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Does it even matter that last year’s iPhone 6s is so much faster than the new Galaxy Note 7?

Published Aug 26th, 2016 10:45AM EDT

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This past Monday we shared a video that showed a performance test pitting Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Note 7 against Apple’s year-old iPhone 6s. Instead of relying on benchmark testing to compare the two phones, this particular test used a different method intended to compare their performance during real-world usage. The test wasn’t scientific by any means, but the unique format actually does to a pretty decent job of comparing two phones in a real-world setting. Benchmark tests, after all, really only test the capabilities of a smartphone when it’s pushed to its limits. How often do you push your phone to its limits in the real world?

In this aforementioned performance test, Apple’s year-old iPhone positively clobbered the brand-spanking-new Galaxy Note 7. Apple fans and Android fans have all been quite vocal about the results since then, but does this test even really matter?

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The video in question has already been viewed more than 1 million times, which shows you just how intense this debate has been. To put that in perspective, most other recent videos posted by the same YouTube user each have view stats in the tens of thousands.

Here’s the video in question:

The methodology here uses app laps to compare smartphone performance. The YouTuber opens the same series of apps one after the other on both phones and times how long the entire series — or “lap” — takes. He does two laps with each phone and then compares the results.

In a nutshell, the thinking here is that this type of performance test paints a more accurate picture of how a smartphone performs in the real world. After all, you don’t spend most of your time playing insanely complex 3D games on your phone, do you? No, you open apps, switch apps and perform simple tasks most of the time.

In this particular test, the iPhone 6s from 2015 beat Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Note 7 by more than 40 seconds on the first lap — the 6s took 1:22 to complete the lap, while the Note 7 took 2:05. As if that beating weren’t brutal enough, the gap widened to nearly a full minute on the second lap.

So… a year-old iPhone with a dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM completely annihilated a brand new flagship Android phone with a quad-core chipset and 4GB of RAM. But does it really matter?

There are certainly arguments on both sides of the fence but in the end, yes, it matters.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 is a fantastic smartphone. As we noted in our Galaxy Note 7 review last week, the hardware is phenomenal and the Note-specific software features are outstanding. One thing we brushed by and didn’t really dive into, however, is that the new Note 7 isn’t entirely “new,” so to speak. While Samsung’s Note lineup has offered various upgrades over same-year Galaxy S phones in the past, this year Samsung decided to use the same expect processor, camera, and other components from the Galaxy S7.

Is that such a bad thing? On its own, no, it’s not a bad thing. The Note 7 offers a very smooth user experience compared to other Android phones, and it has more than enough power to handle heavy lifting.

But the Samsung phone’s 6-month-old specs draw attention to the fact that iOS is still far smoother and more responsive than Android. As you can see on Apple’s year-old iPhone 6s, apps are lightning fast. There are a number of important factors that contribute to the iPhone’s silky smooth user experience, such as a powerful custom A9 chipset and optimizations in both third-party apps and iOS itself.

This all becomes far more important next month, when Apple releases its next-generation iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple manages to make huge performance gains each year with its new iPhones, and last year’s iPhone 6s is already faster than any flagship Android phone by a landslide. The iPhone 7 is truly going to be in a league of its own.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.