Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 full review

Samsung recently announced its latest addition to its Galaxy line-up, the Galaxy S6 (and S6 Edge). But what’s the difference between the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy Note 4, which was released near the end of 2014? Find out in our comparison review.

Also see: Best smartphones | Best Android phones

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Price

First of all, lets talk pricing. Samsung recently confirmed that its much-anticipated Galaxy S6 starts at £599 for the 32GB capacity. What’s interesting is that Samsung hasn’t yet released the pricing for its 64 & 128GB models. How much will they be? With the Galaxy S6 Edge 64GB priced at £760, we can’t help but wonder.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 4 was released back in October 2014 and is available only in one capacity, 32GB. This means that there’s a fixed price for the Note 4 with it currently on sale for £549.99 SIM free.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Design and build

The design of the S6 is what separates it from the S5 and other high-end smartphones on the market. It’s made from a fusion of glass and metal and is a huge step up from the plastic that Samsung generally opts for. The back plate is both gorgeous and durable, made from Corning Gorilla Glass 4 to stop any iPhone 4-esque back plate issues.

The Note 4 also has a mainly metal frame but instead has a soft-textured back cover, concentrating more on comfort over style – something that’s very important when handling such a large phone. It also inherited the 2.5D glass screen from previous generations of Samsung smartphone, making it more comfortable and easier to use with only one hand.

Both the S6 and Note 4 come in a variety of different colours. The S6 comes in Black Sapphire, White Pearl or Gold Platinum while the Note 4 comes in Frost White, Charcoal Black, Bronze Gold or Blossom Pink. Interestingly, Samsung also offers the S6 in Blue Topaz but you can’t currently pre-order it like the other colours.

Form factor wise, the S6 weighs only 138g and measures in at 6.8mm thick making it both thinner and lighter than the Note 4. The Note 4 is slightly heavier at 176g and is marginally thicker, measuring in at 8.8mm thick. Its been noted that the S6 has a nicer overall shape and fits in the hand a lot better than other smartphones currently available. It’s also very interesting to note that even though the Note 4 is famed as Samsung’s “phablet”, it’s only marginally larger than the S6 at 153.5 x 78.6mm compared to 143.4 x 70.5mm.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Software

Software wise, both the S6 and Note 4 come with Android, but different versions of the software. While the S6 boasts a 64 bit OS, running Lollipop 5.0.2, the Note 4 ships with 4.4.4 KitKat. Don’t get too disheartened though, as an update is available for the Note 4 bringing it into the world of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Hardware and specs

In regards to the display, the Note 4 and S6 have almost identical screen technology with the only real difference being size. The Note 4 has a 5.7” Quad HD Super AMOLED display and the S6 has a slightly smaller 5.1” Quad HD Super AMOLED display with both being protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The Quad HD Super AMOLED display delivers beautifully sharp and vivid images that Samsung claims is “so life-like, your only problem will be what to enjoy next”.

Although the back camera on the Galaxy S6 is still 16MP, like its predecessor, its been completely redesigned from the inside. It boasts an aperture of F1.9, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and can produce a HDR preview before a photo is taken. This means it should be great for low light situations, with an overall improvement of around 34% over the Galaxy S5. The front camera also boasts that F1.9 aperture and a 5MP sensor, better than the front camera offering of the Note 4.

The front camera of the Note 4 has an aperture of F1.9 to match the S6 in low light situations, but can’t compete megapixel wise with a smaller offering of only 3.7MP. The back camera is also 16MP and has a F1.9 aperture with OIS. This means that either phone’s back camera should yield great results, but the S6 steals the front camera crown from the Note 4.

Internally, both the S6 and Note 4 have Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC and an infrared port that’s used to control your TV via your smartphone. The real difference is in the processor; the Note 4 comes with a 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, complete with 3GB RAM. While this isn’t something to be sniffed at, Samsung decided that the S6 should take a different route.

With the S6, Samsung ditched Qualcomm and decided to go with the 64-bit, oca-core Exynos 7420 chipset, which pairs a 2.1GHz quad-core cluster with a 1.5GHz quad-core set, backed up by 3GB of RAM. It’s a custom designed processor that gives the S6 some serious power, allowing it to run processor hungry apps and making general use fast and responsive.  

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Unique features

While both the S6 and Note 4 come with a heart rate monitor and a fingerprint sensor, there are varying features between the two.

One of Samsung’s biggest selling points for the Note 4 is the S Pen, a stylus that’s hidden within the phone and easily accessible when needed. It has come a long way from the original S Pen & Note combo too; the Note 4’s S Pen offers a better handwriting experience, mainly thanks to enhanced pressure sensitivity and a tweaked design to make it feel more like a pen. With Smart Select, you can select the contents you want from any screen, app or photo and combine them ready for sharing or future use.

The S6 boasts something cooler than the S Pen though; Samsung Pay. Samsung Pay is Samsung’s answer to Apple Pay (with questionably similar names) and is built into the S6. The service officially launches this summer and allows you to make payments with your phone instead of your debit card – but only in countries where it’s supported, which according to Samsung will initially only be the US and Korea.

The redeeming feature of Samsung Pay is the introduction of Magnetic Secure Transaction (MST). MST enables compatibility with both NFC enabled checkout terminals and traditional magstripe terminals, as long as they’re set up to accept Samsung Pay transactions.

One feature that the S6 is missing is the lack of a memory card slot, a decision that has Samsung fans quite upset. Samsung, along with most other Android smartphone manufacturers have historically always added the option for expandable memory. It’s a feature that over the years Android users have come to cherish, but the S6 has taken an iPhone-esque route and instead offers a choice of three fixed capacities; 32GB, 64GB and 128GB.

See also: Samsung Pay UK release date and features

Samsung Galaxy S6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Battery life

Battery life in smartphones is always a grey area because a lot of the time, it depends on the habits of the user – someone that checks Twitter every five minutes and watches videos on YouTube all day will probably find that most smartphones will run out of battery pretty quickly. It also depends on the phone itself – bigger phones usually have bigger batteries, but this doesn’t mean that the phone will last longer as the extra power is usually needed to power the larger screen.

The Note 4 has a removable Li-Ion 3220 mAh battery that should get most people through the day on a single charge. The benefit of having a removable battery is that it can be swapped out for another one when it runs out of power, as many hardcore Android fans do.

On the other hand, the S6 has a non-removable battery (something else that Android fans weren’t too happy about) with a slightly smaller capacity at 2550 mAh, with is less than the previous generations offering of 2800 mAh. That coupled with its Quad HD AMOLED screen and powerful processor suggests that the S6’s battery life may not be as great as expected.

Both boast quick charging abilities though, with the Note 4 going from 0-50% charge in only 30 minutes according to Samsung. Though not providing a charging time frame like with the Note 4, Samsung has said that 10 minutes of charging will get you two hours of video playback on the S6. The S6 also boasts wireless charging that’s compatible with both the more popular Qi standard and lesser-known PMA standard.

See also: How to use QI wireless charging | How to add QI wireless charging to your device


Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Specs

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5.7in SuperAMOLED display (1440x2560), 515 ppi
  • 2.7GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU
  • Adreno 420 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 16Mp rear camera laser AF with optical image stabilistaion
  • 3.7Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 4K
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • NFC
  • Infrared
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Heart rate monitor
  • UV sensor
  • A-GPS
  • 4G LTE (Cat 6)
  • Micro-SIM
  • 11.9Wh (3220mAh) battery
  • 79x154x8.7mm
  • 175g

Samsung Galaxy S6: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Exynos 7420 octa-core (1.5GHz A-53 & 2.1GHz A-57) processor
  • 32GB/64GB/128GB storage (no microSD support)
  • Mali-T760 GPU
  • 5.1in (1440x2560, 577ppi) Super AMOLED screen
  • 16Mp rear camera with LED flash, smart OIS, real-time HDR and IR Detect white balance
  • up to 4K video recording @ 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 4G Cat 6 LTE
  • SIMtype: nano-SIM
  • dual-SIM as standard: no
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC
  • heart-rate sensor
  • fingerprint scanner
  • 2550mAh non-removable battery with Qi and PMA wireless charging
  • 143.4x70.5x6.8mm
  • 138g
  • 1-year warranty
  • test scores: Geekbench 3.0: 4438 (MC), 1347 (SC)
  • SunSpider: 1048ms
  • GFXBench: 30fps (T-Rex), 14fps (Manhattan 3.0), 6fps (Manhattan 3.1)