This year, Apple released two new iPhones, just like last year. But there difference when compared to last year is that, both these devices are high-end devices unlike iPhone 5C which was more of a mid-range devices. The iPhone 6 comes with a 4.7-inch screen, while the iPhone 6 Plus is equipped with a large 5.5-inch display, making it the first phablet offering from Apple. Before expressing my initial impressions about the iPhone 6 Plus, let me be clear.
I have used Apple products in the past. I currently own a Macbook Pro Retina 13 and I’ve owned an iPad 4 and an iPod Touch in the past. I’ve used the iPhone 5S for around four months.
But I am not an Apple fanboy of any sorts. But this year, I’ve bought an iPhone 6 Plus for myself and used it for more than two weeks and here’s what I think about the Apple iPhone 6 Plus.
Design not as gorgeous as previous iPhones as well as weak built body
The iPhone 6 Plus has a completely different design when compared to previous iPhones. The device is just 7.1 mm thin with curved edges and an aluminium unibody. The result is a sleek thin device which is very prone to slipping from the hands. When using without any case or bumper, I never felt confident enough when I held the device in my hands. It no longer feels a solid device, something which we’ve come to know of Apple. In comparison, the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S felt much better, and solid. Even the volume or power buttons don’t provide the feedback that I had gotten used to while using the iPhone 5S. Apple has failed to reduce the size of the bezels around the screen. The width and the height of the device is much bigger when compared to the OnePlus One and the LG G3 even though all of them have 5.5-inch screens. I didn’t experience the #BendGate as of yet, but I want to keep it that way so I did not put any wanted pressure on the device.
Bright and colourful display, even under direct sunlight
The 5.5-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD display is the biggest display Apple has ever used on the iPhone. It is bright, colourful, and has wide viewing angles. Sure, the display isn’t as gorgeous and as sharp as the 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display used on the Galaxy Note 4, but it isn’t something that I will notice unless they are compared side-by-side. I guess almost all high-end smartphones these days come with displays that can satisfy a normal being. Even under direct bright sunlight, I was clearly able to read and understand the content on the iPhone 6 Plus’ display.
Except when in HDR mode, the camera produces pleasing images
Now, let’s talk about one of the best aspects of the iPhone 6 Plus. Its ‘just 8-megapixel camera’ comes with some neat little tricks. Apple has thrown in phase-detection autofocus and OIS (optical image stabilisation). Phase detection autofocus mechanism is already being used in the LG G3 and the Galaxy S5. All these devices can focus much faster when compared to other smartphones which use contrast-detectin autofocus mechanism. The iPhone 6 Plus focusses plenty fast and doesn’t hunt for the focus like a wild goose even when under low light conditions. Also, faster processor means that it can process and save images faster after capturing them, resulting in almost non-existent shot-to-shot time. The presence of OIS lets the camera shutter open for a slightly longer time, just enough to let in more light, which results in brighter and clearer images. Bundle all these features with Apple’s mature image processing algorithms and you’ve got a winner at your hands. The camera lens is not flush to the body but it won’t be scratched so easily as Apple has used Sapphire glass to cover the camera.
No matter what the lighting condition is, the images clicked with the iPhone 6 Plus are pleasing and contain a lot details. There’s very little noise and the white balance is spot on. With iOS 8, Apple has also provided manual exposure settings. When you click a panorama image by holding the device in portrait mode, the resulting images come out with a resolution of 43 megapixels. There are neither stitching effects nor exposure imbalances in the panorama images. You can also click square images for all that Instagram swag. The only thing which I didn’t like about still photography is its HDR mode. Rather than capturing details in under-exposed areas of the image, Apple keeps the bright areas of the image from clipping. The resulting images don’t look like HDR images at all. Perhaps, you can use third-party camera apps to improve upon that bit.
The one camera feature that’s missing on offer from the iPhone 6 is 4K video recording. Agreed, not many people own 4K screens to watch those videos but when every competing brand is offering it, I am sure that Apple is missing out on something. The iPhone 6 Plus can capture 1080p videos at 30/60 fps or 720p videos at 120/240 fps. If you think that iPhone 6 Plus uses OIS during video recording, you are mistaken. Even though OIS is present, the iPhone 6 Plus uses digital image stabilisation. Don’t get me wrong, the videos are still beautifully stabilised. If you crave for creativity, you can use time-lapse or slow-motion videos for some cinematic effect.
Stellar performance, thanks to high quality CPU and a powerful GPU
Apple tops the charts with the processing power in its devices and the iPhone 6 Plus is no different. It is equipped with 1.4GHz dual-core Apple A8 chipset coupled with 1GB of RAM. The Apple A8 chipset combines a 64-bit dual-core ARM v8 CPU with a powerful PowerVR GX6450 GPU. The GPU is as fast as the Adreno 420 GPU which is used in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805. It is currently, one the fastest smartphone in the world. For now, it absolutely chews through graphics. Even high-end games can be enjoyed without any hint of lag.
I know that Apple optimises the software a lot but I still feel that Apple should have provided at least 1.5GB of RAM. Now that things like background refresh, third-party keyboards and widgets are present, it might cause some problem one year down the line when the newer version of the operating system brings in more features. For now, even when multitasking or using multiple widgets, the device doesn’t slow down.
Good call quality but average loudspeaker volume
The loudspeaker produces rich sounds but its loudness is average, not great. Even the call quality is good, though not great. Just like the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus features 4G LTE connectivity. Other connectivity features include gigabit dual-band Wi-Fi ac/b/g/n, AirDrop, AirPlay, Bluetooth v4.0, GLONASS A-GPS, and lightning connector. All these features work without any issues. There’s NFC but it can be used only for Apple Pay, which isn’t there in India. It’s a bummer that Apple has kept NFC closed to Apple Pay.
iOS 8 is more open than ever, complete with widgets, and other Android like features
The iPhone 6 Plus comes with iOS 8 pre-loaded or may be even iOS 8.1 depending on when you bought it. Apple has added a large amount of little (sometimes unnoticeable) features in the iOS 8. Some of the big changes and features include widgets, third-party keyboards, support for more languages while using Siri, and quick actions for notifications.
Extensions allow functionalities of one app to be accessed in other apps. For example, I could autofill my username and password for a particular website from 1Password app while using Safari web browser. There’s now a relatively more open ‘share with..’ menu so you can now share images directly to Pocket, Zomato, Evernote, Tumblr, or any other compatible app, once updated by the developer.
Continuity and handoff features offer enhanced workflow, though only when you have multiple Apple devices. There’s also a power consumption chart which shows the apps which use the most battery. Improved AirDrop allows sharing files with compatible Macs.
Day long battery Life
One of the important reasons why I chose the Apple iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 6 was its larger battery. It comes with a 2,915 mAh non-removable battery when compared to an 1,810 mAh battery used in the iPhone 6. Well, after installing all the apps and games, the iPhone 6 Plus lasted a day and a half with normal usage. Currently, I have 119 apps (including games) installed on my iPhone 6 Plus along with 5 email accounts on sync and a dozen social networking apps. I gave ‘Background Refresh’ access to all the applications installed on the device. I am a pretty heavy user and this shows that the iPhone 6 Plus is really a battery life champ.
Pricing & Verdict
The price of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus starts from Rs. 62,500 for the 16GB variant. There’s no 32GB variant this year. It costs Rs. 71,500 and Rs. 80,500 for 64GB and 128GB respectively. Apple is asking a lot of money for what it is offering on paper. You can find similarly specced devices for as low as Rs. 35,000 but the experience that you get with the iPhone is unmatched by many. Everything is quite fast and effortless.