Apple much heralded September 9 launch has come and gone and as expected we have two new iPhones: the ‘iPhone 6’ and the ‘iPhone 6 Plus’. Also as expected they come in two new, much larger sizes: 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. But their differences are far more than skin deep so let’s break them down:
Design – Curves And An Aluminium Unibody
The leaks were on the money. Both new iPhones ditch the hard angles and glass backs of their predecessor, the iPhone 5S, in favour of a more rounded, unibody anodized aluminium chassis available in silver, gold or ‘space gray’. The Apple logo on the back will be in stainless steel.
One area of concern for some is the confirmation of a protruding camera (more later), but on the whole the new chassis promises a significant step forward in durability. There is also a sensible evolution with Apple moving the power button to the side to make it easier to reach (HTC take note).
Size And Weight
Once again the leaks were right. I discussed the fact the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 would have virtually identical dimensions to the 5-inch Nexus 5 and that is also true of the weight. The iPhone 6 measures 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches (138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm) and weighs 4.55 ounces (129g) – a weight increase that is roughly proportional to its 16% volume increase compared to the iPhone 5S.
A Nexus 5? 5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches (137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm) and 4.55 ounces (129g).
Meanwhile the iPhone 6 Plus clearly has the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in its sights. The Plus measures 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches (158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm) and weighs 6.07 ounces (172g). For reference the Galaxy Note 4 comes in at 6.04 x 3.09 x 0.33-inches (153.5 x 78.6 x 8.5 mm) and 6.21oz (176g).
Display – 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches
The size of the display for the new iPhones was never in doubt, but both their resolution and materials remained in doubt. Now we can clear up both and it is a mixture of good and bad news.
First the good: the iPhone 6 Plus will have a standard 1920 x 1080 pixel native resolution which is significantly higher than the 1704 x 960 pixels that had been widely mooted. Video will be the big winner here with the resolution being Full HD, though it falls behind the recent trend for ’2k’ 2560 x 1440 pixels displays as seen on the Note 4 and LG G3.
Camera – Same Resolution, But iPhone 6 Plus Comes Out Ahead
More surprisingly the sensor itself on both new iPhones is not improved from the iPhone 5S and it sports the same f/2.2 aperture. On the upside there is an upgraded ‘True Tone’ flash for more realistic flash lighting and new ‘Focus Pixels’ which Apple claims will halve autofocus times and enable faster face and smile detection as well as continuous autofocus in video.
Another benefit – and where the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus differ – is their image stabilisation. Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) has become a mainstay of most premium smartphones (it moves the lens around to minimise camera shake that causes blurred shots) and it comes to the iPhone 6 Plus. Strangely though the iPhone 6 has to do with digital image stabilisation, a cheaper software-based alternative. Apple may have worked miracles here but I expect the iPhone 6 Plus to take the better shots, particularly at night where a steady hand for longer exposure times is crucial.
As for the front facing FaceTime Camera, it is a disappointing tie. Both iPhones’ front cameras take in 81% more light, gain HDR, improved face detection and a burst mode for better selfies (actually name dropped by Apple) though the resolution itself remains a measly 1.2 megapixels. Apple may not be playing the megapixel game, but it could do better here.
Memory – Finally 128GB
At long last Apple has made the step up to 128GB and with solid state memory prices having crashed in recent years hopefully it will see rivals follow suit.
Battery Life – iPhone 6 Plus Scores Big
With battery leaks hinting that the iPhone 6 may offer little improvement over the iPhone 5S, it was welcome news to find improvements have been made. Audio, video and WiFi browsing increase 10% to 50, 11 and 11 hours respectively while 3G browsing increases 20% to 10 hours. These are fairly subtle improvements, but 3G talk time gets a 40% bump to 14 hours even if standby time remains the same at 10 days. LTE-based browsing unfortunately doesn’t improve staying at 10 hours.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus represent Apple’s biggest ever iPhone redesign . Key selling points will be the larger screens, anodized aluminium chassis, improved battery life, enlarged memory and the NFC-enabled Apple Pay. Despite this a lot more could have gone wrong when Apple super sized its iPhones, but it is fair to say for the vast majority Apple has nailed it. The iPhone 6 is likely to be the bigger seller, but for me the iPhone 6 Plus is the more complete handset.