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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?

Size Matters

For many years, the iPhone represented the cutting edge in both smartphone design and technology. However, the pace of technological growth has inevitably slowed, making it increasingly difficult for Apple to push the envelope. This, along with a fiercely competitive market, is allowing Apple’s rivals to catch, and in some ways even surpass, the iPhone.

Where Apple continues to excel is design, materials and build quality. The rounded profile of the aluminum iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with its cover glass that blends into the sides, looks modern and fresh. More importantly, it feels better in the hand. It feels solid without being excessively heavy, ergonomics are excellent and fit and finish are nearly perfect.

Residing inside this sleek new chassis is the A8 SoC. Moving to TSMC’s HKMG 20nm process allows Apple to increase both the CPU clock frequency and overall power efficiency. While the CPU retains the basic Cyclone architecture from the A7, optimizations to the memory controller, and possibly some other internal tweaks, combined with the frequency boost, give the A8 roughly a 10-20% advantage over the A7 in CPU-centric tasks.

The GPU in the A8 also sees an upgrade to the PowerVR GX6450, which is 15-65% faster than the PowerVR G6430 inside the A7 SoC in our benchmarks. The average gain is around 30%, a little less than the 50% Apple claims. Unfortunately, the GPU upgrade isn’t enough to compensate for the larger screens, resulting in a regression in on-screen performance in some cases, especially for the 6 Plus, compared to the iPhone 5s.

Sitting atop the A8 SoC, in a package-on-package (PoP) configuration, is 1GB of disappointment. While every other flagship phone ships with 2-3GB of RAM (and probably 4GB by mid-2015), Apple hasn’t upgraded RAM capacity in two years, even though memory pressure is steadily increasing. This cost-cutting measure increases virtual memory swap and slows down Web browsing and multitasking.

While the iPhone falls further behind its competitors in RAM capacity, it at least closes the gap in wireless performance and features. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus add support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE Category 4, supporting up to 150Mb/s of bandwidth. There’s also support for VoLTE, which promises simultaneous voice and data over LTE.

All of these incremental improvements, including camera updates, longer battery life and Apple Pay, add up to make the new iPhones the best ever. But none of that really matters. If you've already decided to live within the Apple ecosystem, the new Retina HD Displays are the only reason to consider getting an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

After using both for several weeks, my old 5s now feels like a child’s toy. Yes, size does matter. The larger text is easier to read and reduces eyestrain. The larger keyboard makes typing faster and easier. And with more content on-screen, there’s less time spent scrolling and zooming.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 finds the right balance between size and mobility. It still comfortably fits in one hand and with a little bit of a stretch, I can still reach the whole screen. This phone was a joy to use.

I was really looking forward to trying out the 6 Plus, but the first few days only brought disappointment. Handling this beast just felt awkward and not being able to do everything one-handed was frustrating. After about five days, my opinion began to shift. By adjusting my grip, I found I can perform basic tasks like checking email with only one hand. Using two hands and the new landscape view creates new possibilities, like writing an article or working on a spreadsheet, things I wouldn’t even think about doing on the 5s or iPhone 6. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus is a boon for power users who can adapt to the larger size.

The iPhone isn’t the trendsetter it used to be. Neither the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus offers any new technology or feature we don’t already see in other devices, but oddly enough, this should make everyone happy.

Apple iPhone 6

     >> See the Reader Ratings and Advice for the Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

     >> See the Reader Ratings and Advice for the Apple iPhone 6 Plus

  • 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