on pictures in your camera roll. You can use Live Photos as iPhone wallpaper, and they also "come to life" on other Apple devices.
In my experience, it's tough to purposefully capture a good Live Photo and, frankly, it's easier to capture good audio and video with the video camera. However, Live Photos are all about spontaneity, and the best way to get a good one is to simply forget about the feature, at least in my experience. My best Live Photos are the ones that capture an important detail that was lost in the still photo, such as a tiny facial movement, a quick comment from a person in the photo, or the sound of wind blowing across a river on a windy autumn day.
The GS6 edge+ camera has many bells and whistles — and a 16MP rear shooter, compared to the iPhone 6s Plus's 12MP rear camera. But it doesn't do Live Photos.
3) iPhone 6s Plus and Touch ID vs. Galaxy S6 edge+ and Samsung scanner
Fingerprint scanners are common on many of today's high-end smartphones, and both the iPhone 6s Plus and GSG edge+ have finger scanners that work well. In my experience, you rarely have to tap a finger more than once or twice to unlock or authenticate using either device.
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But Apple's Touch ID is infinitely more useful than Samsung's scanner. The main purpose of such scanners is to unlock your phone, and they work seamlessly on both devices. They're also equally efficient at authenticating mobile payments, using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and others. However, Touch ID can be used for authentication in countless other apps, while Samsung's finger scanner is limited in comparison.
I regularly use mobile banking apps from different financial institutions, along with two additional apps to manage my credit cards. I use Touch ID on my iPhone to unlock and access my accounts in three of those four apps, which is useful because I protect those accounts with complicated and lengthy passwords.
Though all four of these finance apps are available for Android and the GS6 edge+, none support fingerprint authentication. So when I go to access them on my Galaxy, I usually have to open up a password manager to remember the password. (Both the iOS and Android password managers I use support finger authentication, so my gripe mostly relates to finance apps.)