With the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, every consumer is now faced with the big question – which one will suit me better. We’ll cut to chase and say it outright – there’s no universal answer to that question. Every person’s needs are different, so what works for some may be suboptimal for others.
So what’s the best course of action?
Ideally, you should be able to walk into a carrier store that offers 14- or 30-day returns and simply test-drive both devices for as long as you can and make your decision based on your hands-on experience.
However, we know that not every carrier is so generous with their return policies, so the above suggestion may be unworkable for you. Even if that’s the case, we still recommend that you pick up both phones either in-store or from friends and get a feel for them before taking the plunge.
Continue reading for an in-depth comparison of the two devices.
How big are those phones?
If your current phone is an iPhone 5, an iPhone 5S or an iPhone 5C, the iPhone 6 will not feel big to you after a brief adjustment period. Even though it’s technically bigger, the smooth curves will make it fit in your hand much better than the previous models. And yes, the iPhone 6 is semi-usable with one hand.
The iPhone 6 Plus is a different story, however. The phone will feel massive to you if you’ve only used iPhones and never held a Lumia 1520 or a Samsung Galaxy Note. But it’s not just the size – the iPhone 6 Plus is also heavier than any iPhone in history. In terms of one-handed use, you’ll have a hard time doing any meaningful work. We definitely recommend handling the iPhone 6 Plus before buying it.
One important thing to point out is that both phones now have their power button moved to the side of the device, opposite the volume controls. The rationale here is to be able to lock and unlock the device with one hand without flipping and twirling it like you’re a magician or a cowboy.
In an effort to make the phones even more usable, Apple has developed a technology called Reachability. In essence, Reachability brings the iPhone’s interface halfway down for a hug (or for pressing those hard-to-reach controls) when you touch (not press) the TouchID sensor twice.
What are the displays like?
The displays in the two new iPhones are unquestionably better than any iPhone display that’s come before. Both screens use dual-domain pixels which increase the viewing angle of the devices. And it really makes sense – the larger a device gets, the more likely it is that you’d want to share the content on it with other people.
There are differences, though. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7” display and a resolution of 1334×750 pixels, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasts a 5.5” display and a whopping 1920×1080 pixel resolution. This puts the iPhone 6 at 326 pixels per inch, the same as all previous generations, while the iPhone 6 Plus gets 401 pixels per inch.
One feature that’s unique to the two new iPhones is something called Display Zoom. When Display Zoom is turned off, all buttons, icons and other elements are physically the same size as those on older iPhones, so you use the extra screen size to actually see more content. When Display Zoom is active, however, you will get the same amount of information on the screen as you would with an iPhone 5, only every single element will be physically larger. This is a great accessibility feature for those with poor eyesight.
Enough about the display, what about the optics?
Much like the displays, there are camera improvements across the board. Both devices get a 1.2 megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera capable of 720p video recordings and taking 1280×960-sized photos in burst mode. The technical improvements include an f/2.2 aperture, auto HDR for photos and videos, and improved face detection.
The iSight camera on the backs of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is even more spectacular. The 8-megapixel sensor allows recording 1080p video at 30 and 60 frames per second and also captures slow motion video at 120 and 240 frames per second. Behind the scenes, or in this case the sapphire crystal lens cover, we get a ton of improvements: a new 8-megapixel sensor, autofocus with Focus Pixels that reduce the focus time to nothing – especially on videos, improved face detection, panoramas of up to 43 megapixels and cinematic video stabilization.
The specifications mentioned above apply to both phones. However, due to its size, the iPhone 6 Plus allows for the addition of one extra feature that has never before been implemented in an iPhone – optical image stabilization. This means that the entire camera is placed on a mechanism that can move in all directions in order to counteract the movements of your hands and keep the camera perfectly still in relation to the earth. Having optical image stabilization will result in better low-light photography.
Are the brains inside those phones any good?
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus blow the previous iPhones out of the water with their A8 chips. The A8 delivers up to 25% faster CPU performance and up to 50% faster graphics when compared to the A7 chip. In addition, the new chips do not overheat as easily, so their performance will not degrade as you’re playing a game.
Along with the A8 chip comes the M8 co-processor. The new addition here is a barometer that measures your relative elevation. iOS 8 takes advantage of that and shows you how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed throughout your day.
In real world use, you will not notice a performance difference between the two phones.
Battery, what about the battery?
This is actually a very important thing consider since there are definite differences. The iPhone 6 Plus comes with a larger battery that is better or as good as the iPhone 6. The most striking differences are in talk time (24 vs 14 hours on 3G), standby time (16 vs 10 days), video (14 vs 11 hours) and audio playback (80 vs 50 hours).
On the plus side (no pun intended), as discovered by iLounge, both phones can charge much faster than any previous generations thanks to the hardware support for 2.1A charging. The catch – you have to use an iPad charger to take advantage of this new feature since both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus still ship with 1A chargers.
What if I use my iPhone for work?
It would depend on the type of work you do, but if it has anything to do with emails or text messages, the scales are heavily in favor of the iPhone 6 Plus since it supports two-panel views when held in landscape orientation – just like an iPad. This will allow you to view more information on the screen and do things more quickly. Note, however, that apps in landscape on the iPhone 6 Plus only look like iPad apps. The phone cannot run real iPad apps.
What are the color, storage and pricing options?
The color choices are the same as those found with the iPhone 5S. You get to choose between Silver, Gold and Space Grey. As usual, the choice is entirely up to you, although if you plan on watching a lot of videos or playing a lot of games, you should consider a color option with a black faceplate. This would make the borders around the screen less noticeable. If you’ll be spending your time reading sites and books, and writing emails, a white faceplate would be better for the same reason.
In terms of capacity, you get to choose between 16GB, 64GB and 128GB. For an iPhone 6 the prices are $199, $299 and $399 respectively, while for an iPhone 6 Plus it’s $100 more – $299, $399 and $499. All prices are with a standard two-year contract in the US. Unless you’ll keep just a few apps on the phone and no games, music, photos or videos, we strongly recommend that you move up to 64GB.
Running low on storage is something you should try to avoid if at all possible. As a point of reference, iOS 7 users had to have 5GB of free space in order to upgrade to iOS 8 over the air. There’s no reason to expect that iOS 9 will be more forgiving in terms required free storage.
This concludes our iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus overview. Head over to Apple’s website to see a head-to-head comparison between all iPhones Apple is currently selling.