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Apple iPhone 6 Plus critics review: Not for everyone, but Apple’s best device this year

iphone 6 plus
Landscape mode on the iPhone 6 Plus. Image: Reuters

This year’s iPhones have addressed one of the crucial issues its loyal fan following were facing – limited screen size. Apple went ahead and launched not one but two large-screen devices – a 4.7-incher and a gigantic 5.5-inch variant. With the 5.5-inch variant, Apple enters the well-versed ‘phablet’ territory where giants such as Samsung and LG have already set foot with glitzy offerings. A late entry hasn’t stopped Apple from doing what it does best, and the hordes of reviews will vouch for it. While the iPhone 6 Plus hasn’t entered the Indian market yet, many tech journalists and bloggers across the globe have already got a hands-on experience with the products. Here’s a quick synopsis of what tech critics are saying.

The iPhone 6 Plus is simply a larger version of the iPhone 6 that has been stretched to accommodate a 5.5-inch display, a larger battery and better camera optics. Despite the larger display, it’s just 0.01-inches thicker than the iPhone 6, mere half an inch wider and an inch taller. “The screen is the star here, and that 5.5-inch high-res beauty is set off by thin side bezels, and top and bottom bezels that appear much smaller since they take up a far smaller percentage of the overall front surface of the device,” says Techcrunch’s Darrell Etherington. However, this doesn’t mean it is a perfect-to-carry phablet, either. “In terms of carrying and holding the device, the additional size makes for a less ‘perfect’ ergonomic quality, something the iPhone 6 definitely achieves, but there’s still lots to love about the industrial design of the 6 Plus,” Etherington quickly points out.

Others believe that the larger 5.5-inch display could be a drawback and is only for road warriors not wanting to carry a tablet or someone looking for extra screen real estate. Otherwise, the premium spent on buying an Apple phablet is arguably worthless. “The iPhone 6 Plus is not a phone for everybody. Its size is its biggest drawback and, indeed, that will likely be the deciding factor for many on whether to go with the 6 or 6 Plus. If you can live with a device of these dimensions, the additional $100, £80, or AU$130 is well worth it for the upgraded battery life alone. It’s doubly worth it if you’re intrigued by better performance of the camera — or if your eyesight could benefit from extra room for larger fonts,” according to Cnet.

Apple_iPhone6_Reuters
Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus during the launch. Reuters

In a nutshell, there is nothing to hate about the larger display size, and its simply a matter of choice. Summing it up, Engadget suggests the display size is excellent for those who need it, but for others the 4.7-inch model should suffice. “It may sound like the Plus isn’t ideal, and indeed, it’s not for everyone. But for many, the additional screen real estate is worth sacrificing some one-handed comfort. Not only do you get more rows of icons on each screen (the 5s is 6 x 4, while the 6 is 7 x 4 and the 6 Plus is 7 x 4 with slightly larger icons and more space in between), but you’re also going to be able to see more emails, tweets, Google search results, well… more of everything. More screen space equates to more room for consuming, creating and manipulating content, and since it’s still small enough to fit in most jeans pockets (provided they’re not too tight), it’s still more portable than any iPad,” the news site states in its review.

Apple does try to bring the one-handed experience to its phablet with a feature called ‘Reachability’. Though the feature is available on both models, it makes more sense for the 5.5-inch phablet. Basically, to ensure you don’t have to stretch your tiny fingers all the way to the top of the screen, Apple lets you double-tap on the Touch ID button so the entire UI slides down. Now, the top half of the app is located on the bottom half of the screen and users can scroll and interact with like in a full-screen mode. However, if you trying to access a link at the bottom of a website or end of an email, one will have to go back to see the entire display. “It’s better than having no one-handed mode at all, as it still feels cumbersome and I only really used it when I wasn’t able to use two hands (e.g., when I’m walking down the street while holding a bag),” adds the report.

In terms of the display quality, Apple has nailed it, yet again. There has been only praises coming in for the new display that has elevated the screen quality. “It’s a great-looking display that’s plenty sharp, but it’s not so crazy high-res in the service of specs that it needs a bigger battery to keep it lit up all day. There’s a new polarizer that makes the phone easier to see in sunlight, wider viewing angles with more accurate color reproduction, and overall higher contrast than previous iOS screens. And perhaps most importantly, the entire display stack is thinner, so it looks more like you’re touching the pixels directly than ever before. It’s like the screen is painted on,” says TheVerge.
Singing to a similar tune, Techcrunch adds, “The improved contrast and color rendering Apple has also worked into its screen tech is also even more obvious here than it is on the iPhone 6, and that results in a display that’s perfect for viewing photos or watching movies, as well as for showing off well-designed apps and software.”

Both models come equipped with an 8MP sensor.  But owing to the larger display and extra space in the iPhone 6 Plus model,  Apple has managed to fit in an optical image stabiliser in the device. However, the resolution least decides how good the images can get. “Apple has improved the quality of its lens and sensor, adding an autofocus technology you find in high-end cameras that lets you lock in your shot quickly before Fluffy scampers off. The iPhone 6 Plus camera goes further, with optical image stabilization, which helped me take sharper nighttime shots,” states WSJ.

Some even believe it’s is the best camera they’ve used in a premium range smartphone. “The iPhone 6 Plus camera is the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used. Apple’s holding firm at 8 megapixels while everyone else is racing to put ever-bigger numbers on spec sheets, and it feels like the right decision: the iPhone 6 Plus focuses faster, works better in low light, and generally produces the best photos I’ve ever seen from a phone,” adds TheVerge.

“I took a few dozen photos at the beach and in a dark restaurant, and they all looked better than photos taken with my iPhone 5s; though, to be honest, I feel it was a combination of all of the new camera features that made these photos look more professional, not just the optical image stabilization,” adds Re/Code’s Vjeran Pavic.

Mashable is all praises for the camera, too. When trying to shoot a video of a fire that broke out on the roof of a building using the 6 Plus, the reviewer says “I grabbed the iPhone 6 Plus and started shooting slow-motion video at 240 frames per second. As I zoomed in, I grew concerned that the video would look like a mess. I watched on the Plus’s screen as the flames licked up the side of a small structure atop the building and then as firefighters arrived on scene to douse the blaze into submission (no injuries and minimal damage). It looked pretty good. Afterward, I watched the slo-mo playback of the scene. It looked surreal. The video was clear, smooth and dramatic — a little like a scene from Ron Howard’s Backdraft”, points out Mashable.

In terms of processing power, the iPhone 6 Plus comes with new A8 64-bit processor, the new M8 motion coprocessor and storage options of 16GB, 64GB and 128GB. The iPhone 6 Plus is believed to be slick and fast. Now, the iPhone 5s wasn’t a slouch either but the massive increase in size hasn’t hampered the processing speed. “It’s hard to appraise the new processor or motion co-processor fully at the moment due to the lack of new apps capable of taking advantage of the new power. But an array of power hungry games currently available in the App Store all performed well with load times noticeably improved,” states Pocket-Lint.

“There is also a new M8 co-processor, which measures motion data from the built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and a new barometer. So, sport apps can use this co-processor instead of the main A8 processor saving energy and valuable processor power. And now, with the new barometer, it can calculate how many flights of stairs you take,” adds Straitstimes.

Other improvements come in the battery life and connectivity options. “The improved powerhouse on the 6 Plus affords it a full 10 hours more talk time compared to the iPhone 6, plus an additional 6 days of standby time (16 in total), as well as 2 more hours of browsing on 3G and LTE,” points out Techcrunch. The added LTE bands support will ensure you can use the device is most arts of the world.

So far, critics seem quite impressed with the new iPhone 6 Plus. The Plus variant is a massive upgrade over the 5s and delivers additional screen real estate for those who need it. This explains how a record over 4 million iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus devices were sold within 24 hours. So, if Apple manages to keep the production on track and reach out to other regions sooner, it could achieve far fetching figures like never before. Also find out what the critics are saying about the 4.7-inch iPhone model.

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