Besides the 4.7-inch screen versus the 5.5-inch screen debate, the iPhones differ in both their camera abilities and the battery power on offer to get you through the day.
Apple has completely overhauled the camera module for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it hasn’t upped the overall resolution of the images it pumps out. You still get an 8-megapixel sensor on the new iSight Camera, but as we’ll continue to see throughout the process of this review, numbers are essentially meaningless on this thing. It’s what the hardware can do when the rubber hits the proverbial road which is so impressive.
So what does the overhaul of Apple’s flagship camera module include?
A new feature called “Focus Pixels” combines Contrast Detection and Phase-Detection auto-focus for faster focus from launch, reducing time to first shot overall. The new Focus Pixels feature also allows for automatic refocusing during video capture, meaning you don’t need to go around tapping your phone when you want to pick a new focus point anymore.
Videos are captured at 1080p at 60 frames per second by default, and slow-motion video is now captured at 240 frames per second, up from 120fps in the previous model.
The new camera also has better face detection, a Time-Lapse mode, new exposure control for manual shooters, high-resolution panorama mode and Optical Image Stabilisation to keep everything still on the move.
The main difference we like between the iPhones is hidden away in the camera module.
The iPhone 6 Plus is packing Optical Image Stabilisation, which moves the image sensor with you when you capture photos and video. The movements are subtle, but it’s designed to compensate for your hand shaking when doing various activities. Other phones, especially those from Nokia/Microsoft Devices, have been packing similar tech for a while now.
Take a look at the video above to see an example of OIS on the iPhone in action.
Beware when you try to export the video, however. While the iPhone 6 Plus has a great Optical Image Stabilisation module, videos can still look super-shaky when you pull them off the iPhone and onto your PC or laptop. That’s because Apple have done some clever shifting within the Photos app that crops the video slightly to make it appear as if the video isn’t shaking nearly as much as it normally would. It figures if you can’t see the edges, the shake will be imperceptible. You were warned.
Other changes include the battery in both the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6.
The iPhone 6 Plus is rocking a 2915mAh battery, which is nearly double the 1560mAh cell in the iPhone 5S. However, compared to other 5.5-inch phones, it’s a bit of a disappointment: the OnePlus One is packing a 3100mAh cell, and the Galaxy Note 3 (which, admittedly, is a bit better endowed in the size department) has 3200mAh up its sleeve.
Having said that, the difference in battery life compared to the iPhone 5s is remarkable. Previously, the 5s, under heavy usage conditions (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on, screen at maximum brightness and pulling 4G signal down), the phone would last around seven hours before battery started to go into the red. You could achieve all-day battery if you economised, but is that what you really want from your phone in 2014? Not really.
The iPhone 6 Plus, however, is very different in the way it uses power. Despite a gutsier processor in the A8 chip and a bigger, higher-resolution screen, the phone really does last all day.
Under the same high-usage conditions, we found that the 6 Plus would last you all the live long day before finally giving up the ghost when we returned home after an evening on the town. Realistically, that gave us about 14 hours of battery life before we needed to look for a charger.
Obviously, economising by switching off various antennas like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as ratcheting down the screen’s brightness will get you even further, but like we said, it’s not ideal.
Unlike its larger Android competitors, the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t have a super-low power mode like the one found in Samsung and HTC phones of late. It’s up to you to figure out what will save energy.
Another battery downside is that the tiny 5V charger Apple bundles in the box with the 6 Plus takes forever to charge the device. Fast-charging was a benefit of the 5s, but it seems that with larger batteries and smaller chargers, you’re made to wait longer for a juice bump if you’re in need.