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iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Bigger is in fact better (in the right hands)

Jason Snell | Sept. 18, 2014
When Apple released the first iPhone, its 3.5-inch touchscreen seemed huge compared to the displays of other phones. Nonetheless, competitors responded with even larger screens, trying to find areas where they could provide clear alternatives to Apple hardware. Consumers responded positively, so the competition started making even bigger phones.

The jump to the 64-bit A7 processor last year brought a massive increase in performance to iOS devices. In fact, the A7 offered so much speed improvement, there was no way that the A8 could match the same percentage increase. Its definitely faster than last years processor, but by a more modest amount. Apples chart of iPhone performance, which had been depicting exponential growth, shows signs of slowing. (However, it's worth noting the A8 chip uses a smaller manufacturing process, and is much more power efficient than the previous model.)

As with the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display released last year, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are running the same processor, but at different clock speeds. Presumably, the clock-speed difference is tied into battery-life or heat concerns, or both. The iPhone 6s A8 processor runs at 1.2GHz, while the iPhone 6 Plus clocks in at 1.39GHz, according to GeekBench. Both phones appear to have the same 1GB of memory as last years devices.

Apple claims that the iPhone 6 has slighty better battery life than the iPhone 5s, and that the iPhone 6 Plus has quite a bit better battery life than that. Unfortunately, I didnt have time to run comprehensive battery tests for this review, and of course battery life can vary massively depending on how you use the device. That said, after spending a long weekend with the two devices, I can corroborate Apples claims.

The iPhone 6 definitely appeared to have longer battery life than my iPhone 5sthough, to be fair, that iPhone has been in use for a year, and so its battery isnt fresh. The iPhone 6 Plus definitely seems to be the longest-lived iPhone so far, but does its battery last long enough to obviate the need for a battery case or external battery for emergencies? I just cant say quite yet.

Apple says that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also sport a new version of its motion coprocessor, the M8. This chip collects sensor data as you use your iPhone, even if the A8 processor is resting. The new version takes advantage of the iPhone 6 lines barometer, a sensor that lets it gauge elevation changessuch as when youve climbed up a flight of stairs.

Finally, these are the first iPhones to support Near Field Communication, or NFC, as a part of the forthcoming Apple Pay service. Theres a Whole Foods a short walking distance from my house, and Im looking forward to buying peanut butter and beer by moving my iPhone 6 to within an inch of the NFC reader, using Touch ID to verify my identity, and then taking off. But because Apple Pay wont work until October, I couldnt test that feature now.


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