If your iPhone is due for an upgrade, you're probably wondering whether to go for the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Neither are cheap options, but both have new features, including bigger screens. We'll help you make up your mind in our iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison review
Executive Editor, Tech AdvisorJAN 29, 2015 12:18 am GMT
At a Glance
If you prefer a smaller screen, go for the iPhone 6 with 64GB of storage. Avoid the 16GB model. If you want a larger screen and better-stabilised video, the 64GB iPhone 6 Plus should be a good choice if you can afford the difference.
Which of Apple’s latest
smartphones should you buy? Neither are cheap options, but both have new features, including a bigger screen than any previous iPhone. Here’s our iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus comparison. See also:
For many people the new, larger iPhones are a welcome sight. If you’ve already used a larger
Windows Phone smartphone, you’ll know the benefit of the extra screen real-estate and realise that the iPhone 5s, 5c and 5 are pretty small by today’s standards.
On the other hand, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus aren’t as pocket-friendly as before, but Apple has made an effort to make the interface more usable when you’ve only one hand free.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: price
Both phones are available in three colours: Space Grey, Silver and Gold (below). There’s also the same choice of capacities: 16GB, 64GB and 128GB.
Here’s what you’ll pay for each capacity if you go SIM-free:
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: screen
The screen is one of the main features in any smartphone, and the iPhone 6’s 4.7in screen has 38 percent more pixels than the 5s at 1334×750. However, it’s still a lower resolution than the full-HD 1920×1080 display on the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a 5.5in screen.
In terms of pixel density, neither phone can match the QuadHD screens on some of the latest Android handsets, including the
Galaxy Note 4 and
LG G3. The iPhone 6 has the same 326ppi as the iPhone 5s, 5c and 5, but the 6 Plus ups the density to 401ppi. To put this in context, the G3 has a 538ppi display.
Contrast is slightly better on the 6 Plus at 1400:1 vs 1300:1 on the iPhone 6, but both are considerably better than previous iPhones, which had a claimed contrast of 800:1.
Brightness and colour accuracy are the same between the 6 and 6 Plus, as are the new ‘dual-domain’ pixels which help to increase viewing angles. Both have the ‘Reachability’ feature to help make it possible to operate the phone with one hand.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: design
The design and colours of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the same, the obvious difference is that the iPhone 6 Plus is bigger. It’s an extra 11 mm wider and 20 mm taller which in smartphone terms is a lot so be prepared for this – on the whole, it’s a two handed phone.
It’s no surprise that the Plus is heavier at 172 g compared to 129 g but it’s only marginally thicker at 7.1 mm instead of 6.9 mm which is still thinner than the iPhone 5s.
What’s interesting, having used both phones on a long-term basis is how ‘right’ the iPhone 6 feels compared to the overly large 6 Plus. As other phones have grown to around 5in, the iPhone 6 seems normal. Yet, even though it’s by no means the biggest phablet at 5.5in, the big bezels above and below the iPhone 6’s screen means it’s quite top heavy. It’s rather unweildy trying to operate it with one hand regardless of whether you use it in portrait or landscape mode; with a case on it, it’s just too big and heavy.
The only exception is when watching a video, since there’s no need to touch the screen. Here, the wide bezels are quite handy as they give enough space to grip with one hand and it’s not to heavy to hold for half an hour. As long as you consider it a two-handed device for any task that requires touching the screen, you’ll quickly get used to the 6 Plus’ size and weight.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: hardware
There’s really not much to separate the pair in terms of the internal components. Both have the new 64-bit A8 processor, with its M8 co-processor, and although they are exactly the same in terms of real-life performance, the Plus model benchmarks better in CPU power but isn’t as good in graphics tests. See the table below for a side-by-side comparison.
iPhone 6 Plus
They both have NFC which will work with the new Apple Pay system so you can pay for goods and services.
Also new is 802.11ac Wi-Fi for faster wireless downloads – as long as you’re connected to a compatible wireless router or hotspot, of course. The on-board barometer is another new feature, which feeds data into the Health app so it can track how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed.
Mobile capabilities are also identical, with increased 4G LTE bands and mobile data speeds up to 150Mb/s. Both take a single nano-SIM: there’s no dual-SIM iPhone yet.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: Cameras
Although Apple hasn’t increased the number of megapixels in the front or rear cameras, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have better cameras than the iPhone 5s. At the front, the 1.2Mp cameras now have a bigger aperture – f/2.2 vs f/2.4 – which may not sound like much, but Apple says it lets in 80 percent more light.
The back cameras have the same 8Mp resolution but now have ‘Focus pixels’ for smoother, faster focusing.
The main difference between the 6 and 6 Plus is that the 6 has digital stabilisation, but the 6 Plus has ‘proper’ optical stabilisation. Optical means that the sensor itself moves to compensate for shaky hands. Digital means that the compensation is done in software, and therefore you lose some resolution as the frames have to be cropped.
In reality, there’s very little difference in the image quality between the two phones – especially in good light. The 6 Plus does take surprisingly sharp and relatively noise-free photos in the dark, though, and its video is better stabilised, just as you’d expect. Both are capable of slo-mo video at 240fps and have a Time-lapse mode.
Even if photos and videos are important to you, the iPhone 6 Plus’ better camera isn’t enough of a reason to buy it. It’s worth trading off the optical stabilisation for the iPhone 6’s smaller size and weight.
The main hardware difference is the bigger battery in the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple claims the 6 Plus can play video for 14 hours, make 24 hours of 3G phone calls and last up to 16 days on standby.
The iPhone 6 can play video for 11 hours, make 14 hours of 3G calls and last 10 days on standby.
As ever, the time you’ll see between charges will vary a lot depending on what you’re doing. In our experience, both handsets can last two days with relatively light use. But if you’re using them as your only computer for an entire day, you’ll be plugging them in before bedtime.
While the two phones have iOS 8, there’s one difference: the iPhone 6 Plus has a new landscape home screen. This means it works much more like an iPad, and it also gains the split view in certain apps such as Mail, where the larger screen makes it possible to show the list of emails on the left, and the body of the selected email on the right.
The iPhone 6’s smaller screen means Apple has decided not to allow this split view. This means that, for now at least, apps will simply appear larger than on an iPhone 5s. Developers can choose to optimise their apps for the 6 and 6 Plus, but existing apps will be scaled up as necessary.
Now, over four months since launch, there are still plenty of unoptimsed apps which appear a bit like iPhone-only apps do on an iPad. Some may never be updated, and we wait in hope – or vain – for some of our favourites to get the iPhone 6 Plus treatment.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: verdict
So, in this versus battle, which version of the new iPhone 6 wins? For us, it’s the iPhone 6. Just as Goldilocks chose the “just right” chair, porridge and bed, the iPhone 6 hits the sweet spot in every respect.
It feels great in the hand, isn’t too big to use one-handed, has a great camera and lacks only landscape home screen of the 6 Plus. We rarely use it, though, nor the split-screen view in apps because they don’t show quite enough information – you really need an iPad for comfortable split-screen use.
Apple made it plain during the iPhone 6 Plus’ launch that it had already conquered the digital camera (the iPhone is the most popular camera in the world, apparently) and now it has set its sights on becoming the most popular camcorder. With optical stabilisation, the iPhone 6 Plus is the better choice for those shooting video and it improves low light photography. As we’ve said, though, it’s not enough of an improvemnt over the iPhone 6 to sway you to choose the phablet instead, and the iPhone 6 is cheaper.
It’s a shame Apple didn’t make 32GB of storage the baseline for both phones, but this comes as no surprise: it’s a tactic used for Macs and iPads alike to steer people away from the cheapest model and pay more for a ‘usable’ version, while keeping that lowest price to lure people in in the first place.
This means that the ultimate winner is the 64GB iPhone 6, which costs £619 SIM-free. Only consider the 6 Plus if you have giant hands and giant pockets.
Don’t forget, too, that the iPhone 5s is still a perfectly good smartphone, capable of excellent photos and videos. It also has a future-proof 64-bit processor and lacks only NFC and 802.11ac, neither of which are deal-breakers for most people.