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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Tech News > Opinion: Why you might want to opt for the iPhone 6 Plus

Opinion: Why you might want to opt for the iPhone 6 Plus
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Oct 10, 2014, 03:16 AM
Apple has certainly made life difficult for would be iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers. This year, it revealed not one, but two high-end iPhones that are both highly desirable making it the first time buyers have been faced with such a choice. Unsurprisingly, early tracking data from Mixpanel shows that the iPhone 6 is outselling the iPhone 6 Plus at a ratio of about 4.5:1. However, there are a few compelling reasons that you might want to consider before you choose the iPhone 6 over the iPhone 6 Plus.

Battery life, battery life, battery life:
Apple has always taken a considered path between balancing device performance, device thinness and device battery life. However, this time around, the larger display sizes of both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus has given Apple the opportunity to have a larger device footprint that permits both an increase in battery size, while still being able to make both models thinner than ever before. When you factor in that the new second-generation 64-bit A8 chip is not only faster 25 percent faster than the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s, but also delivers around 50 percent more power efficiency, you are looking at two devices that have excellent battery life.

As we highlighted in our combined iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review Part 1 and Part 2, battery life tests reveal that Apple's new iPhones both deliver better battery life than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Note 3 among other leading Android contenders. The Anandtech-devised test examined how much continuous web browsing one could expect from each device with brightness set at around half. The iPhone 6 (1,810mAh) comes in at 11.46 hours and the iPhone 6 Plus (2,915mAh) comes in at a whopping 13.7 hours. The Samsung Galaxy S5 (2,800mAh) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (3,200mAh) come in at just 10.2 hours and 9.9 hours respectively; yet each of the Samsung devices have larger batteries.

In real-world usage, we have found that the iPhone 6 Plus is the first iPhone that we have been able to use throughout a full working day, leave on overnight in stand-by mode without charging it and still expect solid battery life and performance well into a second day. As you can see from our iPhone 6 Plus screenshot, with normal use, our iPhone 6 Plus still had an amazing 50 percent of its battery life remaining after 26 hours. This included just over 6 hours of uptime, with the remainder standby time. The iPhone 6 is still a very strong performer, but there can be no question that the much larger battery in the iPhone 6 Plus is an absolutely killer feature, and one that could sway many potential customers. No battery packs or wall-hugging required; unless you happen to use a Samsung Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 3 that is it seems.

Display (videos, web browsing, productivity and gaming):
The 5.5-inch display on the iPhone 6 Plus is the first 1080p display that Apple has packed into an iPhone. Its IPS Retina HD display features over 2 million pixels for a solid pixel density of 401ppi. This does not put it at the highest end when compared to the (bordering on ludicrous) Android pixel density wars, however; it strikes an ideal balance between overall resolution and performance, without adverse effects on battery life or frame rates. Like the iPhone 6 display, the iPhone 6 Plus display boosts contrast substantially (now 1300:1 on the iPhone 6 Plus, compared to 800:1 on the iPhone 5s), while also adding a new dual domain pixel arrangement for much more accurate color reproduction over wider viewing angles.

While the iPhone 6 offers around 38 percent more viewing area than the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 Plus offers 88 percent more viewing area, while its volume is just 55 percent greater than the iPhone 5s. It is an impressive achievement as Apple has delivered an iPhone that almost doubles the display area of the iPhone 5s, but has at the same time managed to give battery life and performance a major boost while keeping the device relatively compact overall. The extra viewing area is, of course, very welcome. As phones have become super computers that you can carry with you wherever you go, having extra screen real estate allows you to get a lot of things done more quickly and more comfortably than you might otherwise if using a smaller device.

When it comes to watching videos, browsing the web or gaming, the extra screen real estate makes the iPhone 6 Plus an absolute joy to use. The 5.5-inch display is large enough that when wearing headphones, viewing movies can still manage to be quite an immersive experience. Similarly, browsing the web on the larger display also means much less scrolling and pinching to zoom. Still, you have the option to also use Apple's excellent Reader view in Safari, which still entails less scrolling than before. It also turns out that the iOS gaming on the 5.5-inch display is better than ever. It is the perfect size for first person shooters, racing games and just about anything else - it would not surprise to see Apple could update its iPod touch line with a jumbo 5.5-inch model with up to 256GB storage, especially now that the iPod Classic has been retired, and it's been such a long time since the iPod touch line was updated.

The 'phablet' form factor:
The iPhone 6 Plus is the first iPhone to come in what has been dubbed the 'phablet' form factor, as it features telephony in a device that approaches the size of a small tablet. Even though Apple has managed to keep the overall volume of the iPhone 6 Plus down, it is still relatively tall at 6.22-inches (158.1mm). Offsetting this is its exceptional thinness at 0.28-inches (7.1mm) as well as its relative lightness at 6.07 ounces (172 grams) coupled with Apple's new Reachability feature. Reachability allows you to more easily navigate the iPhone 6 Plus one-handed by double touching the Home button, which brings the top of the displayed items down to within easy reach of your thumb. Still, most people may not find it as easy to use as the iPhone 6, and our advice continues to be that the iPhone 6 will provide an excellent overall user experience for the majority of users.

However, as we have found over the past few weeks in using the iPhone 6 Plus as our daily driver, you quickly learn to adapt to its overall dimensions, with its exceptional battery life and outstanding display so compelling that other considerations can quickly become secondary. You will be rewarded if you decide to take the plunge, even if it takes a while to get used to.

Yes, it has taken some time for Apple to deliver the iPhone 6 Plus form factor, but the wait has been worth it. Others may well take the credit for blazing the trail first, but as Apple has often demonstrated, being first to market isn't always everything; especially if in waiting, you can take the time to properly refine a product before releasing it. As far as 'phablets' go, the iPhone 6 Plus is one of the most usable on an everyday basis. However, this was achieved only because Apple held off until the technology had matured to the point where it could deliver a larger smartphone, without compromising on either performance or battery life.

By Sanjiv Sathiah

Some people may wonder why we haven't listed the optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 as being a factor that might persuade you to buy the iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 6. The reason for this is that in Apple's current implementation, it is specifically designed to work when taking low light still shots to compensate for hand-shake. However, in all other scenarios, including when shooting video, the iPhone 6 Plus relies on the same digital image stabilization algorithms as the iPhone 6. We do agree that it is better to have it if you can, but both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cameras deliver effectively the same performance as they share the same components in every other regard, including Apple's own custom image processor.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Oct 10, 2014 at 07:37 AM. )
Mr. Strat
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Oct 10, 2014, 10:25 AM
I've had my Plus for two weeks now, and it's great. It's still a little weird holding something this size up to my ear to make a call, but the display is gorgeous and battery life is outstanding. The image stabilization definitely makes a difference, and they've done something to the screen to make it much more readable outside.
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Oct 10, 2014, 10:52 AM
Does it fit well in a pocket alongside a wallet?
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Oct 10, 2014, 11:13 AM
Use a bluetooth to make calls and no one will ever know
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Oct 10, 2014, 02:28 PM
Aarrrgghhh, I am so conflicted and this adds to my inability to make a choice, sigh, but good review.
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