You’ve read the reports, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are breaking pre-order records. They are also in very short supply. If you didn’t order your new iPhone immediately chances are you won’t be getting it for weeks. On the plus side this gives you some valuable thinking time as the hype dies down. So in the cold light of day are the new iPhones worth the upgrade?
I have already written a detailed comparison of the iPhone 6 vs the iPhone 6 Plus and initial reviews are strong, but for many the bigger question is how well their existing iPhone stands up to Apple AAPL -0.56%’s latest models. So lets take a look at whether the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 (which packs identical hardware to the iPhone 5C) now feel antiquated or has everyone been misled to think bigger must mean better?
The Size Question – Bigger Screens Vs. Hindered Use One Handed
iPhone 5 – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in), 112 g (3.95 oz)
iPhone 5S – 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in), 112g (3.95 oz)
iPhone 6 – 138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches), 129g (4.55 oz)
iPhone 6 Plus – 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches), 172g (6.07 oz)
Many iPhone owners have been proud that Apple hadn’t joined the size race of handsets running Android and Windows Phone, but it is now clear that going forward Apple also believes in big.
To successfully sell this Apple has made the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus remarkably thin but it is worth noting both are not only longer and wider than their predecessors, but a similar size to rivals with even larger screens.
For hesitant upgraders an additional wrinkle is the layout of iOS. Core navigation buttons are located in the top left and right corners and, while Apple has expanded use of the swipe gesture, its primary workaround is ‘Reachability’ – a double tap of the home button which causes the whole screen to slide down so they can be reached.
Privately I’m sure Apple knows this isn’t the most elegant solution long term, but it will do for now. On the positive side having used a Nexus 5 for the last 11 months I can tell you adaption to a big screen phone happens fast. Much of it comes down to new muscle memory: you shift the phone around your palm rather than letting it sit still to reach all the corners.
The Displays – 4-inch Jumps to 4.7-inch And 5.5-inch
- iPhone 5 – 4 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 640 x 1136 pixels, 326 ppi
- iPhone 5S – 4 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 640 x 1136 pixels, 326 ppi
- iPhone 6 – 4.7 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 750 x 1334 pixels,326 ppi
- iPhone 6 Plus – 5.5 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 401 ppi
On the other hand the upsides of big screens are obvious: more information can be seen onscreen, keyboards can be bigger and watching video is vastly improved.
As for display quality, in opting for a rather unusual 750 x 1334 pixel native resolution the iPhone 6 doesn’t actually improve the pixel density of its screen compared to previous Retina Display iPhones which include the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C and 5S. This was a shock given 1080p screens have been standard across many 4.7-inch and 5-inch phones for a long time, though Apple’s customary vibrant colours and responsive touchscreen mean it will still be a visual treat.
On the other hand the iPhone 6 Plus is where we see a real step up. The new iPhone phablet does make the jump to ‘Full HD’ 1080p and it delivers an increased 401 pixels per inch making it the model which will really make jaws drop for current iPhone owners. It is worth pointing out that the 5.5-inch LG G3 and 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4 actually offer even higher resolutions – a mind boggling 1440 x 2560 pixels for a 534 ppi and many claim to see the difference – but the iPhone 6 Plus display won’t let anyone down.
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