The Michael Bay of gadgets, Apple keeps pumping out popular smartphones every year, despite a lack of fresh ideas. This year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have finally appropriated popular concepts such as HD screens and NFC communications that Android users have enjoyed since at least 2012.
At the same time, Apple's biggest rival isn't standing still. Samsung recently announced the Galaxy Note 4, a cutting-edge sequel to last year's mind-blowing Note 3, complete with a higher resolution screen, faster processor and even better pen support. The first reviews of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are in and, as with most Apple products, they're generally quite positive. However, no matter what you think of how the new handsets performance, there are at least six major ways that the Note 4 beats the iPhone 6 and the larger 6 Plus.
1. Larger, Higher Resolution Screen
Like a 21-year-old high school junior, Apple was stuck in a time warp for years, pumping out 4-inch iPhones at the same time its peers were quickly moving from 4.3 inches to 4.7 inches to 5 inches and even 5.7 inches. The new iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel. Big deal. Both pale in comparison to the Galaxy Note 4's 5.7-inch, 2560 x 1440 screen.
With a larger display and more pixels, the Note 4 is ideal for watching movies and viewing photos, even clips that are higher than full HD. The generously sized panel should make typing easier on the Note 4 than on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, because it leaves room for large, well-spaced keys that are easy to hit.
2. Multiwindow Mode
On the iPhone 6 Plus only, Apple allows apps to use multiple panes, something Samsung apps like the Galaxy Note's email client have done for years. However, the new iPhones don't let you put two different apps next to each other on the screen at once. Even the smaller 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 can do this.
Samsung has offered a multiwindow mode for years, letting you split the screen between two apps, then drag and drop content between them as needed. The Note 4 adds the ability to create tiny floating windows that appear on top of your content but can be minimized for easy access later. If you never multitask, Apple's single-app limit should be fine for you; just don't look at your iPhone while driving your horse-drawn carriage.
Because it's fashionably late to every party, Apple will probably add pen functionality to the iPhone in 2015. There's no need to wait.
The Galaxy Note 4 is the fourth Samsung phone to come with an S-Pen, and it has a few great improvements in store. The new stylus has a responsive tip, which feels more like a pen on paper when you press it against the glass screen. Better still, the Note 4 comes with the best pen-enabled software in the business, including S Note for note-taking and S Memo, which lets you write tiny post-it notes and drop them on the desktop. The Note 4 also lets you highlight text, then copy and paste it using the pen, just like a mouse.
4. Removable, High-Performance Battery
The iPhone 5s suffers from incredibly short battery life, lasting just 5 hours and 46 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test, well short of the smartphone average of 8 hours and 30 minutes. Apple promised that the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will last much longer on a charge, but there's little doubt that Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 will likely have the edge in endurance. On Engadget's video rundown test, the iPhone 6 died faster than the iPhone 5s, while the iPhone 6 Plus lasted a couple of hours longer.
One of the longest lasting phones we've ever tested, the Galaxy Note 3 managed a strong 11 hours and 15 minutes on a charge and the Note 4 promises to do even better, with a new ultra- power saving mode that turns the settings down as juice runs low. The Note 4 has a generous 3,250 mAh battery, but if that's not enough, you can remove its backside and replace the battery with either a spare or an extended capacity unit. The iPhone 6's batteries are trapped inside forever so, if you want it to last longer, you'll need to buy a charging case.
5. More and Better Storage
It's 2014, but the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus base models still come with the same 16GB of storage as the iPhone 5 the company released in 2012. Yes, you can pay $100 more for 32GB or $200 more for 64GB -- and you'll need to do that, considering how few apps and media files you can fit in just 16GB of space.
The Galaxy Note 4 comes standard with 32GB of storage, enough for several high-end games and a fair amount of music. If you have more music, videos or pictures than that, no problem. Just pop in a 64GB microSD card, which costs $30, and you can use it for all your media files.
6. Remote Control Capability
If you lose your remote control in the cushions, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have nothing to offer you but faux sympathy from Siri. However, the Note 4 comes with a built-in infrared transmitter you can use to remote control your TV, cable box, DVR, stereo, Blu-ray player and Roku box. The powerful WatchOn app gives you a detailed channel guide to help you decide what to watch, along with the ability to favorite certain channels, so Disney Jr. is just a tap away when the toddler starts complaining.