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Apple iPhone 6 review: A good iPhone that belongs in the past

iPhone 6 hero shot
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 619

This old-generation iPhone 6 is showing its age – get the 6S or the SE instead.

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iPhone 6 review: Performance – Apple A8

As with the iPhone 6 Plus, this handset uses the Apple A8 SoC, which has a dual-core 1.4GHz CPU. Compared to the 2GHz+ quad-core Android competition, this sounds a little slow, but specs don’t tell the full story. Rather, it’s how well optimised the OS is and how efficient the CPU is. Running the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, the iPhone 6 completed it in 349.2ms, which is around the same time as the iPhone 6 Plus. More importantly, that’s faster than any Android handset that we’ve seen.

Graphics performance is also very good. With a score of 17,509, the iPhone 6 scored the same as the iPhone 6 Plus. This puts it on a level with the current crop of flagship Android phones. Running a real game on the phone, Assassin’s Creed Pirates, we noticed that the level of detail and textures were the same on this phone as with the Samsung Galaxy S5. However, the S5 rendered the game at a higher resolution. We believe that this game is probably designed for the lower-resolution iPhone 5S and hasn’t been updated.

iPhone 6 Assassin's Creed Pirates

We also ran the GFXBench 1080p Manhattan Offscreen benchmark, which managed 19.1fps. This still puts the iPhone 6 near the top of the game for graphics performance, although the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Nexus 6, are both that little bit quicker. Not that it matters particularly, as every game currently available runs smoothly on the iPhone 6, and no developer is going to write anything at the moment that won’t run.

More exciting for iPhone users is the Metal API, which is promising to let developers get more out of the hardware while improving performance. Early demos certainly look impressive, and Apple has the clout to get make the new technology widely adopted.

iPhone 6 review: Battery life

The non-replaceable 1,810mAh battery in the iPhone 6 isn’t much bigger than the battery in the iPhone 5S, but it has a larger screen to deal with. Fortunately, the new 20nm manufacturing process for the A8 is much more power efficient. As a result, we saw the iPhone 6 last 12h 58m in our video playback test, which is slightly shy of the 14h we got from the iPhone 5S. However, using the phone all day, we noticed that battery life was generally better than on the iPhone 5S, with the phone easily lasting a full day; heavy use with the iPhone 5S could mean a couple of charges in a day. It’s largely because most of the time you don’t have your phone’s screen on all of the time, with the handset synchronising in the background; the more-efficient A8 SoC helps here, drawing less power than the old A7 chip.

The iPhone used to amongst the best smartphones when it came to battery life, but that’s no longer true. Its slender 6.9mm design means the battery is small compared to the 2,600mAh one in the slightly chunkier Sony Xperia Z3. That phone lasts for an immense 20 hours in the same test and will last a whole day under even the heaviest of use. If you’re regularly away from a power point and need really long battery life, the iPhone 6 most likely isn’t the phone for you and you may want to look at the bigger iPhone 6 or a longer-lasting Android model.

Charging is via the Lightning port on the bottom of the phone, with a 1A USB charger in the box. The iPhone 6 takes about the same amount of time to charge as the iPhone 5S did. If you want faster charging, use the 2.1A iPad charger or buy a high-power third-party model.

iPhone 6 lightning port

iPhone 6 review: M8 co-processor, fitness and Health

Alongside the A8 is the M8 co-processor, which can constantly monitor the phone’s sensors: the accelerometer, gyroscope and, new, barometer for height measurement. While the M7 in the iPhone 5S could do something similar, this time around that seems to be more of a point thanks to the Health app.

From this app, you can add to the dashboard monitoring for the number of steps you take and how many flights of stairs you climb a day, with all of the information coming from the handset. We didn’t find that results perfect, with the occasional flight of stairs missed from the phone’s calculations, but it’s good enough for people who just want to keep an eye on their fitness levels without going the whole hog and buying a fitness tracker.

iPhone 6 Plus Health

Health is also designed to work with other fitness apps and trackers, though, giving you one place to view all of your data. 

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