The iPhone 6 Plus finally delivers the big screen that a vocal group of users have been asking from Apple for years. With a larger 5.5-inch 1080P display, Apple is finally playing in the leagues long dominated by the Samsung Galaxy Note series and recently by the LG G3. Our iPhone 6 Plus review takes a look at how the larger iPhone 6 Plus compares to the iPhone 5s it replaces, and how it compares to the big-screen Android competition.
Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus changes the way you use the iPhone. With a larger screen the iPhone 6 Plus replaces the iPad mini for some activities, but it also requires using two hands instead of one for many tasks. Even with Apple’s one-handed use feature, the iPhone 6 Plus is large enough that using it one-handed is a challenge.
For users who can accept the size and commitment to carrying a larger phone the iPhone 6 Plus is a great choice, but Apple still needs to deliver important software upgrades that will fix lingering iPhone 6 Plus problems.
Many users will find the iPhone 6 easier to use and a better overall fit, but the temptation of a large, beautiful display on the iPhone 6 Plus is something you can’t afford to ignore.
The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 on contract at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as direct from Apple, at Best Buy and many other retailers. Apple sells the iPhone 6 Plus with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options.
iPhone 6 Plus Review Video & Summary
Watch our 12-minute iPhone 6 Plus review video for a closer look at this new iPhone and see how it stacks up to the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy Note 4.
Here are the most important iPhone 6 Plus review details that outline the overall experience of using the iPhone 6 Plus.
What We Like: Big & Beautiful Display, Good battery life, improved speaker, iOS 8.1.
What We Don’t Like: Slippery, Best with two hands,
Bottom Line: The iPhone 6 Plus is an impressive phone, but it’s not the perfect iPhone for most buyers.
Read the rest of the iPhone 6 Plus review to find out what this big iPhone does well and to help you decide if the iPhone 6 Plus is the right new iPhone for you.
iPhone 6 Plus Design
The iPhone 6 Plus is a large iPhone, dwarfing the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6 in size. The iPhone 6 Plus shares a new metal design with the iPhone 6, but the larger iPhone is slightly thicker.
Apple removes the glass sections from the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 design, replacing it with the a full metal back. There are now antenna breaks at the top and bottom of the new iPhone. These new antenna breaks don’t look as elegant as the ones on the iPhone 5s, but the iPhone 6 Plus is better in a case anyway.
I really love the curved edges of the iPhone 6 design, especially on the front part of the phone where the curved edge lets my finger slide from the edge to the screen for gestures that help make the iPhone 6 Plus easier to use with one hand. The downside to this new design is that the iPhone 6 Plus is a slippery phone. I carry it with two hands more than the iPhone 6, so it’s a little easier to hold on to, but I still plan to put an iPhone 6 Plus case on the phone in the near future to add some grip.
Apple shifts the power button to the right side of the iPhone. This is a welcome change for the larger screen. It makes one-handed use a bit easier by putting the power button right in line with the pointer finger while holding the largest iPhone with one hand. This takes time to get used to, but it is a change you will come around to.
iPhone 6 Plus Display
The iPhone 6 Plus display is larger and better looking than any iPhone display yet. It’s still smaller and lower resolution than the Galaxy Note 4, but it is nice to look at. For the first time Apple matches the resolution of your HDTV with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution that packs a lot of pixels into the display.
This means I can see more details on-screen when watching movies and especially when looking at photos. The lack of details on the iPhone 5s display was one reason I liked the LG G3 so much and even though the iPhone 6 Plus isn’t at the same resolution it is close enough that most users won’t notice a major difference unless they are side by side.
Apple’s larger iPhone 6 Plus display is better for gaming and watching movies. I can watch the Miami Dolphins while mobile with NFL Sunday Ticket, and while it isn’t as good as on a HDTV it is way better than watching on an iPhone 5s or lugging around an iPad mini.
The 5.5-inch display is large enough that it’s not a perfect fit for everyone, but it’s an incredible amount of screen and power in a very portable package. I rarely carry my iPad mini with Retina display with me anymore.
Reading on the 5.5-inch display is great, and text looks crisp, but I need a second-hand to turn pages without dropping the iPhone 6 Plus on my face. App updates are finally arriving with support for the larger screen. I’m still waiting for key apps, like Google Hangouts, to support the iPhone 6 Plus, but many of my most used apps take advantage of the big screen.
Is the iPhone 6 Plus Too Big?
The iPhone 6 Plus is too big for some users, that’s why Apple sells the iPhone 6 with a smaller screen and overall size.
With larger than average hands I can use the iPhone 6 Plus with one-hand for some tasks, but many need two hands for a better experience.
The iPhone 6 Plus fits in almost all of my pockets. One or two pairs of jeans feature shallow pockets that leave part of the iPhone sticking out, making sitting slightly uncomfortable if it is at the wrong angle, but this is not an issue all the time.
Large phones like the iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3 are not for every user. If you are in doubt, go try one out at a store before you buy.
iPhone 6 Plus Camera
The iPhone 6 plus camera is one of the best available and the new super-slow motion is incredible. The iPhone 6 Plus includes larger pixels that helps capture better looking low-light photos and the iPhone 6 Plus focuses incredibly fast, so I miss fewer photos of our dogs.
Apple packs Optical Image Stabilization into the iPhone 6 Plus, but not the iPhone 6. This allows the camera to move to compensate for shaky hands. It will not remove the blur that comes from moving subjects, but it does help when I take photos of sunsets and other landscape photos.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can record 240 frames per second slow motion, as shown in the sample above. This slows the video down considerably more so than the iPhone 5s and delivers stunning footage. Apple also includes a Time Lapse mode that records a long stretch of time and shrinks it down to seconds to show motion. The basic video mode is also good enough to replace my DLSR as a video camera for many of my videos.
Check out the iPhone 6 Plus sample photos below to see how the camera performs in a variety of environments.
iPhone 6 Plus Performance
Apple finally fixed most of the iPhone 6 Plus performance problems with iOS 8.1, and now the Apple A8 processor delivers speedy performance without getting stuck in landscape. The app crashes that I experienced in the first several weeks of use are now gone.
The faster WiFi connectivity from 802.11AC is great when connected to a newer router and AT&T LTE is accessible and quick with my iPhone 6 Plus review unit. The iPhone 6 Plus supports VoLTE, which I tested on the Verizon iPhone 6 and found capable of delivering better sounding calls and enhanced coverage.
iPhone 6 Plus battery life is impressive. Even on days of heavy use with multiple long phone calls and extended screen on time I don’t need to carry a spare battery or charger. In almost a month of use I only ran short during one day due to using the phone in an area with poor coverage for an extended period.
There is still only one downward facing speaker on the iPhone 6 Plus, but it is louder and sounds better than the iPhone 5s. Apple could dial down the sound of the iPhone 6 Plus vibrate, which is overpowering in a meeting or when plugging in late at night.
iPhone 6 Plus Software
The iPhone 6 Plus runs iOS 8.1 with three key features not found on the iPhone 5s and other older devices. Reachability lets users tap on the home button twice to lower the top half of the screen. This helps one-handed use on the large iPhone, but is not a feature that magically makes the iPhone 6 Plus easy to use with one hand for all tasks.
Apple also packs in a new landscape mode that is not on the iPhone 6. When in landscape the screen rotates into landscape and apps now support a landscape view similar to the iPad. Apple’s default apps show more information in this mode and other apps can support it as well.
Apple Pay is also new for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Adding a card is simple, as long as you bank with a supported bank. I could only add a credit card to the account, as my banks are not partnered with Apple. After setting Apple Pay up in a few minutes, using it to make a purchase with the iPhone 6 Plus is as simple as pressing the Touch ID button when it is close enough to a credit card reader.
The iOS 8 features video above shows the other new iOS 8 features that are part of the iPhone 6 Plus software and other devices.
iPhone 6 Plus Review Unit Specs
The iPhone 6 Plus specs don’t make or break this phone, but they do enable features like the upcoming Apple Pay mobile payments, the battery life and the great photos.
- Apple A8 64-bit Processor
- iOS 8
- 5.5-inch Retina HD display
- 16GB / 64GB / 128GB storage options
- 1.2MP front-facing camera
- 8MP rear-facing camera with Optical Image Stabilization
- 2,915 mAh battery
- 4G LTE
- 802.11ac WiFi
- Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor
iPhone 6 Plus Review Verdict
The iPhone 6 Plus is a great phone that is too big for everyone to enjoy, but for those who can commit to carrying the bigger iPhone the rewards are plentiful. Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus display delivers an amazing pocketable place to watch movies and sports, to game and to work while on the go. Couple this with the longer battery life and you end up with a single device that fills the role of a phone and an iPad mini.
It would be great if Apple made the iPhone 6 Plus a little easier to hold, with smaller bezels and packed in a water-resistant design, but it is still an excellent smartphone without these features.
The iPhone 6 Plus is $100 more than the iPhone 6 and with a reasonable amount of storage most users need to spend $399 on contract or $749 off contract to take this device home. This is not a cheap iPhone, but it is cheaper than the Galaxy Note 4 and users can split the price up over more reasonable monthly payments.
Users who can handle the iPhone 6 Plus size will find a lot to enjoy in the new iPhone, but it does not offer the same made for everyone appeal as the iPhone 6.