Apple has faced some tough competition of late: the HTC line-up offers some amazing hardware and Sony has crammed its best tech knowhow into its flagship models. Samsung also has an array of feature rich devices on the market, and all other Androids offer Google Play services to take on iTunes and the App Store.
To stay ahead of these tough opponents, Apple has just unleashed the beast it’s calling the iPhone 6 Plus (5.5 Inch display) alongside the regular iPhone 6 (4.7 Inch display). The Plus version is roughly the same size as the Samsung Note 3, which is also a monster. But can bigger mean better? I think in this case, the answer is an astounding yes.
In fact, both models are larger than the 5S, have better cameras and include the new A8 chip for faster processing meaning that iOS 8 runs really smoothly. In terms of design, Apple has created its best phones yet. Both are solid, feel more durable, and the new Retina HD Display makes both screens look beautiful. They have also moved the power button onto the right side of the devices making it really easy to find and use while locking the screen.
There are a couple of weird issues though such as the protruding camera lens which sticks out far more than I’d like it to, but with optical image stabilisation on the Plus model and the improved autofocus, both of these handsets can replace your old point and shoot camera - they really are that good. Also, the white antenna bands around the back of the Gold model look slightly out of place, but maybe I’m just fussy.
iOS 8 includes some features that have clearly been inspired by Apple rivals. Now you’ll find speedy access to recent contacts appearing while multitasking, apps can include widgets through the Today panel, and - probably the most usable - there’s a new keyboard where you’ll find suggested words popping up while typing. The old iOS keyboard was feeling dated and boring, so it’s good to see Apple make improvements in the right places.
To ensure function with just one hand, the company has implemented a Reachability mode on both handsets: A double tap on the home button brings the icons down towards the bottom of the screen making the software accessible without over-stretching the thumbs. It does work, but feels a little awkward on the iPhone Plus. It’s probably best to accept that both hands are required to operate such a machine.
Under the hood on both phones is a Near Field Communications chip (NFC). Eventually this will be used for Apple Pay, a system in which retail transactions can be completed by use of the phone and finger print alone, keeping payments secure and simple. Although this feature is not ready for the UK yet, it appears Apple has a plan for replacing your wallet with your phone.
As for the competition? Apple is back on top: Both are the best phones you can buy.
The usual colours are available: Space Grey, Gold and Silver. Storage has also been bumped with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB options. SIM free prices start from £539 and £619 for the Plus.