Review: Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus | iLounge

Review

Review: Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: Apple

Models: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus

Price: $199-$499

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Phil Dzikiy

Pros: The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have bigger, improved displays which enhance internet browsing and media playing — the experience is especially great on the iPhone 6 Plus. Both devices feature upgraded back and front cameras with new features and better performance. Enhanced video recording frame rates, along with cinematic video stabilization, let both iPhones record top-notch video; the 6 Plus adds optical image stabilization for even better camera performance. Improved batteries are noticeable during the course of the day, especially in the larger Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus adds iPad-style landscape viewing of the Home Screen and certain apps, enabling the phone to be a tablet replacement for some. New features including VoLTE, Wi-Fi Calling and Apple Pay have great potential, but can’t fully be tested at this stage.

Cons: Calling sound is softer and more problematic, especially on the iPhone 6 Plus which takes some getting used to — some users definitely won’t like the ergonomics of the calling experience on the large device. A number of apps look worse when scaled up on the iPhone 6 Plus; both devices have software bugs, as well. Data speeds vary wildly depending on location, sometimes dropping to very slow levels, despite improved wireless hardware. New cases will be needed, and past Lightning accessories may not fit the larger devices. Some users may find the iPhone 6 Plus simply too large to hold comfortably, or place in some cars.

Though many people were skeptical that a larger-screened device could really improve upon the iPhone 5s—we weren’t among them—the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus certainly do feel like steps up from the iPhone 5s. Apple has been accused of playing a bit of catch-up with the emphasis on the bigger displays, and that’s true. But whether that really matters at this point is a different question. Android users previously saw the bigger displays as an advantage of their platform, but it’s now wiped away, leaving iOS with a nice assortment of different screen sizes. So other features, including the impressive camera, Touch ID with Apple Pay, iOS 8, and the big hammer in all of this — Apple’s ecosystem — will make the difference.

Are these differences enough to cause Android users to make the leap to Apple? Some who have been waiting for a larger screen might feel the time is right to jump into the App Store, as the rest of the hardware is there, as well. But cost-conscious users and hardcore Android fans won’t be convinced to make the move based on what’s here. Apart from the screen size changes, both new iPhones continue Apple’s strategy of modest incremental evolution of this device family. If you were looking for a big change in any other feature, you won’t find it here — unless Apple Pay comes roaring out of the gate and becomes a widespread digital payment option. Time will tell on that point.

If you’re a long-time iOS user and on the fence about upgrading from an older iPhone, we’d generally suggest going for it. iPhone 5s users can probably hold off — if you find the camera good enough, and have no need for a larger screen, we’d recommend waiting until the 6s next year. However, we do think many users will get a glimpse of the larger screens and feel the urge to upgrade. Going back to even the 5s after using either the 6 or 6 Plus feels like a downgrade, though the extent to which this is true will depend a lot on the needs and preferences of the individual user. The gulf widens considerably if you’re upgrading to the 6 or 6 Plus from an iPhone 4, 4S, or 5. Serious photographers should be swayed by the new camera, which is truly point-and-shoot class, minus the lack of a zoom lens, and the video recording features are equally superb. If you’re a big iOS gamer, the iPhone 6 Plus will be the perfect device for many titles, particularly given its extra battery capacity.

 

We most highly recommend the 64GB version of either the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. The 16GB version of the phone will be too small for most users, and at a $100 premium, the 64GB model offers more than enough storage capacity for most users’ needs. The 128GB model is a true luxury, and we’d only recommend it for users who want to tote around huge media collections.

 

Which iPhone 6 version should you choose? The answer primarily comes down to biometrics — the size of your hands — and the related size of the pocket or purse where you’ll carry your device. If you previously were pleased with the size of the iPhone 5 or 5s, the iPhone 6 is a natural choice, as it’s just a little taller than before and should generally fit in all of the same places as its predecessors. Using a second hand to swipe the iPhone 6 Plus screen isn’t that big of a deal, but if you have small to medium-sized hands and you know two-handed use will frequently be a concern, don’t hesitate to go with the iPhone 6.

 

On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus is easier to fit in pockets than some people expected, and definitely very close to ideally sized for users with larger hands. It’s not easy to use with one hand, even for larger-handed guys, but it’s not unwieldy, either, except when it’s being used as a phone handset — here, the ergonomics feel somewhat off, and in need of improvement for a future model. That said, the iPhone 6 Plus is a bit more of a challenge to place in the car, since it doesn’t comfortably fit in typically-sized cup holders, or much of anywhere else, unless you get a good air vent mount.

 

Using the iPhone 6 Plus will also affect your tablet use more than the iPhone 6: the iPhone 6 is a companion to the iPad mini, iPad, or iPad Air, but the iPhone 6 Plus effectively displaces the need for the iPad mini under most circumstances. Believe us when we say that if you’re using an iPad mini, the iPhone 6 Plus will make you wonder whether to use it any more. They are different in size, but the 6 Plus displaces the need for the mini in all but the most productivity-focused apps. Even so, Plus users will likely feel more comfortable going with an iPad Air now, if they even still feel the need for a tablet. It’s possible to pick the iPhone 6 Plus and a computer, with no need for anything in the middle.

 

So, which should you pick? When using both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for long periods of time together, as we did this weekend, the iPhone 6 feels like a nice new iPhone. It’s fast, with a great camera, and a respectably large display. By comparison, the iPhone 6 Plus feels like a new product altogether, and our larger-handed editors found it easy to prefer over the iPhone 6. If you’re concerned about the size, hold both new iPhones before making a decision. For us, the iPhone 6 Plus offers enough extra oomph to be the more desirable model. But for the first time in the iPhone’s history, one size definitely doesn’t fit all users. This year, your size will be more important in choosing the right iPhone model than whatever slenderizing Apple has accomplished. For different reasons, both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus merit our A- rating, and are highly recommended.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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