Now that Apple has unveiled the new flagship iPhones (no plastic c model this year), which smartphone 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: iPhone 6 review.
For many people the new, larger iPhones are a welcome sight. If you’ve already used a larger Android or Windows Phone smartphone, you’ll know the benefit of the extra screen real-estate and realise that the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s 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.
This comparison review is based on what we know about the two smartphones from Apple’s announcement and specifications. We’ll update this article when we’ve run our own benchmarks, taken photos and videos and fully tested each phone’s battery life. Read: The best iPhone 6 alternatives.
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.
Prices, though, aren’t the same:
iPhone 6 Plus
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 is 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.
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 1334x750. However, it’s still a lower resolution than the full-HD 1920x1080 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 get the new iOS 8 feature ‘Reachability’ to help make it possible to operate the phone with one hand.
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.
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, although Apple didn’t go into any detail about how iOS 8 would use this. (And, yes, Android phones have had barometers for years.)
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.
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 camera has the same 8Mp resolution but now has ‘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 gets ‘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.
The main hardware difference is the bigger battery in the iPhone 6 Plus. The actual capacities in watt-hours aren’t yet known, but 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. Given the 6 Plus’ larger screen, these are impressive claims.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: software
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.
iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison: verdict
So, in this versus battle, which version of the new iPhone 6 wins? The answer depends on several factors: how much you’re willing to pay, whether you want a big or even bigger screen, and whether you’re planning to use your phone for making home videos.
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.
One spanner in the works when making your decision is that the smallest 16GB capacity is unlikely to be enough. It’s a shame Apple didn’t make the baseline 32GB, but this comes as no surprise: it’s a tactic used across its products 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 reality those who want a smaller, more pocketable iPhone should choose the 64GB iPhone 6, while anyone wanting to take lots of photos and videos might be better off with the 64GB iPhone 6 Plus. The 128GB version is simply too expensive at £90 more.
Don’t forget 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.
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.