Samsung Galaxy S6 versus Apple iPhone 6: What do the specs tell us?

The two flagship devices are more alike than ever, so what do the differences and similarities tell us about the future of smartphones?
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Tech specs: Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge

The iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S6 are the two rival flagships of the smartphone world, but you might be forgiven for finding it increasingly hard to tell them apart.

Some of the obvious features that distinguished the Galaxy S5 from the iPhone 5s - the plastic body, removable battery, and microSD card support - are gone in the new glass and metal S6. At the same time, the iPhone 6 with its larger screen and support for NFC adds features that had previously been associated with the Galaxy range. So when it comes to specs, how do they match up?

But below is a non-exhaustive lists of the specs of both devices. I've tried to boil this down to the elements most interesting to a business audience, so any omissions are mine. You can find much greater detail on the specs of the iPhone 6 here and Galaxy S6 here.

It's also worth noting that Apple's handset was unveiled in September last year (check out the gallery of pictures from the launch at the bottom of this page) and Samsung's top of the range device isn't going on sale until next month, so we're not directly comparing like-with-like here.

iPhone 6

  • Dimensions: 138.1mm x 67mm x 6.9mm
  • Weight: 129g
  • Colours: silver, gold, space grey
  • Storage: 16/64/128GB
  • Display: 4.7-inch LED-backlit widescreen multitouch Retina HD display with IPS technology. 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi.
  • Operating system: iOS 8
  • Rear camera: eight-megapixel iSight camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture (Panorama up to 43 megapixels), burst mode, photo geotagging, video recording 1080p HD video recording (30 fps or 60 fps), 3x zoom
  • Forward camera: 1.2-megapixel with ƒ/2.2 aperture, 720p HD video recording
  • Processors: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion coprocessor
  • Sensors: Touch ID, Barometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wi fi, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, NFC, iBeacon micro-location
  • Battery: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Talk time: Up to 14 hours on 3G. Internet use: Up to 10 hours on 3G, up to 10 hours on 4G LTE, up to 11 hours on wi-fi, HD video playback up to 11 hours, audio playback up to 50 hours, standby time up to 10 days (250 hours)
  • Sim: Nano
  • Connector: Lightning
  • Other features: Siri personal assistant, Facetime video calls

Read more at CNET: iPhone 6 sets the smartphone bar

Samsung Galaxy S6

  • Dimension: 143.4mm x 70.5mm x 6.8mm
  • Weight 138g
  • Colours: white pearl, black sapphire, gold platinum, blue topaz
  • Storage options: 32/64/128GB
  • Display: 5.1-inch Quad HD display. 2560x1440 pixel resolution at 577 ppi. Super AMOLED.
  • Operating system Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Rear camera: 16-megapixel
  • Front camera: five-megapixel
  • Processor: Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, octacore application processor
  • Sensors: accelerometer, light, gyroscope, proximity, compass, barometer, fingerprint, hall, HRM
  • Connectivity: wi-fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), HT80 MIMO(2x2) 620Mbps, Dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, mobile hotspot, Bluetooth: v4.1, USB 2.0, NFC
  • Battery: 2,550mAh, with fast wired charging, providing four hours of usage after only 10 minutes of charging
  • Wireless Charging:WPC1.1(4.6W Output) & PMA 1.0(4.2W) compatible
  • Additional Features: Samsung Pay, Microsoft Apps (OneDrive 115GB for two years, OneNote), Google Mobile Services.

Read more at CNET: Galaxy S6 restyles Samsung's image with curves, metal, glass

So what does it all mean?

Firstly, it's worth pointing out that specs do still matter. The quality of the screen, the quality of the cameras, and the power of the chip will make a big difference to the overall experience. But as these two flagship devices start to resemble each other more and more, hardware is becoming less of a differentiator.

First look at Apple's iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus smartphones (images)

Indeed, that's not just a problem for these top-end models: even more basic smartphones will give you a pretty good experience now for as little as a third of the price of one of these more costly handsets.

As the specs converge, it's also hard to see where the next big thing in hardware is going to come from right now, as there are no longer obvious areas that are lacking. Probably the jump in iPhone screen size was the biggest change for the foreseeable future, assuming Apple sticks to its cadence of big release followed by modest update, and assuming no one chooses to incorporate a selfie-stick soon.

Instead the trend for the ecosystems and apps to provide the bulk of the innovation will continue. Or, to put it another way, all of the fundamental technology elements are now in place - the next stage is building services around them. The smartphone has now entirely replaced the PC as the centre of our digital lives.

For example, Samsung is adding its own payment system with the S6 in an attempt to catch up with Apple Pay, while both vendors are doubling down on wearables and fitness monitoring.

I'd also expect to see more of a focus on productivity as the smartphone grabs more responsibility from the PC, which is where something like Microsoft's apps play becomes more interesting, as does Samsung's effort to streamline the software on the S6.

What do you think are the most interesting differences between the two? Which element do you think is most important and which has the edge? Let me know in the reader comments below.

More on the Samsung Galaxy S6

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