Software

For the most part, the iOS 8 experience on the iPhone 6 Plus is functionally identical to what you get on the iPhone 6. However, some aspects of the iPad software are also present. For example, it’s possible to rotate the home screen in any direction desired, so it’s fully possible to navigate between home screens with the phone upside down. While not quite like the iPad, there are split views in certain applications and I’m sure that this view will become common as applications are optimized for the iPhone 6 Plus. For the most part, this really helps with taking advantage of the larger screen real estate. This difference also helps make the iPhone 6 Plus feel like the combination of a tablet and phone that it should be. While Reachability is a great feature to have in a pinch, it's really not a replacement for a proper phone if one is looking for easy one-handed use most of the time.

The one issue that I found was that the stock keyboard was ergonomically difficult to use when in landscape, as seen below. While it may be simpler for first time users, I suspect much less frustration would result if all of the extra functions were moved to the center of the keyboard and a split layout was used for the main keys, similar to the iPad.

However, outside of these dedicated applications the iPhone 6 Plus is really does provide a better experience. All of the advantages that come with a tablet such as improved video, photo, and web experiences along with easier content sharing are present in the larger 6 Plus as it sits right around the point where these benefits are clearly tangible. This becomes a major selling point of the device. While the software differences are definitely smaller than what we see on the Galaxy Note line, Apple has managed to do enough that most won't notice a significant difference one way or another.

Final Words

I started this review by listing the differences that the iPhone 6 Plus has when compared to the iPhone 6, and those are really the key points so it's worth going over again. I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this, but for the areas shared with the iPhone 6 it's critical to go back to the iPhone 6 review to understand things like the A8 SoC, performance, and display.

The first key point is the display size. This is fundamentally the most important difference between the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6. While there are other differences, none of them matter when compared to size. I personally found the iPhone 6 to be right around the ideal balance between screen size and one-handed usability. If you're looking for that combination, then the iPhone 6 is really the better choice, even if it doesn't get everything that the iPhone 6 Plus has. However, those that don't care about using their phone with one hand on a regular basis may find the iPhone 6 Plus starts to be a much more appealing choice.

There are really a few key advantages of the iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 6 once the size issue is settled. The first is the camera. While rarely active, optical image stabilization has made it possible to achieve far better photos in almost any situation where longer shutter speeds can be used. Apple has really made it painless to take long exposures, as even a quarter of a second doesn't incur significant motion blur due to the multiple exposures combined for each photo. Even though this seems to be the only application of OIS, Apple has managed to make the overall camera experience better in a way that no other OEM has.

The next advantage is battery life. While the iPhone 6 has competitive battery life, the iPhone 6 Plus manages to extend Apple's lead while also maintaining the same thin and light profile that we see on the iPhone 6. The difference in battery life can be quite significant, especially in compute-bound cases where battery life scales mostly linearly with battery size.

The final advantage is resolution. While the iPhone 6 Plus does have a bigger display and all the advantages that come with the bigger screen, Apple has also provided an even higher pixel density than before with the iPhone 6 Plus. It's certainly not as incredibly high as what we see in phones like the LG G3, but the improved pixel density is clearly visible. There are performance trade-offs in GPU-based benchmarks, but otherwise Apple has managed to make this bump in resolution compromise-free. I definitely notice the improved resolution, but this is a mostly subjective area that requires personal experience to judge whether the higher resolution has value.

Overall, the iPhone 6 Plus is a great phone that builds on the foundation of the iPhone 6. Whether it's right for you will be based primarily on whether you want the larger display or not. Once again, it's pretty easy to see the strength of Apple's integrated hardware and software approach as it's only a matter of time before most applications take advantage of the iPhone 6 Plus' additional screen size. However, comparisons between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are mostly pointless as they fall into distinctly different categories with different target audiences. There's also relatively little value to testing the iPhone 6 Plus against the Note 3 as this would give the iPhone 6 Plus a massive lead due to differences in time of launch. The iPhone 6 Plus must be compared to the Galaxy Note 4, which looms large on the horizon as Samsung has consistently succeeded in holding on to their first-mover advantage in the phablet market. If you have to buy a phablet now though, the iPhone 6 Plus is the best one available.

Display and Camera
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  • batongxue - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Oh, don't use this word. It's disgusting.5 Reply
  • AppleCrappleHater2 - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Yeah sure:)

    Worship the holy apple.

    The apple way, selling over expensive crap to stupid consumers that like to
    get robbed.

    This has been a disastrous launch in every respect. The iwatch is such an
    ugly piece of crap, it is truly unbelievable how a company, formerly known for
    its remarkable design, dares to put out such a crap ton of shit. Some
    characteristics are glaringly obvious and inherent to it: over expensive,
    hardly innovative, limited functionality and usability (need of an iPhone to
    make it work), looks exactly like a toy watch and so on.

    There are of course way better smart watches out there, especially from the
    likes of Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Asus, LG, simply put, there is no need for
    another piece of over expensive junk.

    The iPhone 6 is technologically stuck in pre-2011 times, a base model with
    a capacity of 16GB without the possibility to use SD cards isn't even funny
    anymore. The screen resolution is horrendous, it isn't water proof, shock and
    dust resistant, it offers nothing innovative, just some incremental
    updates over its predecessor, both lacking severely behind their competitors at
    their respective launch dates.

    Now the Iphone 6 Plus offers a „Retina HD“ screen, full 1920x1080p, oh wow,
    where have you been for the past 4 years apple, talk about trailing behind.
    That’s pathetic. The interesting thing about that is the fact that apple
    always manages to sell backwards oriented, outdated crap to its user base, all
    while pretending to be an innovative technology leader. The similarities
    regarding any form of sectarian cult are striking.

    You gotta love how Apple always comes up with new marketing bullshit terms,
    aka "Retina HD", with the intention to manipulate its users while preventing easy
    comparisons with its competitors by withholding the actual specs. Apparently it’s
    not enough to have a 1080p screen, you have to call it "Retina HD" to make those
    suckers buy it, otherwise someone could look at the 4K Amoled and Oled screens
    form LG and Samsung devices and get outright disappointed. Same goes for
    everything else. Every outdated „feature“ needs to get its own marketing label
    to persuade buyers with crappy „experience“ and „usability“ ads, while covering
    the truth with marketing gibberish, knowing full well that only a fraction of
    aforementioned buyers cares to look at the facts and dares to compare them.

    Car engines come to mind. For comparisons shake let’s look at a 1.0 liter, turbo
    charged petrol engine and a V8 compressor. What’s better should be obvious, but
    by calling the former an „ecobooster“, thus giving it a special marketing label,
    this joke becomes a „feature“, something positive that can be added tot the list
    of features of a car.

    By doing so a negative aspect is transformed into a positive one, the
    reality is distorted, non tech savvy buyers are manipulated and comparisons are
    made more difficult (another layer of marketing bullshit to overcome), well done
    marketing department. You see , if something is seriously lacking (of course for
    profit, what else), don’t bother explaining, just give it a nice marketing term, distort
    reality, make it a feature and call it a day. Fuck that!!

    FACT: Apple has been forced to copy Android in style and size for
    years because people abandoned their tired, moribund and fossilized
    devices for superior and innovative Android devices.

    Steve Jobs said no one should want a 7" tablet until everyone went and bought
    Android devices forcing Apple to copycat with the iPad Mini. Apple
    didn't think anyone wanted a phone screen larger than a business card
    until they all bought Androids thus forcing the arrival this week of the
    iPhone Galaxy and iPhone Galaxy Note clone phones.

    Swipe down notifications that don't interfere? Copied from Android and WebOS. Siri?
    Bought and ruined from a private developer; Google Now crushes it.
    3rd-party keyboards? Welcome to 2010, iChumps! Widgets? Welcome to 2009
    except you can't place them on your home screen. Live wallpapers and
    hidden icons? Maybe Apple will get around to copying those in iOS X in
    2016. Who knows.

    Apple lacks creativity and honest people acknowledge it. Steve Jobs gets credited as an
    innovator when all he was, was a huckster who'd spot someone else's tech, polish it up nicely,
    then slap a gnawed fruit logo on the back, charge a premium price and
    wait for the rubes like Jim Smith to hand over their cash like the good
    iSheep they are.

    But after that initial iteration, Apple is incapable of actually innovating something new.
    They literally cannot make a product until someone else shows them how and they copy it.
    They are also unable refine things because they believe to improve is to
    admit something was imperfect the first time. (This is why QuickTime 4
    had a legendarily terrible UI that was never changed through QT7 a
    decade later.) All they can do is make things incrementally thinner or
    faster but it's just minor refinements since they can't invest their way
    out of a wet paper bag.

    For all their squealing about Retina displays, they never even had a HD display until now;
    8th time is the charm, though you need the iPhone Galaxy Note to get the 1080p that many Android
    users have had for at least a year and is now considered
    bare-minimum spec. At the rate Apple drags along, QHD screens should
    arrive in 2018. Maybe. A graphic went around after the reveal comparing
    the iPhone Galaxy to the Nexus 4 from 2012. Exactly.

    The Apple Iphone 1 and Ipad 1 might have been innovative at their time,
    but since then, the bitten apple has been continuously rotting from the inside
    outwards, always swarmed by millions of Iworms which regale themselves with its
    rotten flesh, not forgetting all other Americans who support apple by means of
    their tax dollars to finance its bought US Treasury/Government bond interest rates.

    Last but not least, every Apple product includes a direct hotlink to the NSA,
    free of charge, something that might make it a good value, after all.

    Ceterum censeo Applem esse delendam.
    Reply
  • Pabloss - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    I tried using Galaxy S3. I really tried. On paper it has everything better -- better screen, better processor, more memory, better camera. A bit like Windows PC -- better processor than Mac, better graphics card, more memory, etc. And then you start using that thing and it crashes. The screen goes black every time you want to click on a number on the keypad. Skype drops calls. To get anything working you need to configure stuff. Install stuff. Yes the hardware is better, At least 33% better. And the software is 90% worse. Why to have a better processor when sliding animation has hiccups when I can have apparently worse hardware with software where sliding just works. I think "just works" is something that Samsung, Android, etc. just don't get. They advertise features bt then you can't even make a call. Because stupid screen goes black. And don't even get me started on the customer service. Samsung customer service compared to Apple's is just none. Zero. Nada.

    Android devices are like Porsche 911 (hardware) with horrible driver (software). Apple is more like a bit worse hardware (i.e. Porsche Boxster) with fantastic driver (Schumacher). Guess what at the end of the day Schumacher wins the race!
    Reply
  • matt101 - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    I don't understand where people get the idea from that android is buggy. My moto G, which is not exactly a high end phone barely ever crashes and reportedly ios actually has more crashes than android Reply
  • beck2050 - Wednesday, October 01, 2014 - link

    Exactly! I've had a note 3 for a year of hard duty with no problems at all. Fast and reliable, never crashes. Everything works. Android is from Linux so it functions well. The Note 4 looks awesome, no worries about bending, maps, voice translators, or any of the myriad problems Apple has with its first generation products. I don't care what brand, at the moment Note 4 is the best. BTW I've had a slew of Mac computers. Reply
  • akdj - Thursday, October 02, 2014 - link

    I've also got the Note 3. And I'm an iPhone user. The 5s for personal and Note for our business. I love the N3 but I owned the Note 1, begged my way out ( terrible, slow and HORRIBLY buggy UI & hardware). But bought the three. Love it. But it took a while. As a user of both the 5s&N3 fir a year though, it's hard to believe how much 'slicker' the Iphone is. A third the RAM. ½ the processors, clocked at ½ the speed and Asphalt 8 on both, the iPhone lays waste to my Note when it comes to fluency and 'speed'.
    Not that the N3 is a slouch but hold on the '4' til we see some data. Indreasing to the 500+PPI zone doesn't help battery life and I'm not sure the GPU power in the SoCs are up to the task in TouchWiz at this point. A dry reboot on my Note and within 30 seconds its eating 2.1+GB RAM! That's insane. And while it's definitely fast and reliable ...and I've not had many 'crashes', there's a huge upside to iOS. And that's the lack of Samsung and AT&T or Verizon bloat. A phenomenal Eco system (I'm a pilot and the second gen mini has replaced my flight bag and kneeboard, damn near 50 pounds on a Beechcraft twin!) for everyone regardless of your tastes, hobbies, or interests.
    The 'Play Store' while many routine apps I've got in parity, it's lacking HUGE in creativity, photo and video manipulation, artistry and gaming. Productivity apps like MSOffce or the iWork suite (I've got Docs Pro and several others!), or utilities for carpentry, automotive ...including a BOOMING 3rd party, cottage industry with a MASSIVE amount of peripherals!!! If you're into automotive, your iPhone can plug directly into your vehicle's computer and tune it the way you'd like. I use a GPS dongle that cost about a tenth of what I paid five years ago for similar FAA certified avionics.

    Anyway, I guess that's my BIGGEST bitch about my N3. Lack of software. I only look at the UI for a second or two when the phone's on. Then I'm inside an app. Same on the tablets and that's where I feel the weakness is with the 'phablet' sized Android phones. As there are very few tablet optimized apps on Android other than blown up phone UIs, the Note is close, and the 'lack of interest' by the developing folks in that area sucks. iOS on the other hand sports killer apps and a half million give or a take few thousand optimized for one, the other and often both.
    As well ...the Note isn't always 'comfortable'. It's big, like the iPhone six plus but it's also thick. There's a significant difference in 'feel' between the two. Hard to explain if you've not held one but I've thought a few times about changing my order :)
    Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Monday, October 06, 2014 - link

    It's not a bonus too have to pay twice for the same app as you have to do on ios if you have a phone and a tablet. Android apps scale intelligently to screen size. Stop praising a huge design failure as an advantage, Apple users. Reply
  • kevin_newell - Thursday, October 09, 2014 - link

    Apple has just gotten way to far behind it's competitors in terms of innovation (for example large screens and phone cameras that work well in low light is old news) and user satisfaction (see http://www.consumertop.com/best-phone-guide/ for example). Reply
  • akdj - Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - link

    Apparently not much knowledge you hold there when it comes to iOS eh?
    Most apps functional on the iPad and iPhone are the same app, price, and put it on as many phones, iPods, pads, mini or maxi...doesn't matter.
    No need to 'pay twice'. That went away a long time ago. There's still a couple apps that continue this model but they're few and far between. You apparently didn't read anything I actually posted, so again...as an owner of BOTH Android (Note 3) & iOS (iPhone 6+ & iPads aplenty, Nexus 7.1 & .2, original Xoom and a ½ dozen other unmemorable units collecting dust).
    When it comes to tablet, ph able or 'large' display apps and software, NOT phone sized UIs, iOS SMOKES Android's pathetic tablet and phablet market! Just. Destroys. It.
    That said, TWiz for the hate it gets actually DOES offer OEM provided software to make use of the display, digitizer and a ½ dozen slick, note taking apps. After that, I have just as good luck and a smoother experience using a $2 stylus on the iPad with Autodesk, VooDoo Pad and the ilk
    Anything creative ...photography, videography, art (draw, sketch, paint, CAD or home design, the list goes on forever)--- to media, it's organization and delivery...ease of use by family members even before family sharing ...CERTAINLY no reason to 'buy an app or pay twice'...
    ...as usually I find the iOS 'version' even if it's a Google App! ...to be more functional, fluent and 'capable' than I do on my Android with double to cores @ twice the clock speed and three times the RAM (2.1 GB being used immediately from a cold start and JUST by running carrier and OEM bloat in the background you, me, nor anyone I know, needs!)
    Users of technology that don't get it ....
    Reply
  • Narg - Wednesday, October 01, 2014 - link

    Android is buggy, very buggy. Also, it's the only mobile OS right now that is riddled with malicious software and viruses. All because of those bugs. It's a side effect of the open architecture. Open is great for some, but for most it's a bad thing, very bad in the case of a SmartPhone.

    I support hundreds of users and their devices. I get calls 10 times more often on Android phones than I do on iPhone or Windows Phones. Yes, android is buggy.
    Reply

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