This year, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) released the iPhone 6 Plus, which finally brought "phablet" goodness to iOS users. The device was widely praised, and Apple indicated on its most recent earnings call that the demand for its new iPhones at the time far exceeded supply. Many expect that Apple will now take significant amounts of market share from top Android phablet makers such as Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF).

Nevertheless, despite that expectation and the 73.9% drop in Samsung's mobile division operating profit year over year in its most recent quarter, there is one key way that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 seems to be outperforming Apple's iPhone 6 Plus.

What do Verizon Wireless users have to say?
Flagship smartphones, at least here in the United States, are often sold through the major wireless carriers. I use Verizon (NYSE:VZ), which allows users to post reviews of their devices on the company's website. I use this to get a rough sense of how well a particular phone is being received.

In this case, I looked at how users rate both the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The results were a bit surprising.

The table below features the percentage of users who would "recommend" each phone, along with the average rating on a 1 to 5 scale. To provide additional context, the review sample size is also included.


 Recommend (%)

Rating (1-5)

# of Reviews

Galaxy Note 4




iPhone 6 Plus




Data source(s): Verizon Wireless pages for each phone.

According to this data, the Note 4 is more widely recommended and scores a higher review rating overall than the iPhone 6 Plus. The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that it's not clear what percentage of the buyers of each phone actually left a review, which could impact how representative these numbers are.

Nevertheless, this data suggests both the Note 4 and the iPhone 6 Plus have been well received by customers.

Samsung's got problems, but product competitiveness isn't one
Samsung has often indicated it can improve the demand for and profitability of its higher-end mobile phones by introducing more "innovation." But the results above suggest the Note 4 is very well received by customers, and many third-party reviews seem to absolutely rave about how competitive the Note 4 is.

It doesn't seem likely that product competitiveness, perhaps the factor most directly in Samsung's control, is the problem. 

What's the problem, then?
The problems Samsung faces at the high end of the smartphone market might be twofold. The first is that many users might prefer the iOS ecosystem over the Android ecosystem; there's not much Samsung can do to capture these customers' dollars.

The second is that Apple's brand and the iPhone brand might simply be more powerful than Samsung's. According to Interbrand, Apple's brand is "worth" nearly $119 billion, while Samsung's is "worth" about $45.5 billion. While Samsung's brand is certainly strong, it doesn't seem as powerful as Apple's.

It seems to me that Samsung's large profit drop in the mobile market isn't likely to be reversed by "better products." The products are already great, and the company's brand is strong. It could simply be that, over the long run, there won't a whole lot of money to be made in selling smartphones for any company not called Apple.