Most of the front is taken up by the 4.7" display, with a resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels. Compared to the 640 x 1136 pixels on the iPhone 5S the jump in resolution is not a lot but it's enough to work out to a pixel density of 326ppi sharp - the same as last season's.
The display is of the LED-backlit IPS LCD variety, but more on that in the dedicated chapter.
The layout on the front is the same as on the iPhone 5s. The Home key below the screen doubles as a TouchID sensor and above the screen there is the earpiece and the usual array of sensors - proximity and ambient light, as well as the front camera.
The 1.2MP front facer hasn't seen an increase in resolution, but has a wider F/2.2 aperture (up from F/2.4) and can make use of the Auto HDR feature not just for photos but for videos as well. The camera has also moved to the left side of the earpiece instead of being placed dead center.
The Home button hides the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It can store up to several authorized fingerprints and reportedly has even faster operation than the iPhone 5s thanks to a wider scanning area and iOS 8 optimizations but we noticed no difference in actual usage. Reports suggest it's slightly harder to fool with a fake fingerprint than the 5s, but is in no way hack-proof.
On the iPhone 6, a double tap on the sensor (as opposed to a double press on the button) activates the Reachability mode, which scales the interface down so it's easier to reach across in single-hand use. The iPhone 5S doesn't have that functionality.
On the left, you get the usual three buttons: volume up, volume down and a Mute toggle. The toggle is protruding more than before and seems a bit easier to switch accidentally now, but we guess they made it this way to be comfortably usable with a case on.
The top of the iPhone 6 is bare as opposed to the iPhone 5s. The reason is that the power key has been relocated to right side on this taller device - and that's the right thing to do. The button placement is quite convenient. Next to it on the right is the nanoSIM tray.
The bottom is busier, featuring the Lightning port in the center, the 3.5mm headphone jack to the left along with the main microphone and a single speaker under a micro-drilled holes that form the grille.
The benefit of the Lightning jack compared to regular microUSB is that it can be inserted either face up or down into the iPhone 6.
Finally, we come to the back of the iPhone 6. The protruding camera lens is certainly an eye sore and it makes the phone wobble when put on a flat surface.
The camera on the iPhone 6 is still 8MP - some four years and four different models in a row. But under the hood it's a new camera altogether. There is a new sensor with built in phase detection auto focus (Focus pixels, as per Apple PR talk), the camera shoots faster, focuses faster and has an even better digital video stabilization. There is also new high speed video modes in 120fps and 240fps, but still no 4K video.
It is certainly the best 8MP camera from Apple to date, but we are not sure that alone qualifies as the major upgrade Apple pretends it to be. It's like they are withholding the higher resolution camera and the 4K video recording just so they have a proper new feature to promote on the iPhone 6s.
Next to the camera lens is the dual color LED flash, similar to the one on the last year's iPhone, but it's a perfect circle instead of an oval shape. The flash, dubbed True tone by Apple marketing, features one white and one amber-colored LED. It is quite a successful concept, where the phone can dynamically mix the two colors of light in varying proportions, allowing it to match the ambient light and thus achieve more realistic photos.
Apple has increased the resolution on the iPhone 6 just enough so is keeps the pixel density at 326 ppi. The screen is again a spectacular IPS LED-backlit LCD, but this time the resolution is 750 x 1334 pixels as opposed to last year's 640 x 1136 px resolution.
While we are as happy as a puppy about finally getting to enjoy iOS on a bigger screen, we can't but frown upon on the excessive bezels top and bottom of the screen. With the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung has managed to fit a 4.7-inch screen into a device smaller than the iPhone 6, while the Nexus 5 fits a 5-inch screen within a body frame as big. This alone should tell you that Apple is not challenging itself enough with creating a smaller footprint for the iPhone and has rather wasted effort into making it thinner to no one's benefit (except perhaps PR).
Here's the iPhone 6 display matrix shot from up close with our digital microscope. It's a regular LCD matrix with equal number of red, green and blue pixels.
The screen of the iPhone 6 has different properties than the one on the iPhone 5s. For one, the blacks on the iPhone 6 are not as deep as on the 5s, but the display is brighter so the new iPhone's screen contrast ratio ended up in the same ballpark.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
As far as sunlight legibility is concerned, the higher brightness of the iPhone 6 allows it score better than its predecessor, the 5s, but it's still falls short of the contrast ratio the iPhone 5 achieved under direct sunlight. However the contrast in direct sunlight remains excellent in all three cases.
You can find more information on our various display tests here.
The iPhone 6 is equipped with a non-removable Li-Po 1810mAh battery, which is only about 15% bigger than the one of the iPhone 5s. The pixel count on the iPhone 6 is almost 40% higher than the 5s so just by looking at these numbers we guessed that battery life with the screen on won't be as hot. But we turned out wrong.
The standby endurance wasn't that good but it wasn't any better on the iPhone 5s when we last tested it. The manufacturer rates the iPhone 6 batteries for up to 250h of standby but our unit only lasted about 160h. The iPhone 5s lasted way less.
The iPhone 6 scored 9:24h in our own video playback test (10:31h for the iPhone 5s) and 10:29h in our Wi-Fi web browsing test (9:58 h for the iPhone 5s). These are respectable numbers on their own and as you'd see quite similar to the iPhone 5s.
UPDATE: After resetting the iPhone 6 we decided to run a new call test and see what's what. The result turned out to be a better 12 and a half hours, besting the mediocre 8:11 hours and more in line with the 14h stated by Apple themselves.
Our overall endurance rating for the iPhone 6 is 61h, which is how long the battery should last you if you use the phone for an hour of calling, an hour of video playback and an hour of web browsing each daily. In comparison, the iPhone 5s scored 54h, the iPhone 5 - 51h, while the Samsung Galaxy Alpha managed about 52h.
The result is by all means not breath-taking, but it's impressive that it managed to score a better battery rating than the iPhone 5s given the modes battery upgrade and the much bigger screen, which certainly draws more power.
Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.
You can see our detailed battery life test of the Apple iPhone 6 here.
The Apple iPhone 6 comes with a bunch of wireless connectivity features. It supports LTE Cat. 4 (up to 150Mpbs down, 50Mbps up) and even though competing smartphones support up to 300Mbps down we won't hold it against it. Regular 2G and 3G connectivity is all safely covered with a multitude of supported network bands.
The iPhone 6 also supports the latest Voice over LTE (VoLTE), HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling protocols, but those are carrier dependent features so not everyone will enjoy them.
Compared to the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 now has an upgraded Wi-Fi functionality - it supports all the current Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac standards. AirPlay is the only way to wirelessly cast your screen's contents to an HDTV, but you'd need to have an Apple TV for that.
Additional local connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.0 LE. There is also support for NFC, but its functionality is only limited to Apple's newly introduced and regionally-restricted payment system that's called Apple Pay.
The iPhone 6 uses a proprietary Lightning connector for wired data transfers and charging.
There is no support for USB On-the-go or USB host but your can pair a Bluetooth keyboard to the phone should you need this sort of peripheral.