iPhone 6 Plus review - Best and Worst features
The 6 Plus has a gorgeous full HD display & all-day battery life but it's too big
Apple has belatedly entered the ‘phablet' market with a mammoth 5.5in device. While the iPhone 6 Plus has superior specifications to the smaller iPhone 6 - does it translate to a better user experience? We take a look at the good and the bad…
This is the first iPhone with a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution (401ppi) and it's easy to see why DisplayMate has labelled it as the best LCD panel on the market. Colour replication is natural, viewing angles are superb and text/images are pin sharp. The 6 Plus also excels when it comes to watching videos (from the iTunes store at least) - as the 16:9 aspect ratio renders black bars obsolete.
Landscape mode is beefed up to make use of the extra screen space. Apps like Mail and Notes provide you with two-pane views and more options like undo, copy and paste also pop up on the default keyboard in this view.
Even the home screen adapts to the landscape view making it possible to use the device exclusively in landscape mode like a tablet. (Note: If you switch on the Zoomed Mode to make the icons larger, you won't be able to use the home screen in landscape mode at this time.)
The maximum brightness we measured on the iPhone 6 Plus was scorching 500 cd/m2. It's was bright we were able to reduce brightness to between 25 - 50 per cent and still see everything comfortably. You'll only really have to turn up the brightness when watching video or to combat sunlight.
Best battery life of any iPhone
With most iPhone 5/5s users having to charge their devices by the middle of the day, you'll be pleased to hear there aren't any such problems with the iPhone 6 Plus. The big chassis houses a 2915mAh battery pack, near-enough twice the size of the 5s.
This is the first iPhone we’ve been able to use without having to nurse the battery life. After 23 hours away from the mains we still had 16 per cent left.
Battery life will depend on how much you use the device - so if you load up lots of data hungry apps don’t be surprised to see it drain quickly. However, another positive is the ability to charge the 6 Plus faster than previous models using the iPad adaptor. This should get to 90 per cent after two hours. Even charging the device from USB port on a MacBook Pro was swift. We managed to get to 47 per cent in 60 minutes.
This retains its position as the best fingerprint scanner we’ve tested on any device thanks to its simplicity and convenience.
Competitor handsets like the Galaxy S5 require you to swipe to activate the fingerprint scanner - but with Touch ID all you have to do is touch the home button. And because this is a natural way to wake iPhones, you can unlock devices with one action.
With Apple opening up the APIs to third-parties, Touch ID has become ever more useful as you can log into things like your Amazon account.
The 8-megapixel camera uses the same sensor as the iPhone 6 but Apple has also included Optical Image Stabilisation. It’s the inclusion of the Focus Pixels technology and the low-light performance, which helps this to stand out from other devices.
The 6 Plus focuses so quickly that you can snap away multiple pictures without worrying about focusing. During an event at the Electric Ballroom, we took some quick fire shots without tapping the screen to focus and they turned out perfectly.
Despite Bendgate trending on social media after pictures of misshapen iPhones appeared, the issue seems to have been exaggerated.Apple says only 9 customers have officially complained regarding bending of the iPhone 6 Plus - and out of the millions of shipped devices this is insignificant.
According to Consumer Reports, the iPhone 6 Plus is structurally sound. Tests show it is capable of withstanding more pressure than the iPhone 6. Under normal usage there should be no problems.
iOS 8.0.2 has been rushed out and we haven’t experienced any major bugs so far. Apple has also fixed the bug with HealthKit - so health monitoring apps should be flooding the App Store soon.
The latest update brings a wealth of options including the ability to customise the keyboard, have more control over privacy, better web browsing and MDM controls for businesses.
Areas for improvement
Just too big
It would have been interesting to see if the 6 Plus would have made it to market if Steve Jobs was still in charge at Apple as he loathed big screen handsets.
Although we loved the big screen for web browsing and watching videos, the dimensions of the device made it unwieldy. Interestingly, the 6 Plus is longer than the Galaxy Note 4, despite the latter having a bigger 5.7in display.
The device slips snuggly into most trousers without any problem but it will protude from cardigans and the pockets of smaller jackets.
Like most phablets, the 6 Plus will also make you feel self conscious when holding it to your ear in public. This can be avoided by using the headphones to make calls. You will get used to the size with usage, but if you're hands are small this could cause discomfort.
It's a shame Apple doesn't offer a stylus as this can increase the usefulness of the device for graphical work and make it easier to use with one hand.
Fear of the drop
While the iPhone 6 is highly unlikely to bend in your pocket, questions remain about how fragile the device is. Even with a cover, the results of a drop test are unlikely to be postive.
The 6 Plus is loaded up with a snappy A8 processor, but Apple continues to use just 1GB of RAM. That’s three times less than devices like Galaxy Note 4 and Xperia Z3.
It poses questions about how the iPhone 6 Plus will be able to handle upgrades. We’ve already seen the 4s struggle to run the iOS 8 and with apps demanding ever more resources, the shelflife of the 6 Plus is questionable beyond 12 months.
Value for money?
It's not cheap. The 6 Plus starts at £619 SIM-free (16GB). This rises to £699 for the 64GB model and £789 for 128GB of internal storage.
Contracts pricing is also at the high-end. The 16GB model costs £230 upfront with a monthly charge of £33 (24 months). This comes with 1GB of data, unlimited minutes and texts.
Overall - Is it better than the iPhone 6?
This is Apple’s first generation phablet so there’s room for improvement. Although the 6 Plus has a superb display and great battery life, we found it too cumbersome for everyday usage.
At 4.7ins the iPhone 6 has a manageable size, the same processor/1GB RAM and almost identical camera. But with better battery life and screen, we'd opt for the 6 Plus if you don't mind the bulk.
OS: iOS 8 (preloaded)
Display: 5.5in, 1,080 x 1,920 (401ppi)
Processor: Apple A8 64-bit + M8 co-processor
Biometrics: Touch ID fingerprint sensor
Storage: 16/64/128GB Camera: 8-megapixel with autofocus, flash, 1.2-megapixel front-facing
Connectivity: Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4, NFC, 4G, GPS/GLONASS
Ports: Lightning connector Dimensions: 158 x 78 x 7.1 mm (WDH) Battery: 2915mAh Weight: 172g