If the iPhone’s traditionally smaller screen size has been stopping you from jumping aboard the iOS train, the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus each offer considerably more to look at, and a few other benefits.
The term “phablet” very much applies to Apple’s larger model, but there’s more to it than just a bigger screen. Here’s everything you need to know to make an informed buying decision.
It’s Bigger, Much Bigger
You might be of the opinion that existing iPhones are big enough. Even if you are unhappy with the 4 inches of Retina vision provided in the 5S, there’s a good chance the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 will satisfy your needs. After all, even it runs at a higher resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels.
Then again, the iPhone 6 Plus runs at a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080, making excellent use of the available 5.5 inches of screen real estate.
Fortunately, Apple has thought about your stubby digits and introduced a feature called Reachability for both models: lightly double touch the Home button (a double tap still activates multitasking) at any point and the elements on the top half of the screen zoom down to a more reachable height. We’ve not tested the feature yet, but it sounds like a good idea.
The iPhone 6 Plus has a higher pixel density of 401 pixels-per-inch (compared with 326 ppi on the iPhone 6), but this isn’t something you’re likely to notice in real world usage. If you’re a photographer or videographer reliant on an iPhone (and why wouldn’t you be) then you probably have one of the few genuine needs for a bigger, full HD screen.
More legitimate concerns include whether the phone will actually fit in your pocket, and whether the additional weight (172 grams, up from 129 grams for the iPhone 6 and 112 grams for the 5S) will bother you at all.
If you’re not sure whether the iPhone 6 Plus is just too big, you can download a printable cutout from GadgetHacks which should give you an idea of what it looks like in your hand. Failing that, head into your local electronics retailer and play with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – the dimensions are virtually the same.
Massive Battery Life
iPhone battery life is notoriously average, not least because of how much we use our smartphones. The iPhone 6 Plus offers another bonus in that department: excellent (quoted) battery life.
Apple has quoted a 3G talk time of up to 24 hours, up from 14 hours in the iPhone 6 and a measly 10 hours in the iPhone 5s. That means the company reckons the 6 Plus will last twice as long as the 5s performing a similarly demanding task.
These improvements are a direct result of the larger screen providing more physical space for a bigger battery, a slightly thicker chassis of 7.1mm (compared to the iPhone 6’s 6.9mm and the 5S’ 7.6mm) and the new, more efficient A8 and M8 chips.
There’s not an iPhone user out there who wouldn’t like more battery life, but this will be most useful to power-users, live musicians, travellers, active types like cyclists and hikers or anybody who bought (or considered buying) a battery case in the past. You can either extend the life of your iPhone by adding noticeable weight and thickness, or you could put up with a wider and marginally thicker phone and enjoy similar benefits.
Saying that, someone will probably make a battery case for it anyway.
Optical Image Stabilisation
The other reason to opt for the iPhone 6 Plus involves the camera, and its use of optical image stabilization (OIS). This technology takes advantage of the phone’s gyroscope and M8 coprocessor to compensate for camera shake.
It does this by physically moving the lens mechanism, with Apple’s implementation working some software magic on top by combining long and short exposures for better low light shots.
All this adds up to better photos, but there’s a good chance that the base model iPhone 6 will take pictures that are good enough for most people. The benefits of OIS might only really interest photography enthusiasts, though it’s still a welcome addition.
Both models pack sensors that are better than their predecessors, sporting faster phase-detection autofocus and larger panoramas of up to 43 megapixels. There’s good news for video in the form of continuous autofocus, cinematic image stabilization, support for full 1080p at 60 frames per second, and 720p slow motion video at 240 frames per second.
The iPhone has always been an excellent choice for any smartphone photographer, but the iPhone 6 Plus’ larger screen, better battery life, and OIS capabilities give it a slight edge.
And Then There’s The Price
You can have a bigger screen, better battery and better photos for an extra $100. The iPhone 6 base 16GB model starts at $199 on-contract, with the 6 Plus starting at $299 on-contract. You can also buy the iPhone 6 contract-free for $649, and the 6 Plus for $749.
If you’re the sort of person who relies on a battery case to get through your day, then you might want to factor in the cost of a new battery case, which will narrow the divide somewhat. You also have to ask yourself if you can live with a phone that’s almost the size of an iPad mini.
Have you decided whether the larger iPhone is right for you yet?
Don’t forget to check out the other announcements from Apple’s iPhone 6 event.