Samsung's latest big-screen phone, the Galaxy Note 5, offers everything workers want: a large 4.7-inch display for productivity, a fingerprint scanner for added security and even a built-in stylus for effortless note taking. So can Apple's 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus measure up to the Note 5 as a work phone?
Here's a feature-for-feature breakdown to see how the two phablets compare.
Apple used to have Samsung's number when it came to smartphone design, pushing out gorgeous devices that made Samsung phones look like clunky plastic toys. Not anymore. Compared to the Note 4, the Note 5 has been totally revamped. The old plastic body has been replaced by more-premium materials, including a sturdy aluminum frame and glass back.
The backside of the Note 5 also has new curved edges that allow the big phone to fit more snugly into your palm and help make it one of the sleekest smartphones on the market. While a better-looking device won't necessarily help you do your job, the good looks don't hurt.
Of course, the iPhone 6 Plus matches the Note 5 with a premium glass-and-metal design of its own. It also comes in a classy gold color that Samsung doesn't offer.
Size and weight
The Galaxy Note 5 has a bigger screen than the iPhone 6 Plus, but Samsung's device is actually the more compact smartphone. Measuring 6 x 2.9 inches and weighing 6 ounces, the Note 5 is both smaller and lighter than the iPhone 6 Plus (6.22 x 3.06 inches and 6.07 ounces), though the iPhone is slightly thinner (0.28 inches vs. 0.29 inches). The size difference can be attributed to the much larger bezels at the top and bottom of Apple's phone.
The Galaxy Note 5 is named for its excellent stylus support, which makes it a capable digital notepad. The phone comes with a built-in stylus and a pressure-sensitive display, which makes for more-natural digital note taking. A variety of useful software tools also come preinstalled, including a PDF-annotation tool and a screenshot tool that makes it easy to mark up Web pages and documents, then share them with colleagues.
Apple's iPhone 6 Plus doesn't offer any special stylus support. Like all smartphones, this device is compatible with standard capacitive styluses that lack pressure sensitivity, but I wouldn't recommend that for serious note taking. The phone also lacks any place to stow a stylus when it's not in use.
The Galaxy Note 5 runs on Android, while the iPhone 6 Plus runs on iOS, and all the hardware differences in the world won't matter if you prefer one platform over the other.
Then again, Android and iOS are more alike than ever these days. Their app libraries are nearly indistinguishable, even if iOS sometimes gets new apps a few days, or even a few weeks, earlier than Android. But both platforms have all the staples that business users need, including excellent mobile versions of Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications.
One key feature you'll get on the Galaxy Note 5 but not the iPhone 6 Plus is split-screen multitasking. The Note 5 actually lets you run two applications side by side, which is handy for using the calculator or referencing a Web page while composing an email message, for example. It's disappointing that the iPhone 6 Plus lacks this functionality altogether.
On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus will integrate better with your desktop computer, at least, if you work on a Mac. The phone supports a handy feature called Continuity, which synchronizes your phone and computer in real time. For example, it lets you take phone calls right from your desktop computer using your Mac computer's speaker and microphone. And if you start typing up a document or email on your computer, Continuity can seamlessly push your draft to your smartphone, so you can continue working on the go. That's all functionality you won't get on the Note 5.
Both the Note 5 and iPhone 6 Plus come with fingerprint scanners embedded in their home buttons; these scanners let you unlock your work phone without constantly fussing with a password screen. Both scanners can also be configured to sign you into websites with just a tap of your finger. The Note 5 has a slight edge, though, since Samsung's software also lets you use the fingerprint scanner to access private folders on your phone, which is good for storing sensitive work files.
These are undoubtedly two of the fastest smartphones on the market. The iPhone 6 Plus is powered by Apple's A8 processor with 1GB of RAM, providing extremely quick performance and snappy multitasking.
Early test results show that the Note 5 will probably edge out Apple's phone in this category. The Note 5 runs on Samsung's Exynos processor, the same chip that powers the Galaxy S6, which is currently the fastest phone available. We'll have to wait for our full review of the Note 5 to see how it really stacks up to the competition, though.
There's a lot more to learn about Samsung's new Galaxy Note 5, which officially launches in the United States on Aug. 21. For example, we haven't yet had a chance to test how this phone's battery life compares to the competition's. In most ways, though, the Note 5 and iPhone 6 Plus look to be almost equally matched. Both phablets offer large displays that are good for productivity, with fast processors and solid security features.
The newer Note 5 outdoes the iPhone in a few key ways, though. It offers a bigger display in a smaller overall frame. And crucially, it comes with a built-in stylus and a pressure-sensitive display, which makes it a terrific digital notepad. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus is the better choice for Mac users, thanks to its innovative Continuity features that let you transition seamlessly between your smartphone and desktop computer.
Check back for our full review of Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 very soon, or check out our list of the best overall smartphones for business currently on the market.