Mobile Technology

iPhone 6 Plus: Early impressions

iPhone 6 Plus: Early impressio...
Gizmag takes a first look at Apple's first phablet, the new iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gizmag takes a first look at Apple's first phablet, the new iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 Plus' size is a huge departure from older iPhones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 Plus' size is a huge departure from older iPhones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The downside to that huge screen is that the 6 Plus is the least one-hand-friendly iPhone yet (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The downside to that huge screen is that the 6 Plus is the least one-hand-friendly iPhone yet (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 Plus is fairly comfortable to hold, but there's always going to be a little compromise with gigantic phones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 Plus is fairly comfortable to hold, but there's always going to be a little compromise with gigantic phones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 Plus (right) with the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 Plus (right) with the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Third-party keyboards are like a breath of (long overdue) fresh air in iOS 8 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Third-party keyboards are like a breath of (long overdue) fresh air in iOS 8 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Apple's one-handed mode, Reachability, lets you slide the entire screen down – so can better hit those top-level targets (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Apple's one-handed mode, Reachability, lets you slide the entire screen down – so can better hit those top-level targets (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The 6 Plus' home screen rotates into landscape mode, like on an iPad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The 6 Plus' home screen rotates into landscape mode, like on an iPad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 Plus has a gorgeous aluminum unibody design (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 Plus has a gorgeous aluminum unibody design (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The 6 Plus is 7.1 mm (0.28-in) thick (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The 6 Plus is 7.1 mm (0.28-in) thick (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Another back shot of the 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Another back shot of the 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Gizmag takes a first look at Apple's first phablet, the new iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Gizmag takes a first look at Apple's first phablet, the new iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Apple may have taken its sweet time jumping into the big-screen smartphone game, but now that it finally has, you can't accuse the company of doing things halfway. The iPhone 6 Plus isn't just bigger than older iPhones – it absolutely dwarfs them. Join Gizmag, as we take a quick first look at the first Apple phablet.

The iPhone 6 Plus is basically Apple's answer to the Galaxy Note. The 6 Plus takes the design language from the iPhone 6, and balloons it up to gigantic phablet proportions. And while it's a little compromised for one-handed use, it's, on the other hand, big enough that it can potentially void a need for a tablet.

The 6 Plus might be as much of an iPad mini rival as it is a Galaxy Note rival.

The iPhone 6 Plus has a gorgeous aluminum unibody design (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 Plus has a gorgeous aluminum unibody design (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

I see the iPhone 6 Plus as straddling the line between iPhone and iPad mini. If you're invested in the Apple ecosystem, and spent the last few years grumbling about having to buy both a tiny iPhone and a huge iPad, then this could be the 2-in-1 replacement device you've been waiting for.

iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

This 2014 iPhone design, with rounded edges, works great on the huge iPhone 6 Plus. If Apple had stuck with the angular design that we saw in the last four iPhone flagships, then it probably wouldn't feel very comfortable in hand. But when you combine the Plus' thin build (7.1 mm/0.28-in) with those curved edges ... well, it's about as comfortable to hold as a gigantic phone can be.

The 6 Plus is also fairly light for its size, but it feels a lot more substantial in hand than the iPhone 6 does. Again, when you're dealing with a 5.5-in display, there's really no way around that. But you do need to go into this knowing that the Plus' size and weight are going to be jolting for some owners of older (either 4-in or 3.5-in) iPhones.

The iPhone 6 Plus (right) with the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 Plus (right) with the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

iOS 8 looks terrific on that big screen. And Apple's concessions to the larger screen are all right on the money. You can get iPad-like (doubled-paneled) views in apps like Mail, and also view your home screen in landscape mode:

The 6 Plus' home screen rotates into landscape mode, like on an iPad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The 6 Plus' home screen rotates into landscape mode, like on an iPad (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Apple's one-handed mode ("Reachability") is going to be an integral part of the iPhone 6 Plus: just lightly tap the Touch ID sensor twice, and watch as the top of the screen slides down to the bottom. Press what you need, then double-tap again to slide it back up. It's about as elegant a solution as you can get to the problem of using a huge phone with one hand (though probably no more elegant than Samsung's one-handed mode, which shrinks the entire screen).

Apple's one-handed mode, Reachability, lets you slide the entire screen down – so can better hit those top-level targets (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Apple's one-handed mode, Reachability, lets you slide the entire screen down – so can better hit those top-level targets (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

The 1080p screen on the 6 Plus looks terrific. I've been using various 1080p Android phones throughout the last couple of years, and I'm not yet sure if the iPhone's looks any better. But it does have terrific contrast, color range and accuracy. It might not be the very best mobile display, but it certainly isn't a weakness.

We're going to have much more on the iPhone 6 Plus, including a full review (complete with camera observations and battery tests) later this week. While you're waiting for that, you can also hit up our early impressions of the smaller iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6 Plus is fairly comfortable to hold, but there's always going to be a little compromise with gigantic phones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 Plus is fairly comfortable to hold, but there's always going to be a little compromise with gigantic phones (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

The iPhone 6 Plus is available now – though in extremely short supply. It starts at US$750 full retail, or $300 with a two-year contract.

Product page: Apple

13 comments
Dave Weinstein
It's really not competitive with the Note (presumably the upcoming Note 4) or even the LG G3, which has the same size screen. For some unknown reason Apple used a 5.5" 1080p screen instead of a 2560x1440 screen used by LG and Samsung. Also, both the LG and Samsung devices have 3GB of RAM and cost $600 (unsubsidized) while the 6plus only has 1GB of RAM and costs a minimum of $750. Also of note is that the LG G3 manages to fit a full 5.5" screen into a package that's about the same size as Apple's 4.7" iPhone 6. Additionally, the changes in iOS 8 just don't stack up to the current version of Android KitKat, not even mentioning the upcoming Android "L" that's already been previewed. Designwise, the iPhone 6 seems to be a step backwards for Apple. The iPhone 4 and 5 were much more striking as products. Overall, I don't think another, "why everything Apple does is just peachy keen and oh so wonderful" article actually helps. They had an opportunity to jump ahead with the iPhone6, and they squandered it. The "inventors" of the retina display are now shipping phones with the LOWEST resolution on the market. They could have jumped ahead to 4k displays, created iPhones that could displaycast to 4k TVs and be used as workstations, and added some truly useful technology. Instead, as 2015 approaches, they jumped up to match the specs of 2013 Android flagships, and added useless "health" data collecting features that could only hurt the consumer if his insurance company ever got hold of it. Apple isn't leading anymore, but that's not news, they haven't been leading for quite a while.
Nairda
Re: Dave Weinstein What is 2560 to 1920 if the higher resolution gives you a 25% battery penalty? Furthermore, the 6 comes with a 2800mAh, which is beast. Suspect it will bring back the '4 days with moderate use' that people enjoyed back in the day. Regarding the RAM discussion, people have gotten into the habit of thinking that more RAM is king. But in reality the only reason RAM exists is to buffer information while the processor is dealing with it. So to me, a phone with 3Gb of RAM just screams "RAM is cheaper then a decent processor" Its like boasting back in the day that you have a bigger swap file on your HDD than someone else. Anyone in the know would say your computer didn't have enough RAM. But I'll acknowledge that the price is not reasonable. If it was not for my mobile provider absorbing most of the cost I would not be on an apple. And when I'm in the market for an upgrade to the 6 in ~6 months (IOS 8 should be mature by then), I will only do so if my provider absorbs it yet again.
TheiPaddict
Excellent initial write-up. The previous commenter seems as though he's never used an iPhone, and I can't figure out why anyone would post something so anti-Apple on a well-written article describing a new iPhone. Odd.
Grunchy
The iPhone 6 is a little-bitty tablet, but a great big clown phone. Like using a 10" tablet as a gigantic clown camera; Apple, why can't we use 10" iPads as gigantic clown phones?? There's the iPhone 6 killer!
Steven Hanifl
5.5 inch 1080p Apple should have been a sale to me. But then I would have to spend $850 just to get in the front door. I don't quite understand why I can buy a 5inch 1080p Nexus 5 for $400, but have to double my money spent to get in the Apple club... There are likely many people on the fence that have been locked out by the brand pricing. When Apple eventually loses its market share because they have priced themselves out of the market, I wonder how many will realize this was the reason it tanked.
HypoTron Man
Apple is now copying what other smartphone manufacturers are doing. I picked up the new IPhone and I said to myself, it feels like a Samsung when holding it. The table has turned. Apple tends to control the user. This is why I don't like IOS and the way Apple architectures their products. I use both Apple and Android. Android works best for me. I noticed IOS crashes apps more than Android. It's not about the hardware anymore, it's about the OS. The Apple hype has gone. It was all about Steve not Apple
Aloysius
I remember when the Mac first came out. How the experts poured their vitriol on it. How they say that it was for simpletons who couldn't remember simple commands. How the dumbed-down interface actually makes users dumber. All while they're busy copying the Mac. Once they've launched their copy, they then strutted and boasted and bragged at how they were now the real innovators, and that the Mac is mere yesterday's news.
Daishi
Screen quality is about more than just resolution. The 6 plus is 1080p and 401 ppi which seems like a decent choice. The regular iPhone at 750 x 1334 and 326 ppi does seem like it lags a bit behind some other flagship phones. I don't think 4k ever really belongs on a phone. In terms of gaming most high end PC's barely support 4K displays at a respectable frame rate and the next gen consoles (ps4/xbone) struggle just to run 1080p at 60Hz. I get that phones don't spend a lot of time rendering detailed games at the native resolution but it highlights how much harder it is to drive a display beyond where the resolution even matters. A 4k display on a 5.5 inch screen would be 801 PPI. On a 4.7 inch screen it would be 937 PPI.
Alba Silva
bah!! iphone was a revolution but that was old times. Now we have hundreds of options better, with improved performance, more comfortable design and CHEAPER . Now u pay to have a little apple figure over ur phone not for having a great device.
foghorn
Hyopotron, I agree. Apple assumes too much control over the user. I miss the days before osx when things could be configured the way you want them. Get over yourselves Apple! You don't know how everyone wants their computer to behave. Oh yes, and the the macbook pro should still have an ethernet port and an optical drive. Forcing everyone to go wireless in so not cool. Newsflash- optical disks are not going away yet!