Review: iPhone 6 Plus

This device was provided for review by Telstra’s Corporate Social Media team. We attended the official Melbourne launch of the iPhone 6, and talked with Telstra staff, before receiving...

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This device was provided for review by Telstra’s Corporate Social Media team. We attended the official Melbourne launch of the iPhone 6, and talked with Telstra staff, before receiving a 16 GB iPhone 6 Plus with a Telstra SIM.

For me, Apple, iOS, and subsequently the iPhone 6 have gone from being mysterious and distant concepts, to very beautiful and integral parts of my daily life. The iPhone 6 Plus is my first ever iPhone (that I have owned), and despite not having seen the whole evolution and lifecycle of the iPhone series, I couldn’t have picked a better time to get onboard.

Prior to Apple’s launch of the 6 series, I always found their phones to be tiny in size – both in screen and physical size – and it was difficult considering the switch from Samsung’s Galaxy lineup (I currently use a Galaxy S4). With this iteration’s relase, the iPhone 6+ feels more like a tablet, than a phone.

The iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s largest phone product yet – or more aptly largest “phablet” yet – clocking in at 6.22 inches tall, by 3 inches wide. For those looking to buy the smaller (or default size) iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 is 5.44 x 2.64 inches. The 6 Plus carries a little bit more weight, but it’s not noticeable, nor will it impact your usage. With most modern phones, thickness is the main “size” battleground, and the 6 Plus is only 0.2 millimeters thicker than the 6.

Obviously with such a large screen, usability is key, and during my extensive testing I found that the 6 Plus skirted the border of being a pain, and a pleasure. Using my friends’ iPhone 6, I could easily navigate the device’s screen with just one thumb (generally my right), but not on the 6 Plus. The larger screen almost exclusive requires dual-handed use, or superhuman thumb length. Thankfully, Apple predicted this shortcoming and has included a new “Reachability” feature. Reachability is activated by lightly double pressing the Home button, which then brings previous inaccessible screen elements (Apps, generally) to a more accessible physical location.

With great power, comes great responsibility. Or in this case, with a great screen size, comes and even greater resolution. The Retina HD screen built into the gorgeous 6 Plus chassis is 1,920 x 1,080, or full High Definition. The 401 PPI density gives you a spectacular display, and even greater functionality, including a revamped Home Screen that better adapts to Landscape orientations, and an improved Mail app.

The 6 Plus’ screen hides the powerful hardware running the device, at the heart of which lies a new ARM-based 1.40 GHz A8 chip and gorgeous new camera (more on that shortly). The iPhone 6 Plus has the biggest battery in the history of the iPhone, and it shows. While Apple officially rates the (speculated to be a 2,915 mAh) battery as good for a few more hours of usage over the iPhone 6’s smaller battery. You could realistically expected 12+ hours of mixed media usage, including browsing, calls, and music. I got 18 hours of medium-to-heavy usage on my first charge.

On Telstra’s 4G (LTE) network, calls sounded ridiculously crisp, and I had no issues browsing the internet at lightning speeds. Telstra is in the process of rolling out a new 700 MHz network. Traditionally reserved for television broadcasting, the 700 MHz band will soon be available for 4G enabled mobile devices, and promises greater penetration in traditionally “black” areas, such as elevators, carparks, and more. We’ve got an interview with Telstra about the new network that will be published soon.

My most anticipated feature of the iPhone 6 Plus was the camera. I own a Canon 5D Mark III, and a number of L-series lenses. I live and breathe photography, so a good camera in my phone is a must. Thankfully, the 6 Plus delivers, and in an epic fashion.

Some say Apple’s decision to stick with the smaller 8-megapixel sensor was a bad idea, however once I used the 6 Plus’ iSight camera, I was blown away. Apple has put a significant amount of time into improving the 6’s camera technologies, including a new Focus Pixel system, the results of which vastly speed up auto-focus and light detection. I compared the focus speeds of my 6 Plus and Galaxy S4 (and a friend’s S5), and the iPhone 6 Plus came out on top every time.

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Taken with the iPhone 6 Plus – unedited

Photo 26-09-2014 9 29 28 pm

Taken with the iPhone 6 Plus – unedited

The rear camera is fully capable of capturing absolutely stunning 1080p, 30 frames per second video, and you’re also able to record the same 1080p quality at 60 fps. The visual quality is so astounding that when I viewed it on my 1440 p monitor I could’ve sworn it was not from a phone. The device’s front-facing camera has been upgraded significantly, and FaceTime video looks comparatively better (viewed side-by-side with a 5S and 5).

When comparing the 6 and 6 Plus directly, the 6 Plus’ camera comes out on top, due to one factor: image stabilisation. The lens physically moves and floats while you record or shoot photos, meaning sharper, more accurate multimedia. While it might not come in handy for posed snaps with the family, it’ll be warmly welcomed if you’re at the park with your children, recording sports, or just mucking about with friends.

The camera and recording features are of course only a small part of a larger puzzle, a jigsaw so perfectly composed that it is nothing short of a technological miracle.

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My conclusion is this: the 6 Plus won’t be for everyone. The larger size is both a blessing and a bane, and will definitely cause a wide divide of “I’ll take the 6, please!” and, “I need that larger screen.” For anyone serious about their food snaps, or selfies (you’ll love the new selfie camera’s functionality), the 6 Plus boasts a desirable camera, arguably the best smartphone camera on the market.

The largest iPhone ever is more than just a phone – or “phablet”. It’s a concept, reality, and promise. It shows that Apple is committed to trying new things and engaging with a new marketplace segment. It’s a commitment to refining a landscape pockmarked with hundreds of smartphone options.

The iPhone 6 Plus is without a doubt the most potent iPhone yet, and a major play in a tech landscape that is all too “samey”. If you want to get into the smartphone scene, this is the best time, and the iPhone 6 – whether it be the Plus or smaller size – is the best Apple device ever.

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