Apple iPhone 6 Plus review: Following the curve

Following the curve

GSMArena team, 30 September 2014.

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.

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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.

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Viewing a single image • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Excellent audio quality

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus audio output is in line with its non-Plus relative and slightly behind what the iPhone 5s pulled off.

When plugged into an active external amplifier, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus posted excellent scores with the rather mediocre stereo crosstalk reading being the solitary exception. Since the less than stellar stereo is a common trait of the two iPhone 6 variants, we guess it has something to do with the new slimmer profiles of the two phones.

Apple had a similar problem when it went from the iPhone 4s to the iPhone 5, only to address them with the iPhone 5s and its slightly modified internals.

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 Plus fares way better here than 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 - about on par with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and just slightly behind the likes of the HTC One Max or One (M8). Come to think of it, that’s about the same thing we can say about the overall performance of Apple's first phablet.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Apple iPhone 6 Plus+0.04, -0.04-94.094.00.00130.0064-72.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (headphones attached)+0.10, -0.04-94.093.90.00160.087-64.1
Apple iPhone 6+0.06, -0.02-94.093.90.00120.0065-73.4
Apple iPhone 6 (headphones attached)+0.11, -0.06-93.893.80.00220.099-65.1
Apple iPhone 5s+0.02, -0.05-93.693.70.00130.0068-90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.00-93.493.30.00160.060-76.1
Samsung Galaxy Note 3+0.02, -0.07-96.592.80.0035 0.0099-96.3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.09-96.292.70.017 0.017-62.1
HTC One Max+0.14, -0.14-93.893.80.0009 0.015-94.1
HTC One Max (headphones attached)+0.26, -0.02-93.693.60.026 0.080-80.4
LG G Pro 2+0.02, -0.23-93.894.20.0040 0.029-93.3
LG G Pro 2 (headphones attached)+0.07, -0.02-93.793.40.050 0.039-73.5

Apple iPhone 6 Plus frequency response
Apple iPhone 6 Plus frequency response

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

Reader comments

I love iPhone 6+

  • ekong

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  • ekong

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