iPhone 6s full review
When the iPhone 6s launched in September, it found itself in direct competition with the similarly named Galaxy S6, Samsung's flagship smartphone that launched back in March. Both phones offers top spec features and individual selling points of their own, so here we put the two head-to-head to find out which is best in our iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6 comparison.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Design and build
The iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 have some big similarities when it comes to design and build, from the visual similarities that you'll spot on the outside to the non-removable back and lack of waterproofing – an interesting move from Samsung.
In previous comparisons between the Apple and Samsung's flagships, Galaxy phones trumped the iPhone thanks to their waterproof nature and the ability to remove the back and the battery, but Samsung has sacrificed those features in favour of a slimmer and more stylish design, it seems. It has also removed the microSD card slot, another feature Samsung owners previously used against Apple fans.
Just looking at the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 side-by-side, you'll notice that both have rounded corners and similar metal chassis with ports, speakers, buttons and even antenna strips in locations that appear to mimic one another. They both have protruding cameras on the back, but Samsung has positioned its camera in the middle while the iPhone 6s's camera is on the left.
But we still love the look of the iPhone 6s more than the Galaxy S6. It oozes style and sophistication thanks to its matt aluminium finish available in a delightful Rose Gold, Gold, Silver and Space Grey.
Meanwhile the Galaxy S6 has a tackier, mirrored back that picks up fingerprints in an instant. You can choose between Gold Platinium, Blue Topez, White Pearl and Black Sapphire, and we'd strongly recommend the choosing on of the latter two options if you're concerned about that shiny, smudgy finish.
Both the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 measure 7.1mm thick, and are very similar when it comes to weight at 138g and 143g respectively.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Screen
The design of these smartphones is important, of course, but the thing you'll be spending the majority of your time looking at is the screen. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a stunning display, at 2560 x 1440 pixels making it Quad-HD, something we had hoped to see with the iPhone 6s but expect will arrive with the iPhone 7. Across its 5.1in screen, that means the Galaxy S6 has an incredible 577ppi pixel density, which is much higher than the iPhone 6's 326ppi (1334 x 750 resolution).
But the 5.1in display might be too big for some, who'll prefer the slightly smaller 4.7in screen on the iPhone 6s. It's still crisp and clear, and you'll find it more than satisfactory for watching videos and playing games, but there's no doubt that the Galaxy S6's screen blows it out of the water.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Hardware and performance
Beneath its stunning exterior, the iPhone 6s houses a 64-bit A9 processor with an M9 motion co-processor that improves efficiency by taking on responsibility for the sensors. That chip is paired with 2GB RAM, which combined with iOS makes it a smooth, speedy piece of tech.
The Galaxy S6 is no slouch though. It has a super-fast octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, which like the iPhone's is 64-bit. It has 3GB RAM, but it's difficult to compare that directly with the 2GB in the iPhone because the S6 runs Android which handles app management differently.
We've run our benchmarking tests on both phones, and the chart below shows the results.
Storage options for the Galaxy S6 are 32GB, 64GB and 128GB, which as mentioned previously is a more important decision than ever for Samsung users because there's no microSD card slot for adding more storage later.
We wish that Apple had adopted the same storage options as Samsung with the iPhone 6s, but instead it has started with 16GB then skipped to 64GB, with the largest option coming in at 128GB. We don't think 16GB is enough space, and most users will find that they'll quickly use it up, so if you decide to buy the iPhone 6s we'd advice opting for the 64GB model if your budget can stretch (you can find out more about pricing below).
The Galaxy S6's battery may be non-removable, but it does feature wireless charging as standard, and also supports quick charging that'll give you enough power to last four hours within 10 minutes of being plugged in.
The iPhone 6s battery is also non-removable but it's not such a surprise, as previous iPhones have had a fixed battery too. It doesn't feature wireless charging or quick charging, but there is now a power saving mode in iOS 9.
Other connectivity features are similar, with both phones sporting 802.11ac WiFi and NFC, but the Galaxy S6 gets an IR Blaster and Download Booster that the iPhone lacks. Bluetooth 4.2 can be found in the iPhone 6s while the S6 has Bluetooth 4.0.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Cameras
Apple's iPhone 6s has a big camera boost compared with the previous model, now boasting a 12Mp snapper with 1.22 micron pixels. There's a True Tone Flash and autofocus that's made better thanks to dedicated focus pixels.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 16Mp camera on the rear with an LED flash, and there's automatic real-time HDR and IR Dectect White Balance, but most importantly there's optical image stabilisation, which the iPhone 6s Plus has but the smaller 6s that we're talking about here doesn't.
Both rear cameras are capable of capturing 4K video, slow-motion and time-lapse.
On the front of both phones is a 5Mp camera.
We're working on a huge camera comparison article that'll put the iPhone 6s head-to-head with its biggest camera phone rivals, because there are so many varying factors that it's hard to judge the cameras in any smartphone comparison based on specs alone. We've found the iPhone 6s camera to be great so far, but the Galaxy S6 camera continues to wow us every time we use it, so watch this space for detailed photo comparisons that'll help us issue our final verdict on which is better.
What's cool about the iPhone, though, is that it offers Live Photos, which means it can capture a second before and a second after you press the shutter button. You'll then end up with a three-second long Live Photo, which is a bit like an animated GIF. You can view that clip on your iPhone by using the 3D Touch feature (which we discuss more below), pressing on the photo to make it move. It's a bit on the gimmicky side but we've enjoyed using it so far and we imagine it'll become more popular as more apps begin to support it.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Extra features
We've already briefly mentioned the iPhone 6s's 3D Touch display, but it deserves much more than just a mention as it's one of the phone's big selling points that sets it apart from rivals.
The new tech means that the iPhone's display can detect pressure, opening up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to navigation and interacting with the device. You can find out more about 3D Touch here.
It does require a bit of a learning curve, but once you're familiar with it, 3D Touch can make everything that bit quicker to achieve and help you be more efficient overall, even if that just means you spend a bit less time checking your emails. Time is money, after all.
Both the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 offer quick and accurate fingerprint scanners beneath their home buttons for speed and security for Apple Pay and Samsung Pay respectively, but the S6 offers a heart rate scanner that the iPhone doesn't have.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Software
We could talk about specs all day, but it's actually the software that'll make the biggest impact on your experience of using a smartphone. The iPhone 6s runs Apple's iOS while the Galaxy S6 runs Android, and chances are you've already made up your mind about which you prefer. There are pros and cons to both, and the decision to switch can be a tough one because it'll mean relearning how to use your phone and starting again with apps and lots of the data they store.
The iPhone 6s runs Apple's new iOS 9, which features a new Proactive Siri that's similar to Google Now on Android, as well as all of those handy 3D Touch features and the ability to capture Live Photos. Find out more about iOS 9 and all of its new features here.
The Galaxy S6 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, but it'll soon be updated to the new 6.0 Marshmallow operating system. That's customised with Samsungs TouchWiz user interface. You can find out lots more about the Galaxy S6 software in our full Galaxy S6 review.
iPhone 6s vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Price
The final thing to talk about when comparing any two phones is price. Now that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has been around for a while (it launched in March at MWC in Barcelona), it's been reduced from £599 to £499 if you want the 32GB model. For 64GB, you'll pay £639, and for the 128GB model you'll pay £719.
The iPhone 6s is newer and tends not to go down in price, so it'll likely stay at £539 for the 16GB model until a new iPhone 7 arrives next year. The 64GB model is £619, so slightly less than the Samsung equivalent. Then there's the 128GB model that'll cost you £699.
So these smartphones are fairly evenly matched when it comes to price, which means it's unlikely to be the deciding factor when choosing between them.
iPhone comparison reviews
If you've enjoyed this article, perhaps you'd be interested in more iPhone buying advice? We've written a series of comparison reviews, which set various combinations of iPhone against one another, head to head:
- iPhone 6s vs iPhone 5s
- iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s Plus
These may be useful if you're trying to device between two specific iPhone models.
iPhone buying guide, autumn/winter 2015
And for a broader look at Apple's current iPhone range, take a look at our iPhone buying guide video for autumn/winter 2015:
Or, if you'd prefer to see our buying advice in written rather than video form, head over to our iPhone buying guide article.
But now, on to the verdict!
iPhone 6s: Specs
- iOS 9
- 4.7in Retina HD display wth 3D Touch
- A9 processor with M9 motion co-processor
- 16/64/128GB storage
- 12Mp iSight rear camera
- 5Mp FaceTime HD front camera
- Touch ID