When you buy an iPhone, you’re buy ing into an ecosystem. The smart phone gives you access to quality audio programmes via its Podcasts app, the largest catalogue of legal music downloads through iTunes, and a streaming music subscription from Apple Music. You get lectures and audiobooks via iTunes U, and arguably the best apps from its App Store. Then, there’s the preinstalled Garage Band that lets you compose your own tunes, iMovie for when you want to edit video clips on the go, Pages that allows you to create beautiful documents, brochures and flyers, Keynote for presentations, FaceTime for video conferencing, Health to monitor your fitness regimen, and the voice-activated personal assistant Siri that works surprisingly well with Indian accents.

On the hardware front, the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus’ rear 12MP camera shoots crisp, clear photos in almost all light conditions, with superb focus and great depth of field. Shooting panoramas is easy: simply pan the device along the scene while it shoots frames and stitches them up to cre ate a 63MP mega snap shot. The new iPhones also come with a feature called LivePhoto that captures moments be fore and after you press the shutter release but ton to give you animated photographs. Its 5MP camera works well for FaceTime video conversations; selfies in low light are now assisted by “retina flash“, where a pre-flash detects the conditions around you before the screen is illuminated with just the right amount of light to create better photos.

In videos, the iPhones can now shoot in 4K resolution that boasts of four times the number of pixels than Full HD. Here, the 6S Plus scores over the 6S. It comes with Optical Image Stabilization that allows for better shake-free videos. Needless to say, both handsets tick the right boxes when it comes to photo and video output.

Also, the 6S Plus sports a larger 5.5-inch HD display with a resolution of 1920x1080px, while the 6S’s 4.7-inch screen just packs a resolution of 1334x750px. These numbers might seem underwhelming when you consider the hi-res displays in other devices, but the screens on both iPhones are capable of rendering crisp text, sharp photos with vibrant colours.

A noticeable enhancement to this year’s iPhone is its 3D Touch feature. The new iPhones are equipped with a capacitive pressure sensor under the display that detects the amount of force applied on the screen. For instance, press on the camera icon lightly and you get a context-sensitive menu called Quick Actions that lets you access features like the Selfie, Slo-mo, Video or Photo mode. Quick Actions works with most native iPhone apps that are preinstalled, and definitely adds to the user experience of these new handsets.

3D Touch goes a step further with what Apple calls `Peek and Pop’. In the Mail app, for example, you can lightly press on an e-mail to peek into its contents, but press it harder, and the sensor detects the extra pressure to pop the e-mail’s contents in a floating screen, complete with haptic feedback.Release, and you’re back into your inbox view. Now all these features are ably backed by the iPhone’s new 1.8GHz `A9′ processor. The device handles advanced 3D games, multimedia and demanding apps without stutter or lag. During tests, it let us edit 4K videos on the fly using the iMovie app. This is commendable when you consider that most desktop computers couldn’t even handle smooth playback of such content. Then, you also have a biometric fingerprint scanner that locks the device for added security . Now, given all of this, it would seem that the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus ­ with their day-long battery life, and aluminium and toughened glass aesthetic build ­ are perfect devices. Well, almost. Considering that the iOS ecosystem is packed with great apps, and the fact that these devices can record 4K videos (which are space hoggers), a 16GB model will always be inadequate, especially since iPhones do not support microSD cards. The second drawback, of course, is how tough Apple makes it to transfer your personal music and movies onto their devices. Unlike Android, where you simply have to plug in your handset into your computer via USB to transfer files ­ with the iPhone, all of this needs to be done via the iTunes software that is quite unwieldy to handle. And lastly , we would have preferred if Apple was conservative with their pricing of these devices in India. Starting at `62,000, these iPhones are by far the most expensive smartphones yet.

That said, the pros outweigh the cons, and the Apple logo at the back of the device does account for a certain amount of brand heft. Just make sure you opt for the 64GB or 128GB models if you want to use these smartphones to their fullest.

SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 5Samsung-Galaxy-Note-5

Samsung’s Note series is known for its sterling digital stylus. Indeed, the S Pen isn’t just a tap-and-select accessory. Functionality has been baked into TouchWiz ­ Samsung’s customized user interface ­ in such a way that the S Pen becomes an extremely useful tool when used with optimized apps like the S Planner and S Note, as well as with the preinstalled MS Office Mobile suite.

The moment the S Pen is removed from the Note 5, its Air Command tool gets activated. A click of the button on the stylus also brings up the dashboard with options that allow you to take a quick note, compose an e-mail, select a part of the screen, annotate a screenshot, and more. The stylus can be used to scribble down phone numbers, web addresses and locations and convert them into links that will open in related apps. Air Command also lets you add shortcuts to its dashboard. For instance, you could add Gmail for quick access to your inbox. The native software in the Note 5 is proficient enough to convert untidy, cursive handwriting to text accurately . The process is seamless and writing feels natural; almost as if you are holding a pencil.

Everything about the Note 5 is built around productivity . There’s the multi-window feature, which lets you work across multiple apps side by side and even drag content from one to the other.Shortcuts and motion gestures ­ to launch the camera, take a screenshot, silence a call, etc ­ are standard fare on the Note 5. Samsung’s app ecosystem goes beyond the Android app store. Its pre-installed Galaxy Apps gives users access to software that is specifically optimized for the device, including drawing and photo apps that support the S Pen. In keeping with its theme of productivity and securing data on the device, the Note 5 comes with robust features. The handset can be configured to recognize multi ple fingerprints to unlock the homescreen and even log in to web services like e-mail and social networks. Samsung’s proprietary security app called My Knox allows you to work securely with apps within an encrypted work space. Access to this zone requires a passcode, pattern or fingerprint scan. With My Knox, you can also initi ate a remote lock or wipe via a web login. The Note 5 is also about its great 16MP rear camera, which is bilization. The shooter captures crisp, detailed snapshots with vibrant colours, and can even shoot 4K videos. Apart from the usual modes like panorama, slow motion and timelapse, there are others that let you take virtual 3D pictures, create a 6-second, 4-in-1 video collage, and even broadcast videos live to your YouTube channel. Its 5MP front snapper allows for wide-angled selfies, and this makes all the difference when trying to fit your entire family or all your buddies into a frame. Both cameras are impressive.

In spite of its bright, high resolution screen and powerful hardware, the Note 5 is capable of giving more than a day’s worth of service ­ without enabling its power-saving modes. And its fastcharging ability will let you charge 80 per cent of the battery in an hour.

On the downside, like the iPhone, the Note 5 does not come with a microSD slot. Still, if you’re looking for a handset for productivity, and perhaps even for creativity , where you need superb stylus support, you can’t go wrong with this one.

The new iPhones and Note 5 aren’t the only `premium’ handsets in the market. If you are looking for options, you could consider the Moto Turbo (`41,999), which boasts of a tough ballistic nylon back panel, a water-resistant design, a high-quality 5.2-inch Quad HD (2560x1440px) scratch-resistant touchscreen, 64GB internal storage, and a 3900mAh battery that gives almost two days of service and which also “turbo“ charges in an hour.

Alternatively, there is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (`44,900) with its metal body, curved Quad HD display, and 64GB storage. You get the same ecosystem ­ as well as the fingerprint sensor ­ that’s available on the Note 5, minus the S Pen.

Similarly, there’s the Sony Xperia Z5 Dual (`52,990), with its waterproof and dust-tight design. This dualSIM phone is an entertainment device with its 5.2-inch Full HD screen, dual front-facing speakers, 23MP rear camera that can shoot 4K videos, stream movies and even download music owned by Sony with its localized apps. Like the S6 Edge and Note 5, the Z5 Dual also comes with a built-in biometric sensor for security.You get 32GB of internal storage as well as a microSD slot, if you need to add more. Additionally, you can expect to get more than a day’s worth of work done with a single charge of its 2900mAh battery, without enabling its power management options.

Source: TOI 07 Nov’2015