Apple iPhone 6 Plus Review

Interface and Functionality

The iPhone 6 Plus is greeted to a slight enhancement with the layout of certain core apps, where they shift appropriately in landscape to provide us with an even more effective layout akin to the needs of productivity-minded users.

Besides a few hardware upgrades, last year’s iPhone was most noteworthy for Apple’s decision to finally update the iOS experience. Going with a flatter design philosophy, iOS 7 undoubtedly sprinkled a refreshing change of scenery to the otherwise antiquated visuals and functionality of the platform. With this year’s offering, though, iOS 8 moves in a forward direction by throwing in several enhancements to the experience – making it a more capable and complete platform than ever before.

Well, the one area we don’t see any major design alterations is in the interface. In fact, you’ll barely notice some of the minor changes, but they do exist! Getting to the iOS 8 homescreen, all of the familiarities are still present, like its grid-like layout, folder organization, and bottom launcher. With the unveiling of the updated software, Apple throws in a handful of new background wallpapers – though, we’re a bit disappointed that they didn’t include any new dynamic ones.

Setting it apart from its sibling in the iPhone 6, the larger screen real estate of the Plus grants us an additional row of icons with the homescreen. Being a phablet, of course, we also see more customizations to the phone’s interface that enhances the way we interact with certain apps – similar to how the apps on the iPad are optimized to make use of the extra room with the display. Going back to the homescreen, the Plus grants us support for landscape mode, something that we don’t get with the iPhone 6.

For those worried about constantly stretching their fingers in order to reach something with the iPhone 6 Plus’ enormous display, you’ll be glad to know that Apple introduces a new one-handed mode that shrinks the entire interface to a more thumb-reaching level. This is done by lightly pressing on the home button twice with our finger, not exactly pressing down the button like you would to get to the homescreen, but similar to the light brush that’s needed for the Touch ID sensor to activate. What happens next is that the interface collapses, so that everything is brought closer down to the bottom portion of the display – thus, making it easier to operate. It even works on third party apps as well!

Separating itself immensely in the productivity side, various core apps are also optimized to make better use of the added room with the display. Actually, it’s something we’ve become familiar with other tablets and phablets. Just like the iPad, the iPhone 6 Plus is a versatile productivity device that gives us better access to certain things. For example, the Calendar app has an extra pane that becomes accessible – giving us more visibility on one screen. Overall, these optimizations to the interface give the iPhone 6 Plus a n advantage for those who are heavy into productivity centric tasks.

We’ll talk more about the differences with the layouts of the various apps in the sections further below. So the visuals are pretty much unchanged with this latest iteration of iOS, but it sees yet another degree of updates to its functionality. Without further ado, let’s jump in and talk about all of the new stuff with iOS 8!

Notification Center


Notifications came in a big way with the introduction of iOS 7, one that finally aggregated all notifications in one centralized, easy-to-access location – similar to Android’s execution to be exact. This time around, pulling down from the top edge of the screen in iOS 8 takes us to the redesigned Notification Center, which is now less cluttered as it contains only two tabs instead of three. By default, the Today tab is displayed first, presenting us with an at-a-glance view of our daily agenda, and the other tab lists our notifications. 

Another welcomed change is the added support of third-party widgets in the Notification Center. Most people familiar with iOS 7 already know of the widgets from Apple’s portfolio of apps, such as Stocks, but now the Notification Center is more crowded than ever before with these third-party widgets. Sure, we appreciate the quick access to them, however, the single column view makes everything seem cramped.
On a bright note, we do love how the notifications tab is now more concise – whereas before, it seemed as though we were bombarded by a dizzying amount of notifications. Unfortunately, iOS 8 doesn’t bring forth the much-wanted option of “clearing all” of our notifications with one action, so we’re still forced to clear out groups individually. It’s a laborious process to say the least.

Actionable notifications


Making for an easier interaction, iOS 8 features actionable notifications – notifications that you can interact with to a new degree. For example, when a new text message arrives, you can instantly type a quick response without having to close your current app or go past the lock screen. And while they aren't anything groundbreaking, actionable notifications make iOS 8 much more enjoyable to use. We did notice that not all messaging apps take advantage of these notifications yet, but software updates should take care of the issue.

Spotlight Search


Enhancing what it populates beyond the local stuff in the phone, like our contacts or apps, Spotlight Search has been improved with iOS 8 to offer recommendations/suggestions from a bevy of places. We already know how useful it is for searching local content, but Apple has extended its searching scope to sniffing out songs/albums on iTunes, various web sites, and Wikipedia results. We dig the added functionality, seeing that eliminates our need to launch the web browser.

Siri


Speaking of queries and searching, Siri has been taught a few new tricks as well. First and foremost, you can make her (or him) listen to your input with a simple voice trigger – "Hey, Siri..." followed by your question or command. There's a catch, however. The said voice command works only when the iOS device is plugged into a charger or after Siri has been already launched. 

Yelling "Hey, Siri..." while on a home screen or with the phone locked wouldn't do anything. That's a limitation we weren't expecting given the fact that a number of Android phones already support always-on voice commands. Nevertheless, it is better to have the "Hey, Siri" trigger working as described than to not have the feature at all. 

Always the one to become smarter and wiser with each major software upgrade, iOS 8’s introduction yields Shazam integration as well with Siri. Naturally, it comes in handy when we’re stumped with some kind of song playing in the car. Besides that, Siri continues to populate relevant responses and searches – while also amusing us with some of her/his witty remarks.

Multitasking


And before we move further, we have to mention the improved multitasking menu. Double-pressing the home button in iOS 8 displays not only your recent apps, but also your recent and frequently accessed contacts – another simple, yet brilliant addition to the platform. Tapping on a contact lets you quickly call them or send them a message.

However, when we think about multitasking, the core element at play here remains unchanged. Specifically, the whole process is still very much task switching, as opposed to true multitasking – like how two apps can run simultaneously on-screen with some of the customized Android experiences out there. In addition, it continues to lack a way to quickly “close out” all opened apps in one action.

Health app


Health has become a hot topic of late, evident by the numerous healthy-fitness apps out there in circulation. Samsung seemingly popularized the notion of integrating health into its TouchWiz interface, S Health to be exact, but Apple’s offering in its own home brewed Health app is a lot more comprehensive – insanely more to say the least!

Now, in order to fully utilize the Health app, you’ll need to have additional peripherals for the app to gather its data from. Unlike other fitness apps, like Fitbit, which gets its data from using the iPhone’s built-in, various sensors, the Health app actually requires a peripheral to completely function properly. Although technically, it is possible to add the data type and values manually.

The beauty of Health is that it is a centralized hub for all of the user's health stats, including anything from their activity, weight, and heart rate, to blood pressure, blood glucose, and vitamin intake. Thus, it gives a more complete picture of one's condition. Data collected by Health may be automatically sent to a doctor in case, let's say, the user takes a blood pressure reading and the values are outside of the norm.

These are the possibilities that Health iOS 8 enables. From here onward, it is be up to the developers and the makers of health monitoring devices to create innovative products and services compatible with Health.

Messaging


Superficially, you might not realize it because the messaging experience is the typical one we’ve seen countless times with previous iPhones, but iOS 8 has an unexpected trump card under its sleeve – support for third-party keyboards! No long must we stick to using Apple’s generic keyboard, which is still quite versatile, but it’s nice to have options now. For example, fan favorites like SwiftKey are available for download – giving us that swiping movement for inputting text.

Typing on the iPhone 6 Plus’ spacious 5.5-inch screen is still pretty easy on the fingers, surprisingly enough, but we mainly favor the portrait option more so than the landscape one. The keyboard, naturally, is bigger than ever before – so it’s quite effortless to use. However, something peculiar happens when we switch to landscape. Instead of stretching the layout, Apple decided to plop the keyboard directly in the middle. Flanked on its sides are other buttons for symbols, emoticons, voice dictation, and much more. We don’t think that this implementation is as ideal, since our thumbs are required to occupy more of the middle area of the keyboard. Frankly, we feel that this phablet would benefit with a split-style layout instead.

If you opt to stick with Apple’s keyboard, then you ought to know that it’s been enhanced with the addition of QuickType, which is Apple's word prediction solution. We must admit that it works well, and it is nice that it learns from the conversation's context to provide better word suggestions. For example, it will set higher suggestion priority to words already used in the thread, and if it detects an incoming question, it will suggest suitable responses.

Other new elements thrown into the messaging experience include new ways to attach photos, videos, and even sounds, by merely pressing and holding the respective icons in the messaging app. It’s simple and different from the usual selection process we’re familiar, so we totally like this new approach.

Jumping to the Mail app, the visuals might appear untouched from before, but Apple optimizes the way we can quickly deal with a new message in our inbox. Using the same left/right swiping gestures in our inbox, we can mark a message as read/unread by swiping left. Alternatively, swiping all the way right to delete it. However, slightly swiping to the left on a message presents us with three options – flag, archive, and more. Going with the latter option, it gives us another menu to do even more functions.

Specific to the iPhone 6 Plus, the Mail app’s layout is optimized for the larger display – similar to how the Mail app for the iPad offers various panes to better move in-and-out of messages and our inbox. The same applies here, as we’re not forced to constantly use the “go-back” function.

Processor and Memory

If raw power is what you crave, you’ll have plenty of it here, since the iPhone 6 Plus blazes through even the most intense operations with ease.

In today’s smartphone market, we have devices powered by quad-core and octa-core chips, which easily have come in at clocked speeds over the 2GHz mark, but if there’s something that Apple has taught us, it’s that numerical figures have no bearing with the iPhone’s performance. And to that avail, don’t let the iPhone 6 Plus’ dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM and the PowerVR GX6650 GPU fool you – especially when it’s based on 64-bit architecture yet again.

To tell you the truth, the iPhone has always been a snappy thing with its performance – and it’s certainly true here yet again with the iPhone 6 Plus. Sure, the simple stuff are all handled effortlessly with that buttery smooth response, but it’s also a solid performer when it comes to playing today’s graphics intensive mobile games. The numbers might not be fancy on paper in the face of those other processors, however, it’s a testament in once again telling us phones don’t need the beefiest specs to operate smoothly or effectively.

Complementing the A8 chip is the new M8 motion coprocessor, which helps to alleviate the A8 processing duties by efficiently gathering data from the iPhone 6 Plus’ various sensors and its new barometer. Think of it as more of being related to fitness apps, as it can distinguish various types of motions – like the difference between taking steps, or cycling on a bike.

Hardly a shocker, the base option of the iPhone 6 Plus comes with 16GB of storage. In today’s ever increasing competitive atmosphere, it’s a tally that we feel to be insufficient, especially when most of today’s flagships offer a spacious 32GB. Speaking of 32GB, the option for that has been eliminated, replaced instead with 64GB – while the third option boasts a gloated 128GB of space. Pricing, of course, remains true to the iPhone’s roots, but this one is $100 more expensive than the standard iPhone 6 - on-contract it is available for $300, $400, and $500 respectively.

Sunspider Lower is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 365.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 599
Huawei Ascend Mate7 776.6
LG G3 947.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 40.9
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 26
Huawei Ascend Mate7 17.4
LG G3 20.7
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 18.4
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 9.77
Huawei Ascend Mate7 8.6
LG G3 7.5
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 1382
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 1033.6
Huawei Ascend Mate7 921.3
LG G3 951

Internet and Connectivity


One to always tinker and make improvements, the notable part about the iPhone 6 Plus’ web browsing experience is that it supports more LTE bands than any other smartphone – leaving fewer variations of the phone needed to be compatible to work with the various networks littered throughout the world. Speed is not an issue here, as complex pages load in a snappy manner over LTE. In addition, the experience is not surprisingly top-notch, thanks to its quick page rendering and buttery smooth kinetic scrolling. The biggest benefit to the experience here is the handset’s enormous display, which makes it genuinely easier for navigation. Honestly, we’ve never complained about the iPhone’s performance in this department, so the same applies here.

Available in both CDMA and GSM flavors, where it’s available for the four major domestic carriers here in the US, the iPhone 6 Plus also includes VoLTE – voice over LTE, to grant us wideband high-quality calls. In essence, not only is the call quality enhanced by this, but it also permits us simultaneous voice and data connections. 

Most of the traditional connectivity features continue to be in tow here with the iPhone 6 Plus, such as aGPS with Glonass and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, but Apple has outfitted its beauty with a new 802.11 ac connection, which offers up to 3x faster Wi-Fi speeds than 802.11n. Another new addition to the family is NFC, a feature that’s been something we’ve all longed for. Well people, it’s finally here, but its true worth will be felt once Apple Pay becomes available in the near future. One thing missing, though, is an IR blaster – a feature that we’ve come to find on many high-end devices nowadays.

FEATURED VIDEO

138 Comments

1. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

It looks larger than the Note 4, yet has a smaller display and battery. Really gotta commend Samsung on the compactness of their phones. As for this phone, its good for those looking for a phablet running iOS, but nothing really special or attractive to those holding on to another phablet (L1520 or any of the Android phablets).

11. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

I agree.Gaming will be great on this one.

15. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Best for multimedia

27. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

See again my same issue as in the iPhone 6 review... Why don't they take points off for the overall size. My one year old Note 3 is way smaller than the iPhone 6 Plus with a larger screen... That should automatically drop it to 8.5. Then no 4K video, that should drop it to 8.0... I just don't get why other flagships get knocked for size relative to screen but the iPhone 6 Plus gets a free pass. Also 1GB of RAM... C'mon, there are mid-range devices with more RAM. I just don't get why iPhones are not subject to the same type of reviews as other flagships. Why is PhoneArena.com so lenient with the iPhone... I am sorry 9.0 for a larger rehash is completely unacceptable. This phone is a 8.0 TOPS!

33. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

There is no way this phone is a better device than LAST YEARS Note 3, much less this years Note 4. The Sony Xperia Z3 is a better device than both the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus. To say that specs don't matter because it's an iPhone is a bunch of bull. Why is PhoneArena.com so scared to give a correct score to an iPhone? If a phone has bad battery life like BOTH the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus how in the world could it ever get a score of a 9.0. I am sorry that is EXTREMELY questionable. So I guess it got bonus points for being pretty while it charges??? So sad PhoneArena.com... SO sad!

37. chunky1x

Posts: 270; Member since: Mar 28, 2010

My friend. This is the time of the year when John V. go gaga on iPhone again. Don't expect a fair review from him.

40. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I hate to say it but you are right. I remember a time when Johnnnn V. from PhoneArena was the best reviewer around. No bang for the buck in this review. Apple can charge you a kidney & it would not factor into the final score... Very, very sad indeed! +1

70. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

+1 for "Johnnnn V. from Phonearena.com"

134. marcski07

Posts: 600; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

well i think it impacts also the scoring about the expectation of the reviewer, you see, iphone yearly is a rehash, so they expect it that way but still delivers. look at z3, it is a disappointment that the upgrade was very minimal coz we expect them to go big, that's why it was scored very low, even though they are more powerful than iphone. on the other hand, note 3 to note 4 has a significant upgrades so it has a high score than iphone 6/6+, if note 4 was like z3, i bet they'll score lower than iphone 6s' scores coz it disappoint. disappointment is great with high expectations. I'm not disagreeing with you, but just my observation on how they score it. knowing iphone yearly has very minimal upgrades, but you see new features and it delivers well, the score won't be changed that much, but the trend in android is different, every flagship must have a significant upgrades, so if a flagship has very minimal upgrades, it will score very badly coz we expect them to bring monstrous specs or latest specs, unlike in iOS. iOS or iphone, has nothing to be compared but only their 1 year old gadget so it scores that high.

51. synot

Posts: 277; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

On phone arena Apple always wins.

119. darkkjedii

Posts: 31280; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

In sales customer satisfaction customer service and on the stock market Apple always wins too. Let's not forget that. Not Tryna to toot their horn, but let's face it the company knows what they're doing man they make a good product

77. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

it is a better device than note 3 and note 4 touchwiz becomes hell to use after 4 months and it looks so ugly gingerbread era interface .

79. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Oh, so you've seen and played with or had a Note 4 for about 6 months now? -_- Also, in what ways would you say it's better than the Note 3? Just curious, really... Like, in what ways does this improve or differentiate the experience over the 6 as the Note 3 did over the S4 to you?

84. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

What?!? He has used the Note 4? It's not even out yet?

97. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

My point exactly. He's making comments about TW on the Note 4 and it's still about a month away from release.

106. ShaikhJGI

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

+1 Well said bro.. Another point i noticed is PA is comparing Note3 & other phones in Headphones DB test. Not comparing with HTC One M8 which has 1.38 as against 1.01 for iPhone just to show iPhone is superior to all others. Don't be soo biased please... Soo bad..

129. aqibone

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 29, 2014

Hey Easy Easy. Every reviewer has opinions and/or preferences. But they are better than GSMARENA who have become SAMSUNGARENA for last couple of years. By the way, I think Z3 is better than others including new Note 4.

78. f35hunter

Posts: 241; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

I If you want to see the real biased reviews just wait the camera comparisons they will say that iCrab photos is even better than lumia 1020's and DSLR's photos, just waiting Kudos to PA

93. beachedwhale

Posts: 22; Member since: May 30, 2014

Its better because all the speed benchmarks that test how good it's processor will perform and the iPhone with its dual core 1.4 ghertz chip is WAY faster than the competition

99. ph00ny

Posts: 2051; Member since: May 26, 2011

Multitasking doesn't work the same way as it does on android so 1GB maybe adequate enough for iphones. As for other features, not sure if they're doing blow by blow comparison for the point scale or comparison against the previous models which makes sense for the rating but not quite for competitor comparison scale

107. ShaikhJGI

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Well Said.. +1..

118. darkkjedii

Posts: 31280; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You sound like a whiny little b

138. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

You I apple polishing whxre. Insult goes both ways.

38. enthasuium

Posts: 150; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

You have ipad mini for that, 6 plus basically Mini version of ipad mini ...LOL

64. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Maxipad nano?

18. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

I was hoping Apple would bring something different to the phablet game, like making tablet-only apps compatible. As it stands, this is just one more oversized smartphone.

29. hitmantb

Posts: 79; Member since: Jul 26, 2012

It destroyed all Android devices in every performance benchmark and has better battery life than Note 3, on top of iOS exclusive metal which makes iOS games look 100 times better than Android (check out Asphalt 8 on both platforms), great job Apple! We will see what happens when Note 4 comes out. Samsung already knows it can not compete and immediately offered a $200 discount if you trade in a $10 working smartphone. 9 is too low, A8 is a completely different league than Snapdragon.

39. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Nope it doesn't destroy in every benchmark. And ofcourse it has better battery life than a Note 3, it's newer. Yet it's battery life is considered average in tests. And 100 times better? If it's 10 times better, it will be on the high side. Especially with new graphic engines coming out for both platforms. Ofcourse it's a completere different league, A8 is iOS, Snapdragon the rest.

41. jeff327

Posts: 87; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

As opposed to Sprint and Verizon offering if for free with a trade in? When it in the world any carrier ever offer a new I phone for free under any circumstances? The answer is never. The fact is this phone will sell like crazy. There are enough hard core Apple fans that would but a $16 Casio watch if it had an Apple Logo. (check out Jimmy Kimmel) But a lot of the public has woken up and know that Apple makes a great phone but it is inferior to many Android phones. But you go ahead and believe your new I Phone is the best. I truly hope you enjoy it. I will keep using my LG G3 knowing I have in my opinion the best phone on the market.

48. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Too bad you don't inform yourself before making half assed statements, the iPhone 6 Plus is rendering those benchmarks as if it had the same barely more than HD as the iPhone 6, the reason must be that Apple doesn't want their precious premium phablet to have less performance than the regular iPhone 6. And if you used your brain to make a decent comparison you wouldn't compare the on screen results of devices that are indeed rendering games and benches at 1080p to ones that are rendering at 750p (almost 2x the pixels in 1080p, which results in 2x frame rate drop). Compare them to the Z3 compact which sports a S801 (older chipset) and 720p resolution, it scores 25FPS in Manhattan versus the 30FPS of the iPhone 6 which for a rehash of S800 (mid 2013 SoC) isn't that far behind of the A8.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

iPhone 6 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A8, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2915 mAh(24h 3G talk time)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.