The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stretch Apple's formula to much greater sizes than ever before, while bringing a potentially game-changing mobile payments option alongside typical upgrades like processors and cameras. They've got a slick new design, and boast the latest version of iOS as well. What do the critics with advance access think of all these changes?
Behold, the meta-review.
After using both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for a week, I can report that Apple has successfully addressed its size deficiency, and much more. The $199 (with contract) iPhone 6 packs a 4.7-inch screen, big enough to get down to business, into the most comfortable smartphone I've ever held. And while the iPhone 6 Plus feels too big for my taste, for $100 more its 5.5-inch screen offers an option for road warriors who don't want to carry a tablet.
With only a couple of small exceptions, this is the right way to build a larger phone. It's thinner, more comfortable, more friendly to the touch. But what Apple didn't do was come up with a way to take advantage of the new screen real estate, or make it easier to navigate. Other devices have clever screen-unlock mechanisms, or styluses, or split-screen multitasking, or always-on voice control. (The iPhone 6 does let you yell "hey Siri!" to give voice commands from across the room, but only when it's plugged in.) Apple is clearly saying a big phone is better, but it doesn't answer the critical question: how is it different?
The 6 Plus at least gestures in this direction. A few apps work in landscape, with handy two-pane modes, and even the homescreen rotates on its side. On the "smaller" model, though, the only concession to gargantuanism is Reachability, in which you double-tap (but don't click) the home button and the whole screen just slides downward. It does the job, I suppose, but it just looks like you broke something when there's only half an app on the screen and the rest of the display is just empty.
The most noticeable difference between previous versions is a size increase, and despite passing a trouser test with the guys, the girls have found the phones protrude precariously out of pockets, which I’m told poses a ‘fall down the toilet risk’.
Speed and battery performance are better and the 8MP cameras capture the best footage ever seen on an iPhone.
While a 128GB model is a welcome, if pricey, addition for download junkies, the withdrawal of the 32GB version is a mystery.
iPhone 6: A beautifully made phone that finally reaches the screen size that many have hankered for from an iPhone, without sacrificing quality. The iOS 8 software adds a lot of key functionality - and NFC allied to TouchID has huge potential for offline and online payments.
Pros: beautiful edge-free design, improved battery life, excellent camera, TouchID system works perfectly, integrated NFC offers payment possibilities, has adaptations to make one-handed use easier, iOS 8 software allows third-party keyboards and extensions
iPhone 6 Plus Choosing between the iPhone 6 Plus and the smaller iPhone 6 could be surprisingly difficult if your hand, and your wallet, is large enough. It is large, yet the extra screen space is a boon. But that also makes it unwieldy, and could increase the risk of dropping it. Compared to other phablets, it’s lighter and thinner – but not cheaper
Pros: large and thin; bright screen; best battery life of any iPhone; adaptations for extra-large screen; iOS 8 allows third-party keyboards, workflow extensions and widgets
Cons: pricey; may be unwieldy if you don’t have particularly large hands.
From the start, Apple has never attempted to make its phones do everything; it's just tried to make them do the things they do as well as possible. It's not an approach designed to please impatient types. But by keeping people waiting for much-requested features, the company bought the time to do them right in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. iPhone fans, your life is about to get better—and the smartphone wars are going to get more interesting for everybody involved.
If you want a phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus is a very good one. That big screen is especially well suited to movie watching and game playing, but also packs in a lot more info from web pages and emails than you'll get from the iPhone 6, 5S and other, smaller smartphones.
There are a couple of reasons why the Apple iPhone 6 Plus might also be too big for me to purchase. But I have to admit it: I'm tempted. I really like this phone. And to people who actually prefer huge smartphones: You are going to like this phone, too.
That's mostly because it's not just a smartphone; it's a statement phone. What Apple is doing isn't even especially innovative — "Us, too!" the company is shouting, as it chases after that flatbed truck filled with phablets — and yet, they've made this big phone feel fresh and desirable.
When combined with the jaw-dropping design and performance of the iPhone 6 and plus, it makes the handsets, without doubt, simply the best smartphones ever made - the only real question is which size and colour to go for.
Sometimes Apple is accused of doing too little, that a new phone is just a gentle, incremental improvement on a previous one. Not this time. The glam new design, hold-it-to-believe-it thin profile, superlative feel and improved performance of the iPhone 6 make it a no-brainer upgrade even to those with the most recent model. Massively improved battery life, a better camera, bigger and still beautiful screen and faster performance, not to mention the tantalising prospect of Apple Pay and VoLTE to come, all help.
In the world of smartphones, this is the biggest leap forward yet. It offers a staggeringly better version of an already winning phone. Honestly? I'd give it six stars if I could.
For my digits the iPhone 6 is the ideal size. But for bigger mitts or greedier eyes, this [iPhone 6 Plus] will be the optimum.
There are countless things neither the iPhone 6 nor the 6 Plus don't do: there's no 4K video, there's no higher pixel count than rival models and there's no HD audio, to name but a few. But that's to miss the point. What's made the iPhone so successful is its combination of user-friendly simplicity with sufficiently advanced functions and a beautiful, pleasing design. The iPhone 6 builds on that, and set next to the iPhone 5s it instantly makes its predecessor's design look out of date. The 6 Plus may be bigger, but if a larger screen is what you want, it's peerless.
Combining premium design and Apple's high level of finesse the iPhone 6 Plus is a highly accomplished smartphone which will hit all the right marks for anyone desperate for a big screened iPhone. Android fans hell-bent on a phablet sized smartphone full to the brim with the latest tech and monster power are unlikely to favour the iPhone 6 Plus, which on paper doesn't stack up in terms of raw specs.
But that won't matter to Apple, or to those who part with a princely sum of money to own an iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus brings together excellently Apple's tried and tested design, craftsmanship and interface into the larger form factor - providing the perfect smartphone for those who require a bigger display while also revelling in the simplicity and intuition that an Apple handset continues to bring.
It seems churlish to criticise the addition of choice or, in turn, a phablet for, in fact, trying to be a phablet. The iPhone 6 Plus on those terms is a strong first entry into a market that is palpably growing and has been dominated by Google’s platform to date. Whether there are enough headline specs here to steal away Android phablet fans is questionable, but as a way of catching floating voters focused on usability, and upgrading existing users who have daydreamed about jumping to a bigger screen? Apple’s just about on the money.
The iPhone 6 Plus will undoubtedly be too big for some hands. It's far bigger physically than any previous iPhone but also bigger than any comparable Android. The LG G3, which has the same size screen, is dwarfed by it. Even the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, with its 5.7in display, is shorter.
That said, the combination of its super-thin body and smooth metal build make it easier to hold and use than you might expect. Plus, it offers a few advantages over the iPhone 6, namely that bigger, higher-res screen and increased battery life. Really, there's very little wrong with it beyond its size. But it is very big. So unless you're specifically looking for a smartphone/tablet hybrid, or have particularly large hands, you'll be better off with the iPhone 6.