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Apple iPhone 6 And iPhone 6 Plus Review

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are bigger and better than ever, but are they a worthy upgrade for existing iPhone users? What if you previously passed over the iPhone because of its small screen, does it now merit a second look?

iOS 8’s UI Moves To The Big Screen

iOS 8’s UI Moves to the Big Screen: Design Elements for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

While application extensions are a big deal for iOS users and developers, there’s plenty of other tweaks and features to discover in iOS 8, like interactive notifications, predictive keyboard suggestions, Family Sharing, iCloud Drive, Continuity and Handoff, just to name a few. Since this isn’t meant to be a review of iOS 8, we’re going to focus on features specific to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The new iPhones’ larger screens give iOS 8 room to spread out. The iPhone 6 has about 38% more screen area than the 5s, while the 6 Plus has 37% more than the iPhone 6 and almost 89% more than the little 5s. All of this extra space makes room for six rows of icons on the Home screen (up from five for the 4-inch iPhone 5s) and either larger or more content within apps.

Screen size comparison: iPhone 6 Plus (top), iPhone 6 (middle), iPhone 5s (bottom)

In the size comparison images above showing Tom’s Hardware, we see how Safari maintains the same amount of content on-screen, but scales it up based on screen size. Other apps (like the App Store), and even other websites in Safari (depending on how they’re coded), display more content by keeping content size the same.

Display Zoom is a new feature in iOS 8 that leverages the new iPhone’s bigger screens by increasing the size of everything on the display. This is a nice feature for those who struggle reading the small, thin font introduced in iOS 7. Display Zoom works by rendering the screen at 1136x640 pixels (the native resolution of the 4-inch screen in the iPhone 5 family) and then upscaling it to the native iPhone 6 resolution of 1334x750. This enlarges all screen content by a factor of ~1.17x. The downside is that less content fits, in this case the same amount shown on an iPhone 5. Display Zoom on the 6 Plus works the same way, but displays the same amount of content as the iPhone 6, just larger.

iOS 8 Display Zoom: Standard (left) vs. Zoomed (right) on iPhone 6

Larger screens make it more difficult to interact with a touch-based UI. People with smaller hands will find it difficult to reach the very top portion of the screen one-handed with the iPhone 6, and everyone will encounter this problem with the 6 Plus. To help alleviate this usability issue, iOS 8 includes a Reachability feature specifically for the new iPhones. Gently tapping on the Home button twice (but not pressing until it clicks—think capacitive button) slides the screen down halfway, bringing content on the top half of the screen within reach. This works everywhere, including the Home screen, Notification Center and all apps; it even works in games. Since this is an OS-level feature, apps do not need to be updated for this to work.

The keyboard in iOS 8 provides some extra keys for the iPhone 6 Plus when rotated in landscape mode, as shown in the picture below. Some of these extra keys are present on the iPhone 6, but with less room on-screen, the cut, copy, paste, bold, exclamation point and question mark keys are missing.

Responding to an interactive notification from the Home screen and the iPhone 6 Plus keyboard in landscape mode

Apps that haven’t been updated for iOS 8 still use the iOS 7-style keyboard, which isn’t scaled properly for the larger screens. This results in an overly large keyboard using up more than half of the vertical screen space.

iOS 7 style keyboard in the Pages app (before iOS 8 update) on the iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 Plus, thanks to its extra size, gets additional UI enhancements in landscape mode. For starters, the Home screen can now be rotated along with the multitasking interface, just like on the iPad. This eliminates the awkward screen rotation issues when closing a landscape app to get to the portrait Home screen to launch another landscape-oriented app. With the iPhone 6 Plus, everything stays in landscape view.

iPhone 6 Plus in landscape view

Another UI enhancement for the 6 Plus is a dual-pane view in landscape mode, just like on the iPad. Most of Apple’s apps already take advantage of the extra screen width to fit additional content. For example, the left pane in Contacts shows the contact list, while the right pane shows details about the selected contact. This efficient use of screen space makes the 6 Plus a more productive device.

  • manez
    I can think of a thousand more interesting things to review than the newest iphone x.
    Reply
  • blackmagnum
    Everyone would want to own one and be the envy of their peers. They want a device that is attractive, well-made and intuitive. That's how Apple sells them by the millions, don't you agree?
    Reply
  • lanbaner
    Nvidia has a better GPU. The G3 has a better display. The Note 4 has better camera. Gone are the days were the iPhone was the leader on all fronts. Would be nice to see all the strengths from the competition in one phone. Considering the transition to 20nm for Maxwell early next year we could possibly see an iPhonekiller on all aspects. Although I have to agree that the build quality on the iPhones is always top notch.
    Reply
  • M3God
    Other then just sticking to just 1GB internal memory, there is no mention that apple switched to cheaper and slower TLC memory to make more profits while screwing the customer. The TLC memory has been linked to crashes and bootloops that require a trip to the apple store.
    Reply
  • aaaas
    I browse the Web and talk on the phone on Verizon all the time. At least the last two generations of devices have been able to do this... at least for android...

    Interesting article, as I've been considering a switch to iphone.
    Reply
  • KaptainK
    " Wi-Fi calling is currently only supported by T-Mobile in the U.S."

    Not True! Republic Wireless has been using wi-fi calling for years. Republic also includes a feature where it will hand the call off from wi-fi to cellular if you leave the wi-fi zone during the call. Does the iPhone do this??
    Reply
  • cknobman
    A. Thanks for including the Lumia 1520 in the comparison chart of phablets, most other sites dont do this.

    B. The price for the 6 plus in that same chart ($299) is on contract while every other device price is off contract.

    As a whole if you are an iPhone user I am sure you are happy with the changes made to the 6. Outside of that the iPhone "cool factor" ship has sailed and this wont be winning over many Android users.
    Reply
  • cmi86
    How can this guy sit here and hump apples leg by saying the A8 should be competitive if not class leading when it's competition averages over 1Ghz higher clock speed and 2 more cores.... I know a lot of people doing reviews now a days feel obligated to shine up certain companies and make their products appear in a positive light. This is not that... this is a blatant lie.
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth
    How can this guy sit here and hump apples leg by saying the A8 should be competitive if not class leading when it's competition averages over 1Ghz higher clock speed and 2 more cores.... I know a lot of people doing reviews now a days feel obligated to shine up certain companies and make their products appear in a positive light. This is not that... this is a blatant lie.
    Clock speeds and core counts can be deceptive, the key point here being that Apple's Cyclone cores can execute about twice as many instructions per clock cycle as most of their competitors. This shows up in the benchmarks - the iPhone 6 and 6+ do very well in single threaded tests, though tend to lag behind competitors in multithreaded tests like physics. Note that this is also the approach that Nvidia is taking with their Denver cores - fewer, bigger cores as opposed to more small cores.

    How this translates into actual performance will vary of course - most smartphone workflows aren't particularly well threaded so having four cores as opposed to two probably won't make a huge difference in many situations, but I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions.
    Reply
  • ZXS
    Due to their zero reading on the black level tests, AMOLED displays are said to have an infinite contrast ratio.

    MATT, do you know this is Samsung's marketing BS?

    Smartphone displays reflect about 6% of incoming light (which is much more than LCD backlight emits). Actual contrast of AMOLED is worse than that of LCD since the reflections are so high, but maximum brightness is much lower than that of LCD.
    Reply