The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus represent Apple’s new flagship products, and they’re a big change from what came before: The 4.7-inch 6 has a new, Retina HD resolution display, and smooth, rounded edges and a smooth transition between the actual glass protecting the screen and the rest of the casing. It also has an improved camera, and what might be its most exciting super-power: Apple Pay, which uses NFC tech to let the device authorize payments quickly using Touch ID as an authentication step. The 6 Plus has all that, plus optical image stabilization and an even bigger battery.
In the hand, the iPhone 6 definitely feels noticeably larger, but what’s remarkable is that it doesn’t feel significantly bulky. The rounded sides and thin, lightweight chassis kind of harken back to older devices, in fact, like the iPhone 3GS and earlier, but the more premium materials used here add another dimension of quality.
Reaching across the device to tap the top corner isn’t uncomfortable, despite the extra screen real estate, and the screen resolution is truly impressive. The additional pixel density makes an instantly observable difference, even if it should technically exceed the ability of the human eye to discern, if you buy the rhetoric around the original Retina display tech. Whether it’s improved resolution, or better color rendering and display lighting, the effect is one of an image that looks artificial – as if they’d pasted a demo screen photo on top of the showcase devices.
Playing with the new camera reveals the improvements there are also impressive. The iPhone 6 gets all the new features besides optical image stabilization, including slow motion video at 240 FPS, which is two times faster than the iPhone 5s (and so two times slower when played back). The camera’s autofocus is fast and effective thanks to the addition of phase detection, and it no longer highlights the point of focus, which it doesn’t really need to because of its improvements.
iPhone 6 Plus
The 6 Plus is a device that isn’t for the faint of hand: its 5.5-inch diagonal face is definitely something users will have to get used to. The process is made easier thanks to the introduction of a new mode that lets people use all aspects of the OS, including apps and the Home screen, one-handed simply via a double touch (not press) of the Home button, which shifts everything down into thumb range.
The 6 Plus also offers a useful new landscape view in most apps in exchange for the bigger size – you get an inbox while looking at Messages or Mail, for instance, and detailed views in most system software. It’s a big advantage for working through stuff quickly, and is comparable to what the iPad offers in many ways.
Apple’s optical image stabilization also does appear to make for big improvements in the quality of captured images, though we’ll have to do more extensive testing to really suss out how much of a difference there is between this and the image stabilization offered on the iPhone 6.
Overall, with both variants, this is a vastly improved device in most respects, including the responsiveness and speed of the OS in all areas I could test in a short time. The new A8 is clearly carrying its weight, and it’ll be exciting to see how these apparent improvements hold up under extended testing. This could be a crucial selling point for some buyers, but it still feels like the price and size are going to make the 6 Plus a rarer device to find in the wild.