Apple iPhone 6 Plus Review: Is Bigger Better?

Summary and Conclusion

We said this in prior years with the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, but we'll say it again this go around; the latest iPhone (the 6 Plus, in this case) is indeed the best iPhone yet. Not only have Apple's internal upgrades delivered a phone that's fast and a pleasure to use, but its expansive 5.5-inch 1080p panel brings about an entirely new iPhone experience. At long last, Apple offers a jumbo-sized iPhone. Performance wise, the iPhone 6 Plus is also a very strong competitor.

It's markedly faster than the iPhones before it, and its optimized CPU cores and powerful GPU make it a formidable opponent for even best-of-class Android-based devices as well. And despite some initial missteps, iOS 8 is also a step up in our opinion, marking a new era of openness for Apple perhaps, as it allows third-party keyboards and gives developers access to parts of the OS that it had previously kept off-limits.

The iPhone 6 Plus is a unique beast for Apple. It’s the largest iPhone ever created, and the first engineered specifically to compete with so-called phablets running Android and Windows Phone. It has also experienced a design overhaul — after the iPhone 5s maintained the same exterior as the iPhone 5, it was due for a refresh. The new exterior is sleek, thin, and classy. Despite the large 5.5-inch panel, it doesn’t feel unwieldy in the hand, the build quality is top-shelf, the display is gorgeous, and battery life is improved. 

That said, we do think Apple could have made better use of chassis real estate.  The iPhone 6 Plus does seem needlessly large, when you consider LG got 5.5-inches of display into the G3, a handset that is roughly the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S5. In fact, the iPhone 6 Plus' "plus size" might be a deal-breaker for some.

Those hoping to nab a smartphone, that (mostly) will replace their camera on family trips, need look no further. With the exception of scenarios that require specialized lenses, the iPhone 6 Plus has a camera that’ll satisfy most every novice and amateur out there. Taking photos is faster than ever, and the detail/sharpness in each image is very good. Some may slam the protruding lens, which doesn’t sit flush with the phone’s back, but given the image quality we aren’t inclined to nitpick. Not to mention, this beast is very deserving of a slip case, at which point the protrusion is a non factor.

On the software front, iOS 8 opens up all new possibilities for Apple’s developers. For the first time, third-party keyboards are welcome. Additionally, users can look forward to more customized notifications and notifications that can be responded to from anywhere on the phone. Yes, a lot of this was on Android years ago, but Apple has adopted many of these conventions and has done so with minimal complexity. The software experience on the 6 Plus is very good, with buttery smooth transitions in every single test we threw at it.

It's unfortunate that Apple missed its chance to ditch the 16GB option (32GB really should be the minimum on a handset that starts at $749 unsubsidized) and there's no microSD expansion slot, so buy carefully. At least it included a 128GB option at the high-end for those obsessed with local storage. Moreover, there's no weather-proofing here, which might be another missed opportunity. Many rival flagships, including handsets from Sony, HTC and Samsung, ship with waterproof designs. As it stands, you'll need a special case to use your 6 Plus underwater, at the pool, etc.

If you’ve been holding out for a jumbo-sized iPhone, the 6 Plus won’t disappoint. It’s fast and attractive. It’s a terrific upgrade for those on the iPhone 5 and below, and even those on the 5s will appreciate the new-found screen real estate. Where it gets complicated is comparing it to the Galaxy Note 4 and similarly-sized Android phones. As of now, Android is still more customizable when it comes to big-screen usage. Options like a stylus and multi-window modes enable productivity hounds to get more done. Apple hasn’t included or enabled things like this just yet. For those perfectly content with their Android-based phablet, there’s not enough here to rip those roots up and reestablish within the iOS ecosystem. However, once Apple Pay is more widespread, developers better integrate apps with iOS 8 and leverage the additional screen real-estate available, that could change.
  • Beautiful, high-quality design
  • Great general and gaming performance
  • Great camera performance
  • Crisp, sharp 5.5" 1080p display
  • Third-party keyboard support with iOS 8
  • Good battery life
  • NFC included
  • No wireless charging
  • No water or dust-proofing like many rivals
  • Could use more internal storage for the base model
  • Chassis seems needlessly large in spots

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