Simply the best smartphones ever made: MailOnline’s verdict on the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (and how they really will change the way you shop)

  • Handsets go on sale on Friday
  • Over 4 million were preordered in 24 hours 
  • Apple Pay will allow handsets to double as a wallet from October 
  • iOS 8 software available today for older handsets 

With a record breaking four million handsets ordered in just 24 hours, it seems most Apple fans haven’t waited for the first reviews of the handset to buy.

However, after spending a week with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it seems those who ordered early made the right decision.

The biggest (in every sense) part of the iPhone 6 launches were the bigger screen sizes - 4.7inch on the 6 and a whopping 5.5inch on the Plus.

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Apple's two new handsets, the 4.7inch iPhone 6, and the 5.5inch 6 plus. They go on sale on Friday, with over four million having been ordered online already.

Apple's two new handsets, the 4.7inch iPhone 6, and the 5.5inch 6 plus. They go on sale on Friday, with over four million having been ordered online already

Even though, as many detractors have pointed out, Apple is playing catchup with the Android market in terms of screen size, it's a move that could see more than a few defectors due to the exceptional build and screen quality of the iPhone - something no Android manufacturer has come close to matching.

Both handsets feel like they've been designed as big screen devices through and through, from the curved edges to make them easier to hold to tweaks to the software to allow one handed operation.

However, for the Apple user used to an iPhone 5, there’s no denying that Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus is big - really big.

When you see it lying on a table, it dwarfs even its smaller 4.7inch brother, and really does look huge.

In fact, the first time you pick it up, it’s slightly off-putting - but the rounded edges really do make a difference.

It’s surprisingly light as well, and just about possible to hold comfortably in one hand.

Once you’ve got over the initial shock, and learn how to use the one handed mode (tap twice on the home button, and everything moves to the bottom of the screen so you can get to it easily), then one thing stands out - the screen.

The quality is superb, with bright, sharp colours, that make even the current screen on the iPhone look lackluster. 


From later today, you'll be able to download iOS 8 to your current handset.

iOS 8 now has a new notification system, meaning people can respond without having to open and switch apps.

A new video messaging system lets people easily send video and audio messages, and these messages can be set to self destruct, rather like Snapchat.

The iPhone’s keyboard has been overhauled with a new QuickType system that can predict words the user is likely to use, and learns how a user types over time. It takes a bit of getting used to, and gets better the more you use it.

Spotlight has been improved to allow better searching.

Messages has been updated to make it easier to set up and take part in group chats.

The much-rumoured Health app brings together data from fitness tracking bands and other systems.

The family sharing app allows families to easily share calenders, pictures and even find phones.

Parents can see what their children have bought online, and download apps, music and films on the same account.

The system will automatically message parents if their child tries to buy content online. 

For photographers, there's also a new timelapse mode. 

Overall, iOS 8 is a solid upgrade that really will improve your handset no end - and its highly recommended for iPad and iPhone users.

After a few minutes, you forget about the vast size, and just start wondering you you lived with such a small screen for so long - and I found that, for me at least, the Plus was the handset I kept going back to, and the one that will remain my primary phone.

The concerns over it fitting in or falling out of pockets simply didn't materialise, apart from one nerve wracking moment cycling over a Manhattan pothole - but luckily it stayed put.

The only slight tinge of embarrassment comes when you come to make a phone call and lift the handset up - then it really does feel rather large and makes you a little self conscious. 

Technically, the Retina HD displays mean the iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display with 1334-by-750 resolution, while the Plus has 1920-by-1080 resolution.

There's also a new option to switch between normal and zoomed view, which make the text a little bigger. 

The increased screen size of the Plus does bring some small irritations, however. 

As many apps are scaled up to allow them to run, this means a slight ‘zoom’ effect, with text and graphics appearing slightly chunky. 

full mode
one handed mode

Apple's new 'one hand' mode in action: When viewing an app o web page, if users want to tap something at the top of the screen, they simply tap the home button twice. This brings the top of the screen down (right) allowing items to be selected

However, expect app developers to fix this extremely quickly - as Apple’s own apps show, with a few small tweaks the phenomenal clarity of the Retina HD display shines through. 

There’s also a new ‘tablet’ mode for the Plus - turn it on its side in the mail app, for instance, and you see a dual window view similar to the iPad’s. 

It's particularly useful in Apple's redesigned Mail app, and on the Homescreen - although look for app developers to create their own 'mini tablet' views as well. 

However, we did find there is a slight lag sometimes when switching into the tablet mode and moving through menus - it's not a huge issue, but occasionally we found ourselves waiting for the display to switch orientation, or for menus to pop up.

However, while the Plus is superb, the 6 with its sleek looks and smaller screen is a stunning piece of design that feels lighter than most other handsets on the market.

The iPhone 6 plus has a 'tablet' mode that allows you to take full advantage of the big screen. Apple apps, unsurprisingly, are the first to use the feature, but expect to see other app makers using it soon

The build quality is exceptional, and this feels like a piece of jewelry rather than a phone.

The Retina HD display, even in its smaller guise, is superb, with colours bright and sharper than on any other Apple product.

It's incredibly light, and again, the curved sides make a huge difference, making it feel solid and easy to hold.  

The design is also superb - with the space grey model in particular really showing off the curved glass front, with the screen appearing to simply disappear into the side of the handset. 

iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile software, looks stunning on the bigger screens, and you’ll even have room for another row of icons of the homepage of the phone.

The handsets also run a new, faster version of Apple's processor, called the A8. 

The camera has also seen a huge improvement - and is also one of the differences between the handsets. 

Apple's HealthKit app is part of iOS 8 - and lets you see data from third party fitness bands and even share them with your doctor

Apple's HealthKit app is part of iOS 8 - and lets you see data from third party fitness bands and even share them with your doctor

While both offer an 8 megapixel camera, the Plus adds optical image stabilization, while the 6 gets digital image stabilization technology.

It's actually a noticeable difference, and the result is clearer photos, especially in low-light situations.

Despite this, both cameras really do take outstanding pictures - putting many low and mid range dedicated cameras to shame.

There are also, on both handsets, improved camera controls, letting you tweak pretty much every setting if you are so inclined.

On both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, you can also now take panoramas up to 43 megapixels.

There have been a whole host of technical improvements to the camera sensor, but in a nutshell, this is among the best cameras on any smartphone - and a huge leap forward from what was already a great camera in the iPhone 5. 


Apple Pay is the firm’s new payment system compatible with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple Watch.

It’s incredibly simple to use - just hold your phone up to the reader on the till, and press a finger on the home button, which doubles as a fingerprint reader.

While features such as the bigger screen and the slim design will undoubtedly sell handset, Apple Pay is really the feature that could change your life.

Although it doesn’t launch until October, MailOnline was able to try out the system at Apple’s Cupertino launch of the iPhone 6. It’s incredibly simple to use, and is controlled from the Passbook app.

Cards that are already on file with iTunes can be saved to it, and users can also take a picture of their own credit card and add it to the account.

If an iPhone is lost, users can suspend all payments via the Find my iPhone service. This won’t cancel the cards, either, because the card details themselves are not stored on that device - instead a unique code is generated for each purchase.

Starting in US with Amex, MasterCard, and Visa, Apple Pay will also work with banks, and covers 80 per cent of the US.

Apple is said to be 'working hard' to bring it to more countries.

More than 22,000 retailers will work with Apple Pay including Macy's, Bloomingdales, Wallgreens, Duane Reade, Subway and McDonalds. McDonalds is even adding Apple pay to its drive-thru.

Video performance has also got a boost, and you can shoot 1080p HD video at 60 fps, more dramatic slo-mo, and for the first time, time-lapse videos.

We also found the image stabilisation is much improved, while the front facing camera has also been improved for FaceTime and selfie aficionados. 


Although the preview release of Yosemite will not support these features the final version will be able to:

Make and receive calls: When you receive a call on your iPhone, you can now answer it on your Mac, using the built-in speakers and mics as a speakerphone. you can also click a phone number anywhere in OS X to make a call through your iPhone.

Send and receive SMS: The Mac can now send and receive SMS and MMS text messages through your iPhone.

Handoff:  This useful feature allows you to start an activity on one device—and pick it on another. If you start writing an email on your iPhone and want to finish it on your Mac, your iPhone hands it to your Mac with the cursor in the same location. 

Battery life is, also Apple admits, still just comparable to the iPhone 5 - so be ready to charge it every day, and probably carry a charging cable in your bag.

However, we did find both the 6 and the 6 Plus were marginally better, and didn't have the usual end of day 'will the battery hold out for the subway ride home' worries - especially with the Plus. 

While this is an annoyance, the addition of the bigger screen and thinner design do make it a pretty remarkable achievement that Apple managed to keep the battery life the same.

While Apple’s competition has crowed that the iPhone 6’s features such as supporting NFC chips that can be used for payments are simply copied from Android, this simply isn’t true. 

iPhone 6 4.7" 16, 64GB and 128GB 8MP 8MP 2915 mAh $199 on a two-year contract, $299 for 64GB and $399 for 128GB (£539 UK)
iPhone 6 Plus 5.5" 16, 64GB and 128GB 8MP 8MP 2915 mAh $299 on a two-year contract for 16GB, $399 for 64GB, $499 for 128GB (£619 UK)
Amazon Fire 4.7" 32GB and 64GB 2.1MP 13MP 2400 mAh $449 US (TBA UK)
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge 5.6" 32GB and 64GB 3.7MP 16MP 3000mAh TBA
Samsung Galaxy S5 5.1" 16 and 32GB 2MP 16MP 2800 mAh $649 US (£570 UK)
iPhone 5S 4" 16, 32 and 64GB 1.2MP 8MP 1560 mAh $709 US (ϣ549)
HTC One 4.7" 32 and 64GB 2.1MP 4MP 2300 mAh $599 US (£396UK)
HTC One M8 5" 16 and 32GB 5MP 4MP 2600mAh $749 (£549)
iPhone 5C 4" 16 and 32GB 1.2MP 8MP 1510 mAh $599 US (£469 UK)
Nokia 1020 4.5" 32GB 1.2MP 41MP 2000 mAh $99.99 (£519UK)
Samsung Galaxy S4 5" 16, 32 and 64GB 2MP 13MP 2600 mAh $880 (£355 UK)
Nexus 5 4.95" 16 and 32GB 1.3MP 8MP 2300 mAh $349 (£240 UK)

What Apple has done, particularly in the case of payments, is not only add these features - but make services around them so they will actually be used by consumers.

Apple Pay is, without doubt, the most impressive feature of the iPhone 6. 

When it rolls out in October in the US, it will change the way shoppers pay, and the way phones are used by millions.

When combined with the jaw-dropping design and performance of the iPhone 6 and plus, it makes the handsets, without doubt, simply the best smartphones ever made - the only real question is which size and colour to go for.



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