It’s going to be pretty hard to top this comparison before the close of 2015. All of the major phones, barring a couple of surprises, have hit the market and there’s going to have to be a choosing when the time comes to renew contracts in the next few months. We are well aware of how the HTC One M9 does, performance-wise, but there are three juggernauts standing in front of the HTC and vying for the top spot and they’re not getting out of the way any time soon.
We’re referring, of course, to this year’s Big Three, though you could argue that Apple’s iPhone 6 is also part of last year’s top phones. Damn that year-end launch schedule. Aside from the sixth iPhone, there’s also the Samsung Galaxy S6 which is looking a bit different this year and then the LG G4, which hasn’t made as many changes as you’d think. At least, they’ve kept the bits that work. Enough waffle though, let’s see which handset wins this Mexican standoff.
Leather, glass or metal? What takes your fancy? Both the Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6 are glass and metal creations, though we’d say that Samsung’s got more metal in its DNA. Then there’s LG’s G4, which sports a (very thin) leather cover over the more traditional plastic backplate – though you can get a plain plastic rear if you’re not into leather.
Deciding on which of these phones to pick based purely on looks is tough, because there’s something for everyone. iPhone fans are pretty loyal so the rejuvenated look (which is still Apple all the way through) will definitely appeal. The LG G4 hasn’t changed much from the G3, leather notwithstanding, in terms of its visual appearance so if you’re having a hard time letting go… Anyway, that brings us to the Galaxy S6 which has undergone the largest change of the lot. We’re still convinced that it’s the best-looking Samsung to grace palms in years so if you’re looking for the newest thing on the block in terms of looks, the S6 is for you.
But at the end of the day, pure visual appeal is too close to call so we’re going to have to make this a:
Winner: Draw (3-way tie)
But you can account for what you’re getting from your hardware, otherwise Apple’s iPhone 6 is going to be completely boned. 1GB of RAM and a dual-core processor are what Android fans sneer at as low-spec but when the internals are designed with your operating system in mind, speed and usability turns out to be pretty darn good. 2889 (multi-core) on Geekbench good. So no slowdown here.
By contrast, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is packing ALL the power. 3GB of RAM, an Exynos 7420 with its eight cores (4 x 2.1GHz and 4 x 1.5GHz) beats out just about everything on the market in terms of smartphones with a score of 4070 on Geekbench. Still, it’s running on Android so operational efficiency isn’t exactly perfect (though it gets pretty close).
Unusually, LG’s G4 is trailing behind in the brains department. They’ve gone for the Snapdragon 808, which falls behind in terms of performance compared to anything toting the Snapdragon 810 (since it’s got six cores to the 810’s eight) and is left in the dust created by Sammy’s Exynos monster. The G4 is faster than the G3 but LG’s not supposed to be competing with that. We haven’t actually put the G4 through its paces here and it has not made an appearance on Geekbench but GSM Arena‘s tests indicate that the S6 is almost twice as powerful as LG’s newest flagship. We can probably all agree that the S6 is the winner here.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6
Maybe you’re not a CPU-junkie. Maybe something other than the engine is important. Then things look radically different. Then Apple’s off in the corner doing its own thing (doing it well, granted, but by itself) while Samsung and LG push each other around the playground trying to make each other eat sand.
Let’s start with Apple, because they’re not really in this race. The iPhone 6 has turned up to this party with a sub-HD display, which more or less takes them out on the starting line. Still, the iPhone has the iOS 8 UI – which is still the best around – so it has that going for it, which is good.
Samsung’s gone for a 1,440 x 2,560 display, which looks bloody amazing, and they’ve sprung for a 16MP rear and 5MP front camera – both of which are decent enough. The remaining features tie in with the iPhone 6, the fingerprint sensor and the (as-yet unavailable here) payment systems are also a thing.
You’ll note that we haven’t mentioned the iPhone 6’s camera. That’s because, while we maintain that its little 8MP rear cam beats Samsung’s 16MP sensor, LG’s effort nudges past it at the finish line. LG’s 16MP cam has an f/2.2 aperture, compared to Apple’s f/1.8 showing. Result: Better low light shots. And they’ve gone for an 8MP front-facing camera.
At the end of the day, we like a bit more flexibility in our features. LG’s stuck with the removable battery, microSDs are still a thing, it’s toting a similarly massive screen to the S6 and then there’s the camera effort they’ve put in. That’s more than enough to put LG over the top here. But is it enough?
Winner: LG G4
This time around we’re sticking with one winner – the Samsung Galaxy S6. It’s a serious evolution for Samsung in terms of build, they’ve thrown everything that they have it at to make it one of the best performers you’ll see all year and there’s enough on the features list to let it stand toe-to-toe with anything else on the market. That doesn’t mean our other two contenders are worthless, they’re just sitting slightly lower on the podium. We honestly expected more from LG’s G4 but they’ve just focused their efforts in a different direction than expected. Time will tell if that was a misstep in the cutthroat world of smartphone flagships. Apple’s entry… well, that’s an iPhone. It just works.
Overall Winner (Surprisingly): Samsung Galaxy S6