iPhone 6 review - Apple's best phone yet

Reviews
Published 
28 Sep 2014
iPhone 6 hero shot
Our Rating 
5/5
Price when reviewed 
619
Buy it now for 

Great size, great screen and a brilliant OS make the iPhone 6 a fantastic choice for the majority

Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 1,334x750, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16/64/128GB, Wireless data: 4G, Size: 138.1x67x6.9mm, Weight: 129g, Operating system: iOS 8

You can tell how far we've come in mobile screen sizes when the 4.7in iPhone 6 can be considered a small new phone. It's a change that needed to happen, though, with the iPhone 5S and its 4in screen now looking and feeling a little too small to be considered flagship.

At 4.7in diagonally, Apple has managed to strike a decent balance between offering physically more screen space and resolution, while maintaining an easily-pocketable size. Of course, it's the design that really helps here. Although the iPhone 6 is larger than the iPhone 5S, it's not uncomfortably so. At just 6.9mm thin, the phone is considerably slimmer than its predecessor and, at 129g, only 17g heavier. It's the thinness that really helps, as the iPhone 6 feels that much more comfortable in the hand and you don't really feel as though you've got a larger handset.

As with the larger iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6 has smooth rounded edges, with the glass at the side of the screen curving around to meet the metal case. It looks and feels gorgeous and we think that the curves make it a little easier to keep hold of than with the sharp-edged iPhone 5S.

With a bigger screen, some design changes have had to be made. The most obvious one is that the power button is no longer on the top, but has been relocated to the upper right-hand side. This makes it much easier to reach with a finger or thumb, even more so than with the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 power button

We're pleased to see that the other side of the phone still has the physical volume buttons and the silent switch. A physical switch to go into silent mode is a really useful thing to have and much easier than messing around with on-screen controls.

An aluminium case gives the iPhone 6 the high-quality look and feel that we expect from Apple. Plastic runs between the individual metal parts, in order to allow for uninterrupted mobile and wireless reception. It's been neatly done and you can barely feel the join. Available in Space Grey, Silver or Gold, each colour has its own merits, so it's really a matter of which one you prefer.

iPhone 6 rear

Screen

With a 4.7in display Apple has had to up the resolution in order to keep the Retina tag. According to Apple, this is the point at which you can no longer see individual pixels. In the iPhone 6's case this is a resolution of 1,334x750 - slightly more than 720p. While the resolution may be higher, the pixel density is the same 326ppi as the iPhone 5S. In other words, you get the same screen sharpness as before.

Other handset manufacturers have managed to squeeze in Full HD displays at this size, so why hasn't Apple? The simple answer is because it doesn't feel the need to. In fact, the issue of image quality is far more than simple pixel density.

Comparing the iPhone 6 to the Nexus 5 (5in screen, Full HD, 445ppi), we found that the iPhone 6 was actually slightly sharper. Comparing it to the LG G3 (5.5in screen, 2,560x1,440, 538ppi), the G3 was the sharper handset. In all of these cases, it has to be said that the difference is rather marginal, and in practical terms the iPhone 6's screen is more than sharp enough.

iPhone 6 top

There's a good argument that adding more pixels would just drain the battery faster and give the CPU more work to do. In fact, only using the screen resolution that's required is something that's becoming more popular, as you can see from the 720p Samsung Galaxy Alpha.

That doesn't mean that Apple hasn't made any changes to the screen. While it still uses an LED-backlit IPS panel, this time around it uses dual-domain pixels. These help improve viewing angles: even looking at the screen almost edge on we couldn't detect any noticeable colour shift.

Apple has also stated that the new screen has better contrast and black levels than on previous handsets. Our colour calibrator confirmed this, with a black level reading of a low 0.37cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 1,456:1. The screen brightness of 543cm/m2 is impressive too, meaning you can see it clearly in direct sunlight, while blacks are still inky and dark.

Colour accuracy is also very good, with our colour calibrator measuring the phone as capable of producing 95.1 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut (the graph below shows the gamut, with the dotted line representing sRGB). This puts this screen in the top leagues of LCD displays. Super AMOLED screens, such as that on the Samsung Galaxy S5 have better colour reproduction and black levels, although they're dimmer and some find their colours a little over-saturated.

iPhone 6 colour gamut

In our regular image tests, photos on the iPhone 6 looked great, with natural colours and plenty of detail throughout the image. Overall, it's a great screen, as you'd expect from an Apple handset; it's not the best display available, though there's practically no cause for complaint.

Although we were all hoping for a sapphire glass display, that technology's not quite ready yet. Instead, Apple has used ion-strengthened glass, which is both scratch and shatter resistant; as always, treat the phone with care and use a decent case to add extra protection.

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