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Apple iPhone 6 Plus review: Discontinued and replaced by the iPhone 6S Plus

Kitten and iPhone 6 Plus
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £619
Incl VAT

That giant iPhone 6 Plus was near-perfect, but it's since been replaced by Apple's iPhone 6S and 7 Plus


  • Good overall performance
  • Competent camera


  • Hard to source
  • Limited storage

iPhone 6 Plus review: Camera

The camera is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone, so it’s no surprise to see that Apple has upgraded the model here. The physical sensor is still the same size 1/3″ model with large 1.5µm pixels as in the iPhone 5S. While more resolution was expected, this is another case of Apple simply not playing the resolution game: more pixels on a sensor this size, would mean that each pixel would get less light and there would be more noise. Apple has also stuck with the same f/2.2 aperture lens.

While these features haven’t changed, the new sensor has some improvements. These include Focus Pixels, which are used for phase detect autofocus. With phase detect, the camera can accurately measure the distance to the object it’s supposed to be focussing on, and then snap the lens into the right position. With contrast detect, which the iPhone 5S and a lot of other smartphones use, the lens has to be moved in and out of focus, measuring the contrast in the scene to find the correct focus. The latter system is a lot slower, and you’ll see the on-screen image changing as the camera looks to focus. With the iPhone 6 Plus, focussing is much quicker and there’s none of the hunting to get there. This makes it faster to snap off a shot and not to miss a shot.

The iPhone 6 Plus is also the only model to get optical image stabilisation (OIS), which helps reduce blur through camera shake. In low light, the iPhone monitors its sensors to detect movement and then adjusts the lens to compensate. This lets the camera pick a slower shutter speed without introducing blur. OIS only works with still shots, as video is still stabilised digitally. There’s still the same dual-LED true tone flash, which uses a coloured LED in conjunction with a white LED to balance the flash colour with the ambient light. The result is that photos look natural even when you use the flash, removing the tell-tale shininess that a regular flash causes.

In addition, there’s a new image processor. This retains the incredible burst mode from the iPhone 5S: just hold down the shutter button and you can capture shots at full pelt while there’s still storage space left. The iPhone will then pick out the shots it thinks are the best, so that you can save them although you can override its choice and pick the photos that you want to keep instead. Using burst mode can be a really useful way of capturing a perfect shot, particularly of a fast moving object, as you can capture as many frames as you see fit and then go back and pick out that one gem. You can see this in action with the shot of the meowing kitten below – this was grabbed from the in middle of a set of burst photographs. As you can see (click the image for the full resolution shot), the picture is perfectly in focus, the exposure is spot on and there’s tons of detail in the image. Without the fast burst mode, it would have been a lot harder to get this shot.

iPhone 6 Plus kitten photo

Using the timer mode (3s or 10s), the camera will fire off 10 burst shots quickly and will automatically select the best one for you, although you can save any of the others. It’s a great way for capturing group shots and making sure that you’ve got a decent photo at the end.

Image quality is excellent. Shots outside were well exposed with plenty of detail and little noise in the image. We were impressed with the colours and the level of detail captured in the sky, too. An HDR mode, which can be set to automatic or toggled manually, helps capture more detail when you’ve got bright and dark parts in the same image by capturing multiple exposures and blending them together, and does a decent job, too. In terms of sheer colours and quality, the iPhone 6 Plus’ camera is excellent. The resolution does mean that images aren’t quite as sharp as those captured on higher-resolution smartphones, but these handsets tend to be noisier, so it feels like a fair trade off. You can click the images below to view the full-resolution photos.

iPhone 6 Plus outside sample shot BT Tower

Inside in low light, image quality is still very good and we managed to capture some decent, low-noise shots handheld thanks to the OIS. Compared to the iPhone 5S (bottom image), the iPhone 6 Plus’s (top image) shots are more detailed, with better colours, more detail and less noise. Overall, the iPhone 6 Plus delivers the best low-light shots bar the Nokia Lumia 1020.

iPhone 5S still life low-light sample shot

It’s good to see that iOS 8 finally gives proper exposure controls. Just tap on the screen where you want to focus, then slide your finger up or down to adjust the exposure, until you have it at the point you’re happiest with. It’s a small upgrade, but a neat one that lets you capture the photo you want, rather than letting the camera handle everything automatically.

The new ISP also gives a new 240fps Slo-mo video mode, shot at 720p. This is double the frame rate of the iPhone 5S’ Slo-mo mode and it really makes a difference. As you can see from the video below of the tube train pulling into a station, you can pick out every single detail on the passenger’s faces; a similar shot taken on the iPhone 5S was still impressive, but lacked the same fine detail.

We also had great fun with the Time-Lapse mode, which is part of iOS 8 and available on the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, too. You can shoot some impressive vistas, speeding up slow action into one rapid blur, or you can create some cool effects, such as a journey sped up to epic proportions – check out the video below of a journey through London.

Of course, you can just shoot regular 1080p video at 30fps or 60fps. Video quality is pretty good, particularly in brightly lit areas. Unfortunately, the OIS doesn’t work in this mode, with Apple using digital stabilisation instead. It’s a minor shame that there’s no 4K mode, although given that most people won’t have a 4K display to show the footage on it’s perhaps understandable why Apple didn’t add shooting at this resolution.

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ProcessorDual-core 1.4GHz Apple A8
Screen size5.5in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera1.2 megapixels
Rear camera8 megapixels
FlashYes (dual LED)
Memory card slot (supplied)N/A
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data4G
Operating systemiOS 8
Battery size2,915mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£619

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