Introduction

This is Apple like we've never seen before. Apple like we never thought we'll see. To begin with, there's supposed to be no better iPhone than the iPhone 6. That's the sort of thing you'd expect of Apple. Come September every year, the world grabs a bag of popcorn and gets ready to watch Apple's bestest iPhone yet come on stage in all its glory.

That's what we did too, minus the popcorn, which by the way would've had nothing to do with the bitter aftertaste the presentation left. And no, we don't mean Apple's live streaming blunder.

Things actually started off nicely with the announcement of the long overdue screen size bump, and we didn't get a cheaper option this time - we were treated to possibly a bigger, better iPhone to go with the best iPhone to date. How Apple - it takes another iPhone to beat the iPhone.


Apple iPhone 6

It felt though like they're telling the audience, you don't have to go to the competition to do better. We never thought we'd see Apple do that - imply that. We missed the usual arrogance if you will. The kind that preached that screens bigger than 4" are a nonsense. The kind that insists on the retina resolution while the competition is at QHD.

Rounded corners? 8MP camera? NFC? This must be year 2012. Apple's not about cutting-edge hardware, but content and user experience. We've heard enough of that. And hey, it's a valid strategy. But this year even the most loyal iPhone users among us have a feeling they're being fed a feature a year with Apple withholding significant upgrades that would make the iPhone technologically superior, or equal to the flagships of the competition.

If it wasn't for the different looks, we'd say all we got this September is another incremental upgrade, an iPhone 5ss, if you will. And the looks - the _phone_ looks gorgeous but once we picked it up, the slippery curves made us miss the sharp machined chamfered edges. Gone is the premium glass material on the back, replaced by cheap looking antenna strips that can't seem to decide whether they belong to the back or the sides. Oh, and the protruding camera lens - bumper cases will be in high demand again it seems.

Anyway, we're here to see how much better the new iPhone 6 is compared to last year's model and we can start with a look at its key specs. Who knows, we might succumb to its charms.

Key features:

  • Metal unibody, 6.9mm slim, 129g of weight
  • LTE connectivity (Cat. 5, 150Mbps downlink)
  • 4.7" 1,334 x 750px LED-backlit IPS LCD of 326ppi
  • Apple iOS 8
  • Dual-core 1.4 GHz Apple A8 chipset, M8 motion co-processor, PowerVR GX6450 GPU, 1GB of RAM
  • 8MP F/2.2 camera with True tone LED flash, phase detection auto focus, 1080p@30fps and @60fps video recording, 720p video recording @120fps and 240fps, 1.2MP F/2.2 front-facing camera with BSI sensor and HDR mode.
  • Comes in 16, 64, and 128GB of built-in storage
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the Home button
  • New Barometer sensor for tracking elevation
  • 1,810mAh battery

Main disadvantages:

  • Has unimpressive screen to body ratio (the Nexus 5 fits a 5-inch screen in this size of a body)
  • We would take a bigger battery than a thinner _phone_ any day
  • No microSD slot
  • No user-replaceable battery
  • Curved corners make it more slippery and easier to drop than the iPhone 5S
  • No 32GB version, users forced to upgrade all the way to 64GB (which is cheaper this year, but a 32GB version should have been even cheaper or even standard)
  • Protruding camera lens makes the phone wobble if you don't have a case on
  • Camera is still merely 8MP four years in a row (granted, it's getting better with every new generation)
  • No 4K video and video sound is still mono
  • Lacks the optical image stabilization of the iPhone 6 Plus
  • No enhanced resistance to liquids or dust
  • Offers the same display pixel density fourth year in a row
  • NFC functionality limited to Apple Pay only
  • No FM radio
  • No Infrared port
  • No wireless charging
  • No stereo speakers
  • No USB Mass Storage mode, iTunes required for file transfers
  • Rather pricey without carrier subsidies

Feel free to disagree - but the biggest upgrade Apple has delivered in years has left the feature gap wide open - denying them their usual excuse: "We do things our way, we don't care about anyone else's screen size or resolution". And that list goes on to waterproofing, 4K videos, lossless video zoom, OIS, high-res imaging, stereo speakers.

Perhaps we started this review off on the wrong foot, so please forgive us the rant. But the irony in it is that it was Apple's iPhones driving the competition to heap feature upon feature in hope they can steal users from the superior ecosystem and user experience which, we must say, got even better with iOS 8. It now looks like Apple were wrong about screen size. They're in a position to explain why it took them a couple of generations to catch up to the screen size of Android... minis - but still fail to match many of the intriguing features the competition has been offering.

The Apple iPhone 6 is not without its merits. It's just that this year you have to look even harder to spot them. We like how iOS looks and feels on a bigger screen. We love the curvature along the edges of the front glass. The new chipset is more power efficient and yet gets an edge on the 64-bit A7 chip in the iPhone 5s, both in terms of processing power and graphics rendering.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 at HQ

We bet there's plenty more to discover as we put the iPhone 6 through its paces in our usual review routine. Stick around to see whether this fellow will be able to turn things in its favor. It will be a tough battle, but we're more than willing to give it a fighting chance.

iPhone 6 retail package

The iPhone 6 comes in a box that's not much different from what we're used to. Perhaps the only change is that there is no longer a real image of the phone printed on the box, but an outline instead. The box is always white no matter which color version you go for.

The box contents are the same as before as well - there is the Apple's USB cable with a Lightning connector, an AC adapter, and the Apple EarPods headset with volume controls and microphone in their separate box. There is a SIM eject tool as well. Inside we also found a quick user manual and a couple of Apple fan stickers.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 retail box

The bundled charger is a regular 1A unit, but we've heard reports that unlike the last year's iPhone, the iPhone 6 would actually charge faster if you hook it to a 2+A charger like the one supplied with the Apple iPads. Our test showed a 25% increase in the current when the iPhone was hooked to a 2.4A iPad Air charger so we'd say these reports are somewhat exaggerated.

Apple iPhone 6 360-degree spin

Having in mind that the screen size has increased, the iPhone 6 is understandably bigger than the iPhone 5s. It's also heavier at 129g (as opposed to 112g), but it's almost a millimeter slimmer at 6.9mm.

If you ask us, even the last two iPhones were already slimmer than the regular user's needs. Perhaps, as the reports of a "bend gate" keep coming in, it's perhaps too thin for its own good.

Easily bendable or not, we would pick a beefier battery over an ultra thin profile any day. We can only imagine the extra battery capacity we could have enjoyed had the iPhone 6 had just a single millimeter of extra thickness.

Design and handling

At 4.7 inches, the iPhone 6 is more comparable size-wise to the Android minis rather than the competing flagships, which it will have to battle for the public affection.

Its screen-to-body ratio is nothing to write home about either although the side bezels are relatively unobtrusive. Still, with the Nexus 5, LG has managed to fit a good 5-inch screen inside a similarly-sized body frame, while Samsung's Galaxy Alpha fits a 4.7-inch screen within a smaller (and even thinner!) body.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 compared to LG Nexus 5 (left) and the Samsung Galaxy Alpha (right)

If cheaper smartphones can do it, we think the most expensive smartphone on the market should be able to offer more impressive screen-to-body ratio.

That said, Apple indeed offers a class leading build quality. There are hardly any flaws in the unibody construction. All parts fit perfectly and in usual Apple style, everything feels the part.

The changes to the last year's model are numerous and are visible from a distance. Gone are the glass panels on the back and plastic trimmings line the top and bottom. These are needed so the internal antennas can pick up signal through the metal back. The strips are all plastic, and look it, honestly are our least favorite part of this year's redesign. They feel cheap and are nowhere near as classy as last year's glass finish.

The rounded edges are probably the most prominent new design change and although appreciating them is strictly a matter of personal taste, we think they make the phone rather slippery, even more so when you are stretching your thumb across the larger screen diagonal.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 • the iPhone 6 compared to the iPhone 5S (the iPhone 6 Plus easy to spot as well)

The front is covered with a scratch-resistant glass (the strongest one in the industry, Apple claims), but we already managed to inflict a small scratch on ours during our tests (no dropping involved).

The edges thereof are bent (in a good way) - an effect which is more clearly perceivable on the version with a black front. In either case, swiping gestures across the screen feel great with the curved corners and we very much enjoy this design decision (although for the record, it's not an Apple's first).

Handling the iPhone 6 is an altogether new feeling and thanks mainly to the rounded edges, it feels completely different to last year's iPhone. The size is just about right and thanks to the rounded corners, it feels quite slimmer than what the 0.7mm difference to the iPhone 5S profile suggests.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Handling the iPhone 6

Controls

Most of the front is taken up by the 4.7" display, with a resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels. Compared to the 640 x 1136 pixels on the iPhone 5S the jump in resolution is not a lot but it's enough to work out to a pixel density of 326ppi sharp - the same as last season's.

The display is of the LED-backlit IPS LCD variety, but more on that in the dedicated chapter.

The layout on the front is the same as on the iPhone 5s. The Home key below the screen doubles as a TouchID sensor and above the screen there is the earpiece and the usual array of sensors - proximity and ambient light, as well as the front camera.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

iPhone 6 up front

The 1.2MP front facer hasn't seen an increase in resolution, but has a wider F/2.2 aperture (up from F/2.4) and can make use of the Auto HDR feature not just for photos but for videos as well. The camera has also moved to the left side of the earpiece instead of being placed dead center.

The Home button hides the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It can store up to several authorized fingerprints and reportedly has even faster operation than the iPhone 5s thanks to a wider scanning area and iOS 8 optimizations but we noticed no difference in actual usage. Reports suggest it's slightly harder to fool with a fake fingerprint than the 5s, but is in no way hack-proof.

On the iPhone 6, a double tap on the sensor (as opposed to a double press on the button) activates the Reachability mode, which scales the interface down so it's easier to reach across in single-hand use. The iPhone 5S doesn't have that functionality.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Above and under the screen • the Touch ID sensor

On the left, you get the usual three buttons: volume up, volume down and a Mute toggle. The toggle is protruding more than before and seems a bit easier to switch accidentally now, but we guess they made it this way to be comfortably usable with a case on.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The left side of the iPhone 6

The top of the iPhone 6 is bare as opposed to the iPhone 5s. The reason is that the power key has been relocated to right side on this taller device - and that's the right thing to do. The button placement is quite convenient. Next to it on the right is the nanoSIM tray.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The top side power button

The bottom is busier, featuring the Lightning port in the center, the 3.5mm headphone jack to the left along with the main microphone and a single speaker under a micro-drilled holes that form the grille.

The benefit of the Lightning jack compared to regular microUSB is that it can be inserted either face up or down into the iPhone 6.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The lightning connector at the bottom and the 3.5mm audio jack

Finally, we come to the back of the iPhone 6. The protruding camera lens is certainly an eye sore and it makes the phone wobble when put on a flat surface.

The camera on the iPhone 6 is still 8MP - some four years and four different models in a row. But under the hood it's a new camera altogether. There is a new sensor with built in phase detection auto focus (Focus pixels, as per Apple PR talk), the camera shoots faster, focuses faster and has an even better digital video stabilization. There is also new high speed video modes in 120fps and 240fps, but still no 4K video.

It is certainly the best 8MP camera from Apple to date, but we are not sure that alone qualifies as the major upgrade Apple pretends it to be. It's like they are withholding the higher resolution camera and the 4K video recording just so they have a proper new feature to promote on the iPhone 6s.

Next to the camera lens is the dual color LED flash, similar to the one on the last year's iPhone, but it's a perfect circle instead of an oval shape. The flash, dubbed True tone by Apple marketing, features one white and one amber-colored LED. It is quite a successful concept, where the phone can dynamically mix the two colors of light in varying proportions, allowing it to match the ambient light and thus achieve more realistic photos.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The protruding camera lens and the True tone LED flash

Display

Apple has increased the resolution on the iPhone 6 just enough so is keeps the pixel density at 326 ppi. The screen is again a spectacular IPS LED-backlit LCD, but this time the resolution is 750 x 1334 pixels as opposed to last year's 640 x 1136 px resolution.

While we are as happy as a puppy about finally getting to enjoy iOS on a bigger screen, we can't but frown upon on the excessive bezels top and bottom of the screen. With the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung has managed to fit a 4.7-inch screen into a device smaller than the iPhone 6, while the Nexus 5 fits a 5-inch screen within a body frame as big. This alone should tell you that Apple is not challenging itself enough with creating a smaller footprint for the iPhone and has rather wasted effort into making it thinner to no one's benefit (except perhaps PR).

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Compared to iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 Plus

Here's the iPhone 6 display matrix shot from up close with our digital microscope. It's a regular LCD matrix with equal number of red, green and blue pixels.

The screen of the iPhone 6 has different properties than the one on the iPhone 5s. For one, the blacks on the iPhone 6 are not as deep as on the 5s, but the display is brighter so the new iPhone's screen contrast ratio ended up in the same ballpark.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPhone 6 0.17 207 1230 0.61 740 1213
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - - - 0.77 725 942
Apple iPhone 5s 0.14 163 1145 0.49 596 1219
LG Nexus 5 0.31 298 948 0.54 526 967
Samsung Galaxy Alpha 228 456
Samsung Galaxy S5 274 529
HTC One (M8) 0.2 245 1219 0.46 577 1256


As far as sunlight legibility is concerned, the higher brightness of the iPhone 6 allows it score better than its predecessor, the 5s, but it's still falls short of the contrast ratio the iPhone 5 achieved under direct sunlight. However the contrast in direct sunlight remains excellent in all three cases.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

You can find more information on our various display tests here.

Battery life

The iPhone 6 is equipped with a non-removable Li-Po 1810mAh battery, which is only about 15% bigger than the one of the iPhone 5s. The pixel count on the iPhone 6 is almost 40% higher than the 5s so just by looking at these numbers we guessed that battery life with the screen on won't be as hot. But we turned out wrong.

The standby endurance wasn't that good but it wasn't any better on the iPhone 5s when we last tested it. The manufacturer rates the iPhone 6 batteries for up to 250h of standby but our unit only lasted about 160h. The iPhone 5s lasted way less.

The iPhone 6 scored 9:24h in our own video playback test (10:31h for the iPhone 5s) and 10:29h in our Wi-Fi web browsing test (9:58 h for the iPhone 5s). These are respectable numbers on their own and as you'd see quite similar to the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 would have actually come up with better overall rating than the iPhone 5s but it was somewhat failed by our proprietary call test where it lasted only 8:11h (10:46h for the iPhone 5s).

Our overall endurance rating for the iPhone 6 is 55h, which is how long the battery should last you if you use the phone for an hour of calling, an hour of video playback and an hour of web browsing each daily. In comparison, the iPhone 5s scored 54h, the iPhone 5 - 51h, while the Samsung Galaxy Alpha managed about 52h.

The result is by all means not breath-taking, but it's impressive that it managed to score a better battery rating than the iPhone 5s given the modes battery upgrade and the much bigger screen, which certainly draws more power.

Connectivity

The Apple iPhone 6 comes with a bunch of wireless connectivity features. It supports LTE Cat. 5 (up to 150Mpbs down, 50Mbps up) and even though competing smartphones support up to 300Mbps down we won't hold it against it. Regular 2G and 3G connectivity is all safely covered with a multitude of supported network bands.

The iPhone 6 also supports the latest Voice over LTE (VoLTE), HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling protocols, but those are carrier dependent features so not everyone will enjoy them.

Compared to the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 now has an upgraded Wi-Fi functionality - it supports all the current Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac standards. AirPlay is the only way to wirelessly cast your screen's contents to an HDTV, but you'd need to have an Apple TV for that.

Additional local connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.0 LE. There is also support for NFC, but its functionality is only limited to Apple's newly introduced and regionally-restricted payment system that's called Apple Pay.

The Galaxy Alpha relies on a standard USB 2.0 port for charging and wired data connectivity but uses a proprietary Lightning connector.

There is no support for USB On-the-go or USB host but your can pair a Bluetooth keyboard to the phone should you need this sort of peripheral.

Apple iPhone 6 runs on latest iOS 8

The Apple iPhone 6 runs buttery smooth with iOS 8. The user interface of iOS 8 is where Apple sufficed with just a few finishing touches but backed up with many new services. Having gone through a complete overhaul last year, there wasn't much to change at the iOS looks.

Before we continue, here is a quick video demonstration of the new iOS 8 running on an iPhone 6:

Apple iOS 8 looks the same as its predecessor. All of your apps are on the homescreen, folders are available and there is the familiar dock that can take up to four shortcuts. System icons, color themes and transparency - everything is like we left it in iOS 7.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iOS 8 user interface

The lockscreen hasn't changed either - there is a camera shortcut, playback controls are available too if the Music app is active. If you think the lockscreen could use some shortcuts or widgets, your only hope is for Apple to open up the lockscreen to developers too - but that's not on the cards on this release.

There are three different unlock methods for you to choose from. TouchID (via your fingerprint), but there's also the classic 4-digit passcode. If that's too insecure for your taste, you can also opt for a custom passcode. This will bring you a text field where you can enter a virtually limitless security combination.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The lockscreen

The Control Center that's pulled up from the bottom of the screen, has been slightly redesigned though it keeps the same layout of toggles, shortcuts and media controls.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The iOS 8 Control Center

The Notification Center has changed a bit more. The All and Missed tabs are now gone, replaced by a unified Notification tab. The Today section has been improved and you can jump to its editing options from the bottom of the page.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The Notification Center - Today tab • adding widgets • Notifications

The interaction with the pop-up notifications has been improved. Now you can quickly reply right inside the notification banner, discard calendar alarms, mark tasks as complete, comment and like on Facebook, among others.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Interacting with popup notifications

While the refined Notification Center might look insignificant, it is among the places expected to make a big difference, in terms of usability. It has been unlocked to developers and various apps already offer interactive widgets. Unfortunately those have a long way ahead before they turn out as useful as Apple had in mind in the first place.

With the new generation of bigger iPhones Apple has implemented an easier way to reach what's on top of your screen, including the status bar for notification access. All you need to do is tap (not click, tap) twice on the Home key and your entire UI will drop down at your fingertips. It isn't pretty, but it works.

This quick access works within all apps opened in portrait mode, too.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Reachability in action

The task-switcher interface is invoked with a double tap on the Home key. It looks a lot like the webOS cards of old and, more recently, the HTC Sense Task switcher - all apps are presented with cards that you can swipe up to close. Each card has the respective app icon so you can easily recognize what's what.

The Task Switcher got an extra row at the top - a list of your recently contacted Favorites followed by your recent contacts. A tap on a contact here will reveal additional options: call, message.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The new Task Switcher

Apple made a big deal of the Spotlight update - the unified search tool now supports smart suggestions. Spotlight is now capable of pulling suggestions from Wikipedia, IMDb, an assortment of news sources, nearby places, App Store and iTunes content, iBooks and more. This is indeed a tremendous usability boost. By the way, suggestions work within the Safari browser too.

Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview

Spotlight suggestions

Another notable improvement over the previous iOS version is enabling developers to add their own sharing options or actions in the iOS contextual menus. For example, if you have an app that sends files over Bluetooth, it can integrate with the iOS contextual menus and there you go - you get standard Bluetooth file sharing in just one click. You can edit the available sharing options and actions in these menus, so they don't get cluttered.

Open With option is available as well - you can redirect any file of unknown format from anywhere to any app you want. For example you open a document within your Dropbox and they you can choose Open With and open (a copy of) the file with an office editor of your choice.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

This is where the new sharing and action plugins appear • Open With

Apple has finally added battery usage stats in the Settings menu. There you can find which app drained your battery and how (low signal, background usage, etc.). You get daily and weekly stats.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Battery stats

The intelligent voice assistant Siri got better with iOS 8. Its most important new addition is the Shazam integration. There is no need to ask Siri to recognize a song - just open Siri and let it listen - then it will tell you the name of the song and will provide you with an iTunes link. Another new cool option is voice activation. If your iDevice is hooked up on a charger/cable you can summon Siri by saying "Hey, Siri".

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Siri UI

Siri can carry out commands affecting the iOS - it can turn Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on/off, increase brightness, play voicemails, check other people's social network status, play iTunes Radio stations, etc. It is a really powerful voice assistant capable of even POI search. Assistance with restaurant booking is part of Siri's set of skills. It will find you exactly the restaurant you are looking for and filter the results based on user reviews. You can run impressively detailed searches based on food type, location, outdoor, pool, price range, ratings, etc. This feature is not available in every country, though.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Siri in action

Siri also answer slots of questions and including game scores. History, stats, player bios, player comparison, teams, records, etc. Siri should be able to return most of the info right onto its own screen, without switching over to the browser. The same applies to movies. You will get all of your movie-related answers right inside the Siri window - anything about actors, directors, awards, movie stats, premieres and tickets, reviews, trailers, etc. Siri also comes with Wikipedia integration.

Finally, Siri in iOS 8 can take dictation in 24 new languages, which will spare lots of people some typing on the keyboard.

iOS 8 brings a very familiar user interface and logic of operations with minor improvements towards better customization. We've yet to see how this will turn out once the developers start offering various interactive widgets, sharing options and actions, but the platform should benefit a lot.

Performance

The iPhone 6, just like the iPhone 6 Plus, is running on the new generation Apple A8 chipset. It is manufactured by a new 20nm process, which means smaller parts, less heat and less power consumption.

Just like the past few years Apple didn't specify the A8 specifications, but thanks reverse engineering of the chip the details are no longer a secret. Apple A8 inside the iPhone 6 packs a dual-core 64-bit Cyclone processor clocked at 1.4GHz. It is 100MHz faster than the processor inside the A7 (iPhone 5s), but it requires less power to run. There are suggestions that L1 and L2 CPU caches are larger and the L2 isn't shared as before, but this is yet to be confirmed.

The other more prominent upgrade in the Apple A8 is the new generation GPU - the PowerVR GX6450 with four GPU cores. The A7 chip used a quad-core PowerVT GX6430, which was quite the performer, but Apple needed something even better for the higher resolution iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The GX6450 within the Apple A8 also uses four GPU cores, but the newer generation should be enough to provide the necessary graphic boost.

So, there is no better way to illustrate the actual Apple A8 performance than with some synthetic benchmarks.

We start with the Geekbech 3 test to see how the overclocked CPU and memory are doing. The iPhone 6 did great, providing 20% performance boost over its iPhone 5s predecessor and on par with the current crop of Snapdragon 801 flagships. The octa-core Galaxy Alpha isn't that far ahead either.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3214
  • Oppo Find 7
    3178
  • Oppo Find 7a
    3093
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    2937
  • Apple iPhone 6
    2924
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    2884
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2860
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2856
  • LG G3 - EU version
    2563
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    2552
  • Apple iPhone 5
    1296

The Basemark OS II gives an overall device score based on CPU, graphics, system performance, memory, web, among others. Surprisingly, the new iPhone 6 duo climbs on top of our chart beating every device we've tested so far and on par with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge phablets powered by the latest Snapdragon 805 chipset.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    1260
  • Apple iPhone 6
    1252
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    1235
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    1222
  • Oppo Find 7
    1212
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    1167
  • LG G3 - EU version
    1126
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    1109
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    1077
  • Oppo Find 7a
    1057
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    1003
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    915
  • Apple iPhone 5
    589

As we mentioned before, the Apple iPhone 6 comes with a brand new PowerVR GX6450 GPU. It uses four GPU cores for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but its clock is quire possibly higher on the Plus model because it has an even better performance despite its higher resolution. First we ran the Basemark X graphic benchmark and we were surprised to find the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to be the best phones we've tested to date. It seems the onscreen performance of the PowerVR GX6450 GPU is excellent and about 12% faster than the same on the iPhone 5s (with PowerVR GX6430).

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    16620
  • Apple iPhone 6
    15841
  • Oppo Find 7
    14968
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    14341
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12637
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    12080
  • LG G3 - EU version
    11552
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    11065
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    8300
  • Apple iPhone 5
    2229

The GFX Benchmark 3.0 gives more perspective on the iPhone 6 performance. Both iPhones 6 are yet again leaders on the onscreen tests.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    52.6
  • Apple iPhone 6
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    48.4
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    41.3
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    40.7
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    29.3
  • Oppo Find 7a
    28.8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    26.7
  • LG G3 - EU version
    20.5
  • Oppo Find 7
    19.9

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    31.2
  • Apple iPhone 6
    29.2
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    25.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    25.3
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    24.3
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12.7
  • Oppo Find 7a
    11.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    10
  • LG G3 - EU version
    7.2
  • Oppo Find 7
    6.7

What we didn't expect is the offscreen 1080p score of the iPhone 6. Naturally, the iPhone 6 Plus did very close to its 1080p onscreen results, but the iPhone 6 output almost equal frame rate. There is a minor difference, which is probably due to the difference in the GPU clock, but apparently the PowerVR GX66450 GPU is a real beast, handling heavy graphics with ease. It's obvious that in terms of hardware the new iPhone is not behind the curve but just on the contrary - it's ahead of it.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    44.6
  • Apple iPhone 6
    42.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    31.3
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    28.7
  • Oppo Find 7a
    28.4
  • Oppo Find 7
    28
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    27.7
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    27.4
  • LG G3 - EU version
    27.2
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    26.3
  • Apple iPhone 5
    6.9

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    18.6
  • Apple iPhone 6
    17.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    13.4
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    12.9
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    11.8
  • LG G3 - EU version
    11.4
  • Oppo Find 7a
    11.4
  • Oppo Find 7
    11.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    9.9

If the great CPU and GPU scores on the benchmarks didn't convince you enough the new iPhone 6 is a real powerhouse featuring flagship hardware and software, then here come the web browser tests. Both the JavaScript-centric Kraken and the compound BrowserMark 2.1 confirm the iPhone 6 is among the best performers on the market and the device newcomers have to beat.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    4650
  • Apple iPhone 6
    4710
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    4911
  • Apple iPhone 5s (iOS 8)
    5396
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    6355
  • Oppo Find 7
    6363
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    6480
  • Oppo Find 7a
    6660
  • LG G3 - EU version
    6987
  • Apple iPhone 5
    14171

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3389
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3153
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    1533
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    1500
  • LG G3 - EU version
    1474
  • Oppo Find 7
    1452
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    1364
  • Oppo Find 7a
    1327
  • Apple iPhone 5
    900

These benchmark results might come shocking for some, but they really aren't. The new GPU is better in every way against the current crop of flagships, but that's probably going to change with the Adreno 420 with the Snapdragon 805 and the Nvidia Kepler in the Tegra K1. The upgraded dual-core Cyclone processor seems to be handling things way better than expected providing similar performance as a quad-core Krait 400 CPU.

Judging by the raw performance in the benchmarks and the snappier than ever user experience with the iOS 8 and its app, the new iPhone 6 is a flagship device in every way - beating everything the competition has to offer. Hopefully you didn't bet money on the opposite.

Handoff and continuity

The new Handoff option is probably the most advertised iOS 8 feature. It allows you to start something on one Apple device and continue working on it on another. For example, you can start writing an email on your iPhone, get close to your Mac or iPad and you will be able to continue what you are working on from there. This works between iOS 8 running iPhones, iPods and iPads and Max OS X Yosemite powered Macs.

Apple iOS 8

And it goes beyond emails and messages. The continuity feature is available for Safari, Maps, Reminders, Calendars, Contacts, Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Any Wi-Fi enabled iOS 8-running iPad or a Mac OS X Yosemite is also capable of picking your iOS 8 iPhone calls up. You can answer and make calls on your iPad or Mac via your iPhone thanks to the Handoff feature - the only other requirement besides the OS version is that all devices need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Apple iOS 8

Apple guessed that anyone making calls via Handoff will eventually need to send SMS/MMS/iMessages the same way, so the functionality has been implemented. Just open your Messaging app on your iPad or Mac and you can send whatever message you want thanks to your iPhone connection.

Finally, there is a new Hotspot feature that once enabled will automatically set up a mobile connection for your iPads and Macs. You don't need to do anything! Your iPhone will know when your iPad or Mac stop using the hotspot and will automatically turn it off.

Touch ID and Apple Pay work together

Apple iPhone 6 also features Touch ID - a security service with fingerprint recognition. Just like on the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 has its fingerprint scanner on the Home key. It isn't faster, but it seems like the sensor is bigger and recognizes your finger easier.

The Touch ID sensor offers 360-degree readability translating into effortless scanning of your fingerprint. Apple has integrated Touch ID as an added security measure, but it'll still allow you to use your passcode as a backup form of validation. Enabling passcode is also a mandatory requirement in order to use Touch ID.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Touch ID settings

You can commit up to five fingerprint samples (yours or those of family and friends), which is cool for setting a limited list of people with access to your device. Apple warns that with all five fingerprint slots filled in, the Touch ID sensor operation may take a slight performance hit.

Touch ID can be used for more than just unlocking your phone. Apple has integrated the feature into the digital goods purchasing experience. You can use Touch ID for making authorizations in the App Store, iTunes Store as well as iBooks Store. You can decide which one of them has access to the Touch ID sensor in the Fingerprints settings menu.

As of iOS 8 the Touch ID is available to developers and they can used it for third-party security layers and authorizations. The developers can't gain access to your actual fingerprints, nobody can. They just can use the Touch ID confirmation or denial services.

The Touch ID is also heavily used by the newly introduced Apple Pay service. It is available only on the NFC-enabled iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. You input your credit card information and then you will pay contactless with your phone. The confirmation is done via the Touch ID. It's very simple but we are yet to see if Apple will manage to attract enough merchants to the idea.

iCloud Drive and Family Sharing

Another upgrade that was well overdue is iCloud Drive. Apple has taken steps to evolve your iCloud Storage to a competitive cloud service to match Dropbox or OneDrive. Besides backing up your entire camera roll, it is instantly synced in the cloud and accessible from anywhere - your other iOS devices, Macs and PCs.

You can store any file on the iCloud Drive, not just pictures and videos, as any other services would allow you to. The Handoff feature relies heavily on the iCloud Drive - this is a document you've opened on your iPhone would be handed over to your iPad or Mac. If you don't use iCloud Drive this file continuity wouldn't be possible.

Apple iPhone 6

iCloud Drive options

Naturally you can choose what files and app data gets synced in your iCloud Drive. There is an option to choose cellular data where a Wi-Fi connection isn't available.

Unfortunately, Apple is still only giving 5GB of cloud storage for free and some of it is already used by your iCloud backups. If you want more, you'll have to pay extra.

Another major addition in the new iOS 8 is the Family Share setup and features. It allows up to six users to make iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases with a single credit card. Family photos, calendar entries and locations can also be shared.

Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview

Family sharing in action

The credit card owner and group admin may opt to authorize each purchase requested by other members in the group - i.e. your kids. Thus you have full control over the purchased content - same goes for sharing requests.

If Family Sharing enabled on a range of devices, you will be able to find each one of them on a map - handy if you want to know where your kids (or spouse) are at any time.

Phonebook

The iOS 8 phonebook and dialer interface are untouched, though now you can opt not to show the contact photos in your Favorite tab.

The logic behind the phonebook app is completely the same though, Blacklist is available too.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The phonebook • Favorites • the dialer

As usual the phonebook offers Facebook and Twitter integration. After you set up your accounts the phonebook will automatically ask you to link your existing contacts with their social ones (if available).

The phonebook can search via the dedicated Search field at the top of the list of contacts or you can use the alphabetical scroll at the right.

Editing a contact is intuitive and gives you the option to include lots of additional fields, like several addresses, related people, web, email, birthdays, etc.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Editing a contact

You can set different ringtones, message tones and vibration to your favorite contacts.

Since iOS 6 your iMessage and FaceTime ID is joined and the phonebook will automatically detect if either service is available with each contact.

Telephony with Wi-Fi calling

The iPhone 6 better reception than iPhone 5s. The in-call quality is great as well - this is where the multi-mic setup works quite splendidly.

The dialpad is virtually the same and smart dial is still missing.

Apple iPhone 6

The incoming call screen

You can reject calls via SMS since the last iOS update.

You can set the iPhone 6 to remind you to call back a person at a location or when you're leaving the current one, which is a nifty trick. Keep in mind that doing so will invoke constant use of GPS, which could in turn lead to a significantly reduced battery life but the phone would probably still last a day.

FaceTime comes as a system app in iOS 8 and looks just like the phone app. It works both over a cellular data or Wi-Fi. The service offers voice calls too, in addition to video conference. FaceTime now supports Call Waiting, too. On the iPhone 6 Facetime can make use of the H.265 codec, which allows better quality at a lower overall bitrate thus saving precious data traffic.

Apple is also offering a new feature called Wi-Fi calling. If both parties support this service and it is on, the call won't be placed through the cellular network but the internet. This improves the audio quality and won't count against your allotted monthly minutes.

As usual we've tested the loudspeaker performance of the new iPhone 6. It on par with the speaker of its iPhone 5s predecessor and scored an Average mark. This means you should be able to hear the phone in semi-noisy environments, but to ensure not to miss any calls, we advise you to turn vibration on.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 67.3 65.7 66.5 Below Average
Apple iPhone 5 66.8 66.1 67.7 Below Average
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact 65.9 62.1 73.5 Average
Samsung Galaxy Alpha 66.6 61.7 75.7 Average
Apple iPhone 5s 68.7 66.3 69.2 Average
Apple iPhone 6 66.6 65.7 72.8 Average
HTC One (M8) 65.8 64.7 75.7 Average
Samsung Galaxy S5 66.9 66.6 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 73.5 67.7 78.7 Very Good
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent


Messaging

The Messaging app comes with a refined interface too. Now it's easier to attach pictures or video with the newly introduced recent row. It has about 20 of your latest images/videos in the gallery.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The Messaging app

Naturally, the iMessage service is onboard. It lets you exchange instant messages between iOS 5 or later running iGadgets over Wi-Fi or 3G. You can send plain text as well as multimedia (pictures, sounds, videos) messages.

If you are texting someone with iMessage activated, you'll see a new Mic icon on the right. A tap and hold on the Mic will record a voice message and an upwards swipe will send it. If the person on the other end is on an older iOS version they will receive it as an .amr attachment and still be able to play it.

The Mail app got a subtly refreshed interface too with some extra useful functions and gestures.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The Mail app

Keyboard

The iOS 8 keyboard looks the same though it has been upgraded with predictive input called QuickType. Over time, the iOS will learn from your typing pattern, vocabulary, people you write often to and topics. It will eventually understand the subject of each thread and base suggestions on whether the communication is formal or casual.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Keyboard predictions

Apple says the algorithm is really smart and understands everything and suggests prompt responses. Many competitive keyboards on other platforms are already doing similar things plus they are swype-enabled.

We are happy with Apple's decision to allow replacing the default keyboard. There are already quite a few third-party keyboards available including the popular SwiftKey and Swype. If you are unhappy with the iOS default keyboard, you can opt for whatever app suits you best.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

SwiftKey keyboard

Photos

One of the highlights of the WWDC keynote earlier this year where we first saw iOS 8 was the new Photos app.

Apple has upgraded the default gallery with a new Search option. The smart suggestions implemented within the new Spotlight and Safari browser work here too. You can search by place, date, people, nearby location, etc.

Just like before, images are organized by date and location, for those that have been geo-tagged. This view is called Moments. You can go a step back, to Collections view where you can better view your sorted photos into groups with labels and much smaller thumbs. Finally, there is the Year view. It squeezes your collection into tight grids for each year.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The Photos app

There is a new default album called Recently Deleted. It stores your recently erased photos for 30 days before deletes them for good. Each photo shows the days remaining until deletion. It works like a recycle bin and, of course, you can restore the files you want.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Recently Deleted

One of the major new additions to the Photos app is the new integrated image editor. It supports standard features such as crop, rotate and filters, but it also offers advanced settings allowing full control over light (exposure, highlights, shadows, brightness, contrast, black point), color (saturation, contrast, cast), black & white (intensity, neutrals, tone, grain). In case you aren't into meddling with your photos, you can use the new intelligent Auto Enhance feature, which will do things automatically for you.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The integrated image editor

Shared photos are available - the tab has all your Photo streams. Photo Stream, which acts like a social sub-network, works really well and is very simple to set up. You choose what pictures to share and which people to share with. Your buddies on the receiving end will be able to like them and post comments. You can invite users you want to share your Photo Streams with via email or get invited. If you are using the new Family Sharing options you can easily configure Photo Streams shared between your homegroup.

If your iCloud Drive is active you can gain access to your cloud gallery and browse it on your iDevice without the need of storing it locally. If you have opted to store everything in your iCloud Drive, you can save precious space (those with 16GB of storage on their iPhones should know best) and still have access to your images and videos. You'll need a working internet connection, of course, and the iDrive free quota is only 5GB.

Thanks to the new third-party access to the Photos SKD, now developers are able to add their own editing settings, filters, sharing options, among others.

Limited video player

Many things have changed in iOS 7 and iOS 8 but the video player is definitely not one of them. You can upload only supported formats via iTunes or purchase videos from the iTunes store. This is an extremely disappointing showing by a platform that is supposed to excel at multimedia consumption.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The video player

The lack of extra functionality is bad enough, but having to use just an extremely limited number of media format or resorting to converting files, which is both slow and inconvenient is a real deal-breaker.

Music and iTunes Radio

The iOS 8 music player is exactly the same as the one in iOS 8 with minor UI and font improvements. You can create playlists, delete songs right from within the player and reorder tabs whichever way you like.

Album view is available too - you access it by flipping the device landscape. It lists all the covers to the albums you have in your library. Tapping on an album thumb lists all the tracks in it.

The Now Playing screen hasn't changed in functionality neither is the settings. Even in its seventh major iteration iOS still fails to offer configurable equalizers.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Music player

If you are logged in with an Apple ID that supports iTunes Radio, your iOS 8 music player will get an additional iTunes Radio tab. It's a music streaming service with the entire iTunes content available for streaming.

The stations are divided by genres, but once you add a station, you can choose to remove artists or add more songs from an artist/group. You can preview a station before adding it to your list.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

iTunes Radio

In case you like a particular song, you can buy it with just one tap. History is available and you can always return to buy songs later. A Wish List is available as well.

iTunes Radio is ad-free if you are using iTunes Match. Otherwise, every 7 to 10 songs are interrupted by about 15sec worth of commercials.

Audio output takes a step back, is still pretty great

The Apple iPhone 6 comes from a long line of excellent audio performers and naturally our expectations about it in this test were pretty high. As it turns out the latest flagship does a tad worse than its predecessor, and comes a bit closer to the iPhone 5.

When plugged into an active external amplifier, the Apple iPhone 6 posted excellent scores with the rather mediocre stereo crosstalk reading being the solitary exception. We guess the less than perfect stereo has something to do with bringing the waistline down, but it shouldn't be too big an issue in most scenarios.

Rather impressively, there's virtually no degradation when you plug in a pair of headphones. The spike in stereo crosstalk is so limited that in comparison the iPhone 6 fares way better here in the first test. Granted, there are phones out there that do even better, but that will only matter to the most extreme audiophiles.

In both cases, Volume levels were pretty high - not quite HTC One (M8) or One mini 2 high, but just on par with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S5. That adds up to an excellent overall performance - Apple may not be the leader in terms of audio quality anymore, but it's not far from the top either.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Apple iPhone 6 +0.06, -0.02 -94.0 93.9 0.0012 0.0065 -73.4
Apple iPhone 6 (headphones attached) +0.11, -0.06 -93.8 93.8 0.0022 0.099 -65.1
Apple iPhone 5s +0.02, -0.05 -93.6 93.7 0.0013 0.0068 -90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached) +0.12, -0.00 -93.4 93.3 0.0016 0.060 -76.1
Apple iPhone 5 +0.06, -0.51 -91.3 91.3 0.0015 0.0093 -76.5
Apple iPhone 5 (headphones attached) +0.00, -0.26 -90.6 90.6 0.0035 0.111 -56.2
Samsung Galaxy Alpha +0.01, -0.04 -96.6 92.8 0.0058 0.0091 -97.1
Samsung Galaxy Alpha (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.01 -95.7 92.7 0.013 0.033 -65.6
Sony Xperia Z3 +0.02, -0.08 -86.4 86.4 0.014 0.021 -86.6
Sony Xperia Z3 (headphones attached) +0.29, -0.10 -85.7 85.7 0.035 0.064 -50.8
Samsung Galaxy S5 +0.02, -0.08 -96.3 93.3 0.0017 0.0089 -95.2
Samsung Galaxy S5 (headphones) +0.01, -0.08 -96.3 93.3 0.0095 0.018 -61.9
HTC One (M8) +0.04, -0.10 -95.4 93.4 0.0012 0.010 -93.2
HTC One (M8) (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.08 -94.9 93.9 0.0014 0.018 -79.7

Apple iPhone 6 frequency response

Apple iPhone 6 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

8MP camera gains phase detect autofocus

The iPhone 6 comes with the same size camera sensor as the iPhone 5S and the same 8MP resolution that premiered in the Apple lineup way back in the day with the iPhone 4S. However the focus hardware has been improved and along with the updated software that adds up to somewhat better results.

Apple has added what they call focus pixels to the sensor which should make the autofocusing way faster. This is the phase detection pixel technology that we've seen in higher-grade cameras for a while now and the same focusing technology that Samsung premiered in the Galaxy S5 and LG in their G3 (which has and added infrared focusing aid as well).

The more powerful chipset and the new faster focus has enabled Apple to improve the face detection making it faster and more accurate. The auto image stabilization on the Apple iPhone 6 is digital but Apple promises it still does enough to reduce blurring. The panoramas got their resolution boosted and can now be up to 43MP. The new Apple A8 chipset also helps speed the whole thing up - from shot to shot times through HDR images to launching the camera app itself - it's all slightly snappier.

Lastly the front-facing camera is improved as well. Apple claims it captures 81% more light, though we are not sure how that's possible given that it has retained the same F/2.2 aperture, and it will do 10fps burst capture. The front-facing camera even offers HDR video capture, aside from HDR photo capture.

The camera interface is improved, courtesy of iOS 8. If you tap to focus the phone will give you control over exposure through an up and down slider. This way you can cleverly add exposure compensation depending on the scene. You can lock the focus and exposure as well but that isn't new.

Along the left side of the camera viewfinder Apple has added controls for switching to the front-facing camera, setting up a timer (either 3s or 10s), choosing the HDR mode (Auto will choose when to apply the effect, off and on) and finally a settings for the flash (Auto, on or off).

On the right side on each side of the virtual shutter button you get swipe controls that will take you into the photo, square and pano mode on one side and video, slow-mo and time-lapse. To activate the Burst mode you just need to press the camera shutter longer.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 camera UI

Once you start shooting with the Apple iPhone 6 you'll immediately notice an improvement in speed. The older iPhone 5s is no slouch but the new one feels notably faster. Shot to shot time is impressively fast and HDR photos (when the camera captures and stacks two shots) take just 1s to process.

The dynamic range is great - the brighter and darker parts of the scene have great exposure without the need for HDR. White balance was spot on each time took an image. The iPhone 6 tends to saturate colors over the natural level but we're not taking points away as most cameras oversaturate a little bit and it does add a certain punch to your images. We haven't had issues with blown out colors and lost detail.

Per-pixel detail is impressive for a 8MP camera as is usual for an iPhone. Objects come out incredibly sharp and well detailed. Compared to the iPhone 5s the corner sharpness has been improved and now offers as much resolved detail as the central part of the image.

It needs to be said that the Apple iPhone 6 focus didn't seemed to miss at all - every photo came out sharp and detailed. Focusing is noticeably faster compared to the iPhone 5s, too.



Apple iPhone 6 camera samples

The fast autofocus performed equally well when we tested the iPhone 6 up close and personal to subjects. Macro samples came out sharp with good detail.


Apple iPhone 6 macro samples

The HDR mode on the Apple iPhone 6 captures two images and stacks them together in order to obtain a well-exposed shot with a wider dynamic range. The Apple iPhone 6 started off with an impressive dynamic range to boot but the HDR samples didn't really help it enough with exposing the difficult scene.

It seems the iPhone 6 leaves the shadows as they are and tries to recover some of the lost detail in the highlights, just like its predecessor. The HDR effect is very subtle and we would've liked it to be a little more prominent.




Apple iPhone 6 HDR Off * HDR On

Apple has improved on the low light imaging with the new iPhone. The phone isn't afraid to go for a lower shutter speed so night shots get better exposure. The ISO is lower this way too, but you do risk getting blurry images due to either camera shake or your subject moving too quickly. While the 5s won't automatically choose shutter speeds below 1/30s, the iPhone 6 would go as low as 1/15s.

The images below are shot at 1/15s and ISO 320 and 1/15s at ISO 250 and offer pretty good quality given the little available light. As we said though - at shutter speeds like that, you won't be so lucky every time.


Apple iPhone 6 low-light samples

Apple iPhones have for some time now produced excellent panoramas, some of the best in the mobile world in fact. The stitching is great with no visible tearing in the picture and the dynamic exposure helps to avoid blown-out parts of the scene. Not to mention that the process of taking them is impressively user friendly - almost like shooting a video.

The iPhone 6 can capture panoramas with a maximum resolution of 43MP bringing a huge improvement over the already-great iPhone 5s panoramas. Here go two samples.

We've enrolled the Apple iPhone 6 in our photo quality comparison tool. You can compare samples with any camera in our database and see how the new Apple flagship fares in sharpness, resolution, color reproduction and detail.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Apple iPhone 6 in our photo compare tool

Compared to Apple iPhone 5s

Since Apple didn't bother increasing the resolution iPhone 5s owners might be wondering if the camera is worth the upgrade. The 5s is already pretty great so let's see how it compares to the new iPhone 6.

We've prepared a number of 100% resolution crops for you to check out and we'll be walking you through the process as we go along.

First off we're looking at a photo captured in good light. The two crops the left compare the resolved detail, which is a little superior in the case of the Apple iPhone 6 - even more so in the corners. On the right you can see the slightly better dynamic range coming from the newer iPhone 6.

The colored surface on the right represents the overexposed parts of the image (hint: there is less red in the image shot by the iPhone 6). The difference isn't huge but it's commendable that the iPhone 6 not only shoots slightly lower shutter speeds thus lightening up the shadows, but it is also able to save more detail in the highlights compared to its predecessor, pointing to a slightly extended dynamic range or to a clever highlight recovery routine applied during shooting.

The next difference is noise performance. Apple claims it has a more advanced noise reduction algorithm working on the new iPhone and in theory it should provide lower noise, while retaining more detail. Looking at the samples below we see that the noise in the Apple iPhone 6's photo is finer and not as evident. The iPhone 5s tends to show a lot more noise, especially in uniform-colored areas such as the sky or the windows on the building.

When it comes to low light performance the Apple iPhone 6 usually went for a lower shutter speed compared to its predecessor and the same ISO setting, resulting in slightly higher exposure. The difference in noise performance is most evident here - the older iPhone exhibits big, blotchy noise artefacts. The noise of the iPhone 6 is finer and much more tolerable.

The iPhone 6 offers the sharper low light results and there's more detail to go around.

We forced the two iPhones to select identical camera parameters for this next image, which makes up for better comparison. The iPhone 6 came out on top with a little more detail, slightly better dynamic range (brighter shadows) and finer noise.

What we did notice is that phase detection autofocus was little help in low light. Both the iPhone 6 and 5s had a hard time in such conditions and required a long time to get a focus lock.

You can find the full resolution images below.


Apple iPhone 6 samples


Apple iPhone 5s samples

240fps slow-mo, but no 4K

The latest flagship installment by Apple brings forth an improved video camera. In addition to capturing FullHD 1080p videos at 30fps the iPhone 6 can also capture fast-motion 1080p videos at 60fps. Slow motion videos have also seen an improvement - alongside the year-old 720p@120fps videos Apple has added even higher-framerate (twice as high, in fact) 720p@240fps videos. That's an impressive feat considering there isn't any loss to resolution.

What we would've liked to see the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus do is 4K video capture but we guess Apple is saving that for the "s" version. Many Android phones have excellent UHD video capture that's 4x bigger in resolution and detail than FullHD. Yet, the fact remains that the 8MP 4:3 sensor doesn't have enough horizontal resolution for UHD video capture.

Once you enter slow-mo capture mode in the camera app you have an indicator of the frames per second - you can tap to change between 120fps and 240fps. Oddly the video mode in the camera app captures 1080p@30fps by default and you need to go into Settings-General-Photos and Camera and enable 60fps video capture at 1080p. But then the video app captures only in 60fps without giving you the option to choose between fps modes.

Apple has upgraded the already spectacular digital video stabilization we've seen on the iPhone 5s and calls the new one Cinematic Stabilization, promising cancel out even more of the shakiness during video capture. Indeed, our tests showed a noticeable decrease of shakiness and much smoother videos. We'll post samples next week.

Moving on to the videos themselves. The Apple iPhone 6 offers stellar video quality for the 1080p league - detail levels are superb and things come out sharp and well exposed. The 30fps videos are stutter-free as well. Focusing was spot on during video capture, which is quite impressive given the challenging scene we shot at - the moving cars could easily confuse the autofocus.

The iPhone 6 doesn't have optical image stabilization, so we have even higher expectations for the iPhone 6 Plus, though we have reasons to believe that it doesn't use it while recording video and only when shooting low light images.

Statistics are unimpressive, though. 1080p@30fps videos carry a bitrate of around 18Mbps but audio is subpar. For starters it has a low bitrate of 63Kbps and despite having multiple microphones the iPhone 6, stubbornly, captures a single audio channel.

FullHD videos at 60fps are even better than the 30fps ones. At twice as many frames things look as fluid as you'd like with motion being buttery smooth. The detail level is left almost untouched and retains the great qualities of the 30fps videos.

The bitrate here, as is to be expected, is much higher - 25Mbps. Still compared to the usual 40-50Mbps of 4K videos things don't sound or look as impressive.

Moving on to slow motion videos - they are by far the most demanding of files coming from the iPhone 6 camcorder. At around 40Mbps bitrate for the 240fps videos and 27Mbps for the 120fps, these surely take up a lot of space. 20s of slow-motion capture will run you 90MB for a 120fps clip and around 115MB for a 240fps one.

The detail is actually pretty good and the quality of motion reduction is impressive. The videos are fun to watch at the regular 120fps setting and get even better (twice as better) when you go up to 240fps. There isn't a dip in quality when you move from slow to super slow. We made a video showing you just how slow you can get.

The high-framerate videos themselves came out with the framerate they are captured at and you need to use your iPhone 6 to apply the slo-mo effect. Otherwise you will just get 120 or 240fps videos playing at normal speed on your computer.

However you should keep in mind that looking at 720p clips on a high-res monitor is no great pleasure, even if they are slow motion. Yet, on the 750p display of the iPhone 6 these videos are really fun to watch and edit. The software allows you to select which parts of the clip you want fast and which one part slow.

Here are untouched samples of the 1080p@30fps (0:15s, 31.3MB), 1080p@60fps (0:14s, 44.5MB) files.

And here's our video quality comparison tool. You can choose whichever phone we've tested from our ample database.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Apple iPhone 6 in our video compare tool

Compared to Apple iPhone 5s

Lastly we have a comparison of the video quality between the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s. Below you'll see a 100% view of the pure detail you'd get from the normal and fast-motion videos of the newer iPhone and the 30fps FullHD sample taken with an iPhone 5s.

The detail on the iPhone 6 is more than on the 5s'. Apple iPhone 6 videos captured at 30fps are a little sharper than the 60fps ones, which have about the same per-pixel quality as the Apple iPhone 5s videos.

There's also a little less noise to be seen from the iPhone 6. Overall though, outside of the undoubtedly cool higher framerate, there's not all that much separating the two phones.

One last thing worth noting is that the Cinematic Stabilization is a little better at handling vibrations during video capture on the iPhone 6 and panning is a little bit smoother.

Safari supports plugins, suggestions

The Safari web browser welcomes third-party developers too. It now supports extension access via its contextual menu. They will be able to auto-fill forms, use the Touch ID security features and translate webpages. It's up to the developers to come up with creative uses and hopefully we'll get a lot of those at launch.

Other than the Safari extensions, Apple has improved its Private Browsing. It's more intuitive now and won't make you convert all of your currently opened tabs into Private ones.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Safari

As we mentioned in the user interface chapter, the smart suggestions from Wikipedia and the App Store/iTunes Store work within the Safari browser, too.

Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview

Safari search suggestions

Safari supports the iCloud keychain where you can store all of your passwords and credit card info (sans the security code). There is also a password generator available, in case you are out of ideas. What's good about this setup is that all your save content from the computer version of Safari is now available straight on your phone as well.

In much the same way, iCloud syncs your opened tabs, along with offline reading. Safari also allows you access to your multimedia content without exiting the browser.

Much like before, if a page is compatible with the integrated Reader (most of the article pages out there are) you get a Reader button right into the address bar as soon as the page loads. The Reader strips the webpage of ads and makes the layout and font size more suited to a smaller phone screen.

Other apps

With every newly activated iPhone 6 you also get the complete iWorks suite including Pages (viewing, editing docs), Numbers (viewing, editing excel files), and Keynote (viewing, editing presentations).

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Pages • Numbers • Keynote

Apps such as Calendar, Notes, Weather, Calculator and Alarm are available, but they received very few upgrades, if any. The only thing worth mentioning is the rich text editing in the Notes app.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Calendar • Weather • Rich Text editing in Notes

There is a new app coming with iOS 8 - Tips. It will show new tips from Apple in your notification area each week, helping you make better use your iDevice better with intuitive demos and suggestions.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Tips app

The iBooks is now part of the iOS package and will be pre-installed once you upgrade to iOS 8. Its interface mimics that of the App Store, but the first tab is still your virtual bookshelf.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

iBooks

Reminders, Compass app, Stocks and Voice memos are available as part of the default iOS 8 package.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Reminders • Compass • Stocks • Voice memos

The PassBook is an e-ticket app that handles all kinds of electronic tickets and reservations (including boarding passes), loyalty cards, coupons, etc. It's Apple's answer to apps like Google Wallet but without the additional NFC support.

Apple iPhone 6

Passbook

The location-aware app makes the right coupon available in the right place and at the right time. The PassBook will report the balance on coupons and cards, let you check your ticket seats and can even show you relevant notifications (e.g. gate or terminal change for a flight).

Apple has replaced Google with TomTom as map provider for the iOS native Maps application. It also offers voice-guided navigation courtesy of Siri. The navigation will work even on the lockscreen or in the background. Real-time traffic reports are available and Apple is also crowdsourcing the live traffic info anonymously from iOS users on the road. Turn-by-turn walking directions are available as well.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Maps UI

The 3D Flyover mode is a great bonus for your viewing pleasure. When you enable the 3D view (outside navigation) you will be able to explore cityscapes from birds-eye view. The currently available selection is quite limited, but more and more areas are joining Flyover in time. You can zoom, tilt and rotate using two-finger gestures to explore 3D landmarks rendered in real time.

As of its 8th version, iOS features a Health suite which gathers all data collected from the device's tracking apps and various third-party accessories. Apple has teamed up with a number of partners on the health suite including Nike and the Mayo clinic.

Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview
Apple iOS 8 Preview

Health app

The app offers a Medical ID card that lists all of your health-related data, emergency contacts, medication, intolerances and doctors' contacts.

The Health app will store and track stuff like calorie burnout, periods of sleep and activity, among others. Its dashboard is where you are supposed to find all important data at a glance.

During the iOS 8 announcement, Apple unveiled several new features for its App Store. Better and smarter search with a new interface, App Bundles offered by devs, embedded videos in the app descriptions a la Google Play Store, and devs will be able to invite users to closed beta testing of future versions of their apps.

We've yet to see a beta section in the App Store making an appearance and how the beta app seeding will work. The promised App Bundles are already available though and many developers are now offering app bundles on discounted prices.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

The App Store

Conclusion

We started this review with a rant we had been holding in for a while. Having gone all the way, we got to see a better side to the iPhone 6, inevitably warming up to it. What these few days didn't change however is how we feel about Apple's way of doing business.

You don't have to be an Apple fan to appreciate the iOS experience. But even the most faithful of fans would have probably loved a more feature-rich hardware to enjoy it on. This is an Apple fan speaking by the way.

We can't help the feeling that Apple is holding back with the new features just so they have something to brag about at their next iPhone keynote. Now that the iPhone 6 is six foot tall it could've used some extra muscle.

On its own, the iPhone 6 is a perfectly executed product. Made of high quality materials, fast, capable, fluid, impressive in many ways. Apple surely knows how to make class-leading devices. It's just that they don't like to push the envelope - well, to be fair, it's worked just fine for them so far. They like to keep a stash of upgrades ready for introduction in the years ahead only so they can make sure users will pay for each and every one of those through the nose.

The Apple iPhone 6 is the epitome of that strategy and it shouldn't surprise anyone that we, being the geeks that we are, are in a way disappointed. But examining the iPhone 6 for what it is rather than what we would have liked it to be, draws a more positive picture.

Here are our main test findings in this review.

Key test findings:

  • Built quality is top notch, though we find the visual benefits of plastic strips on the back rather controversial
  • The display is quite bright and has excellent sunlight legibility
  • Battery life is ok, even better or at least on par with the iPhone 5s despite the screen upgrade
  • The connectivity options are rich but there're certain things missing, such as USB Host or FM radio
  • iOS 8 doesn't change anything visually but opens up the OS to developers like never before; it adds a handful of new features and integrates Apple's products even more closely
  • We rated the speaker loudness as only Average
  • Benchmark performance is stellar, among the best we've seen this year
  • Audio quality is excellent, with only a single minor exception
  • Video player is quite limited in the supported video and audio decoders
  • Camera and video recorder are great, perhaps the best in the 8MP/1080p league. We would have liked to see high-resolution stills though and UHD video.
  • The hump at the back is quite a surprise, so much unlike Apple. Aesthetics aside, the wobble is annoying. Easily fixed with the case on, if you don't mind one.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that there is some rather capable competition to the iPhone 6 from all sides. As usual, most of the phones its size are even better equipped hardware-wise, but that has never bothered Apple. iOS and its powerful app ecosystem (not to mention the reputation) are a powerful leverage that the company is not afraid to use year after year.

So speaking about competition, perhaps the first name that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy Alpha - it's par excellence Samsung's answer to the iPhone. A metal frame, a more compact and even slimmer body, the same size screen but of the AMOLED variety and a higher resolution camera. Not to mention the substantially lower price tag. The iPhone 6 will have a hard time with this one.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Sony recently presented their Xperia Z3 compact, a phone that can easily outclass the iPhone in several departments, save for the premium build. Glass and plastic are hardly a match for a metal unibody. The Xperia Z3 Compact is not even trying to come across as more sophisticated than it is. Double the battery life at half the price is one hell of a motto.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

The rest of the Android minis may look like a match to the iPhone on the outside (judging by screen size alone), but they are in a different league altogether, so their names are unlikely to come up in the same conversation.

Apple's own however may steal away some of the spotlight from the iPhone 6 (the 5s less so). The iPhone 6 Plus offers everything the iPhone 6 has sans the pocketability but if you are carrying your phone in a purse anyway, you might as well get the bigger screen. The iPhone 6 Plus might be unwieldy but despite its gargantuan proportions, you can't hide the fact that all multimedia content looks even more appealing on a bigger screen - not to mention the added ease of error-free typing.

The iPhone 5s will remain a viable option for a while as well if you can live with the small screen size. After all, it has almost the same camera, almost the same quality screen, almost the same battery life and it's processor is still fast enough. And it gives you access to the same iOS 8 features and the full app catalogue without any hardware restrictions.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 5s

Apple iPhone 6 Plus • Apple iPhone 5s

As you can see, the iPhone 6 is hardly our sweetheart. It may not be the iPhone we dreamt of, but it's the best iPhone to date and the iOS app ecosystem is just begging for a screen that's bigger than a mere 4 inches. So more than likely, it will be on many people's Christmas wish lists. But if you are looking for the most feature rich hardware package or for the best deal around regardless of OS, then quite possibly, you might just end up spending your money elsewhere. And we wouldn't blame you.

iPhone 6 retail package

The iPhone 6 comes in a box that's not much different from what we're used to. Perhaps the only change is that there is no longer a real image of the phone printed on the box, but an outline instead. The box is always white no matter which color version you go for.

The box contents are the same as before as well - there is the Apple's USB cable with a Lightning connector, an AC adapter, and the Apple EarPods headset with volume controls and microphone in their separate box. There is a SIM eject tool as well. Inside we also found a quick user manual and a couple of Apple fan stickers.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 retail box

The bundled charger is a regular 1A unit, but we've heard reports that unlike the last year's iPhone, the iPhone 6 would actually charge faster if you hook it to a 2+A charger like the one supplied with the Apple iPads. Our test showed a 25% increase in the current when the iPhone was hooked to a 2.4A iPad Air charger so we'd say these reports are somewhat exaggerated.

Apple iPhone 6 360-degree spin

Having in mind that the screen size has increased, the iPhone 6 is understandably bigger than the iPhone 5s. It's also heavier at 129g (as opposed to 112g), but it's almost a millimeter slimmer at 6.9mm.

If you ask us, even the last two iPhones were already slimmer than the regular user's needs. Perhaps, as the reports of a "bend gate" keep coming in, it's perhaps too thin for its own good.

Easily bendable or not, we would pick a beefier battery over an ultra thin profile any day. We can only imagine the extra battery capacity we could have enjoyed had the iPhone 6 had just a single millimeter of extra thickness.

Design and handling

At 4.7 inches, the iPhone 6 is more comparable size-wise to the Android minis rather than the competing flagships, which it will have to battle for the public affection.

Its screen-to-body ratio is nothing to write home about either although the side bezels are relatively unobtrusive. Still, with the Nexus 5, LG has managed to fit a good 5-inch screen inside a similarly-sized body frame, while Samsung's Galaxy Alpha fits a 4.7-inch screen within a smaller (and even thinner!) body.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 compared to LG Nexus 5 (left) and the Samsung Galaxy Alpha (right)

If cheaper smartphones can do it, we think the most expensive smartphone on the market should be able to offer more impressive screen-to-body ratio.

That said, Apple indeed offers a class leading build quality. There are hardly any flaws in the unibody construction. All parts fit perfectly and in usual Apple style, everything feels the part.

The changes to the last year's model are numerous and are visible from a distance. Gone are the glass panels on the back and plastic trimmings line the top and bottom. These are needed so the internal antennas can pick up signal through the metal back. The strips are all plastic, and look it, honestly are our least favorite part of this year's redesign. They feel cheap and are nowhere near as classy as last year's glass finish.

The rounded edges are probably the most prominent new design change and although appreciating them is strictly a matter of personal taste, we think they make the phone rather slippery, even more so when you are stretching your thumb across the larger screen diagonal.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 • the iPhone 6 compared to the iPhone 5S (the iPhone 6 Plus easy to spot as well)

The front is covered with a scratch-resistant glass (the strongest one in the industry, Apple claims), but we already managed to inflict a small scratch on ours during our tests (no dropping involved).

The edges thereof are bent (in a good way) - an effect which is more clearly perceivable on the version with a black front. In either case, swiping gestures across the screen feel great with the curved corners and we very much enjoy this design decision (although for the record, it's not an Apple's first).

Handling the iPhone 6 is an altogether new feeling and thanks mainly to the rounded edges, it feels completely different to last year's iPhone. The size is just about right and thanks to the rounded corners, it feels quite slimmer than what the 0.7mm difference to the iPhone 5S profile suggests.

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6

Handling the iPhone 6