Christmas is on the horizon, and that means that lots of consumers will be shelling out for a new mobile device. And although the smartphone remains the dominant niche in the mobile device market, phablets have also become increasingly popular. The Korean manufacturer Samsung has been particularly responsible for this, given that the world’s second most successful seller of mobile devices has very much devoted itself to the larger mobile medium.

It is the popularity of phablets which eventually lead Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to release its own this year in the shape of the iPhone 6 Plus. And many consumers will be considering opting for either the premium phablet produced by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:0059935), the Galaxy Note 4, or Apple’s offering over Christmas.

But, fundamentally, which one is better?

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4 - Premium Phablet Duel

Design

iPhone 6 Plus: Curved aluminum, 7.1mm size
Galaxy Note 4: Metal edge, plastic back, 8.5mm size

Samsung has rarely been praised for the physical design of its devices, and the corporation had clearly noted this criticism with the design of the Galaxy Note 4. Whereas the plasticky visages of previous devices received lukewarm receptions, the Galaxy Note 4 embraced a metallic finish for the first time in the Galaxy Note range.

But Apple still has the clear lead in this department. The curved aluminum body of the iPhone 6 Plus is not only more attractive to look at, it is also easier to hold. The sleek, slim device really makes a strong impression from the very first moment you pick it up, and Apple can still rely on the quality of its design parameters to attract consumers.

Advantage: Apple

Display

iPhone 6 Plus: 5.5-inch 1,920 x 1080 LCD, scratch resistant glass
Samsung Galaxy Note 4: 5.7-inch 2,560 x 1,440 Super AMOLED, scratch resistant glass

Samsung has particularly prioritized the quality of its screens in recent mobile devices, and the Galaxy Note 4 is no exception to this rule. The quad HD Super AMOLED display in the Galaxy Note 4 is extremely impressive, and perhaps represents the biggest selling point of the device. While the Note 4 boasts a larger pixel resolution than the iPhone 6, the differing type of screen technology used is also relevant. Super AMOLED screens offer better contrast and black levels, meaning that the Note 4 is far easier to use in a darkened room in particular. Few analysts or reviewers come to any other conclusion than that the Galaxy Note 4 has a superior screen to the iPhone 6 Plus.

Advantage: Samsung

Performance

iPhone 6 Plus: 64-bit Apple A8 dual-core 1.4GHz, GPU PowerVR GX6450, 1GB RAM, M8 co-processor
Samsung Galaxy Note 4: 32-bit 2.7 GHZ Quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, Adreno 420 GPU, 3GB RAM

On paper, this particular sphere doesn’t look to be much of a contest. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 boasts much more impressive specs, and a considerably more powerful processor. It also comes armed with significantly more RAM.

However, the iPhone has punched above its weight for many years, thanks to the unique collaboration between Apple authored software and Apple developed hardware. It has also been boted by analysts that the iPhone 6 Plus deals with gaming particularly well, and it probably has the edge over the Galaxy Note 4 in this department.

But testing has shown that the Galaxy Note 4 is significantly ahead of the iPhone 6 Plus in performance, and although this is compensated by the sheer slickness and ease of use of the iPhone 6 Plus, it must be said that Samsung has a very slight edge here.

Advantage: Samsung

Sound

iPhone 6 Plus: Single speaker on bottom edge
Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Single rear-mounted speaker

It is arguable that neither the iPhone 6 Plus nor Galaxy Note 4 can compete with the HTC One M8 in this arena. But of the two, the speaker system in the iPhone 6 Plus offers greater depth, and therefore it can be said that Apple wins out in the sound department.

Advantage: Apple

Software

iPhone 6 Plus: iOS 8.1
Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Android 4.4 KitKat

There are few more contentious battles in the world of technology than the one between iOS and Android. Devotees of both operating systems tend to cling jealously to their particular preferred software.

While there is no doubt that Android offers an extremely flexible operating system which is potentially more innovative than Apple’s offering, the fact is that iOS 8 is far slicker. Apple’s operating systems and products have been renowned for this for many years, and if you were new to smartphones then the iPhone 6 Plus would be a no-brainer selection.

Many people cited the superior customization in Android as a reason to prefer it over iOS 8, and this is certainly a valid argument. But with its supreme slickness, and the power of the Apple App Store on its side, it must be said that the iPhone 6 Plus still offers a superior package to the Galaxy Note 4.

Advantage: Apple

Camera

iPhone 6 Plus: 8-megapixel camera sensor, optical image stabilization, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1080p HD video recording

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: 16-megapixel sensor, optical image stabilization, 3.7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording

The sheer raw statistics would suggest that the Galaxy Note 4 camera should wipe the floor with the iPhone 6 Plus. However, both cameras are in fact capable of taking very high quality and detailed pictures. And the relatively poor ability of the Galaxy Note 4 to take photographs in low-light conditions probably means that the iPhone 6 Plus has the marginally better camera of the two handsets. Throw in exceptional optical image stabilization and video capturing which has been particularly praised by reviewers, and the iPhone 6 Plus just comes out as the winner here.

Advantage: Apple

iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4 - Premium Phablet Duel

Battery Life

iPhone 6 Plus: 2915mAh
Samsung Galaxy Note 4: 3220mAh battery

There is no question that the Galaxy Note 4 is superior in terms of battery life. Not only has it been fitted with a more powerful battery in the first place, but the battery saving technology that Samsung has built into this smartphone ensures that it simply lasts significantly longer than the iPhone 6 Plus. Samsung wins emphatically in this department.

Advantage: Samsung

Conclusion

Both the Galaxy Note 4 an Apple iPhone 6 Plus have their fans and loyal defenders. And this is perhaps because the two smartphones actually offer significantly different experiences. If you’re making a purchasing decision based on design and ease of use, then it is extremely difficult to make a viable case for the Galaxy Note 4. However, the iPhone 6 Plus is not quite as powerful as the Samsung device, and the Galaxy Note 4 is also arguably more innovative. Which one appeals more to you will be very much based on personal taste, but both devices certainly have their own particular assets and qualities.