It’s the clash you’ve all been waiting for – or at least the weigh-in prior to the clash you’ve all been waiting for.
In one corner we have the Samsung Galaxy S6, the South Korean giant’s latest flagship and, at the time of writing, Stuff’s favourite smartphone. Samsung hasn’t always delivered across the board when it comes to Galaxy flagships, but this time it’s different. This time it’s nailed it.
And in the other corner. It’s the freshly-announced second flagship from Chinese upstart OnePlus. The firm’s first phone, the OnePlus One, was the Bright Young Thing of 2014, offering top drawer specs and performance while priced at a fraction of its big name competitors – and that theme is very much set to continue with its successor the OnePlus 2.
Once we’ve given the OnePlus 2 the full review treatment, you can expect the definitive verdict on which of these smartphones wins out, but in the meantime allow us to compare them on paper. It’s the battle of the specses (or something)!
Glass versus plastic, but metal for all
Samsung’s Galaxy S phones were once the butt of jokes for their creaky, cheap-feeling plastic bodies, but the S6 has flipped that particular script. A glass back and metal frame make it the most elegant, solidly built Galaxy ever – although the smoothness, combined with a slim 6.8mm profile, do make it a tad slippery. Handle with care.
The OnePlus 2 also sports a metal frame (a magnesium/aluminium alloy to be precise), while the back cover can be removed and swapped. It’s plastic by default, but other options include real woods like bamboo, rosewood and black apricot, as well as Kevlar (more commonly used in bulletproof vests). The front is protected by Gorilla Glass 4 (just like the Galaxy S6), and the whole thing looks more premium and better put-together than the OnePlus One.
Without having felt up the OnePlus 2 sufficiently, it’s hard to say that it feels any better or worse than the Galaxy S6 and, while we do worry a little about the potential creakiness that can come with a removable back, we’re not going to give one of these phones the nod over the other until we’re sure. So….
2K versus 1080p
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is part of a fairly exclusive club: smartphones with 2K screens. The S6’s 5.1in Super AMOLED display has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which results in a pixel density of 577ppi.
The OnePlus 2 opts for a slightly larger 5.5in LCD screen, albeit with a lower resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, equating to a pixel density of 401ppi.
Now, while we still feel that the 1080p resolution has a lot to offer, and there are arguments for it being a better choice because it prolongs smartphone battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S6’s screen still gets the nod in this round. The fact that it uses Super AMOLED tech, which boosts black levels and enriches colours, suggests to us that it’ll remain the smartphone screen to beat for some time yet.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6
The OnePlus 2 features a 13MP rear camera with laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation, dual LED flash and the ability to capture 4K video at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720fps at slo-mo 120fps.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 offers a 16MP rear camera with (non-laser) autofocus, optical image stabilisation, LED flash and the ability to capture 4K video at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720fps at slo-mo 120fps.
On the front camera, er, front, both models feature a 5MP camera, although the Samsung offers video calling at a slightly higher 1440p resolution to the OnePlus 2’s 1080p.
On paper, we’re going to call this on a very slight Samsung win, although given the spec similarity that might change slightly when we’ve had time to review the OnePlus 2 properly.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6
The OnePlus 2 runs on a special revised edition of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octo-core 64-bit processor. OnePlus claims this new version of the chip won’t be subject to the much-publicised (and possibly a tad overblown) overheating issue that has surfaced in 810-toting phones like the LG G Flex 2 and HTC One M9. It also offers either 4GB or 3GB of RAM, depending on whether you buy the 64GB or 16GB editions. And yes, at the time of writing 4GB is the highest amount of RAM used in any smartphone on the market. Finally, there’s a non-removable 3300mA battery which OnePlus claims will deliver “all-day power”.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos octo-core processor, which we found to be better than the “original” Snapdragon 810 in benchmarks. It’s paired up with “only” 3GB of RAM, however. Storage-wise, there are 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options for the Galaxy S6, and like the OnePlus 2 there’s no option to expand beyond that. The Galaxy S6 comes with a 2550Ah battery, which doesn’t sound like all that much, but we found it delivered a day and a half of normal use per charge.
Despite the S6’s Exynos outperforming the Snapdragon 810 in the past, we’re keen to see if the OnePlus 2’s updated edition and extra 1GB of RAM can tip the scales in its favour. In the meantime, we’ll call this round a tie.
The connection section
The OnePlus 2 is a pioneering phone indeed: as well as being the first with 4GB of RAM, it’s also the first in Europe to come with a USB-C port for data transfer and charging. Oh, and it’s dual-SIM to boot. But, a little strangely, there’s no NFC.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 may maintain the old micro USB connection and feature only a single SIM card slot, but it does have NFC, as well as wireless charging.
Both phones feature fingerprint scanners.
We’re going to give this round to the OnePlus 2, due to its adoption of a future-ready charger and its dual-SIM capabilities. No NFC? Well, OnePlus’ argument would be that it’s not really that big a deal for most people – and we’re inclined to agree with them.
Winner: OnePlus 2
Cheap versus not cheap
Well, the price issue is an absolute no-brainer: the OnePlus 2 will go on sale on 11 August in a 64GB version priced at a piffling US$389 (S$535), with an even more affordable 16GB variant (US$329, around S$450) arriving shortly thereafter.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB editions priced at S$998, S$1148 and S$1288 respectively. So there’s approximately a S$600 difference in price for the 64GB editions. That’s enough to buy a second OnePlus 2 and have enough left over for a night out.
Like we say, it’s a no-brainer. If you’re operating on a budget, you’re going to gravitate towards the OnePlus 2 like a drunk towards a chicken shop at 11.45pm on a Friday.
Winner: OnePlus 2
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is currently sitting pretty at the summit of our smartphone top ten list, and it’ll take a very special phone to topple it.
Might that phone be the OnePlus 2? On the surface, it might be – while we can’t say for sure until we’ve spent a few days with it, on paper it’s a stunningly well-equipped, well-specced smartphone at a price that is truly astounding.
It sounds like a close-run thing when it comes to performance, and while the Galaxy S6 clearly has the edge when it comes to screen resolution, the OnePlus 2’s extra GB of RAM and bigger battery may make it easier to live with. And that price tag is certainly easier to live with.
We’ll withhold judgement until we’ve properly reviewed the OnePlus 2, but for now we’ll say that it’s far too close to call a winner – and given that the Galaxy S6 is our top-rated phone at the moment, that’s high praise for newcomer OnePlus.