Phablet Fight: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs. Huawei Ascend Mate7 vs. iPhone 6 Plus

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“Who would win in a fight between (Thing A) and (Thing B)?”

That’s a game that most young South African males have played at one time or another, usually in a school-yard while on break. Chuck Norris vs. Bruce Lee (it’s always Bruce Lee). Lambo vs. Ferarri. Your dad and his dad. It’s fun, as a purely intellectual exercise, but sometimes some people take it too far and there’s an actual fight. No idea why, it never decides the answer.

But you could argue that guys never stop playing the game. It’s almost the whole reason why sporting events exist. It’s why cars race. It’s why people will argue for hours about whether Goku could beat Superman or whether Android’s open platform beats Apple’s closed ecosystem. We’re not sure if girls and women play the game, we’ve always been too scared to ask in case they’re better at it than we are.

But here we all are, playing the game again. And this time it’s a triple threat, with three phablets (they’re phones by now, surely?) going head to head to… er… head. Who’s going to win? Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, Huawei’s Ascend Mate7 or the iPhone 6 Plus?

Looks

iPhone 6 PlusWhen it comes to how a phone looks, as with everything else, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it?

Yeah, it actually is. But there are some average standards that dictate what folks will find attractive. They’re not for everyone, but nothing ever is. Symmetry is one of these, at least in human terms, but shape, material and design have their parts to play when it comes to manufactured goods. By these standards, Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus should be the most attractive phone in this matchup. Here’s why.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is a great-looking phone. From the front. From behind, it displays that textured back that we dearly hope is kept far away from the Galaxy Note 5. Not to mention the lumps and bumps that came from having that bulky camera sensor in there. Huawei’s handset is a nice enough piece of tech but it’s far too safe and bland to make much of an impact on a visual level. The iPhone 6 Plus is the iPhone 6, writ large. Smoothed metal edging, minimalist design and that aluminium back-plate lift it above the competition here. It’s close though, the Note 4 almost had it.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus

Brains

Phablet Versus TableAs we’re fond of saying: Looks aren’t everything. Nowhere is that more true than with smartphones, where what’s inside counts a lot more that what your device looks like. Except in certain company, of course. But sooner or later, it all comes down to power. You’d think, based on the table above, that this puts the iPhone 6 Plus out of the running but it’s also about how you use what you have and there’s nobody arguing that Apple’s devices don’t run as smooth as melted butter on a slip-n-slide.

On this occasion though, the Galaxy Note 4 wins the day. There is something to be said for raw power, where there’s enough of it, and the Note 4 destroys our other competitors. The iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus are very closely matched in performance terms, with the standard 6 actually out in front a bit. Blame the 6 Plus’ HD screen for that. Geekbench gives it an average of 1,609 for single core and 2,888 for multi-core performance.

The Ascend Mate7 picks up a multi-core core from Geekbench that hovers around the 3,200 mark, which puts it above the iPhone 6 Plus in terms of performance. But Huawei’s using an octa-core processor to do it – so it is more about what you do than that you have, really. But then Samsung comes along and ruins it for everyone.

The Note 4 whacks it out of the park. Not for single-core performance, Apple’s actually got Samsung beat there. Samsung posts an average of 1167 with the Exynos 5433 version of the handset but then multi-core performance comes with its 4009 average and stomps the competition (and pretty much every other phablet out there) into the ground. We have a winner.

Winner: Samsung

Personality

Galaxy Note 4By now you’ve probably already made your choice, and you’re either going to be siding with looks or power so far. Or Android or iOS, as it were. Let’s see if we can swing a few votes by checking out the rest of the features on offer.

If we’re starting with displays, then you have to know that the iPhone 6 Plus has the best screen Apple has to offer. Samsung, on the other hand, has a better one. Huawei matches Apple for resolution but with the larger screen footprint from the Mate7, Apple has a slight advantage over the Chinese Android. Samsung’s throwing around a 515ppi count and a 1,440 x 2,560 resolution though, so this fight is over.

There’s not a whole lot in a storage battle. The Mate7 has 16GB and 32GB options, the 6 Plus offers 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions and Samsung is a 32GB-only phone. External storage is what will change things here and both Huawei and Samsung allow microSD cards up to 128GB. Technically, the Mate7 is your winner here – more options, you see.

Cameras – less is more in this case. We’d argue that you’re going to get a better experience from Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, despite the lower megapixel count. Low-light photography is better with Apple’s slab compared to either the Note 4 or the Mate7. If you’re looking at a selfie-device, then the Mate7 will tick at least one box, while Samsung’s got 4K video recording, if that’s your thing. Shame that Sammy can’t swing Apple’s slo-mo tech though.

Which brings us to the great leveller. The price. The iPhone 6 Plus carried a recommended price of R11,000 for the 16GB model, rising to R14,000 for the full 128GB option here in SA, but you can find it cheaper. The 16GB Mate7 from Huawei you’ll be picking up for R5,700, depending on where you look while Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 hovers around the R11,000 mark in South Africa at the moment.

On the face of it you’d think that the Huawei Ascend Mate7 would take the crown here, leaving us with a tie, and if it were just a matter of the price it would have. But Samsung’s got one more trick up its sleeve – the Note 4’s very handy S Pen. Samsung made considerable improvements to the S Pen for the Note 4 and the result is a very versatile Android indeed.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Verdict

If you’re an Apple fan and aren’t tempted to defect to the Android camp, then this is your chance to get onto the phablet bandwagon. If you’re budget-conscious, then the Mate7 from Huawei is your ticket to an oversized phone at half the price of its rivals. And if you’re an Android nut, or don’t really care about brands, then the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is your overall winner.

And that, ladies and gents, is how you play the game. Now, who wants to start an argument about which comic book characters will be able to defeat the Incredible Hulk in a one-on-one fight?

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