A lot has been made of the Galaxy’s switch to metal. After all, for years it was criticized for being “too plasticky” by many. A problem further exacerbated by the rise of metal smartphones. Apple, Sony, HTC and Nokia/Microsoft have all switched to using metal and glass to build high quality, premium devices. Eventually, Samsung caved to the pressure and its new flagship finally has the materials and build quality to match its position on the market.
When the design was finally leaked, it was compared to the iPhone 6, so I couldn’t resist but to put them side-by-side and see just how similar they are. And also, to compare it to the best metal-framed phone Samsung already has on the market: The Galaxy Note 4.
First up: The iPhone.
Lets start with the obvious. That bottom edge. Many have mocked it as being identical to the iPhones, and yes, there are similarities but there are also some key differences. Firstly, Samsung machined speaker grille holes. The S6 has two rows of 5, the iPhone has one row of 6. Samsung’s also has two plastic antenna gaps which are missing on the iPhone. And, although the overall device thickness is 0.1mm thinner than iPhone 6, Samsung’s metal frame is clearly thicker and on the right and left edges takes on a different shape with its sculpted flat edge. Both phones have pill-shaped volume buttons, iPhone’s are recessed in to the frame and closer together. On the right edge, both have their power/sleep key and metal Sim tray. But you’ll notice that the iPhone’s is placed much higher up the frame than Samsung’s.
Turning our attention to the back and its clear, so evidently that these are two completely different phones. Samsung’s is all glass with its camera and LED setup placed in the center. iPhone is all-metal with the camera placed in the top-left corner. And if you thought Apple’s protruding camera was bad, you should see the Samsung. It’s practically a mountain.
From the front, both phones again look distinct from each other. Samsung’s brand name is prominent and the device is noticeably wider and taller than the iPhone. Its home button is a completely different shape too, although both now use fingerprint sensing in the same way.
For those wanting specifics in dimensions, the iPhone 6 is 5.3mm narrower than the S6 at 138.1 mm wide, and at 67mm tall, it’s almost 3mm shorter. It’s also 9 grams lighter at 129g. And it’s easy to see why it’s smaller and lighter, the Samsung boasts a 5.1-inch display vs. the iPhone’s 4.7-inch screen.
And then we get on to the Note 4. In many ways, it’s the S6’s bigger, older brother. There are bound to be some similarities in design, but there also have to be differences to distinguish them from each other.
Size-wise, the Note 4 is an impressive 10mm taller and 8mm wider than the S6. It’s also almost 2mm thicker and weighs 38 grams more. And, although they both have a metal chassis, there are some striking differences in terms of how it’s been finished and other materials used.
Turning to the back and you’ll see the most obvious difference: Galaxy Note 4 has a removable, textured plastic back. Saying that, it’s camera makeup is similar although it does have the LED and heart rate monitor in a different position. Also, different to the S6, the Note 4’s loudspeaker is placed on the back, not on the bottom edge.
Comparing the metal frames, the differences are clear. The Note 4’s is much flatter, and features curves around the ports and more angular sculpting on the sides. Its corners aren’t as rounded and its edges are shiny and chamfered. It’s also anodized, where the S6 has kept the original metal color.
Both have the same capacitive buttons on the front, and similarly designed home button, earpiece and sensor makeup.
It’s clear though that one is designed to be comfortable in one hand, while the other is a hyper-smartphone which feels far more suited to two handed use.
In conclusion, there are clearly some similarities between the S6 and the two other phones. But it clearly has its own identity and style. I don’t see anyone being able confuse it for anything other than what it is. And, in all honesty, I think it’s the best looking and best feeling smartphone Samsung has ever made.