Both the Note 4 and iPhone 6 are high-end, cutting-edge devices packed with valuable and unique features. They're two of the best smartphones available today, which is why they've found homes in my pockets.
Neither device is perfect, though. When you use them alongside each other, their individual strengths and weaknesses quickly become apparent.
The following list details six things the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 does that the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus can't do — or at least can't do as well.
(Note: The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are nearly identical, with three exceptions. The iPhone 6 Plus is notably bigger, the iPhone 6 screen resolution is lower than the 6 Plus screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus has an optical image stabilization camera feature that the iPhone 6 lacks. Unless otherwise stated, the conclusions I make about iPhone 6 can also be applied to the iPhone 6 Plus.)
1) Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the S Pen
When Samsung originally announced its first Galaxy Note smartphone in the summer of 2011, the defining feature was its size. During the years since, the Galaxy Note family created a whole new "phablet" product category. The concept was largely ridiculed at first, but it's been further legitimized by Apple's September 2014 announcement of the similarly sized iPhone 6 Plus.
The Galaxy Note 4's size no longer sets it apart from the pack. Now it's the S Pen that stands out. The S Pen has always been a part of the Galaxy Note experience, but the Note 4 S Pen is evolved and enhanced, and its integration with Samsung's customized Android OS makes it unique.
Samsung says the latest S Pen, when used with the Note 4, is significantly more sensitive than earlier versions; users can do more with it, with more precision. Specifically, the S Pen now supports more than 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, compared to approximately 1,000 levels in earlier versions, according to Samsung.
The S Pen can be used for quick and precise on-screen navigation, not unlike how you use a mouse with a desktop computer. The pen also lets you "write" on the Note's display; the experience is surprisingly similar to writing on paper. You can easily select, cut and paste text using the S Pen. The S Pen's on-screen menu lets you quickly look up definitions for words and search your device for specific content. It's also easy to drag and drop applications, images and more from one place to another using the S Pen.
If you're not familiar with the Note family and S Pen, there's a bit of a learning curve. Once you get used to the Pen, though, it's hard to go back to using just your fingers for input. Of course, you can buy a third-party capacitive stylus for use with the iPhone 6, but Apple's phone isn't designed to work with a stylus, and as such, the Note 4 experience is far superior.
2) Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a Multitasking Machine
The Galaxy Note 4 has some useful and unique multitasking features that let you view and access multiple applications at the same time.
The Pop Up View shortcut lets you shrink compatible Samsung apps down to smaller windows that you can drag and position wherever you want them on your display. You can continue to work with the apps on the screen. If you want to close one, just tap a circle logo to collapse the app onto itself, then tap the circle again to reopen it.
An evolved two-paned Multi Window feature lets you view and interact with multiple apps in split-screen modes. You can stretch and positions the panes wherever you want them. It's also easy to drag and drop text or other content between compatible apps.
The iPhone 6's multitasking features pale in comparison. They consist mostly of an application switcher that lets you scroll through open apps, along with a Recent Contacts bar that sits atop the app switcher and gives you quick access to, well, recent contacts.
3) Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Removable, Replaceable Battery Pack
It's simple to snap off the Galaxy Note 4's battery cover, remove its battery pack and pop in a new one. The Galaxy Note 4 has a large battery (3,220 mAh), and it's supposed to get an impressive 37 hours of standby time and 11 hours of continuous Internet use. Frequent travelers know, however, that no matter how long a phone lasts on a single charge, there are times when it's not enough.
I always feel better when I have a spare battery pack in my carry-on bag, and I appreciate that Samsung still makes phones with removable batteries. The trend seems to be toward fixed batteries in high-end phones, so the Note 4's replaceable power pack is all the more notable. The iPhone has never had a removable battery and very likely never will.
4) Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and MicroSD Memory Cards
In addition to the removable battery pack, Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 also has a microSD memory card slot that supports cards up to 128GB. (Some early reports suggest the Note only supports 64GB cards, but Samsung's website clearly states support for 128GB cards.) You can also buy multiple cards, so your total capacity depends on the number of memory cards you're willing to carry.
For context, you can get an iPhone 6 with 128GB of storage, though you'll pay handsomely for it. The iPhone 6 with 128GB of storage retails for $400 on contract, while the 128GB version of the iPhone 6 Plus goes for $500 with a new service agreement. In comparison, the Galaxy Note 4 is only available with 32GB of fixed storage — at least if you buy it from a U.S. wireless carrier — and it costs $300.
Modern smartphone users increasingly rely on the cloud for storage, but it can be valuable and convenient not to have to rely on a fast Internet connection to access and quickly transfer data.
5) Galaxy Note 4 Adaptive Fast Charging, Ultra Power Saving Mode
The Galaxy Note 4 not only packs a removable, 3,220mAh battery, it also has two new features that let you charge your device more quickly and maximize battery life when your phone's almost dead.
The Note 4's Adaptive Fast Charging feature lets you charge your device to half capacity in just 30 minutes, according to Samsung. But there's a catch. The Note 4 uses a standard micro USB port for charging, so you can use any compatible cord to power it up and sync it. The Adaptive Fast Charging feature, on the other hand, only works with specific chargers. Thankfully, the Note 4 ships with an Adaptive Fast Charging charger, so you'll be able to take advantage of the feature if you use the appropriate charger.
The iPhone 6 has a similar rapid charging feature, according to reports. Like the Note 4, that feature only works when you use compatible cords. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn't ship with a compatible cord. If you want rapid charging you need to purchase a new cord, use the one that came with an iPad or plug your cord directly into a newer Mac that supports the feature. Using the appropriate cord, the iPhone 6 can fully charge in about two hours, according to iLounge. (For what it's worth, I'm able to fully charge my dead iPhone 6, via a new MacBook Pro that supports fast charging, in less than an hour and a half, so iLounge's numbers may be a bit off.)
Both the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone have fast-charging features, but you have to buy a separate cord — or an iPad or a new Mac — if you want to take advantage of the iPhone feature. That's kind of silly.
The Galaxy Note 4 also has a new Ultra Power Saving mode that lets you limit the number of active apps on your smartphone, to reduce power drain. It also automatically dims your display via a black-and-white mode. The feature also limits the overall value of your device, but it's particularly useful if you only have a small amount of battery life left and you know you won't be able to charge for the foreseeable future.
There are plenty of ways to manually boost iPhone battery life, including these seven tips for advanced users. However, the iPhone 6 doesn't have a comparable battery saving mode to the Note 4's Ultra Power Saving mode.
6) Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Selfies
Just about every smartphone on the market today has some sort of selfie-specific camera features, but the Galaxy Note 4 takes selfies to a whole new level. It has one of the higher-resolution front-facing cameras on a phone today (3.7 megapixels, compared to the iPhone 6's 1.2 megapixels front camera), plus a wide-angle selfie mode lets you fit more into your selfies. The device even has a rear-camera selfie mode that lets you take advantage of the higher-quality 13 megapixel rear camera and helps you position yourself in the images, in an effort to get the background you want. You can also use the Note 4's voice controls to snap a selfie. (Telling Siri to "take a selfie" merely open the iPhone's camera app.)
Megapixels really aren't everything when it comes to digital cameras, and honestly, the quality of selfies I took using the Note 4 and iPhone 6 was similar. The Note 4 seems to capture more life-like lighting conditions, while the iPhone appears to capture more detail.
On the Flip Side…
As stated at the start of this post, I really like both the Galaxy Note 4 and the iPhone 6. It wouldn't be fair to only spotlight the good stuff about the Note 4. So, on the flip side, here are "6 Things iPhone 6 Does That Note 4 Can't."
This story, "6 things Galaxy Note 4 does that iPhone 6 can't" was originally published by CIO.