iPhone 6 Review: It May Be Old, But It’s Still A Fine Phone

£539
Price when reviewed

Performance

Behind the screen, the changes are even more dramatic. The iPhone 6, along with its big brother, sports a new dual-core A8 CPU, with 1GB of RAM, upgraded graphics, and an improved M8 motion coprocessor (that’s the low-power chip designed to save energy by monitoring the phone’s sensors). There are models with 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB of storage (but, oddly, no 32GB model). Apple has added a barometer to the phone’s line-up of sensors for more accurate reporting of relative altitude and atmospheric pressure.

It comes as no surprise to find that the iPhone 6 feels completely smooth in general use. I noticed no judder or hitching while moving around in iOS 8, browsing graphics-heavy web pages, or panning and zooming in Google or Apple Maps. Given that iOS 8 runs smoothly on the two-generations-old hardware in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c, that much is to be expected. However, the performance of the new processor in benchmarks is dramatically quicker than any of its predecessors. I started with the simple, single-threaded SunSpider JavaScript test, which the iPhone 6 dispatched in 347ms. Only the Samsung Galaxy S5 gets close to this, with a time of 391ms.

Apple iPhone 6 review: SIM card tray close-up

Moving on to the slightly more demanding Peacekeeper benchmark, I saw a score of 2,533, which was way in front of every other smartphone we’ve tested. It’s the same story in Geekbench 3, with a single-core score of 1,631 that wipes the floor with everything else, and a multi-core score that’s only marginally beaten by the quad-core Qualcomm hardware in the Samsung Galaxy S5. Given that the iPhone 6 has half the number of cores as the Samsung, it’s still a seriously impressive showing. And as for the GFXBench T-Rex HD gaming test, there’s simply no competition: the only phone capable of beating the iPhone 6’s 51fps is the iPhone 6 Plus, which averaged a silky smooth 53fps despite its higher-resolution Full HD screen.

Battery life

Perhaps more importantly, battery life is also excellent. The new, more efficient 20nm CPU helps here: playing a 720p video with flight mode on and the screen set to a brightness of 120cd/m2, the battery depleted at 7.5% per hour, while streaming audio continuously from our SoundCloud account over 3G with the screen off reduced capacity at 1.7% per hour. The former result isn’t all that special: plenty of other phones we’ve seen perform at this level or better, notably the Sony Xperia Z2 (5.6%), Samsung Galaxy S5 (5.2%) and the HTC One M8 (6.5%). But none of these handsets can match the iPhone 6’s results in the 3G streaming test, a figure that points at highly impressive standby performance.

Even in continuous use, though, the iPhone 6 is one of the longest-lasting phones out there. In just one morning, the battery dropped from 100% to only 84% within four hours of heavy testing. In that time, I streamed a podcast for 1hr 32mins, downloaded and installed the Facebook and Twitter apps, ran the Peacekeeper benchmark twice, and the SunSpider browser test once, received a short phone call, and replied to a handful of texts. During this period, the display was on constantly. The iPhone 6 is a phone that easily gets you through a day and a half of moderate to light use, and if you’re careful, two full days is not beyond it.

Apple iPhone 6 review: On its side

As with most smartphones, this does depend on your usage, and one thing that hits battery life hard is gaming. In the GFXBench battery test, which loops a 3D OpenGL animation for around half an hour and estimates total runtime, the iPhone 6 achieved a total runtime of 2hrs 29mins. That’s an improvement over the iPhone 5s’ 1hr 52mins (impressive given how many more frames the phone is rendering). However, it still indicates that graphics-heavy gaming will lead to a significantly shorter period between charging sessions.

Elsewhere, Apple has added NFC to the iPhone 6, which is used solely for the Apple Pay touch credit-card payment system – it isn’t used for Bluetooth pairing. It’s an interesting development that could eventually see you paying for your morning coffee by tapping your phone to a card reader. It also uses the phone’s Touch ID fingerprint reader in conjunction with your credit card details to provide increased security. Since the system won’t arrive in the UK until early 2015 at the earliest, however, I don’t think it’s anything to get worked up over. You’ll still need your plastic for the foreseeable future.

We’re much more interested in the move to 802.11ac from 802.11n. Connection speed reaches a maximum of 433Mbits/sec, so it’s a single stream. At close range, using the FileBrowser app to transfer a large movie file from shared NAS storage to the iPhone, I saw roughly twice the speed from the iPhone 6 over the 5s, with transfer rates hovering between 7.5MB/sec and 8.5MB/sec over 802.11ac compared to 6MB/sec and 7MB/sec for the 5s using 802.11n.

Details

Cheapest price on contract£255
Contract monthly charge£31.50
Contract period24 months
Contract providerwww.mobilephonesdirect.co.uk

Physical

Dimensions62.5 x 7.1 x 138mm (WDH)
Touchscreenyes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity1.00GB
Camera megapixel rating8.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Display

Screen size4.7in
Resolution750 x 1344
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes

Software

OS familyOther

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