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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: Camera

The camera is one area where the iPhone 6 slightly differs to the iPhone 6 Plus. Both handsets have the same f/2.2 aperture lens, a 1/3in sensor with large 1.5µm pixels and a resolution of 8-megapixels, but the iPhone 6 does not have optical image stabilisation (OIS).

iPhone 6 camera

That means that its specs sound dangerously close to those of the iPhone 5S, so it looks as though there’s been no improvement made. However, the sensor is new and has Focus Pixels. These give the camera phase detect auto-focus, which is a much more accurate and faster form of auto-focus than the traditional contrast detect method used in most camera phones. It works by accurately measuring the distance to the object it’s trying to focus on so that the lens can be moved to the correct position to get everything in focus. It definitely works, with the iPhone 6 focusing quicker than the iPhone 5S in our tests.

In terms of image quality, the iPhone 6 is excellent. Those large pixels certainly help to keep down noise, with each pixel getting a lot of light, and our shots outside were captured with the correct exposure and the correct colours, as you can see from the sample shots below (click to view the full-resolution image).

iPhone 6 sample shot outdoors BT Tower

Inside, noise is handled well, and you can get some cracking shots from this camera. Its low noise levels are rather impressive and it’s clearly the work of the larger pixels. You can see this in the sample shot below (click to view the full resolution image).

iPhone 6 indoor sample shot still life

There’s little to tell the difference between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, except you can shoot handheld without blur in lower lighting with the Plus thanks to its OIS. You can see this in the two sample shots below, with the iPhone 6 Plus at the top and the iPhone 6 below (click to view the full-resolution images). Low-light wise, the iPhone 6 is an excellent camera and only the iPhone 6 Plus with OIS and the huge-resolution Nokia Lumia 1020 are better.

iPhone 6 Plus sample shot Star Wars low light

iPhone 6 sample shot Star Wars low light

If it’s too dark to shoot properly, then there’s the true tone flash, which uses two LEDs (one white, one amber) to match the colour temperature of the scene. The result is a more natural image that doesn’t look as obviously shot with a flash.

With the new camera app, the iPhone 6 now gives you full exposure control, so you can lighten or darken the image to get the results that you want. It’s nice to have this control for once. There’s also a new automatic HDR mode, which will turn on when there are light and dark parts of an image; the results are pretty good in the right circumstances.

Occasionally, the relatively low resolution can let an image down, as there’s not as much detail as you zoom in. You can see this on the image of a black cat below, where his fur lacks some detail when you zoom in; however, it’s important to point out that the camera captured the layers of information in this image, as black cats are notoriously hard to shoot. Of course, it’s all about trade-off, and more pixels would mean more noise, so it feels as though Apple has struck a fair balance here.

iPhone 6 sample shot indoors Mowser the cat

Thanks to the new image processor, you get a few new video modes, including the 240fps slow-mo mode. This is double the frame rate of the same mode on the iPhone 5S, although the 720p resolution is the same. The results are really impressive, as you can see from the demo video below; the same sort of shot on the iPhone 5S had slightly obscured details.

We also really like the time-lapse mode, which is available on older phones running iOS 8. Using this mode gives you another tool to capture footage in a slightly different way, with the iPhone choosing the right frame rate. Check out our video of Liverpool Street Station to see it in action.

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