The Apple iPhone 6 Plus came in a large white box with the usual accessories: a 1A charger, a detachable Lightning cable, a pair of EarPods and a SIM eject tool.
We read reports that using a more powerful charger can fill up the battery faster so we decided to investigate. We used a 2.4A iPad Air charger and a tool to measure the power draw. It showed that the iPhone 6 Plus takes in 1.25A from the iPad charger and 1A from its own and other chargers. Overall, that shaves off 25% of the charge time if you have an iPad charger at hand.
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus measures 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm and weighs 172g. For comparison a 5.5" LG G3 measures 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm, while a 6" Huawei Ascend Mate7 measures 157 x 81 x 7.9mm. That's another way of saying that Apple's design is rather tall for the screen size.
The original iPhone featured a rounded aluminum body and Apple returned to metal with the iPhone 4 design (but with a glass back). The iPhone 5 dropped the glass in favor of an aluminum unibody but kept the flat sides of the iPhone 4.
We've come almost a full circle now with an aluminum iPhone with rounded sides, though with years of improvements to the manufacturing process the iPhone 6 Plus and its smaller sibling appear closer to the iPod touch and the new iPads.
Even with all that, the new design is a cause for excitement - the iPhone 6 Plus is impressively thin for a device its size and doesn't feel heavy despite its all-metal body. What it does feel is large, though Apple expects a lot of Android converts who will feel right at home with the form factor.
It's long-time iPhone users that will have the toughest time to adjust. The Plus is too big for one-handed use but it's not an iPad mini 2 so it will feel cramped at first for two-handed use. As numerous large Androids have demonstrated users accustomed to it.
The front of the device is Ion-strengthened glass, which is rounded at its edges. That design has proved beneficial when swiping gestures are involved. Since iOS puts the Back button in the top left (that was the standard until now) we suspect that the swipe Back gesture will see a lot more use, especially on the iPhone 6 Plus.
The iPhones are available in Space Gray, Silver and Gold and we have to say the Gray version look gorgeous, while the Silver (which has a white front) looks a bit cheap. As usual, Gold is an acquired taste.
The curve of the screen's sides continues fairly smoothly down the aluminum sides of the device, which curve around to the flat back. This makes the handset feel a bit thinner than it is.
The 7.1mm thin chassis feels exquisite - slightly thinner than the iPad Air and mini 2 and perfectly machined, it feels worthy of the price tag (but we'll talk money for the conclusion).
That said the combination of a slim body and rounded sides make the device slippery - aluminum never offered the best grip, but we feel more comfortable holding the iPhone 5s. Of course, a large part of that is the massive size compared to the old model.
A flaw that users discovered after owning the 6 Plus for barely a week is that it has a structural weak point where the volume buttons are - the drilling for the buttons weakens the aluminum chassis enough for the phablet to bend in pockets.
Below the screen is the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which has improved slightly since its introduction last year but, true to self, Apple doesn't give away much detail. Touch ID finally comes into its own with the introduction of NFC-based Apple Pay but more on that later.
Above the screen is the earpiece, the ambient light and proximity sensors, plus an aging 1.2MP camera. Apple moved it to the side of the earpiece from its previous central position and widened the aperture to f/2.2 (from f/2.4) but we were hoping for 1080p videos and higher-resolution selfies.
As usual, the Mute switch is above the volume rocker on the left side of the phablet.
The right side of the iPhone 6 Plus is the new place for the Power button. With the new devices (especially the Plus) much taller than their predecessors this move makes complete sense. Below the power button is the nanoSIM card tray, which requires a tool (or at least a paper clip to open).
This leaves the top bare, as the 3.5mm audio jack was moved several generations ago to the bottom of the device, near the Lightning port. Also is the loudspeaker grille and the main microphone.
The back of the iPhone 6 Plus is made of a sheet of aluminum, plastic ridges splitting it at the top and bottom (for radio transmission reasons) but this time around the dividing lines are much thicker and more visible.
They proved a bit controversial but not nearly as the camera, which protrudes from the back for the first time in iPhone history. This raises practical concerns as the camera is more exposed to scratches (it is protected by sapphire glass though) and it makes the iPhone wobble on a level surface. It also puts the opposing corner of the device under bigger risk of getting scratched.
The big news about the camera is that it now features Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), exclusive to the 6 Plus in the iPhone family (though Windows Phone and Android got there first). We'll discuss the implications of OIS in the dedicated camera chapter.
The flash is circular but still comprises of two LEDs of different color, Apple's True tone flash. Between it and the camera is the secondary mic, as we complained earlier Apple still records only mono audio in videos.