Apple caved to market pressure and created a phablet. This may sound as blasphemy but it’s not the first time Cupertino is seen reacting to rivals getting too confident, too aggressive – too close for comfort. The first iPad mini had to respond back in its time to the rise of the compact Android tablets. That was different though – and not in a way perhaps that Apple will like.
The iPad mini was very much in a league of its own, by virtue of its screen size and aspect ratio. The phablet, on the other hand, is dragged into a tougher game away from home. For the first time, Apple is playing by someone else’s rules. They’re in it to win though. Second year in a row, users will be choosing from a pair, but this time it’s a pair that doesn’t have a straightforward first choice this time around. It’s an iPhone and a bigger – better? – version of it.
The iPhone 6 Plus marks the biggest leap in iPhones since the iPhone 4 and will have implications for the iPads as well. With a large 5.5″ screen to straddle the difference between the iPhone and the iPad Air.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus official images
Apple abandoned scaling the original 320 x 480 resolution by various factors and jumped to an industry standard of 1080p. This means that for the first time the iPhone can show FullHD video at 1:1 and also represents the first jump in pixel density since the iPhone 4 (even the smaller iPhone 6 is still at 326ppi).
The screen is the defining feature of the iPhone 6 Plus but another important update is the addition of Optical Image Stabilization to the camera, which has otherwise only seen iterative updates for the last four years.
- Metal unibody, 7.1mm slim, 172g of weight
- LTE connectivity (Cat. 4, 150Mbps downlink)
- 5.5″ 1,080 x 1,920 LED-backlit IPS LCD with 401 ppi pixel density
- Apple iOS 8; iPad-like split-screen functionality
- 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, Optical Image Stabilization, phase detection auto focus, 1080p@30fps and @60fps video recording, 720p@120fps and 240fps video recording, 1.2MP F/2.2 front-facing camera with BSI sensor and HDR mode.
- 16/64/128GB of built-in storage
- Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the Home button
- 2,915mAh battery
- Hard to use single-handedly, unimpressive screen to body ratio (6″ Androids fit in the same footprint)
- No microSD slot
- Pricey memory upgrades, 32GB version should be standard for such an expensive phone
- No user-replaceable battery
- 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 every with every new generation)
- No 4K video and video sound is still mono
- No enhanced resistance to liquids or dust
- NFC functionality limited to Apple Pay
- Rather pricey for a flagship (without carrier subsidies) that misses some of the extras of the competition, such as stereo speakers, wireless charging, an infrared port, or FM radio
The iPhone 6 Plus will require a big adjustment from longtime Apple faithfuls who have grown used to the iPhone’s classic size. That said, it may eat into iPad mini sales as people get to carry a large, usable screen in a pocket.
Also, changes between generations are generally small, such is the Apple way. This means the camera kept its still and video resolution and it still can’t record stereo. The chipset was sped up a bit, but only about 20%, not as nearly as big a jump as between last generations.
The largest iPhone yet
Apple introduced a new design with the Sixes, an aluminum unibody with rounded sides and corners. Comparisons with the iPod touch are inescapable – the design isn’t old (though not exactly new either) but it proved to have a weak point – causing it to bend in people’s pockets.
The Tim Cook era is seeing Apple venture into new territories but with the iPhone 6 Plus it finds itself in a house built by Android, the house of phablets. Has the company changed enough to successfully upscale iOS to 5.5 inches? iPads certainly work great but there’s more to it than that. Let’s start exploring.