iPhone 6 Plus review
All of Apple’s advertising may say that the new model’s ‘Bigger than bigger’, but you don’t truly appreciate the size of the iPhone 6 Plus until you pick it up for the first time. It’s then that you realise that it’s an absolute beast of a phone, with its big 5.5in screen dominating the front.
This is the same size screen as on the LG G3, but the iPhone 6 Plus is considerably taller and the much bigger phone. Measuring 158x77x7.1mm, it’s almost the same height as the Google Nexus 6, which measures 159mm high and has a massive 6in screen. Admittedly, the Nexus 6 has a much wider girth at 83mm to accommodate its larger display, but the iPhone 6 Plus certainly has a lot of excess bezel compared to your other 5.5in handsets we’ve tested in the past year.
This is largely due to the need to fit the TouchID fingerprint sensor underneath the screen, and we suspect that the larger bezel at the top is to keep the phone symmetrical. This time around Apple has gone for a smooth curved design, with the glass curving down to meet the aluminium body. As well as giving it nicer feel, compared to the iPhone 5S’ sharper, squared-off edges, it makes the iPhone 6 Plus that bit grippier in the hand. It helps that it weighs just 172g (it’s heavier than plastic-made phones, but we’d take a bit more weight and metal any day) and is only 7.1mm thick, as these factors stop the phone from feeling too bulky in your hand.
Since we first reviewed the handset we’ve had time to carry it around and use it as our primary phone for a good few months. As a result, we’ve updated our review and have an entire section on whether the handset is too big or not.
Of course, the iPhone 6 Plus looks every bit as gorgeous as previous models. Absolute precision engineering and the full aluminium body give this phone that reassuringly-premium feel that we’ve come to expect from Apple. Metal panels are joined with plastic inserts, which are most likely there to improve mobile reception, with metal notoriously bad at blocking signals. While this could look a little cheap, Apple’s joined to the two together well and the handset looks fantastic. As with the 5S, the handset is available in Space Grey, Silver and Gold. All colours are neatly done, so it’s really a matter of personal preference as to which one you want.
Some people have complained that the iPhone 6 Plus bends. Apparently, the issue comes from the handset being kept in tight back pockets, bending out of shape when people sit down. We’ve not run into this problem ourselves, Apple has put the handset through strenuous tests, and most the videos showing the handset bending have used excessive force. In any case, the tough sturdy frame of the iPhone 6 Plus feels rigid enough. It goes without saying that, as with any expensive piece of electronics, it’s worth treating the phone with care.
As the phone is so much larger than previous models, Apple has had to change the design slightly. Most noticeable is that the power button has moved from the top to the right-hand side of the phone, where it’s easier to reach with a finger or thumb, depending on which hand you’re holding it in. It can still be a little bit of a reach, particularly for people with small hands – it’s another good reason to try the phone in store before you buy to make sure that you’re comfortable with the size.
Of course, it’s the display that’s going to get all of the attention, as the 5.5in display takes up the bulk of the front of the handset. It doesn’t have the much-rumoured sapphire glass that everyone was hoping for, but has ion-strengthened glass instead. This is scratch and shatter resistant, but it still pays to be careful with the handset and a case or screen protector is a must.
In order to keep to its policy of shipping Retina devices, where you can’t see individual pixels at normal viewing distances, Apple has had to increase the pixel count from the iPhone 5S’ display, giving the iPhone 6 Plus a Full HD (1,920×1,080) display.
The LG G3 has a higher 2,560×1,440 resolution. In fairness side-by-side, its screen is slightly sharper, particularly when viewing high-resolution photos. However, it’s not streets ahead in terms of sharpness and in day-to-day use, particularly with text, you’re not likely to really see many differences. At 401 pixels per inch (ppi) it’s fair to say that the iPhone 6 has enough resolution and its screen is more than sharp enough. Besides, adding more pixels would most likely increase drain on the battery and put more strain on the CPU, too. If you care about having the highest-resolution phone, then this isn’t the model for you; if you want a sharp clear display as part of a bigger package, then the iPhone 6 Plus is a great choice. Besides, the LG G3 has a rather dim screen in comparison.
As usual, Apple has stuck with LCD technology for the display, fitting an LED-backlit IPS panel. The display has dual-domain pixels, which help improve viewing angles. There have been some complaints about screens that use this technology before saying that black can look a bit purple; we didn’t get this on the iPhone 6 at all. Viewing angles are superb. Compared side-by-side with the iPhone 5S, at extreme angles the older phone takes a slight purple-tinge to the screen, but the iPhone 6 maintains its pure colours.
Black levels and contrast are said to have been improved for the iPhone 6 Plus, and the readings from our colour calibrator seemed to confirm this with a low black level of 0.4cm/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1,403:1. That’s one of the best results we’ve seen from an LCD display, managing deep blacks and great contrast. Screen brightness is also very good at 572.13cm/m2. There are few screens brighter than this, and it tells, as we found the phone incredibly easy to view outside. Even better, a new polarised filter on top means that colours stay accurate when you wear sunglasses. Wearing sunglasses we found that our iPhone 5S had a slight purple tinge to it, where as the iPhone 6 Plus did not.
Colour accuracy is something that’s hard to measure. DisplayMate tested the iPhone 6 Plus and measured colour reproduction at more than 100 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut; sister-site PC Pro registered coverage at 95.5 per cent of sRGB; our own calibrator said that it was producing 90.5 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. Given that ourselves and PC Pro use the same software and the same colour calibrator, it would appear as though Apple uses two different panels. From the graph below, measured from our iPhone 6 Plus, most of the slightly-reduced coverage appears to be in the red portion of the spectrum, with the phone displaying a little more blue and green than the gamut defines. Still, that kind of score is still pretty good and puts the iPhone 6 Plus on a level with the LG G3 and HTC One (m8). Using our test photographs it’s hard to see any issues with the screen, and fine detail and vibrant colours were all displayed well.