The iPhone 6 grows up ( More From CNET) September 16

The iPhone 6 grows up ( More From CNET) September 16

The Good A bigger, crisp display, improved LTE and Wi-Fi speeds, better camera autofocus, bumped-up storage capacities to 128GB at the top end, and NFC Apple Pay mobile wallet features on the horizon.

The Bad In early tests, the iPhone 6’s battery doesn’t fare any better than last year’s model. Some Android phones fit an even-larger 5-inch screen into the same size frame. It lacks the optical image stabilization of the bigger, more expensive 6 Plus.

The Bottom Line The iPhone 6 delivers a bigger screen while remaining easy to handle, with plenty of features to satisfy everyone — and the promise of Apple Pay on the horizon to potentially sweeten the deal even further.

I’m sitting on my sofa. I pull out my phone to check sports scores. Wait, which phone was it again? I’m starting to lose track. For a second, I think it’s the 6 Plus. Wait, it’s the 6.

I’ve been using the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus side by side for a week, and I can tell you this: both of Apple’s new iPhones have better, big displays. And both make the iPhone 5S‘ screen seem small. But I’m having a hard time picking which one I prefer. That’s pretty frustrating. At least I know this: the iPhone 6 is a lot like the Plus…minus a few features.

For years, Android phones have shipped with displays in expansive, 5-inch-ish sizes, but Apple has stubbornly insisted on the necessity of a small screen for one-handed operation. The iPhone 5S, while powerful, hit a wall in viewing room: its 4-inch screen was among the smallest on the market, and, frankly, I found it limiting.

iPhone 6

No longer. Now, Apple has created two larger iPhones, one big, the other even bigger: the iPhone 6 sports a 4.7-inch screen, while the iPhone 6 Plus goes full « phablet » with a 5.5-inch display. Both of the new iPhones boast flatter designs, ship with somewhat faster A8 processors, slightly improved cameras, speedier Wi-Fi and LTE, better voice quality if you’re using voice-over-LTE, and more onboard storage.

Both 2014 models also incorporate Apple Pay, the new and potentially revolutionary NFC-powered payment system that turns the phone into a credit card. Apple Pay could be the biggest feature on these new iPhones if it works as advertised; stay tuned for more on that when it launches in the US in October.

Between the two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 feels best in my hand. It’s thin, elegant, performs really well, and has many of the features I need. But it lacks extra battery life and optical image stabilization, which I care about. So do you go with the more expensive, larger iPhone 6 Plus? I wish I didn’t have to debate between two very similar premium phones. (Be sure to check out CNET’s full review of the iPhone 6 Plus.)

6, or 6 Plus?

See, here’s the problem: Apple has added two phones at once for the first time. And they’re both pretty similar. So which one do you pick?

The good news is that the iPhone 6, which feels great to hold, has nearly all the same features as the 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus both have larger screens than previous iPhones. They both have new A8 processors. They both have 16, 64, or 128GB of storage. They both come in three colors: white/silver, white/gold, and space gray, which is black/darker silver.

The differences between the two aren’t that tremendous, but they’re important. The 6 has a 4.7-inch, 1,344×750-pixel display. The 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel display, plus optical image stabilization in the camera and the ability to run more apps in horizontal-landscape mode, with split-screen effects like an iPad. It’s also significantly bigger, and weighs more — but it does have a longer battery life.

You’re not losing much with the 6. But it’s not the absolute top of the line, and maybe that bugs you. If it does, get the 6 Plus.

For potential buyers of both phones, here’s how it breaks down:

For owners of older iPhones looking to upgrade, these new iPhones are massive leaps in screen size. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will probably be more than enough, but the 6 Plus may be downright intimidating unless you’re looking for a mini-tablet.

For Android owners who once jumped ship from iOS and want to come back, this is the iPhone generation you’ve been waiting for. It’s the best iPhone since the iPhone 5. Back then, 4G LTE and an improved screen and camera made the difference. This time, a larger screen, a fast processor, NFC with Apple Pay (although likely only that), the additional customization features of iOS 8, and bumped-up storage tiers go a long way to close the feature gap with current top Android phones.

For iPhone 5S owners or habitual iPhone upgraders, think of the chief advantages as a bigger screen and the potential of Apple Pay. The improved processor, camera, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi speeds, and possible battery-life gains are steps up, but not massive leaps. In other words, if you don’t have a strong desire for the larger screen, you could easily ride your iPhone 5S (running iOS 8) for 12 more months, and wait for the inevitable iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in 2015.

For hard-core Android fans, well, there are Android phones that cost less, have higher-resolution screens, boast better battery life, have removable SD card storage, and even removable batteries. You won’t find all of these on an iPhone 6, but this is the most attractive iPhone yet. You can’t have everything in Appleland.

iPhone 6



My favorite-feeling 4.7-inch phone, the one that proved larger screens could be made in compact sizes, was the 2013 Motorola Moto X. Does the iPhone 6 pull off the same feel? It’s close, but different.

The new iPhone design may seem bold and different, or possibly a little like the HTC One M8’s curved metal, but it’s also still very Apple. In fact, it’s kind of like the iPod Touch design, or how the iPads are made. This iPhone is slightly thinner than before, but it feels much thinner; part of that’s the increased screen size, and partly it’s the curved design. Glass from the front folds ever so slightly around the edges, and the sharp industrial hard edges of the iPhone 5 and 5S are completely gone.

It also feels a little like the original iPhone, which had a curved design, too.

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