Forget the iPhone 6. The smaller device that Apple announced at its September event and released late last week is the spiritual successor to past iPhones, but it’s not what is getting all the attention. Justifiably so, Apple’s new official high-end smartphone is the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus is a beast of a phone. Forget the small lines and tiny screen of past iPhones, the iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s answer to users who wanted something that had a bigger display, but wasn’t a full-blown tablet.
In that respect, Microsoft’s Lumia 1520 tablet is the iPhone 6 Plus’ direct competitor in the space. It’s equally huge and is made to fit the gap between smartphones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system and 7-inch tablets running the Windows operating system. Here’s what you need to know if you’re choosing between the iPhone 6 Plus and the Nokia Lumia 1520.
Anyone who has owned an iPhone in the past few years or even seen one on television has seen the iPhone 6 Plus design. The speaker hole is still on top and it’s still joined by the ambient light sensor and front-facing camera. Down below is a TouchID fingerprint reader with a metal band around it.
The iPhone 6 Plus’ claim to fame is the giant 5.5-inch high-definition display that sits in between these components. Depending on what color you choose the iPhone 6 Plus’s front glass is either white or black. The edges and rear are where the iPhone 6 Plus differs mainly from its older brothers. Recent iPhones have all had very straight edges that are rounded off at the ends. The iPhone 6 Plus is super thin at 0.28 inches. Mostly that’s due to the iPhone 6 Plus having a bigger display. It measures 6.2-inches from top to bottom. The headphone jack and Lightning port are still at the bottom of the iPhone 6 Plus. So is the mono speaker that you can cover with one finger. On the left edge is a toggle for silencing the device and another set of oval buttons for raising and lowering the volume. For the iPhone 6, Apple has moved the power button over to the right edge of the device. This makes it easy to reach, far easier than it would have been if left on the top.
Around back is a sea of metal broken up by different metal bands so that the iPhone 6 Plus can speak to cellular networks. The Apple punctuates this metal skin and so does a protruding rear-facing camera that won’t let the device sit flush on a table.
The iPhone 6 Plus is still curvaceous and sexy in its own way. That high-end jewelry feel is still there too. Microsoft’s Lumia 1520 smartphone is best described as a block. More specifically, unless you’re a huge fan of colored polycarbonate plastic the Lumia 1520 isn’t what anyone would describe as forward thinking design. Where the iPhone 6 Plus’ outward edges are curved the Lumia 1520’s edges are right angles. On the front is massive 6-inch display that has navigation buttons for Start, Back and Search at the bottom and ear piece and front-facing camera at the top. The Lumia 1520 also includes a camera hump on its back that’ll stop users from laying it flat on a table.
The iPhone 6 Plus’ 5.5-inch display is a show stopper. Apple says that the screen in the device has a resolution of 1920 x 1080p. In short, high-definition video looks gorgeous. The hardware inside the iPhone 6 Plus is a little more pedestrian in a way that only devices made by Apple are allowed to be.
Instead of fighting with Android and Windows Phone device makers for specifications, the iPhone 6 Plus is very conservative. The A8 processor inside the iPhone 6 Plus only has two cores compared to the quad-core processor that’s in the Lumia 1520 and practically any other smartphone in its class. Whereas the Lumia 1520 has 2GB of RAM, the iPhone 6 Plus has just 1GB of RAM. Most might think that this is cause for alarm, that the Lumia 1520 must be miles better than the iPhone 6 Plus in terms of fast loading apps and taking pictures. iOS, the operating system that runs on all iPhones is made by Apple. I mention that to say that it’s been tweaked and fine-tuned in a way that hardly gives the Lumia 1520 and its beefier processor a realistic advantage. Loading up games might be a bit faster, but that’s about it.
Where the iPhone 6 Plus does, in theory, take a beating is with the camera. New to the iPhone 6 Plus is optical image stabilization. The technology keeps videos and pictures from being horrible if you’re like me and can’t hold a camera steady. The iPhone 6 Plus uses this technology with an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera. The pictures that the iPhone 6 Plus takes are absolutely stunning and the phone can record slow motion video that’s just great to look at.
The Lumia 1520 includes Nokia’s PureView imaging technology and it’s backed up by a 20 megapixel rear-facing camera. Pictures taken with it look great, and the camera software that Nokia includes on its phones is pretty easy to use – just as easy as the iPhone 6 Plus’ Camera app. You can’t go wrong with either of these phones in the pictures department, though I’d argue the Lumia 1520 definitely wins out thanks to its dedicated camera button.
This year’s iPhones are the first to include NFC technology, but the Lumia 1520 had it last year when it arrived on store shelves. Still, I suspect the NFC in the iPhone 6 Pus will prove more useful simply because of Apple Pay. When it arrives next month it’ll allow users to pay for everyday items by unlocking their phone with TouchID and tapping on payment machines at their local retailers. The Lumia 1520’s Windows Phone operating system has an NFC wallet system but it’s dormant and isn’t exactly overwhelming useful. That being said, app developers aren’t allowed to use the NFC chip on the iPhone 6 to communicate with other phones or accessories. On Windows Phone 8.1 they absolutely can.
A really cool M8 motion co-processor allows the iPhone 6 Plus to monitor health needs thanks to third-party apps.
Both phones come with pretty entry-level front-facing cameras but they’ll get the job done for video chatting and all. One extra that gives the Lumia 1520 an edge is the wireless charging. Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus may have picked up pa few tricks related to NFC but Apple has yet to embrace this new technology. With a compatible wireless charging pad, charging the Lumia 1520 is a simple as setting it down on a table or putting it in a wireless charging cradle. Unfortunately, the AT&T version requires a case for wireless charging in addition to that wireless charging pad.
Two software extras on the iPhone 6 Plus do make it a more viable large-screened phone than the Lumia 1520.The first is Reachability. Many of the apps designed for the iPhone have navigation menus that sit at the top of its screen. For the iPhone 6 Plus, Reachability scales down how much screen the app can take up. In doing so, it makes apps easier to use on the iPhone 6 with one hand. The second feature doesn’t really have a name. For the first time, Apple has redesigned many of its apps to add more content on-screen when the iPhone 6 Plus is turned horizontally. It’s not widely used but the Lumia 1520 has nothing like this at all.
Availability & Pricing
At Apple the iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for a model with 16GB of storage. $399 gets users an iPhone 6 Plus with 64GB of storage and $499 gets users an iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB of storage. Of course, these prices include a two-year contract. There are versions ready on every major carrier including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon & T-Mobile. Color options include Gold, Space Gray and Silver.
The Microsoft Lumia 1520 is exclusive to the United States’ second largest wireless carrier – AT&T. What that means is that Lumia 1520 is only an alternative to the iPhone 6 Plus for users on that carrier. The Lumia 1520 only comes in one configuration $199.99 with 32GB of storage and a MicroSD card slot to add more. The Lumia 1520 does come in some pretty vibrant colors. There’s green, black, white, red and yellow.
Which to Buy
Overall, I’d have to say that the iPhone 6 Plus is the best large-screen phone users can buy on any carrier. Reachability and those new app views are key and the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system that the Lumia 1520 has doesn’t offer anything that compare to them. That being said there are places where the Lumia 1520 edges out. The Lumia 1520’s camera takes fantastic photographs and the phone itself is very durable. The iPhone 6 Plus will also take amazing photos, but rumors of it bending in user’s pockets have many question the phone’s build quality.
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