Apple iPhone 6 Plus: An in depth review

Some things don't work at 5.5-inches, like the design of a small iPhone

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • High resolution screen
  • Great software
  • Finger scanner
  • Strong battery performance

Cons

  • Uncomfortable to hold and use daily
  • Apple's strict governance

Bottom Line

An iPhone that is uncomfortable to use contradicts what the iPhone is all about. This is a niche smartphone intended for a tiny group of multimedia junkies. And even then, the smaller 4.7in iPhone 6 should appease even the most demanding content users.

Would you buy this?

8MP camera, Slow-mo recording

Resting raised on the rear of the 6 Plus is an 8 megapixel camera. The rear camera promises strong low-light capabilities on paper with large 1.5 micron pixels — second only to the HTC One (M8) — and an aperture of f/2.2.

Apple’s camera interface hides detailed camera settings in an effort to keep the interface simple. Changing the resolution and subsequent aspect ratio of a photo, for instance, is not possible. The result is a camera interface that does most of the thinking for you, offering only the options to fix the focus, exposure and brightness.

My gripe with Apple's iPhones

Supplementing these few settings are intuitively laid out camera modes. Stand out modes include panoramic photos stitched at 43 megapixels, slow-motion video recording at either 120- or 240-frames per second, and a time-lapse mode.

Offering a one-size-fits-all version of these modes makes them accessible to the masses, but advanced users may feel shortchanged in the process. Apple compensates by supplementing the simplistic camera interface with detailed editing options.

Photos captured with the iPhone 6 Plus impress with bright colours and a great detail. An HDR mode automatically kicks in and saves two versions of the same photo, one with HDR and another without, in what is a nice touch.

Sample photos taken with the iPhone 6 Plus

The photo above cropped at 100 per cent
The photo above cropped at 100 per cent

Although the iPhone 6 Plus offers good camera performance, the 8 megapixel resolution is limiting. Rivals boast cameras of similar quality at 16- and 20-megapixels.

Differentiating the 6 Plus from the iPhone 6 is the inclusion of optical image stabilisation, which compensates for hand shakes in low light situations. Most of the time we were impressed with the camera performance of the 6 Plus, but we found it inferior to rivals when it came to taking photos at night or in environments with dim lighting. These situations result in increased image noise and blown out colours.

In this comparison, you can see the iPhone's camera blow out orange into yellow
In this comparison, you can see the iPhone's camera blow out orange into yellow

The iPhone 6 Plus differs by not supporting Ultra HD recording; rather, Apple has focused on including time-lapse and slow motion recording modes. These modes prove timely as UHD is crippled by a lack of support and remains storage intensive.

Following are sample slow motion and timelapse videos captured with the iPhone 6.

A time-lapse video captured with the iPhone 6

A slow motion video captured with the iPhone 6.

The front of the 6 Plus hides a 1.2MP camera capable of recording videos in high definition. Quality falls short of rivals; however, the front-cam still serves Facetime calls diligently.

Spoils: Finger scanners & personal assistants

Apple didn’t invent the finger scanner, nor was the company first to offer it in a smartphone, though its implementation of the technology remains unparalleled.

The second rendition of Touch ID is quicker and more accurate. Switching on the screen and scanning your finger no longer feels like two separate moves. Now both take place in such succession that it feels like one uniform motion.

Touch ID is far superior to the finger scanner used on Samsung devices. Fingers are scanned at any angle just as quickly, while the finger scanner used on the Samsung Galaxy S5 works only with vertical swipes. Such concessions don’t need to be made with an iPhone 6.

Holding down the home key initiates Apple’s Siri personal assistant. Rivals have since spawned personal assistants of their own, including Samsung, LG and Google, but these are imitations at best. Siri still has them beat when it comes to understanding context, on recognising the Australian accent, and for sounding organic.

Final thought

The iPhone 6 Plus treads a fine line — poorly. The 5.5-inch display nests inside a body suited for smartphones 3.5, 4 and 4.7 inches in size. Growing the screen to 5.5-inches necessitates a design with less chunk. It’s a shame the company picked their design identity rather than an evolved rendition.

(There’s a reason why the Samsung Note range differs in appearance to the Galaxy range of smartphones.)

An iPhone that is uncomfortable to use contradicts what the iPhone is all about. This is a niche smartphone intended for a tiny group of multimedia junkies. And even then, the smaller 4.7in iPhone 6 should appease even the most demanding content users.

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Read more on these topics: Apple, iPhone, Touch ID, iOS 8, 6 Plus, 6
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