The Great Phablet Battle
Those wanting a large phone that can bridge the gap between a tablet and a phone – a phablet, as some like to call it – have scarcely been more spoilt for choice. The last few weeks have seen a number of prominent brands releasing large display devices, and yes, most notably, even Apple has now officially joined the ‘big display’ fray with the surprisingly large iPhone 6 Plus. When the dust settled on the launches, we found three devices with unashamedly large displays, each offering the user something special. But which one is the best for you? Well, for that we need to put this awesome threesome in the comparison ring: the iPhone 6 Plus from Apple, the Galaxy Note 4 from Samsung and the surprise packet of the year, the Vibe Z2 Pro from Lenovo. We did just that and the results, well, were very surprising:
Looks and Appearance
If you had told us a year ago that products from Samsung and Lenovo would look better than one from Apple, we would have recommended you visit a geek shrink. However, the stark fact is that both the Note 4 and the Vibe Z2 Pro have a more striking appearance than the iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, the 6 Plus is the slimmest of the three, but what is surprising is that the Note 4 and the Z2 Pro are both shorter in length than the 6 Plus and seem to be more compactly designed. Samsung has also used metal on the sides to give the phone a more classy look, but the Z2 Pro is the surprise packet here – it manages to pack a 6.0-inch display into a frame that is shorter than the iPhone 6 Plus and thinner than the Note 4. What’s more, the Chinese manufacturer has thrown a spin on the back, by encasing the camera in a separate panel with a red band around the main lens unit, and also etching the metal back of the phone with a special laser weave. Compared to that, both the iPhone 6 Plus and the Note 4 look relatively…routine. In fact, we would call the 6 Plus the damp squib out here. It looks oversized with the large bezels above and below the display and the single coloured back with two bands and a protruding camera lens do not really make one swoon like the earlier iPhone did. So yes, we start the comparison with a shock winner in the very first category.Looks and appearance
Ratings: 1. Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro 2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 3. Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The Galaxy Note has always been a hardware monster and we do not see that changing with the Note 4. The device comes with a 5.7 inch quad HD Super AMOLED display, quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (expandable), a 16.0-megapixel camera and most important of all, the S-Pen stylus that allows one to scribble on the display like a notepad. However, running it close surprisingly is the Vibe Z2 Pro, which also packs in a quad HD display and a 6.0-inch one at that, and is powered by a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor backed up by 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage (non-expandable), and a 16.0-megapixel camera. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, seems to come with rather modest specifications: a 5.5-inch full HD display, a dual core A8 processor, a 8.0-megapixel camera and storage capacities starting from 16 GB. In the spec slugfest between the Note 4 and the Vibe Z2 Pro, the former comes out on top, thanks to its newer processor and expandable memory. Once again, we have an iPhone bringing up the rear. Who could have thought of it?Hardware
Ratings: 1. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 2. Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro 3. Apple iPhone 6 Plus
This is the department in which Apple generally comes into its own and this time too it is no different. iOS 8 still seems more comfortable and intuitive to use than the versions of Android KitKat running on the Galaxy Note 4 and the Vibe Z2 Pro. However, both come with innovations that run iOS 8 closer than ever before – while Samsung has added a number of gestures as well as tweaks for the stylus for its interface, Lenovo has thrown in options like being able to boot into a stock Nexus (plain Android) interface and even storing data in a separate, secure area of the phone. Unfortunately, neither has the kind of app arsenal that the iPhone 6 Plus can summon up, which is why the 6 Plus wins this round. We gave the Note 4 second place because of its innovation in the stylus front, but it was a close thing with the Vibe Z2 Pro doing very well indeed too.Software
Ratings: 1. Apple iPhone 6 Plus 2. Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
The sound and camera dominance of Apple receives a massive challenge from both the Note 4 and the Vibe Z2 Pro. Both Android phablets come with excellent 16.0-megapixel cameras, and the Vibe Z2 Pro even packs in a 5.0-megapixel front-facing one that is easily the best ‘selfie’ shooter of the lot. In terms of sound, we found all three devices on more or less the same plain, although the Note 4 seemed to score on volume and the iPhone 6 Plus on quality. In terms of viewing videos and playing games, the quad HD displays of the Note 4 and Vibe Z2 Pro were a notch above the iPhone 6 Plus display, although we once again found colours getting oversaturated in the case of the AMOLED display of the Note 4. At the end of it all, however, we still found the iPhone 6 Plus’ camera packing in just a bit more punch than those of its rivals in spite of having a lower megapixel count – that Focus Pixel technology hyped by Apple does seem to work after all. But all said and done, we would call this a tie between the three phones, which surprised us too. The iPhone 6 Plus still has the best camera and very good sound, but when it comes to displays, the Note 4 and Z2 Pro are much better.
Ease of use
Each of these three phones is built for a two-handed use, but in terms of sheer ease of use and interface, the iPhone 6 Plus’ iOS 8 interface still seems the easiest and most intuitive by far. The Galaxy Note 4, on the other hand, packs in the most features but a number of these get totally lost in the mire of the TouchWiz interface placed above Android. And while the S-Pen remains the best stylus we have ever seen on a device, the fact that it needs to be pulled out to be used and has its own button to launch features does complicate life a bit. The Z2 Pro is somewhere between these two extremes – Lenovo gives you the option to switch to plain Android if you wish and also comes with some useful interface tweaks. Still, in spite of its size, the iPhone 6 Plus wins this round comfortably. Android has SO much catching up do, really.
Ratings: 1. iPhone 6 Plus 2. Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro 3. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
But how do the phones work in general circumstances? Well, that really depends on your requirements. The productivity and sketching crowd might like the Note 4 in this regard, but if we look at general tasks like browsing the web, casual gaming and checking mail and social networks, the iPhone 6 Plus stands tall once again, thanks mainly to its interface and apps advantage. However, the Vibe Z2 Pro stunned us with its battery life – it comes with a massive 4000 mAh battery that just seemed to go on and on, and easily lasted us through two days of hectic use. In fact, the battery life of all three devices is very impressive considering the size of their displays: no matter which you pick, you can be assured of seeing through a day of hectic use without any troubles whatsoever. However, if we had to pick a winner in general performance, it would be the iPhone 6 Plus, followed by the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro. The Note 4 is a terrific device but comes with a complex interface which can trip you up, which is why it comes in third.
Ratings: 1. iPhone 6 Plus 2. Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro 3. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Value for money
We started the comparison with a shock result. And we end it with one as well. For, while the Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus are unabashedly premium devices and come with hefty price tags – the Note 4 was retailing for about `58,500 and the iPhone 6 Plus starts at `62,500- the Vibe Z2 Pro slaughters them both by offering premium features and very good looks at almost half the price: it is selling at `32,999 on Flipkart. With that kind of militant pricing, there can be only one winner in this section – the Vibe Z2 Pro actually leaves you with enough change to even purchase an iPad mini with retina display. We think the iPhone 6 Plus doth cost too much for a 16 GB (non-expandable) device, which is why it trails in third.
Ratings: 1. Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro 2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 3. iPhone 6 Plus
Conclusion: which is mine?
So which one should you go for? Well, as always, it really depends on your needs. If you like a stylus and scribbling, it is really a no-brainer: the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is in a zone of its own there. However, if it is apps and great camera performance that you seek, the iPhone 6 Plus is the best option out there, notwithstanding its relatively plain looks. For us, however, the real surprise has been the Vibe Z2 Pro, which has managed to hold its own against these two worthies in spite of coming with a much lower price tag. If you want a premium phablet experience but are not in the mood to bust a hole in your bank account, then this is the device for you.amc
Nimish Dubey: A commerce graduate from Allahabad, Nimish Dubey stumbled into the world of gadgets in 1999 and has made himself at home ever since. He has been published by a number of publications and websites and has also written two books for young adults. When not writing, he can be found buried in a book or trying out apps!