If you're a "phablet" user, plan to be one in the future or you're just interested in the latest and greatest gadgets, you're likely aware of both the new Samsung Galaxy S6 (GS6) edge+ and Apple iPhone 6s Plus. The two grande smartphones are perhaps the most popular, high-end phablets on the market today. But despite the shared letter "s," numeral "6" and "plus" in their names, they have little else in common.
I've been using the GS6 edge+ for more than two months, and I purchased my iPhone 6s Plus two weeks ago, on iPhone launch day. After some side-by-side use, I found a number of clear strengths and weakness for each smartphone.
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The following sections detail the features, functionality and other options I miss most when I switch to the iPhone 6s Plus from my GS6 edge+.
This post is not a review and it is not designed to suggest the GS6 edge+ is a "better" smartphone than Apple's new flagship phablet. I also found a number of ways the iPhone 6s Plus outshines the GS6 edge+, and you can find details in my companion post, "6 Things iPhone 6s Plus does that Galaxy S6 edge+ can't."
Things Apple iPhone 6s Plus does that Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ can't
1) Galaxy S6 edge+ 'Edge screen'
The most unique thing about the GS6 edge+ (and its more diminutive brother, the original GS6 edge,) is its "Edge screen," or curved display, which lets you interact with the device and trigger certain functions using the sides of the screen.
For example, "Edge lighting" options make the curve of the display light up custom colors when the phone is placed face down and your receive notifications from your most frequent contacts, or "Edge People." (You can add up to five contacts.) The "People edge" displays similarly color-coded tabs along the curved side that show you when you have notifications from those specific people. The "Apps edge" gives you quick access to the five apps you use most often — or whichever apps you want to show up.
When the phone is asleep, you can quickly slide a finger up and down the curved edge to see a variety of information without fully waking it, including the date and time; battery status; news updates; and alerts from your applications. And the GS6 edge+ "Night clock" feature displays date, time and battery information on the curved edge when the phone is asleep, during a designated time period.
The iPhone 6s Plus really doesn't offer anything quite like the GS6 edge+'s Edge screen features — and neither does any other phone on the market, for that matter.
2) Galaxy S6 edge+, iPhone 6s Plus and wireless charging
The GS6 edge+ supports today's two major wireless charging standards: the Wireless Power Consortium's (WPC) "Qi" (say: chee) standard, and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standard. The iPhone 6s Plus doesn't support wireless charging at all, at least not without some sort of adapter.
That means you can use any Qi- or PMA-compatible charging accessory to power up your GS6 edge Plus, while you're stuck using Apple's Lightning cords (or Lightning cords from third parties) when charging the iPhone 6s Plus.
If you're not used to wireless charging, you won't miss it. However, once you purchase a few charging pads, and place them in your office, by your bedside, or on an end table in your living room, the thought of constantly plugging and unplugging a cord just seems … antiquated. And as more and more retailers, restaurants, hotels, airports, automobile makers and others start to support wireless, power cords will only become more loathsome.
3) GS6 edge+, Samsung Pay and MST vs. iPhone 6s Plus and Apple Pay
Both the GS6 edge+ and iPhone 6s Plus support a number of mobile wallets and mobile payment services, namely Samsung Pay on the GS6 edge+ and Apple Pay on the iPhone. Third-party offerings, including Google Wallet and LevelUp, also exist to let you pay on the go.
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However, Samsung Pay gives the GS6 edge+ a distinct advantage over other mobile payment services and additional smartphones. Samsung's service uses magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology, in addition to near field communications (NFC), for wireless payments, while Apple Pay relies solely on NFC. Unlike NFC, which requires a specific type of modern PoS terminal, MST "is accepted at nearly all payment terminals with a card reader," according to Samsung, though some terminals will require software updates.
I've used Samsung Pay without any issues at a few random retailers that definitely didn't support Apple Pay — though I get receive some skeptical stares when I explained how it worked to clerks who were unaware. The payment experience isn't quite as seamless as Apple Pay (you have to actually wake the device up to use Samsung Pay instead of just tapping it against a terminal), and one of my banks still doesn't support Samsung's service. But overall, MST support makes Samsung Pay a more viable, and reliable, mobile payment option.
4) Galaxy S6 edge+ comes with 32GB of storage, iPhone 6s Plus doesn't
Samsung's GS6 edge+ is available with two internal storage options: 32GB and 64GB. Apple's iPhone 6s phones come in three configurations: 16GB, 64GB and 128GB.
For many smartphone users (including me), 16GB of storage just isn't enough, even with the plethora of cloud options available today — sometimes, you just want to store and access your files on your phone. However, for lots of folks 32GB is sufficient. The iPhone 6s Plus offers a higher storage ceiling, but the 128GB is rather pricey at $949. Apple doesn't offer a 32GB iPhone 6s Plus, so if 16GB of onboard storage isn't enough, you'll need to shell out the extra cash for the 64GB model.
5) Instant access to Galaxy S6 edge+ camera via home button
The GS6 edge+ has a simple yet valuable feature that lets you double-tap its home button to instantly invoke the camera. It's not exactly difficult to speedily launch the iPhone 6s Plus camera, but it does require an extra step. For example, you have to wake the iPhone screen before you can slide your finger upward from the bottom-right corner, on the camera icon, to launch the digital shooter.
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You can wake the iPhone display in two ways: tap the home button or tap the Power key on its side. However, the Touch ID sensor built into the iPhone's home button is so sensitive, it often unlocks the display when you touch it, and that can be a bit disorienting if you're hoping to slide the camera icon up instead of tapping the icon on an unlocked display.
The difference in time it takes to launch the cameras on both devices is minor, but it's definitely not insignificant, especially if you only have a second or two to capture that perfect pic.
6) Galaxy S6 edge+ looks and feels WAY better than iPhone 6s Plus
OK, this section isn't really about something the GS6 edge+ can do that the iPhone 6s Plus can't … but it does hit on one of the most important and noticeable differences between the two phones (besides the whole Android vs. iOS thing). And I'd be remiss not to address it.
The GS6 edge+ is more than 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 6s Plus (5.39 ounces compared to 6.77 ounces. respectively), and the difference in weight is apparent when you hold both phones. It's also shorter, wider and thinner — even though the GS6 edge+ actually has larger display (5.7 inches) than the iPhone 6s Plus (5.5 inches.) Oh, and that GS6 edge+ screen? It absolutely blows away Apple's Retina display. (GS6 edge+ screen is 2560 x 1440 pixels, at 515 ppi; the iPhone 6s Plus display is 1920 x 1080, at 401 ppi.) The difference in display resolution is unmistakable.
Due to the GS6 edge+'s curvaceous design, it's also much more modern-looking and stylish than Apple's comparatively boxy new iPhones.
In other words, the GS6 edge+ looks and feels much better in hand than the iPhone 6s Plus. The difference in size and weight is significant, and it will likely be the very first thing you notice when comparing the two side-by-side.
As previously mentioned, this story isn't meant to imply the GS6 edge+ is superior to the iPhone 6s Plus, which is why I also wrote a counterpoint post, "6 Things iPhone 6s Plus does that Galaxy S6 edge+ can't."