Apple iPhone 6 Plus review: The original giant-sized iPhone
“You can’t get your hand around it.” “No-one’s going to buy that.” Not our words, but rather those of Steve Jobs. He was referring to Android phones with big screens – rivals to the iPhone 4 way back in 2010 – but clearly times have changed. Apple has now done the unthinkable: not only has it released the iPhone 6, but also the king-sized iPhone 6 Plus. Apple has made a phablet.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus review: Design
The iPhone 6 Plus sports the same newly curvaceous design as its smaller sibling, but with one major difference: its beefed-up body frames a substantially larger 5.5in, Full HD display. This makes the iPhone 6 Plus something of a handful but at only 7.3mm thick, the slender, curved profile fits surprisingly well in the hand. With the rounded edges nestling comfortably in the crook of each finger, it feels just as manageable as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and a little more manageable than the chunkier Nexus 6.
The extra girth bumps the weight up a tad, but this is by no means a heavy phone. At 172g, the iPhone 6 Plus only weighs 43g more than the iPhone 6, so it isn’t the weight that will cause problems for your pocket – it’s the size. And, despite the reports from users who have bent their iPhone 6 Pluses by sitting on them, or keeping them in a pocket, our impressions are that the iPhone 6 Plus feels just as sturdy and solid as other big-screened smartphones we’ve tested. Our review unit has survived several months of being rattled around in everything from messenger bags to cycling jerseys to tight jeans pockets, and it’s 100% bend-free. As Expert Reviews pointed out, the iPhone 6S Plus is full of genuinely new and useful features.
In practice, though, the iPhone 6 Plus often feels more like a miniature iPad than an iPhone. Hold it in landscape orientation and, for the first time on an iPhone, the iOS homescreen spins around into a landscape view. And while it’s nigh-on impossible to reach every corner of the display (at least without unusually long thumbs), the iPhone 6 Plus shares the iPhone 6’s “Reachability” function: a quick double-tap of the home button slides the upper half of the screen downwards to bring icons, buttons and address bars within reach.
Apple has also taken advantage of the 6 Plus’ extra screen real estate to add extra keys to the left and right of the onscreen keyboard in landscape mode, with dedicated copy, paste, full stop and comma keys spread across each side. This makes it much quicker and easier to tap out longer emails without constantly switching back and forth through keyboard panels.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus review: Display, performance and battery life
As you’d expect, the iPhone 6 Plus’ Full HD display is the centre of attention. Image quality is sumptuous from the off, with brightness soaring high enough to fend off even bright sunlight, and image quality that marries pin-sharp clarity with rock-solid contrast and rich, believable colour reproduction. And at 401ppi, the iPhone 6 Plus has the most densely pixel-packed display of any Apple device to date.
Interestingly, the iPhone 6 Plus’ display lags a little behind its smaller sibling in terms of its technical performance, but it’s not far off. We measured a maximum brightness of 493cd/m<sup>2</sup> and a contrast ratio of 1,293:1, and the colour accuracy is excellent, too. The IPS panel served up a very slightly wider range of colour than the iPhone 6, covering 95.5% of the sRGB colour gamut, and was only slightly less colour-accurate, with an average Delta E of 2.58 and a maximum deviation of 5.33. To the naked eye, the iPhone 6 Plus’ display is nothing less than superb; moreover, we noted none of the backlight inconsistency that afflicted our test sample of the iPhone 6.
In terms of power, there’s scant difference between the two. As the same 1.4GHz Apple A8 chip is the driving force in both handsets, it came as little surprise to see a nigh-on identical set of scores in the SunSpider, Geekbench and Peacekeeper benchmarks. What’s really impressive, though, is that the iPhone 6 Plus’ gaming performance doesn’t suffer due to its higher-resolution screen. Despite pushing twice as many pixels as the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus managed a very respectable average of 42.7fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD test.
One area where the iPhone 6 Plus comprehensively betters the iPhone 6 is battery life. Even with the demands of GFXBench stressing the GPU, the iPhone 6 Plus achieved a projected runtime of 3hrs 26mins. This isn’t the best result we’ve seen by any stretch, but what’s impressive is that it maintained an average frame rate of 53fps throughout the test. By way of comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S5 lasts almost an hour longer, but it artificially limits the frame rate to less than 20fps.
The iPhone 6 Plus turned in some excellent figures in our other battery tests, too. In our 720p video-playback test, where we calibrate the display to a brightness of 120cd/m<sup>2</sup> and activate flight mode, the handset used only 4.9% of its battery capacity per hour – a figure that puts it just ahead of every Android flagship out there. It didn’t quite repeat the feat in the 3G audio-streaming test, but it still fared very well indeed. With the screen off, a pair of headphones connected and a podcast streaming, the iPhone 6 Plus used only 2.1% of its battery capacity per hour.
In practice, those numbers add up to a phone that is astonishingly long-lasting. Having spent a year in the company of the iPhone 5c, our experience of upgrading to the iPhone 6 Plus has been a revelation: we now regularly get two days of use out of the handset, and sometimes the best part of three. The only downside? The sumptuous screen and fantastic performance mean that we regularly find ourselves spending more time gaming than we ever did previously – and in our experience, lengthy matches of World of Tanks are a great way to kill the battery in short order. You’ve been warned.
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|Cheapest price on contract||Free|
|Contract monthly charge||£33.00|
|Contract period||24 months|
|Dimensions||77.8 x 7.3 x 158.1mm (WDH)|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920|
Other wireless standards