Apple iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Which comes out on top?

Now that Apple has unveiled the new iPhone 6, you may be wondering how it stacks up against its main rival, Samsung's Galaxy S6.

The major under-the-hood improvements that Apple has packed into its latest flagship smartphone, coupled with the refinement added by Samsung for its own top-of-the-line offering, make this a very interesting comparison.

Choosing between iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 is very difficult, as both feature attractive designs and high-end internals, which is why we will highlight and explain the major differences between the two smartphones.

The Display

When looking at the iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6, the difference in display size is easily apparent. The former comes with a 4.7-inch screen, while the latter ups the ante with a 5.1-inch panel.

While the smaller size of the iPhone 6s' display may be an advantage for some, Galaxy S6 is the clear winner when it comes to resolution: 1,440 by 2,560 compared to a meager 750 by 1,334. This gives it a huge pixel density advantage: 577 ppi (pixels per inch) compared to 326. And there is a difference even when looking with the naked eye.

Apple, however, has equipped iPhone 6s with 3D Touch technology, which utilises a pressure sensor to take different actions depending on how hard you are pressing on the screen. It may mean showing or highlighting certain items sooner. While it is a novelty feature, developers can quickly embrace it to make their apps even more powerful and easy to use.

For offering an appropriate resolution, Galaxy S6 is the winner.

Cameras

With the new iPhone 6s, Apple has made the move to a sensor with a higher MP count. This year, we get a 12 MP camera on the back, which, for the first time, enables 4K video recording. There is still no optical image stabilisation, and the aperture is still of the f/2.2 variety (smaller is better for low-light performance). There is auto image stabilisation, however, but this is done at the software level.

Samsung's Galaxy S6 offers a 16 MP camera, that is also capable of 4K video recording. It adds optical image stabilisation to the mix, which is very handy in low-light scenarios, and a larger f/1.9 lens, which again helps in low-light but also to give a more pronounced bokeh effect (separation between the subject in focus and the background).

Galaxy S6 has a clear advantage in low-light performance, but iPhone 6s should not be easily dismissed in better lit conditions - in practice, the two should offer similar levels of performance. High frame rates are supported by both devices.

The two are more evenly matched if we compare the front-facing cameras. This year, iPhone 6s gets an upgrade to a 5 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture lens, that is however limited to 720p video recording, while Galaxy S6 also comes with a 5 MP sensor, but with a lens with f/1.9 aperture, that can handle 2K video recording.

The winner is Galaxy S6 for packing optical image stabilisation in the main camera, and supporting higher resolution video recording with the front-facing shooter. It is a shame that Apple has, once again, left optical image stabilisation exclusive to the phablet of the pair, iPhone 6s Plus.

Performance, Connectivity and Battery Life

Given that both iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 are flagship devices, they each come with very powerful internals. Apple has equipped its offering with the new A9 chip, while Samsung has packed its own Exynos chip into its handset. Both smartphones should be very fast in real life, and the differences here will be hard to spot.

Where the two are expected to differ is in terms of battery life. Samsung's Galaxy S6 lasted longer than iPhone 6 in battery life tests. Take into account that iPhone 6s has a smaller battery than its predecessor, and you can see how Galaxy S6 strengthens its position.

Both devices support 4G LTE Advanced, promising download speeds of up to 300 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50 Mbps. They also both support Wi-Fi 802.11ac.

Storage Options and Cost

Apple has stuck to the 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB storage options for iPhone 6s, while Samsung sells Galaxy S6 in 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB trim (the 128 GB version, however, may not be as widely available as the other two).

The most expensive is iPhone 6s, which kicks off at $199 on a two-year contract. Installments start at $27 per month. Galaxy S6 has went through a price cut, and can now be had for $129.99 on a two-year contract with AT&T or $149.99 if you chose to go with Sprint (you can find it for as little as $0 down); installment costs vary depending on the carrier.

Size and Weight

Since we have talked about the difference in display sizes, it is only fair to compare their actual footprints and weights. And there are some surprises here, as this year's iPhone went up in thickness and weight.

Galaxy S6 is expectedly taller and wider, to accommodate the larger display, coming in at 143.4 and 70.5 mm, respectively, compared to iPhone 6s' 138.3 and 67.1 mm, respectively. But, the former is thinner at 6.8 mm compared to 7.1 mm for iPhone 6s and lighter, weighing 138 grams compared to the 143 grams for iPhone 6s.

So, Which One Is the Best?

If we are to take everything into account, Galaxy S6 is the better buy. It has a larger, higher-resolution screen, better equipped cameras, promises longer battery life, and is cheaper. However, one cannot ignore the appeal that the new iPhone 6s has.

The new iPhone is a better option if you are already part of the iOS ecosystem, like a more polished user experience, and, why not, a smaller screen.

Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference which one you end up getting. Personally, I find Galaxy S6 to be the better option.