Scroll down for the gallery. Apple and Samsung’s flagship phones, the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6, are sure to dominate the smartphone world this year. Both phones are remarkably similar, in design, features and cost, but there are some telltale differences.
If you’re looking to switch phones this year and have your sites on either the iPhone or Galaxy S6, we’ve built a handy guide of what each phone has that the other doesn’t, and what both have in common.
What the Galaxy S6 has that the iPhone 6 doesn’t
Wireless charging and quick charging
Like many other top Android phones, the Galaxy S6 supports wireless charging with a separate wireless charger, which you can find in many stores today. You simply place the phone on a wireless charging pad to add juice without fumbling with wires. Additionally, the S6 promises to charge quickly, so you’re not waiting around for enough battery to go about your day.
Built-in heart-rate monitor
The S6’s LED flash doubles as a heart-rate monitor that can also measure your blood oxygen saturation. You can use it to test your resting heart rate, or while exercising to see how hard you’re pushing. Our real-world tests show that these kinds of heart-rate monitors aren’t the most accurate, but it’s nice to have the option. The iPhone 6 can measure your heart rate through the LED flash, but you’ll need a third-party app to do it.
Bigger, higher resolution screen
The Galaxy S6 benefits from a large, supersharp screen that looks impressive in person and has a higher resolution than the iPhone 6. Samsung’s latest has a 5.1-inch AMOLED 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution (577 ppi) screen. In contrast, the iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch 1,344×750 IPS (326 ppi) display. If you want a five-plus-inch screen, you’ll need to look at the iPhone 6 Plus, which costs an average $100 more than the iPhone 6.
A dedicated VR accessory
Looking at future tech, Samsung’s got a leg up over Apple with both smartwatches and virtual reality. The Samsung Gear VR headset pairs with the Galaxy S6 to create an immersive video-watching and game-playing experience. VR might still be a bit ahead of its time, but if you’re into it, you’ll be able to use it with the S6.
What the iPhone 6 has that the Galaxy S6 doesn’t
Simple sharing between iPhone, iPad and Mac
If you have other Apple devices, like an iPad and MacBook, you can very easily share photos, videos and links from Safari between devices, thanks to AirDrop in iOS 8 and Mac OS Yosemite. Furthermore, thanks to a feature called Handoff, you can answer calls from your iPhone on a Mac. This seamless, built-in ecosystem is unique to Apple products, so if you already use a Mac or iPad and you want all of your devices to communicate with each other, consider getting an iPhone.
You can replicate these features with an Android phone and a PC, but you’ll need third-party apps. Also, Samsung has a feature called AllShare Play, where you can play video on a eligible smart TV and access files from your PC, but it offers a different experience than AirDrop and Handoff.
More new apps
It’s no secret that more often than not, iOS gets new apps first. That’s because it’s easier to develop an app for a few phone models running iOS, than the thousands of models running many different versions of Android. Most apps eventually make their way to Android, but some never do, so if having the latest apps is important, the iPhone 6 is a better bet.
Additionally, the Apple App Store has fewer spam apps than Google Play, thanks to stricter publishing requirements. Android has historically had a malware problem that stems from malicious apps, and you don’t necessarily need to worry about that on iOS.
A huge ecosystem of compatible cases and accessories
If you want your phone to have a case or compatible speakers, headphones and other extras, the iPhone is still your best bet. The iPhone’s widespread popularity in the US means that case makers and other accessory manufacturers are quick to make products for it.
Top-tier Android phones (like Samsung’s Galaxy line) are beginning to get more attention, especially from case makers, but the iPhone is still getting more products designed specifically for it.
What both phones have
The iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 both have fingerprint scanners built into the home buttons that you let you unlock the phone and authorize payments by tapping or swiping your fingers. You can program several fingers into both phones and the experience of using the scanner is comparable.
Both the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S6 have their own NFC-based mobile payment systems, but the iPhone’s Apple Pay is available now. It’s accepted at select US national retailers that have NFC support.
Samsung Pay promises much wider availability, thanks to built-in technology that lets you pay with your phone at older credit card terminals that don’t have NFC. However, it’s not slated to launch until later this year in South Korea and the US. In the meantime, you can use Google Wallet, which solely uses NFC.
Premium materials and designs
With either the iPhone 6 or the Galaxy S6, you’re getting a premium device made with the top-of-the-line materials. The iPhone has an all-aluminum body, with a Gorilla Glass 4 front panel, while the Galaxy S6 has a metal frame and Gorilla Glass 4 front and back panels. Gorilla Glass is designed to be tough and resistant against scratches and shattering.
Both phones come in several color options and have a high-end look and feel that bests other phones on the market.
Fixed storage and a nonremovable battery
The iPhone 6 comes in 16GB, 64GB or 128GB storage options, while the Galaxy S6 has either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. What they both share, however, is that you cannot add extra storage with a microSD card — once you hit your limit, you’ll need to delete files or apps for more space. If you need to backup photos, videos and other files, you’ll need to rely on cloud storage.
Both phones have embedded batteries as well, meaning you can’t swap out the battery when you need extra power.
Both phones have sensors and motion processors that track your movement in steps and elevation, acting as pedometers. You can see your activity in dedicated apps on the phones and keep tabs on how much you move throughout the day.
No right or wrong choice
It may look like the Galaxy S6 is beating the iPhone 6 by a mile, but remember that Samsung is six months ahead of Apple. The iPhone will get its chance to strut new features and improved hardware later this year. We’ll very likely see upgrades to iOS in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and then, if Apple follows its typical release cycle, a new iPhone will emerge in September.
For now, we have only the two latest models to compare. Since both phones offer premium designs, ample modern features and solid performance, your choice will come down to the operating system.
The Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, which affords more flexibility and customization than iOS 8. With Android, can you can change around the layouts of your home screen, pick your own default apps, and even completely overhaul the software design with a launcher. If customization and personalization are important to you, it’s worth seriously considering the Galaxy S6.
iOS, on the other hand, offers a simple, cleaner design that many consider to be more user-friendly. The operating system is upgraded regularly and if you have a newer iPhone model, you’ll be able to get those updates for many years, as soon as they are available. With Android, your carrier or phone manufacturer may delay or outright never deliver new versions of the OS.
As we’ve detailed here, there’s a lot to consider when choosing between the Galaxy S6 and the iPhone. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference. These are both great phones, and you can’t go decidedly wrong with either device.