Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones reviewed

Apple’s iPhone has unquestionably shaken the foundation of the computing world since its introduction, and, like many folks, I’ve carried one in my pocket for years. Even so, we here at TR haven’t focused too much of our attention on smartphones. We’ve preferred instead to focus on larger computers, from tablets to laptops and, of course, hulking desktops with multiple teraflops of computing power. Thing is, smartphones keep maturing and advancing, thanks to huge profits being plowed back into their development. They’re becoming incredibly compelling and downright impossible to ignore.

Consider the iPhone 6 Plus my breaking point.

Apple has, at long last, caved to market pressure and given the people what they want: iPhones with larger screens, including one in the kinda-sorta ridiculously large “phablet” format. The move to bigger touchscreens is a transformative step in the smartphone’s evolution, in my view. Smartphones have long been incredibly useful computing devices of last resort, but they are becoming something more than that.

Screen size is only one reason for this shift. Apple’s latest iPhones have made substantial advancements in CPU and graphics performance, still and motion image capture, display quality and—blessedly—battery life. The eighth-generation iOS improves usability and offers new freedom for apps to interact with one another. And these phones have a robust array of sensors and wireless communication standards, one of which, near-field communication (NFC), enables a new payment service called Apple Pay. The bottom line is that premium smartphones now offer a distinctive computing experience that can’t easily be duplicated with any other sort of device.

None of this has happened in a vacuum, of course. Apple’s early lead in smartphone tech has been eroded by the ascendancy of Google’s Android OS and the phone makers deploying it. Choosing between premium smartphones these days can be daunting, difficult work. One good friend of mine, a life-long computing enthusiast and Mac owner, has been stuck in wrenching indecision between the new iPhones and the Android-based alternatives for weeks, and I can relate. With that difficulty in mind, we’ve decided to turn our full scrutiny toward a pair of smartphones for the first time. What better place to start than Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus?

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6 Plus

SoC Apple
A6
Apple
A7
Apple
A8
Display size & resolution 4″
1136×640
4.7″
1334×750
5.5″
1920×1080
System RAM 1GB
LPDDR2
1GB
LPDDR3
1GB LPDDR3
Flash storage capacity 16GB,
32GB, 64GB
16GB,
64GB, 128GB
Coprocessors M7
motion coprocessor
M8
motion coprocessor
Primary camera resolution 8
megapixels (3264×2448)
Optical image stabilization? No No No Yes
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Other connectivity Bluetooth
4.0
Bluetooth
4.0, NFC
Battery 1440
mAh
1560
mAh
1810
mAh
2915
mAh
Price (with contract) 16GB
$99,

32GB $149

16GB
$199, 64GB $299, 128GB $399
16GB
$299, 64GB $399, 128GB $499
Price (no contract) 16GB
$549,

32GB $599

16GB
$649, 64GB $749, 128GB $849
16GB
$749, 64GB $849, 128GB $949

The larger 4.7″ and 5.5″ displays are the most obvious enhancements in the new iPhones, but Apple has made progress on a host of fronts. The highlights include a brand-new A8 SoC with higher performance, support for the 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking standard, and an iSight camera whose eight-megapixel resolution belies substantial improvements.

Also, Apple has finally raised the flash storage capacity of the two higher-end models to 64GB and 128GB. Unfortunately, the bottom rung of the lineup remains at 16GB, which seems rather paltry in late 2014. I suppose the net effect of these changes is to make 64GB the point of entry into the iPhone 6 lineup for power users.

Another potential weakness in the spec sheet is Apple’s decision to hold steady at 1GB of main memory in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Although iOS and Android admittedly use memory quite differently, many premium Android smartphones now ship with 2GB or even 3GB of RAM. Among iOS devices, only the iPad Air 2 has surpassed the 1GB mark.

Design and build quality


From left to right: The iPhone 5, 6, and 6 Plus

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6
Plus

Height x Width x Depth 4.87″
x 2.31″ x 0.30″
5.44″
x 2.64″ x 0.27″
6.22″
x 3.06″ x 0.28″
Weight 3.95
oz/112 g
3.95
oz/112 g
4.55
oz/129 g
6.07
oz/172 g
Available colors Black,
white
Silver,
gold, space gray
I/O ports Lightning
connector,
3.5mm headphone

The new iPhone enclosures are noticeably taller and wider than the prior generation, but they retain Apple’s iconic design cues, including durable glass-and-aluminum construction. The build quality is up to Apple’s usual standard, with no apparent gaps, flex, or other imperfections. Our examples are clothed in the “space gray” color scheme.


The iPhone 6 (left) and 6 Plus (right)

The only two ports on these phones are a 3.5-mm headphone jack and Apple’s wonderfully reversible lighting connector. After using a Lighting connector and micro USB on a daily basis for the past couple of years, I’m unquestionably sold on Apple’s approach here.


The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (left) and the iPhone 6 vs. 5 (right)

By the numbers, the 6 and 6 Plus are thinner than prior iPhones, but this is the first generation of Apple phones whose sapphire lens covers protrude from the back of their enclosures.


Except for the home button, all physical controls are on two sides of the case

The new phones’ volume controls and vibrate toggles are right where one would expect, but the sleep/wake button has migrated from the top edge of the case to the left edge, aping the placement used in many Android devices. This change is eminently sensible given the increased size of the enclosure. Leaving the button up top would make for an awkward reach, especially on the relatively gigantic 6 Plus.

One other change of note isn’t apparent in the pictures above. The iFixit teardowns have revealed internal rubber gaskets surrounding the buttons on these phones, likely improving their water resistance versus prior models.

About the size issue

I don’t think there’s any question Apple made the right move by introducing larger iPhones. After all, these devices are pocket computers first and foremost, not just phones, and with touch-based interfaces, screen real estate is at a premium. Typing, browsing the web, using apps, playing games—everything is easier and more comfortable on a larger display. If anything, this move comes a couple of years later than it should have.


The iPhone 6 Plus (left) dwarfs the regular iPhone 6 (right)

Fortunately, Apple has seriously committed to these larger form factors. With its 4.7″ screen, the iPhone 6 is easily roomier than the iPhone 5 and 5S—and the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus feels like a mini tablet.

For those of you wondering which one to get, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with both of the new iPhones, and I think the answer is clear. The iPhone 6 is undoubtedly the sane and proper size for a phone that will be carried on your person pretty much constantly. Practically speaking, it feels no bulkier than an iPhone 5 while stowed away in a pocket. When out of the pocket, the 6 fits well into one hand. Despite that infamous iPhone 5 commercial a couple of years ago, I can easily tap any spot on the screen with my thumb while holding the phone in the same hand. The iPhone 6’s size seems obvious and logical.

And the iPhone 6 Plus you see tested in this review, I confess, is the one I bought for my own personal use. I saw it in the store, with its big, bright display, and caved to the temptation of overcompensating for two years with my too-small iPhone 5.

Now that I’ve committed to it, I can tell you that the iPhone 6 Plus really is quite enormous. Even for a phablet, it’s relatively tall, in part due to the the large physical home button that most other phablets lack. If you’re a dude, this thing will test the depths of your front pants pocket. For you ladies, well, you can probably forget the pockets. You’ll want to store the 6 Plus in a purse, most likely. Having spent several weeks toting this massive slab around, I realize that I’ve made a terrible mistake.

….that I really, really enjoy. As soon as I pull it out to use, the 6 Plus magically transforms from an oversized pocket tumor into a wondrous convenience. Typing on it in portrait mode finally makes touchscreen keyboards seem sensible, and the roomy screen feels much less confining. Among other things, this device may just be the ideal e-reader.

The biggest wonder of all, though, isn’t the 6 Plus’s technology or design; it’s the fact that, somehow, it’s now become socially acceptable to carry a mini-tablet around in your pants. People even have complimentary things to say about how large your phone is. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I’m not going to question it. As a card-carrying computer nerd, I’m just going to ride this wave quietly while it lasts.

I dunno how much any of that will help you pick the right size for you, but I do have one other impression to offer. Whichever model of iPhone 6 you choose, after you’ve spent a little time with it, older iPhones will feel like silly, miniature toys by comparison.

The A8 SoC

At the heart of the new iPhones beats a new system-on-a-chip (SoC), the Apple A8. The A8 is at least an incremental upgrade over the A7 SoC from the iPhone 5S, although Apple is fairly coy about the exact details of its silicon designs.

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6 Plus

SoC Apple
A6
Apple
A7
Apple
A8
Die size 97 mm² 104
mm²
89
mm²
Transistor count ? >1
billion
2
billion
Manufacturing process 32 nm 28 nm 20
nm
CPU cores 2 Swift 2 Cyclone 2 “Cyclone++”
CPU die area 14.7 mm² 17.1 mm² 12.2
mm²
Max core frequency 1.3GHz 1.3GHz 1.4GHz
System memory 1GB
LPDDR2
1GB
LPDDR3
1GB LPDDR3
Coprocessors M7
motion coprocessor
M8
motion coprocessor

Outside of Apple’s own statements, the best sources of info on the A8 SoC are this teardown analysis by ChipWorks and Ryan Smith’s take on it. The A8 chip has been widely reported to be manufactured at TSMC on a 20-nm fabrication process, and the A8’s considerably smaller die size lends credibility to those reports.

We know that the A7 has two copies of Apple’s own custom CPU core, dubbed Cyclone. Cyclone is a high-IPC core compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set. The A8 SoC in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also has dual cores, and those cores are clocked only 100MHz higher than in the A7 in the iPhone 5S. Indications point to these cores being a tweaked version of Cyclone. The size of the CPU cores on the die hasn’t dropped commensurately with expectations in light of the die shrink, so the cores themselves must contain more complex logic, larger structures, or both. These changes are likely intended to improve per-clock instruction throughput.

The locations of the the L2 SRAM arrays in the A8’s floorplan have changed from the A7, and Chipworks speculates that Apple may have moved to 1MB of dedicated L2 cache per core. However, the more probable reason for the change isn’t a size increase but increased modularity. Each core now appears to have its own “slice” of associated L2 cache, so that the cache size can scale up with the core count. Such an arrangement would make sense in light of the fact that the A8X SoC used in the iPad Air 2 has three CPU cores.

Another set of SRAM arrays on the chip is likely a last-level cache, probably 4MB in size and possibly shared not just between the CPU and GPU blocks but by the whole of the SoC. This LLC is also present in the A7.

That’s all good news, in my book. While many of its competitors have taken the path of increasing core counts in their latest SoCs, Apple has built one of the highest-throughput mobile CPU cores anywhere. We know even from big desktop PCs that the user experience is often dominated by the performance of one big, hairy thread that’s difficult to execute. Apple’s decision to pursue higher per-thread performance instead of expanding the core count seems like the smart course.

SoC and CPU performance

Comparing SoC performance across platforms isn’t easy, but we do have a handful of reasonably useful benchmarks we can employ. We’re spoiled by the extensive instrumentation and easy scripting of the PC platform, I suppose, but many of the tests below (and on the following pages) don’t do the work we’d prefer they did. For instance, many mobile benchmarks simply report synthetic scores without reference to anything concrete, like a rate of computation or the time to completion of a task. Where possible, we have reported the results below in concrete units, even if those aren’t the most commonly quoted numbers you might see elsewhere.

Also, mobile benchmarking is fraught with shenanigans related to power management policies. We’ve not yet mapped out this space well enough to effectively counter some of the benchmark detection efforts phone makers have been known to use. That said, all of the numbers we’ve reported are the median of at least three test runs, and we’ve discarded any major outliers from the pool of results.

We have several notable devices on hand to compare with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Those include three prior generations of Apple offerings, the iPhone 5S through the iPhone 4. The OnePlus One and LG G3 are competing large-format Android phones, both based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 SoC with quad “Krait” custom CPU cores and Adreno 330 graphics.

Beyond phones, we have Nvidia’s Shield Tablet, based on a Tegra K1 GPU with quad Cortex-A15 CPU cores and Kepler-class graphics. This device is an 8″ tablet with a larger power envelope than a smartphone, but the architectural comparison should be interesting, with that caveat kept in mind. Also on hand is the Asus Memo Pad ME176C, a low-cost tablet based on Intel’s Atom “Bay Trail” Z3745 SoC; this SoC features quad “Silvermont” cores and Intel HD Graphics.

Many of you are probably hoping for comparisons against one or two other significant competitors in the high-end smartphone space. We don’t have those results below, but stay tuned.

Memory bandwidth

We don’t know the exact DRAM configuration of the new iPhones. Since they use LPDDR3, the channels are narrower than in desktop memories, either 16 or 32 bits wide. The Stream results suggest the possibility of dual 32-bit memory channels running at 1333 MT/s, if the SoC is squeezing out every last drop of bandwidth. There’s some warrant in the die images for the presence of dual SDRAM interfaces in the A8’s I/O ring.

We do know that the A8’s CPU cores are the only ones here that appear to reach the peak potential of the SoC’s memory subsystem in Stream’s copy test using a single software thread. Also, even with multiple threads, none of the other devices can match the peak transfer rates of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Geekbench

Geekbench runs natively on both iOS and Android, and it offers us a look at performance with just a single thread and with multiple threads. You can click on the button below to toggle between our single- and multi-threaded results.

Apple has carved out a substantial lead for itself in smartphone CPU performance, at least among the contenders we’ve tested. The A8 is far and away the fastest SoC here in single-threaded performance. What’s more, even though the A8 has only two cores on tap, its multithreaded performance is more than competitive. Only the Shield Tablet, with four Cortex-A15s in a larger power envelope, outperforms the A8 in Geekbench’s multithreaded tests.

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Difference
CPU clock frequency 1.3 GHz 1.4 GHz 7.7%
Geekbench overall 1407 1634 16%
Geekbench integer 1455 1667 15%
Geekbench floating point 1341 1578 18%

The A8’s single-threaded CPU performance has risen by 16% overall in Geekbench, with the gains coming in both integer and floating-point math. As the table above illustrates, the performance improvements outstrip the increase in CPU clock frequency. The A8 may have a new dynamic frequency boost mode we don’t know about, but in all likelihood, its CPU cores have been tweaked for increased per-clock throughput.

Geekbench has a ton of component tests, but I’d like to call out one especially interesting result. The AES encryption test illustrates the impact of tailored acceleration instructions built into the ARMv8 instruction set. Apple’s A7 and A8 SoCs are the only beneficiaries among the devices we’ve tested, but one can expect to see a similar boost in this test for other ARMv8-compatible SoCs.

Obviously, the iPhones’ huge lead in this test is a bit unusual. I was concerned that the results from this component test would throw off Geekbench’s overall integer and composite scores. After a little noodling around in a spreadsheet, though, I’m satisfied. Turns out Geekbench uses a geometric mean to compute its overall indexes, so outlier scores shouldn’t have an outsized impact on the results.

Browser benchmarks

The new iPhones continue to perform well in these cross-platform, browser-based benchmarks. The closest competitors here, the L3 G3 and OnePlus One based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801, are clearly outclassed.

Speaking of which, I’ve quietly slipped in some results from a couple of desktop processors, just to illustrate how close these mobile SoCs come to matching x86 CPUs with power envelopes nearly an order of magnitude higher. Remarkable, really.

BaseMark OS II

WebXprt

Intel has evangelized WebXprt pretty enthusiastically. We don’t always like it when a company backs a particular benchmark, but given Intel’s history there, I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. Right?

Regardless, the new iPhones take the top spot in WepXprt’s overall index thanks to strong performance in each workload. However you slice it, really, the A8 SoC has some of the highest CPU performance of any mobile device we’ve tested.

Graphics

The A8 die shots show an integrated GPU with four “cores,” and each pair of GPU cores appears to share a major logic block between them. The most likely candidate for the new iPhone GPU, far and away, is the PowerVR GX6450 from Imagination Technologies. Apple has long relied on PowerVR GPUs for its iOS devices, and the GX6450 is a four-core product from the PowerVR Series6XT family based on the “Rogue XT” architecture.

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6 Plus

SoC Apple
A6
Apple
A7
Apple
A8
GPU die area 20.7
mm²
22.1
mm²
19.1
mm²
GPU PowerVR
SGX 543MP
PowerVR
G6430
PowerVR
GX6450
Est. clock speed ~280 MHz ~430 MHz ~430 MHz ~475 MHz
fp32 flops/clock 96 256 256
Texture filtering  6 texels/clock 8 texels/clock 8
texels/clock
Pixel fill 6 pixels/clock 8 pixels/clock 8
pixels/clock
System memory 1GB
LPDDR2
1GB
LPDDR3
1GB
LPDDR3
Display resolution 1136×640 1334×750 1920×1080

The Rogue XT architecture is a bit unusual compared to most conventional GPUs because it’s built around a tile-based deferred rendering (TBDR) method. We’ve reviewed “tiler” GPUs of this sort before, but it’s been a while (unless, you know, there’s something Nvidia isn’t telling us). TBDR rejiggers the order of the traditional graphics pipeline in order to ensure that the GPU only spends its cycles shading and texturing pixels that will appear visible in the final frame being produced. In theory, at least, these GPUs ought to be very efficient with their resources. That’s probably why Imagination Technologies has been a big player in a mobile SoC world defined by strict constraints.

Imagination Technologies has been reasonably forthcoming about the guts of its graphics IP recently, so we have a fairly good idea how the various iPhone GPUs ought to stack up (although Apple may have modified some of that IP in ways we don’t know). I think we can trust the basic per-clock GPU throughput numbers above. The GPU clock speeds are easy enough to estimate by testing delivered performance, as we’ve done below, and working backward.

Apple has touted a substantial graphics performance increase for the new iPhones, and such things are usually achieved by making the GPU wider. You’ll notice in the table above that the area of the A8’s die dedicated to the GPU has only dropped by a few square millimeters, in spite of the process shrink from 28 to 20 nm. Clearly, the amount of GPU logic present has grown. Curiously, though, the peak shader arithmetic, texturing, and pixel fill figures haven’t increased from the A7.

Chalk up that anomaly to the direction Imagination Technologies took with its PowerVR Series6XT. The PowerVR GX6450 has many of the same theoretical peak rates as the G6430 before it, but there’s more going on under the covers. Although the fp32 math rate is the same, the Rogue XT shader core can deliver 25% more fp16 flops than its predecessors. The on-chip SRAM pools for tile buffers, the register file, and the caches have grown in size so that the existing graphics units can be more fully utilized. Rogue XT also adds support for the ASTC texture compression algorithm first developed by ARM. Thanks to these changes, the GX6540 should improve delivered performance even without an increase in peak rates. (For those interested in the gory details of the Rogue shader units, I’ve written a little about them here.)

Directed tests

These first two tests stress key graphics rates for texturing and shading. The A8 more or less keeps pace with the Adreno 330 GPU in the L3 G3 and OnePlus One in terms of texturing throughput, but the new iPhones fall behind in a directed test of shader arithmetic. (I get a kick out of writing about Qualcomm’s GPUs, since “Adreno” is an anagram for Radeon, revealing its roots at ATI.)

The Tegra K1 in the Shield tablet is both figuratively and literally in another class.

Alpha blending is more of a classic graphics sort of thing to do, and in this workload, the new iPhones suddenly look to be more competitive.

As I understand it, this benchmark attempts to measure driver overhead by issuing a draw call, changing state, and doing it again, over and over. Performance in this test may end up being gated by CPU throughput as much as anything else. That fact could, at least in part, help explain the iPhones’ big lead here. Driver overhead is a significant part of the overall performance picture in 3D gaming, so this result is relevant regardless of the primary constraint involved.

Off-screen gaming

All three of these tests are rendered off-screen at a common resolution, so they’re our best bet for cross-device GPU comparisons. They’re also more complete benchmarks than the directed tests above, since they involve rendering a real scene that could plausibly come from a mobile 3D game. The older iPhones can’t run GFXBench’s “Manhattan” test because it requires OpenGL ES 3.0 compliance.

As soon as it gets its claws into this sort of workload, the A8’s GPU looks quite a bit stronger than it does in synthetic tests of ALU and texturing rates. The delivered performance and efficiency of the GPU in the new iPhones is quite good—and according to GFXBench, at least, the GX6450 is indeed a substantial step up from the G6430 in the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 4, uh, was good for its era, but I’m not waiting for those benchmarks to finish ever again.

Native device resolution gaming

Devices with higher-resolutions displays will have to push more pixels in order to deliver the same frame rendering times as their lower-res competition. The tests above give us a look at how these systems fare when asked to light up all of their pixels. Although the 6 Plus’s GPU appears to be clocked somewhat faster than the iPhone 6’s, it extra juice isn’t enough to make up entirely for 6 Plus’s higher display resolution. In one of the two tests, at least, the 6 Plus is faster than the iPhone 5S.

More importantly, my 6 Plus certainly runs Infinity Blade III smoothly.

The iOS version of Basemark X runs on-screen and off-screen tests and then spits out a single, composite score, unfortunately. I wish we could break out the component tests, especially since this benchmark walks through a nice-looking scene rendered using the popular Unity game engine.

Image quality

One other feature of Basemark X is an intriguing quantitative test of graphics image quality.

Real-time graphics is strange because there’s not always one “right” answer about the color of a rendered pixel. Filtering methods and degrees of mathematical precision vary, since GPU makers take different shortcuts to trade off image quality against performance.

Basemark X attempts to quantify the fidelity of a GPU’s output by comparing it to some ideal—in this case, I believe the reference renderer is a desktop-class graphics chip. That’s a fair standard, since desktop chips these days produce something close to ideal imagery. The higher the signal-to-noise ratio reported, the closer these mobile GPU come to matching the reference image.

Frustratingly, a couple of the devices refused to run the quality test with “out of memory” errors. Among those that did run the test, the Tegra K1 in the Shield tablet comes out on top. The other mobile GPUs are pretty closely bunched together after that. I suspect the Tegra K1’s score is the same in the regular and high-precision versions of the test because its GPU always renders everything using fp32 precision internally, even if the application doesn’t request high precision.

The flip side of that coin is what happens with the PowerVR and Adreno GPUs in the high-precision test. They all hit a ceiling at about the same place, well below the Shield Tablet’s score, even though their shader ALUs are capable of fp32 precision when requested. I suspect the limitation here isn’t in the shader ALUs, but in other graphics-focused hardware, interpolators and such, whose internal precision may not be up to snuff.

This limitation isn’t a problem for mobile graphics in its current state. Both the iPhones and the Qualcomm-based devices produce rich visuals without any obvious artifacts in today’s games. But mobile GPUs may need to gain more consistent precision, like desktop GPUs did in the DX11 generation, going forward. Games may require added precision as developers layer on ever more complex effects, and GPU computing applications will probably require it, as well.

Storage

The selection of cross-platform storage tests out there isn’t spectacular. PassMark has some basic transfer rate tests, and Basemark has a test painfully labeled “memory” that seems to test storage somehow.

What these tests seem to reveal is decent basic storage performance for the new iPhones, with one curious exception: the iPhone 6 Plus is substantially slower than the iPhone 6, particularly in the PassMark write test. This difference could be related to the fact that our iPhone 6 Plus is a 64GB model, while the iPhone 6 has 128GB of flash. Or it could be related to the rumors that Apple has switched to TLC NAND, which is slower to write data, in at least some new iPhone models.

Neither of those explanations would fully account for the write speed difference entirely, though. Another possibility is that Apple could be using a portion of the NAND array as a fast cache by storing only one bit per cell in it, while the rest of the drive stores three bits per cell in a TLC configuration. Some desktop SSDs do this sort of thing, and the delta between write speeds in the two modes can be large. (The 840 EVO 120GB‘s SLC writes are rated for 410MB/s, while TLC writes happen at 140MB/s.)

If Apple is using an SLC-TLC caching arrangement, that could explain the numbers above. The size of the single-bit NAND cache is probably larger in 128GB configs. It’s possible PassMark overruns the SLC cache in the 64GB config but not in the 128GB one. Also, if the new iPhones do use a one-bit NAND cache, then wow, Apple’s storage management is much more sophisticated than I’d expected.

Whatever the case is, it’s hard to tell. iFixit’s teardowns reveal the iPhone 6 using SanDisk flash, while the 6 Plus uses NAND from Hynix, but both of those parts are 128Gb (16GB) models. Furthermore, Hynix’s data sheet lists the part number in the 6 Plus as “E2NAND3.0” without revealing whether it’s MLC or TLC NAND. And our software tools are mighty limited on iOS.

Regardless, the 6 Plus 64GB doesn’t feel noticeably slower than the iPhone 6 128GB in regular use, even in write-intensive tasks like burst photography or video capture. Both phones are fast and fluid in workloads of that nature.

Battery life

We tested battery life in four different scenarios. In each case, the phones’ display brightness was set to 180 cd/m² before starting, and display auto-brightness features were disabled. Our workload for the web surfing tests was TR Browserbench. The video test involved looped playback of a 1080p video recorded on one of the phones, and our gaming workload was the Unreal Engine-based Epic Citadel demo.

I resisted including our older iPhones in these tests because their batteries have considerable wear and tear by now. That narrows the field somewhat.

Owners of older iPhones will instantly recognize how much of an improvement these results are simply by looking at the number of hours involved. For web browsing and video playback, the new iPhones have essentially all-day battery life. Interestingly, our measured results track pretty closely with Apple’s own estimates. For instance, the firm claims “up to 11 hours” of Wi-Fi browsing time for the iPhone 6 and “up to 12 hours” for the 6 Plus.

The real torture test is the gaming workload, where the SoC is working hard throughout. Here, the OnePlus One’s run time nosedives to just 2.6 hours, and the iPhone 6 isn’t far behind at 3.7 hours. The 6 Plus’s larger battery makes it less fragile; the 6 Plus manages over six hours in the gaming test.

These results generally square with my own experience. I’ve spent weeks using the iPhone 6 Plus as my primary phone, and by habit, I charge it each night. Even with a silly amount of use throughout the day, the 6 Plus’s battery meter rarely drops below 40%. That’s a massive upgrade from my iPhone 5, which I had to nurse through busy days with periodic charging sessions. I couldn’t be happier to see progress on this front, which has been a sore spot in recent years as phones have grown thinner and lighter.

I’m also pleased to see that Apple has added a battery usage meter in Settings that allows the user to see which apps are sucking up battery power. I was surprised to learn, for example, that Google Hangouts was the cause of some battery life woes on my iPhone 5. As newer versions of iOS grant apps more freedom to work in the background and interact, tools like that become more valuable.

Display

The displays in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are obviously larger than their predecessors, with higher resolutions and—in the case of the 6 Plus—higher pixel densities, as well. They’re still LCDs based on in-plane switching (IPS) technology, and their pixel counts and densities are at least in the ballpark with leading Android phones, though some of those products sport even higher resolutions.

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6 Plus

Display size 4″ 4.7″ 5.5″
Display type IPS
LCD
IPS
LCD w/dual-domain pixels
Resolution 1136×640 1334×750 1920×1080
PPI 326 326 401
Contrast ratio (typical) 800:1 1400:1 1300:1
Max brightness 500 cd/m²
Color gamut Full
sRGB standard

Here’s a look at the iPhone 6 Plus up close. You can move your mouse over the thumbnail to see a pop-up window with a close-up photograph. Mobile users, just tap the thumbnail to load the full image and pinch-zoom to your heart’s content.

That’s a ton of detail. I suspect most folks won’t be able to pick out individual pixels with the naked eye.

The most notable changes in the new iPhone displays, though, have to do with pixel quality rather than pixel count. Contrast ratios, or the differences between dark and bright pixels, have nearly doubled compared to the prior generation. The new displays also adopt dual-domain pixels, in which subpixel alignments are skewed slightly in interleaved rows. The effect of this arrangement should be better off-angle viewing with less color shift.

Those explanations sound fine in theory, but in person, the impact is dramatic. Under the bright lights at the Apple store, I asked my son to hold his shiny new OnePlus One up next to the 6 Plus for comparison. Then I felt sorry for the boy. The brights are so much brighter and darks darker on the 6 Plus that it’s kind of silly. (The iPhone 6’s display is similar, just a bit smaller.) The 6 Plus was unquestionably the finest mobile display I’d ever seen—until I got a glimpse of the OLED display in the Galaxy Note 4. Man, the competition in this space is bonkers.

We can easily measure the improvement in contrast with a colorimeter.

Although the new iPhones’ white levels are similar to the iPhone 5’s, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus displays achieve deeper black levels at the same time.


All of these phones are capable of displaying essentially the entirety of the sRGB color gamut, as advertised.


Both of the new iPhones come out of the box with a color temperature closer to the 6500K standard than my old iPhone 5. By contrast, the OnePlus One registers a relatively cool ~8700K average temperature, which is pretty far from expectations.

Color accuracy has improved compared to the iPhone 5, as well, with lower overall delta-E for the new displays and no major weaknesses.


The iPhone 6 Plus (left) and 6 (right) from above and at an angle

True to their billing, the new iPhone displays also excel at off-angle viewing, with relatively little loss of contrast and almost no perceptible color shift. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

The iSight camera

The pixel resolution of Apple’s iSight cameras has stayed steady over multiple generations. Rather than chasing megapixels, Apple has worked to improve image quality in other dimensions. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus continue that trajectory.

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6 Plus

Primary camera resolution 8
megapixels

3264×2448

8
megapixels

3264×2448

8
megapixels

3264×2448

8
megapixels

3264×2448

Lens aperture f/2.4 f/2.2 f/2.2 f/2.2
Optical image stabilization? No No No Yes
Front-facing camera resolution 1.2
megapixels

1280×960

1.2
megapixels

1280×960

1.2 megapixels

1280×960

1.2 megapixels

1280×960

Front-facing lens aperture ? f/2.4 f/2.2 f/2.2

Both of the new cameras have a five-element lens with a wide f/2.2 aperture, and the pixel size on the sensors works out to 1.5 microns.

The new iPhone cameras include a feature that Apple calls Focus Pixels but is more broadly known as phase-detection autofocus. Phase detection is a complex autofocus technique that’s traditionally been confined to DSLR cameras, but Samsung and now Apple have brought it into smartphones. This technique promises to be quicker than conventional contrast-based autofocus, particularly in low light.

Another feature that has migrated from higher-end cameras is optical image stabilization, which is exclusive to the iPhone 6 Plus. Optical stabilization can dramatically improve focus in hand-held shots, especially in low-light conditions where longer exposures are required.

The shooting experience on the new iPhones is quite good—in some ways, even better than with an expensive DSLR. The autofocus mechanism is indeed uncommonly quick. Even in low light, it zeroes in on subjects in under a second, with minimal to-and-fro “hunting” once it gets close to the proper depth. Of course, the iOS camera app only offers limited tuning options for the knowledgeable photographer. The app provides a slider to control the brightness of the exposure in real time—a welcome provision—and the flash mode can be tweaked, but that’s about it.

Fortunately, most of its automatic choices are sensible. The software’s high-dynamic-range (HDR) shooting mode can be disabled or enabled, as in the past, but it now defaults to an Auto mode where the software decides when to employ it. The burst shooting mode carries over from the iPhone 5S and remains incredibly useful: simply hold down on the exposure button to capture a series of shots at a rate of 10 photos per second. One may then pick a favorite from the group later, although the camera app seems to do a good job of selecting the image with the sharpest focus on its own. And the automatic white balance algorithm in the new iPhones seems to be outstandingly accurate.

As in most other smartphones, the iPhone camera automatically applies lens correction and some amount of noise reduction and sharpening to the final images. Apple’s software isn’t too heavy-handed on this front, thank goodness.

The sample shots

I took a ton of pictures for the sake of this review, including some attempts at ISO reference patterns and home-brewed “test scenes” with a quasi-intentional jumble of objects. I discovered that getting the proper shot in some of those cases with a smartphone is prohibitively difficult. Also, many of those pictures didn’t do a very good job of illustrating the differences between the cameras in question. In the end, I wound up choosing a series of sample shots, one in outdoor light and several indoors, in order to demonstrate the sort of results you can expect. The Javascript zoom tool below will show you every pixel as you mouse over the thumbnails (or you can click/tap on each image to load the original in a browser tab).

I’m reasonably satisfied that the shots below do most of the work we need, but this setup does have some limitations. For one, I tried to select the best exposures from each camera for the samples below, and I used burst mode to shoot them when possible. As a result, you can’t know from looking at the examples how much easier it was to get clear, sharply focused shots on the iPhone 6 Plus with optical IS. One can usually achieve similar results on the iPhone 6 without optical stabilization, but not nearly as consistently.

Also, my sense is that our two viewing modes—a tiny thumbnail and a super-zoomed 1:1 pixel window—may obscure the true differences between these pictures as one would typically view them. All of the low-light shots look noisy when zoomed, but there’s a big difference between the best and worst images when viewed in full-screen mode on my 30″ monitor. To see what I mean, try opening the Santa pictures below from the iPhone 6 Plus and the OnePlus One in full-screen browser windows. The difference is more dramatic than one might otherwise think.

Outdoor scene

This shot of my backyard is kind of depressing, but it captures the look of winter in suburban Missouri, I guess. The best way to compare quality here is to focus on specific objects in the scene, I think.

For instance, my neighbors’ satellite dish (on the left) shows a clear progression in sharpness from the iPhone 5 through the 6 Plus. The OnePlus One’s 13-megapixel sensor doesn’t capture colors accurately, but it does resolve detail a bit better in outdoor light. The text on the “DirectTV” logo is only legible in the shot from the OnePlus.

iPhone 5:

iPhone 6:

iPhone 6 Plus:

OnePlus One:

Sample scene: Santa

This is my favorite sample scene, since it’s a challenging low-light setting with a complex subject. Even with burst mode at my command, I struggled to get perfect focus on the iPhone 6. If you look at the star on top of the Christmas tree, for example, you’ll see a bit of ghosting. With optical IS, getting the right focus on the 6 Plus was much easier.

Also, notice how much noisier the iPhone 5 shot is compared to those from the newer iPhones. Meanwhile, the image captured by the OnePlus One looks smeary and inferior, even compared to the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5:

iPhone 6:

iPhone 6 Plus:

OnePlus One:

Sample scene: Edinburgh

For kicks, I shot each of our sample scenes with my Canon DSLR as well as the phones. The differences in the depth of the focal plane and other things made the DSLR’s shots barely comparable. The thing that stood out most in this scene, though, was the crazy amount of pincushioning, caused by lens barrel distortion, the DSLR photo contained. Meanwhile, the phone cameras correct for that effect computationally, so that the picture frame is shaped pretty much as it should be.

iPhone 5:

iPhone 6:

iPhone 6 Plus:

OnePlus One:

Video

Apple

iPhone 5

Apple

iPhone 5S

Apple

iPhone 6

Apple

iPhone 6 Plus

Video resolution & frame rate 1920×1080
at 30 FPS
1920×1080
at 30 or 60 FPS
Slow-motion video 120
FPS
1280×720
at 120 or 240 FPS

The iSight camera has added two new video modes to its arsenal: 1080p recording at 60 frames per second, and 720p recording in slow-motion at 240 FPS. This last mode builds on the 120-FPS slow-mo mode in the iPhone 5S.

We have some examples of recorded video from each phone below. Of course, YouTube’s crazy compression has done some violence to the quality of the video produced by each device, but these examples should serve to illustrate a couple of things. As with the stills, the color is more saturated and correct on the iPhones than on the OnePlus One. Also, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus use algorithmic stabilization to reduce camera shake. These videos were recorded handheld, with me walking around on concrete, and the smoother camera tracking on the new iPhones is readily apparent. If there is some additional benefit from the optical IS capability in the 6 Plus versus the iPhone 6, I’m not seeing it here.

iPhone 5:

iPhone 6:

iPhone 6 Plus:

OnePlus One:

If an iPhone 6 owner ever films a sasquatch, I expect nice, smooth camera movement to put any controversy to rest.

Slow-motion video

The slow-mo recording feature of the new iPhones is near and dear to my heart, simply because I want to use it as a professional tool. I decided to try it out exactly as I’d use it: to record 3D gaming animation on a 4K G-Sync monitor with a 60Hz peak refresh rate. I mounted the 6 Plus on a tripod with some double-sided tape and gave it a go.

Man, I wish my DSLR would do that. I think it’s safe to say I can retire the Casio camera that I bought specifically for high-speed recording. The 6 Plus is a better tool for that job—not to mention that recording slow-mo videos of, say, Fourth of July fireworks or kids playing with bubbles is just a lot of fun.

What’s not fun is figuring out how to export a slow-mo video from the iPhone that will play back at the proper speed on other systems. A straight file copy doesn’t work. I had to import the video into iMovie, create a project, add the movie to it, and export. I’d really like to see this quirk fixed in a software update, so that copying 120/240-FPS videos off of the phone in the proper format is easier.

Networking

The Qualcomm MDM9625M modem in the new iPhones is a 28-nm chip that supports the Category 4 LTE standard, with download speeds up to 150 Mbps and uploads as fast as 50 Mbps. That’s an upgrade over the Category 3 modems in the 5-series iPhones, whose download speeds top out at 100 Mbps. The MDM9625M also supports carrier aggregation, essentially the use of multiple wireless channels simultaneously, in order to increase throughput. That said, Qualcomm is already shipping a Category 6 modem capable of 300 Mbps transfer rates, so the MDM9625M is arguably a conservative choice.

Also new is support for the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which can improve transfer rates on local wireless networks. Apple says the 802.11ac implementation in the new iPhones can be as much as three times faster than 802.11n.

Going into this review, I had big plans to measure network transfer rates in order to quantify the impact of these upgrades. I grabbed an Asus RT-AC87U router, and I sunk a ton of time into testing transfer rates over Wi-Fi and LTE from multiple locations. Unfortunately, my results weren’t anything worthy of publication. There was way too much variance in transfer rates from one test to the next, enough that it overwhelmed any differences between the phones. I may take another crack at Wi-Fi transfer testing in the future, using a different approach, but for now, we’ll have to do without.

For what it’s worth, practically speaking, I’ve found the new iPhones to offer solid all-around network performance. Their Wi-Fi is more robust than the two other devices I use regularly at home, a Nexus 7 and a Shield Tablet. Each of those tablets disconnects intermittently in a couple of well-known dead spots, but the iPhones generally do not.

Touch ID and Apple Pay

Like the iPhone 5S, the 6-series iPhones include a Touch ID fingerprint reader beneath the home button as a means of biometric identification. Surprisingly, this reader works well enough that I use it regularly in place of entering a four-digit PIN. It’s actually faster than tapping in a code most of the time. Touch ID struggles in certain conditions, like if your fingers are wet, but overall, it’s a win for convenience.

As you may have heard, Apple has built near-field communication (NFC) capabilities into the new iPhones alongside Touch ID. These two features combine to function as an authentication mechanism for the firm’s retail payment system, Apple Pay. Apple has persuaded a slew of banks and retailers to participate in the Apple Pay system, and many stores are already accepting NFC payments.

I decided to try it out, you know, for science. Apple Pay works slickly enough to be a little disconcerting, given that the technology’s purpose is to separate you from your money. The first step is adding a credit card from a participating bank, which can be accomplished by pointing the iPhone camera at said card. The Passbook app uses optical character recognition to retrieve your credit card number, and you’re good to go. Then, instead of swiping a card, you just hold the phone up to a supporting payment terminal and scan your thumbprint via Touch ID in order to complete a transaction.

I successfully purchased a Quarter Pounder with Cheese via Apple Pay, but only after flubbing the first attempt and having to start over. The Passbook interface for multiple credit cards is a little confusing, and as a result, I later realized that I’d charged my lunch on the wrong card.

Man, I was hoping to expense that.

My next attempt, buying poster board at Walgreens, went off without a hitch—and boy, do I lead an exciting life.

There is some drama unfolding right now over competing NFC payment standards, and who knows where it will all lead. Regardless, I expect to keep using Apple Pay where available. I like the fact that there’s a measure of biometric security involved, and I appreciate the way the Passbook app tracks and notifies me of charges made to my cards.

The multitasking issue

Generally, the new iPhones provide a fluid and compelling user experience, for reasons that our battery of benchmarks and empirical tests have illuminated. In the midst of all the goodness, there is one pain point I’ve noticed in my daily use of the iPhone 6 Plus. It has to do with multitasking.

I’m an inveterate multitasker. If I’m chilling out on the couch for the evening, I usually have five to seven apps that I keep active, and I switch between them pretty frequently. I’ve found that my Nexus 7 2013 with 2GB of RAM handles this sort of use well. Switching between apps is quick and seamless. Many high-end Android phones now come with 3GB of RAM, which should mean even less friction during multitasking.

Meanwhile, most iOS devices, including the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, only have 1GB of RAM. Now, that’s not necessarily a problem since iOS uses memory and handles multitasking differently from other operating systems. iOS can be very efficient with RAM, but it sometimes requires extra waiting when switching between apps.

iOS “hides” task-switching latency by taking a screenshot of the app’s last state, making a “card” representation of the app, and moving that card around in UI animations that slide, shrink, and so on. When you return to an application after being away, iOS fades from the dated screenshot to the current app screen. Oftentimes, this transition happens seamlessly, and the app’s return to the foreground seems instant. Sometimes, though, the app has been ejected from RAM and must reload itself before continuing. When that happens, everything kind of grinds to a halt for a few seconds.

To be fair, this sort of thing can also occur on Android, but I’ve noticed that it happens more often in recent iOS devices than in recent Android-based ones. Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal, but it was a concern for me when deciding which phone to purchase for myself. Ultimately, I decided to go with the 6 Plus on the strength of my experience with iOS 8 on my old iPhone 5. Cycling through my usual suite of apps on it is usually pretty snappy.

Having used the 6 Plus for a while, though, I think perhaps it’s paying a bit of a tax for running 64-bit executables and rendering to a higher-resolution display. The video above illustrates the issue. For the first 60 seconds or so, I’m able to switch between apps quickly without any delays. After that, things go a bit sideways, and several of the same apps decide to reload themselves. Those reloads happen relatively quickly because the 6 Plus is based on fast hardware, but there’s no substitute for having the running app waiting in memory.

Perhaps the 6 Plus reloads apps more often because I’m using it more heavily, or perhaps the apps themselves are misbehaving. Whatever the case, the performance of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is fragile in this way. I think that’s a notable downside of an otherwise stellar product.

If this problem is a consequence of Apple’s decision to limit the new iPhones to 1GB of RAM, that’s unfortunate. Throwing another gig of RAM into a phone with this sort of price tag is surely feasible. (As I’ve noted, Apple has already moved to 2GB in the iPad Air 2.) Also, there’s some notable history here. Older iOS devices have struggled to perform well or to serve the entire feature set of newer OS revisions in part because of memory capacity limits. Knowing that makes me worry a bit about future iOS revisions squeezing into these phones.

A word about Apple’s cases

You really should keep a new iPhone in a case, particularly because cracked glass on an in-cell touch display can be expensive to replace. Initially, I bought a third-party case for my phone, one of the highest rated cases on Amazon, since I’m cheap and it was, too. Once installed, the thing added a bunch of bulk to the 6 Plus, which is a bad proposition.


Apple’s leather case for the iPhone 6 Plus (left) and silicone case for the iPhone 6 (right)

I’ve since gotten my hands on Apple’s cases, and yeah, they’re worth the price of admission. The leather case fits the iPhone 6 Plus like a . . . well-worn cliche. I mean, the leather is both soft and supple. I enjoy the rich feel of the soft cowhide covering, but it terrifies me a little, since I’ll probably ruin it. The silicone case is more utilitarian and could probably withstand a cougar attack without showing any wear. I doubt it would survive some alone time with my two-year-old, but durability always has its limits.

The front edges of each case protrude above the surface of the phone’s glass screen just enough to offer a measure of drop protection, yet neither one adds a millimeter of unnecessary bulk. I’m sure there will be decent third-party cases that achieve a similar balance, but the Apple cases set an awfully high bar.

Conclusions

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus improve on their predecessors in nearly every major respect, from CPU and graphics performance to display and camera quality, networking speeds, battery life, and more. These elements come together to provide an experience that feels like a considerable upgrade over prior generations of iPhones. Apple has poured a ton of effort into ensuring that folks on an every-other-year upgrade plan will have a compelling reason to pull the trigger each time. I’d say Apple has more than met that goal this time around.

What’s more, Apple has measurably advanced the state of the art in many areas—like mobile SoC design, display quality, and camera capability—in order to build a better solution. The extent of the improvement in CPU and graphics performance from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 6 is dizzying. If this trajectory continues for several more generations, mobile SoCs could match the performance of today’s fastest desktop systems.

The competitors we put up against the new iPhones, including older iPhones and the poor OnePlus One, were easily outclassed by Apple’s latest. That’s true in spite of the fact that the OnePlus, for instance, looks pretty strong on paper—with quad CPU cores, the same display dimensions and resolution, and more megapixels in its camera sensor. Spec sheets aren’t everything, folks. That said, the OnePlus One costs about half what the iPhone 6 does. The new iPhones face more formidable competition not represented in the preceding pages. In the phablet space, the iPhone 6 Plus has to tangle with Samsung’s excellent Galaxy Note 4 and Google’s brand-new Nexus 6. Again, stay tuned on that front.

One of the big sticking points for most folks choosing a high-end smartphone these days is a preference for a particular mobile OS. Android has been in a good place for a while, and I have to admit, I initially had some trepidation about choosing another iOS-based phone. Using iOS 8 on an iPhone 6 Plus has assuaged many of my concerns. Apple has closed the gap in areas like notifications and cross-app communication. Also, iOS 8 gives users quite a bit more freedom in moving data and documents around. Meanwhile, oddly enough, the Lollipop re-skin has given Android a look and feel that pretty closely resembles iOS 8. In many respects, the user experiences delivered by the two dominant mobile operating systems are closer together than ever.

Then again, Android Lollipop has only arrived on select devices, and it may not make it into some of the iPhone’s closest competitors for a good while yet. Apple’s integration of its own software and hardware remains one of its distinctive strengths, and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are awfully strong testaments to the power of that approach.

I have less to say on Twitter.

Comments closed
    • burntham77
    • 5 years ago

    Thank you for this article. My wife has been bugging me for a new phone, because she is tired of her Nokia Lumia 810, and I think an iPhone 6 would be a nice upgrade. My only concern is that she is not a big app user, so an iPhone 6 might be overkill.

    • VincentHanna
    • 5 years ago

    The answer is simple.

    Phone holsters. Meet me in the town square pete, iphones at high noon. now: DRAW!

    • MickyTek
    • 5 years ago

    After seeing the way that Apple treat their makers of their products and knowing that they charge more money for their products than any other Phone or PC product maker I will never ever touch or have any Apple products under my roof.
    This company is the worlds worst Evil and Devil, people are dying at the hands and actions of this company, those of you who love your apples are as guilty as the very people who make these products and as far as I am concerned can rot in Hell

      • streagle27
      • 5 years ago

      “…This company is the worlds worst Evil and Devil, people are dying at the hands and actions of this company,…”

      Interesting statement you made there.

      I don’t recall Apple beheading men and women, and even children EN MASSE, of their own ‘peaceful religion’ as is occurring now in the Middle East.

      Do you even read the news bub?

      Most people don’t realize that if it wasn’t for Wall Street, and Banks, (as well as the people who INVEST in them!) the West wouldn’t have an economy that supports even the existence of any ‘android’ products, let alone our ENTIRE way of life, and most importantly, THE MEANS TO DEFEND and maintain it.

      If you want to talk to the people who caused the banking and mortgage crisis, you need to start with Barney Franks. After all it was the U.S. government who FORCED the banks and mortgage companies to do things no sane financier or economist would EVER do. And we all know how that turned out.

      And in case you haven’t noticed, the supplicants of that so-called peaceful religion are not what anyone would call ‘technological innovators’, unless you really think rusty swords and dull axes are leading edge technology.

      You need to go address REAL EVIL before you come here with your idiocy.

      So tell you what, until you and your ‘kind’ who hate America go confront them, lets just consider your type of views, hypocritical, and a bit ignorant (to say the least) and let it go at that.

      Some people need a clue rake, to even get a clue.

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 5 years ago

        It’s Barney Frank, and if you think the Dodd-Frank Act or Government Regulation caused the financial collapse, then you also really need to do better research.

      • trackerben
      • 5 years ago

      Customers willingly pay for its product and its employees and their contractors willingly make its product for pay. Phenomenal commercial success isn’t always phenomenally evil, and you haven’t explained how Apple’s case might be so.

      Even without such explanation, there’s always some who’d still agree with you in that Apple is evil, or it’s the devil, or from hell etc. But the “world’s worst” in all that? You’re not serious here are you?

      • End User
      • 5 years ago

      The easy way out is to focus on Apple and ignore the fact that what you are referring to is an industry wide problem. Any company that does business in low wage countries should be viewed under the same light:

      [url=https://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility<]Apple supplier responsibility[/url<] [url=http://www.engadget.com/2014/12/19/apples-tim-cook-deeply-offended-by-fresh-allegations-of-facto/<]Latest reply from Apple on overseas labour issues[/url<] [url=https://www.apple.com/environment<]Apple environmental responsibility[/url<] [url=https://www.apple.com/recycling<]Apple recycling[/url<]

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      You should really open your eyes because the very same factories are likely responsible for what you just posted that drivel with if you happen to be using a PC or tablet or phone.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 years ago

        Yup, Foxconn seems to be the one in the news the most, and Foxconn is found in tons of stuff.

          • Deanjo
          • 5 years ago

          Foxconn maybe one in the news the most (which is found in hundreds of product lines) but it is far from being the only one. Sadly until their culture changes in their country exploitation of children will likely go on and on. Child labour has been wildly used throughout the world and throughout its history and it is only when that society and culture becomes self aware and decides to do something about it that it will finally change. Western finger wagging only goes so far.

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      Nearly all the major PC, phone, and tablet makers source their parts and manufacturing from the same places Apple does. Apple is more transparent than the average, and does appear to be trying to curb the problem at least, while we’ve heard less from the rest of them.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 5 years ago

    I was at Target tonight and stopped by the iDisplay in their electronics department. I discovered 3 things:

    1.) 4.7″ iPhone 6 feels just right. It’s a little smaller than my Galaxy S4 (without the case) without being cramped on screen. I am drawn to this.
    2.) The iPhone 6+ is enormous. I couldn’t put them side-by-side, but i walked over to the Note 4 and back to the 6+ and I’m pretty sure the 6+ is bigger despite the slightly smaller screen. I could not see using either phone. My wife thinks the Note 4 is dreamy, though, because she carries her phone in her purse.
    3.) If you want help in the electronics area of a chain department store, pull out your phone and compare it with a display model. They’ll be up your ass so fast trying to upgrade you they might come out your nose.

    • Cranx
    • 5 years ago

    By day I’m an Android and iOS dev and by night I play video games. I read this site a lot and I am really enjoying the mobile focused articles.

    Given that I actually use both platforms, I’m curious to know exactly which versions of Android each phone in these benchmarks is using. The Android Runtime or ART released with Android 5.0 Lollipop has a ton of optimizations that should have a huge impact on benchmarks scores. Is there anyway you could add that information to your benchmark report?

    This video goes over a lot of the optimizations to ART. If you you’re into Android or a huge nerd you’ll probably find it interesting. Link: [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBlTzQsUoOw[/url<]

      • Damage
      • 5 years ago

      All of our results are pre-Lollipop so far. We may have to test again with Lollipop and ART soon, though!

        • Cranx
        • 5 years ago

        That would be awesome. Thanks!

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        I’m using ART with Kitkat… If you use Slimkat (official ROM) in the OPO, you’ll probably can too.

        • tipoo
        • 5 years ago

        Are you going to review that Oneplus One?

          • Damage
          • 5 years ago

          Kinda just did, in a way. I doubt I’ll have time to go back and address it specifically. It’s a great phone for the price, though. Just can’t quite run with the premium phablets in display and camera quality.

            • tipoo
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah, fair enough. Just wish the damn thing was available. It’s not *quite* a flagship killer, but at half the price (and an awesome 350 for the 64GB) it hardly needs to be.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      I thought ART was more focused on alleviating stutters and JIT lag, and that actual performance in benchmarks wasn’t really improved.

        • tipoo
        • 5 years ago

        Most bencmarks would be native anyways, so won’t see improvement. Any odd benchmark that uses Java would be improved. Not many games would use Java, I would not think.

    • theadder
    • 5 years ago

    This review is stellar & a very good start.

    • USAFTW
    • 5 years ago

    A phony review by the great Scott Wasson himself.
    But… Where’s the bend test page?

    • cynan
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]The competitors we put up against the new iPhones, including older iPhones and the [b<]poor[/b<] OnePlus One, were easily outclassed by Apple's latest[/quote<] Unfortunately, there seems to be a little bit of a backlash from the enthusiasm the Oneplus garnered earlier - largely due to Oneplus not being more responsive in the area of customer support and perhaps warranty service. Not a good way for a new company to make a first impression, but perhaps the margins are just too thin... In this aspect, Oneplus is poor indeed, especially compared to a company like Apple, who has a pretty stellar reputation for service. That said, I don't see anything poor about the Oneplus' performance or overall smartphone experience. It (generally), as your benchmarks corroborate, gets pretty great battery life and any task I do on a smartphone is pretty much equally as quick and just about as smooth. Even compared to an iPhone 6 plus. Does the 6 plus beat the Oneplus in a few areas such as ease of taking decent pics with the camera, better performance in some games? Perhaps. Is this delta something that I am going to generally care about enough to spend the requisite premium insofar as how I use my phone? Unlikely. Is iOS a more polished experience than Android? Undoubtedly yes. But then, it comes with other pitfalls that have already been mentioned ad nauseam. And in any case, comparing an Android to iPhone is kind of an Apples to (um) candy-of-the-year? comparison anyway... For people who don't want iOS for whatever reason, the Oneplus (above potential customer service issues aside) is pretty unbeatable for the money. The iPhone 6 plus 2x the price? It's much closer to 2.5x. If I really wanted an iPhone, I would find a way to justify it, for sure, as it's a great experience, no question. But that doesn't make the $500 delta ($350 for 64GB OPO vs $850 for 64GB i6Plus) any less ridiculous. Lets get these bad boys on one of TR's good ol' GPU-style price performance charts and then see which one turns out to be "poor".

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      I agree with this, and I’ll add that the Oneplus actually does better than many Snapdragon 801 phones in terms of not throttling long term (see anandtech). It doesn’t have an A8 in it because that’s obviously not available to them, but it still has one of the top chips available for Android in North america, and its implementation of it is better than some of the big boys. It’s trailing performance in browser tests is also due to the low single core performance of current Android SoCs, plus the Android browser, so again not really their fault, just a current reality of Android, so you could say they’re not great in comparison to an iPhone, but it’s also indicitive of the rest of Android.

    • danny e.
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]TechReport - PC Hardware Explored[/quote<] This settles it folks, despite what Jobs wanted you to believe... Apple products are just PCs

      • danny e.
      • 5 years ago

      typing is difficult

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 5 years ago

      …I’ve referred to my Macs as PCs for years. I mean, aren’t they just personal computers?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 years ago

        Macs are a subset of PCs, certainly. But PC as a marketing term became equated with Microsoft when IBM released their original Personal Computer along with its family (such as PC Jr.)

      • vipw
      • 5 years ago

      Which computer is more personal than the one that’s almost always on your person? Phones are far more personal computers than the traditional PC, IMO.

    • dashbarron
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<] Consider the iPhone 6 Plus my breaking point. [/quote<] Cheeky. Atleast it didn't just bend. Have to give Apple credit for pushing the industry and other industries forward. Nothing innovative here, but their influence is good for us all. I was so excited when I got my NFC enabled phone two years ago...only to find out it didn't work anywhere. And I also remember getting a lot of negative comments from people who thought having a phone as big as mine was obtrusive. Now... /le sigh.

    • ronch
    • 5 years ago

    Personally, I would get the LG G3 if I was out for a new phone. Or maybe the Asus Zenfone 6 if I wanna save a couple hundred buckazoids.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<] Then again, Android Lollipop has only arrived on select devices [/quote<] Same can be said for iOS 8! 😛

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      The depth of the selection is different though.

      Lollipop: Nexus and GPe phones, and some Motorola devices only. No Samsung, HTC, Lenovo, etc. etc.
      iOS 8: Everything that’s still for sale.

        • Ninjitsu
        • 5 years ago

        iPhones 6, 6S, 5, 5C, 5S plus iPads 3, 4, Air, Air 2 get it, right? So 9 devices.

        Nexus 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, have it, Moto E, G, G2, X, X2 and the GPE phones (not even sure how many, let’s go with at least 5) will get it. So will Nvidia’s Shield and that tablet of theirs.

        By the end of January, you’ll have at least 18 devices.

        EDIT: Forgot the Nexus 9.

        Also this: [url<]http://indiatoday.intoday.in/technology/story/sony-to-start-android-5.0-update-for-xperia-z2-and-z3-in-early-2015/1/407458.html[/url<] So Sony has 5 devices slated for the update, Samsung has 2, LG has 1 and HTC has 2.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 5 years ago

          But in terms of percentages:

          iOS 8: 100% of current devices

            • Ninjitsu
            • 5 years ago

            Er. So would Android devices, under the Nexus brand? I’m not sure if this is a good metric to judge anything by.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            If the Nexus brand made up 100% (or even 10%) of the Android market, it’d be a good metric. By comparison Apple’s devices make up 100% of the iOS market. You can’t buy an iOS 7 device that doesn’t already have iOS 8.1 available, on any carrier. You can buy a lot of Android devices with no Lollipop.

            Google is doing the right thing with Google Play services in that compatibility and development is easier with a target of “latest Play services” instead of “Gingerbread and ICS and 3 type of Jelly Bean and KitKat and Lollipop” and splitting so much out into the Play store. You can more-or-less make any phone at least look the part of a Nexus with the Google Now launcher and Google Play keyboard.

            • trackerben
            • 5 years ago

            Google Now launcher is unfinished on non-kitkat 4.x droids. Missing icons, inflexible layout, unstable grinding – these aren’t features. Better to stick with thE OEM default in most cases. Play services is good for updating the main Google apps though.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            Those are old phones. Even Razr HD from 2012 got KiKat.

            • trackerben
            • 5 years ago

            There are reports of similar issues on non-nexus 4.x KitKat droids which is why many have high hopes for 5.0.

            Didn’t mention them since to be fair, I can’t personally verify the issues as my Lenovo P770 is upgrade-capped at Jelly Bean. Ironically relates to the good points you’re making about the generational inconsistency of Android availability.

        • tipoo
        • 5 years ago

        But people running the A5 who go to 8 probably wish they hadn’t – I sure do. Even with the .1 update that supposedly improved things for us, our iPad Mini is a laggy, choppy experience. I think Google picks pretty good cutoff points, to be honest, though I know that’s different than what you’re talking about. Google does need to whip its device partners into shape.

    • adisor19
    • 5 years ago

    Hi Scott, I read the review and it’s good. It’s almost poetic how right after Anandtech sells out, you step in and tackle smart phone reviews 🙂

    Best of all : it’s an iPhone review on a site that not long ago, strongly avoided reviewing anything Apple. As the long time celebrated TR’s Apple fanboy, I commend you for taking this step and I can’t wait for more reviews that will go even more in depth from a technical perspective.

    Thank you,

    Adi

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      Nobody celebrates you. 😉

    • Vrock
    • 5 years ago

    Work forced a Iphone 6 on me. It’s my first Iphone. I prefer my Droid. The 6 has a few nice features (I particularly like the way it handles voicemail), but overall it’s a pretty unimpressive piece of hardware and software. The auto-rotate feature somehow disables the keyboard in landscape mode from time to time, I’ve had email lockups that have required reboots, and the Message feature is wonky too.

    • Zizy
    • 5 years ago

    Shame they still use 1GB RAM. Doesn’t bode well for the future. I hope 6s will bump that up to at least 2GB and I am buying it 😛

      • End User
      • 5 years ago

      The iPad Air 2 has 2GB. My bet is that the 7 will definitely have 2GB.

    • Meadows
    • 5 years ago

    Mother of God. A phone review.

    • drsauced
    • 5 years ago

    So I was sitting down for meditation and the lady next to me had an iPhone 6 Plus. I thought to myself, self, this lady has mismatched socks, and holy mackerel is that a big phone!

    Since I’m an Android person, I thanked that lady for the inspiration got myself a Nexus 6. Now I can whip out the unicorn and exclaim, “I’ve got a really big phone.” Wink, wink. Well, I really was in need of an upgrade, with a large portion of expletives and anger aimed at my old Droid Razr for its rather annoying ability to freeze at any job larger than turning it on. I blame Verizon.

    Anyway, I also switched to T-Mobile with the Nexus 6 and I really could not be more happy. In the brief two weeks:

    -Lollipop is amazing. The changes to Android are more than just a re-skin, the underpinnings are also different. Not JIT, but ART. There’s animations everywhere, it’s very fluid, the notifications are excellent, and it does recognize when I’m in a meeting and stops notifications. Kudos to the dev team, Google actually got a bunch of engineers together and put out something that feels like a whole thing. Good job.

    -That screen. It’s higher res than my PC screen, which is slightly demoralizing, but it does the job wonderfully well. Lollipop doesn’t do anything useful with that 1440p resolution, but I’m intoxicated by the possibilities.

    -It’s a big Moto X.
    -It’s bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus. Yeah, Mismatched Socks Lady was impressed.
    -You’re friends think you’re nuts, but are a little jealous.
    -Gets about 3.5 to 4 hours of screen on time. This translates into a lot less worry about finding a charger, for like two days of light use.
    -Google voice recognition is excellent. I haven’t trained it yet, but maybe, perhaps, I might.
    -Bluetooth in the car. Now this was worth the expense, not a hop, skip, or a jump like my old phone, but a huge freaking leap in sound quality. My inner audiophile tingles and tells me it sounds rather good.
    -Qi wireless charging. Not having to plug, or remembering to plug, in your phone is gold.
    -Multitasking. I’m used to closing by force apps that I’ve exited to preserve some semblance of usability, but the Nexus 6 doesn’t have to do that. I still do it, but the habit will change. Even with encryption it’s still lickety split fast.
    -More things to discover. I’m discovering new and interesting features as I use it. I found a few bugs as well, but for a whole new revision, not bad. The Messenger app is outstanding, the stereo speakers are outstanding, the camera is outstanding (and I believe better than the 6 Plus, you’ll see), the ability to cast to a TV is outstanding, the whole damn thing is outstanding!

    This is my first off-contract phone and I paid full price for it. Yep, you could buy a fairly well equipped laptop for the price. However, a friend of mine got a Droid Turbo, at my behest because he’s an outdoorsman and needs a big battery, and the difference is stark. No bloat, no bundle, no preload, no startup videos, no branding, just pure, sweet Lollipop. Lick on that!

      • trackerben
      • 5 years ago

      I know you’ve got to earn your 50c. But maybe you should apply first before posting a rival’s review? This way we can line up the firing line straight off the PR scripts. Still, nice comment.

      PS How are the app loading times?

        • drsauced
        • 5 years ago

        Hah, funny. I’m not shilling. But, to answer your question, if an app is closed, it’s kicked out of memory. Load times are acceptably quick in that condition. If it’s already in memory, it’s instant launch time.

        Thanks for pointing out my incongruity to TR’s review. It’s good to have a dissenting view, though, right? It is the cold light of competition that drives innovation. For me, the Apple-verse is too locked in. It’s great if you’re already an Apple person, but for those who aren’t, or just want something different, vote with your wallet (or credit card). Android is a different philosophy, and I dig it.

          • trackerben
          • 5 years ago

          Many worried that the 6 might suffer from the loadtime issues the 9 had with launch Lollipop. Nexus is the only brand alternative with any chance against Apple in long-term consumer acceptance. I can agree that competitive threats do drive Apple’s builders to innovate at their peak.

          What is it about iOS that’s too locked-down/in other than the consumer-focused UI and filesystem? It can’t be the user data stores. Both Google and Microsoft emulate Apple’s backend strategy even more deeply. For Google it’s their premier adware and govware collection platform. For Microsoft it’s their entry case for their cloud services marketing. Stuff which Apple doesn’t care as much to lock consumers into because they care most of all to capture generational relationships with satisfied clients.

          I think what Android fanciers most dislike is that Apple doesn’t tolerate custom or even “aftermarket” susbsystems like what PC users enjoy in Windows’ promiscuously evolved environment. That’s a valid response, but then so is a need for secure computing efficiently enforced schemawide by the supplier of the potential breach point.

            • BabelHuber
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]Nexus is the only brand alternative with any chance against Apple in long-term consumer acceptance.[/quote<] Sure, that's why Android has ~85% market share (worldwide, not USA!) [quote<]What is it about iOS that's too locked-down/in other than the consumer-focused UI and filesystem?[/quote<] - No sideloading - Locked (and unlockable) bootloader - You cannot set any app as the default app - No alternative launchers/ phone-apps/contacts - No possibility to install ROMs (e.g. to downgrade from iOS 8.01, where some user couldn't make calls) - No rooting (jailbreaking is NOT the same) - No possibility to enhance the phone with features like rSAP iOS is very restricted. I can understand that some people still like the 'ecosystem', especially those who have difficulties using 'real' computers, but restricted it is.

            • Zizy
            • 5 years ago

            1.) Companies have that option. For others, the only reason except piracy are boobies.
            2.) Why would I (or anyone) care about bootloader?
            3.) I agree, this is a minus.
            4.) Skype is phone app, isn’t it? Or you mean you want some additional app for calling using your carrier network?
            5.) It is possible to downgrade if you wish, although for only limited time. In ideal world you wouldn’t have to anyway, as new version worked better.
            6.) Why would I care about that?
            7.) Yup, another minus.

            Your list resembles stuff Linux fanatics are/were writing about Windows minuses. Sure, some minuses are legitimate, but there are tons of stuff Android geeks take for granted while nobody else cares about and/or understands the decision behind them.

            • trackerben
            • 5 years ago

            Err no, people who buy Nexus models don’t represent that large a unit percentage of global smartphone market. It’s in the low single digits if at all.

            The UI features you cite are mostly console issues which doesn’t imply Apple’s systems architecture is overly restrictive at its core. Content is not aggressively filtered or altered by non-app task to opaque rules, and iOS media players and readers do accept most open formats. There are alternative diallers and contact managers but not as defaults in order to maintain general integrity accessibility.

            iOS hosts an advanced compartmentalized secure computing environment. The MACH-derived core enforces safe and disciplined over promiscuous and ad hoc methods in order to keep applications highly available to an inexpert consumer majority.

            The difficulty of undermining Apple devices as secured appliances is actually a benefit to their consumer audience. So far only occasional social methods appear to have breached Apple’s corporate and customer accounts. Which is more than can be said for Google in its lamented retreat from China, or Sony for its PS debacles – or Google’s Android for Homeland Security’s concerns over its sloppy development.

            If hackers are having a hard time making a Google or Sony or Nokia out of Apple due to its hardened systems and policies, good for them and their users right? It’s not as if their business practices and model were hurting their paying customers or their revenues in any big way…

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            As far as I’m concerned, side loading has two uses:

            1.) piracy
            2.) installing malware

            I have “install from unknown sources” disabled on my phone and I like it that way. No reason to expose myself unnecessarily.

            Are you saying that Scott has difficulties using real computers? He’s been toting an iPhone for years.

            • BabelHuber
            • 5 years ago

            No.

            3.Restore an older version of an app
            4. Install an app which is no longer officially supported (e.g. Flash Payer, Gallery)
            5. Install an app which is not released in your country
            6. Install frameworks/ hacks to tweak the device to your liking (e.g. XPOSED framework)

            And yes I am saying Scott has difficulties using real computers 🙂

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            D-D-D-D-DOUBLE POST

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            Galaxy seems to have a lot of consumer acceptance. It’s terrible and I don’t understand it (based on my own experience) but it’s been widely accepted way more than Nexus.

            • trackerben
            • 5 years ago

            I also wonder why expensive Galaxies with Touchwiz bloat are seen as good alternatives to iPhones, a new Nexus or its Play edition is a closer match I’d think. Would have bought a Nexus 5 (or Moto X) if only there were dual-SIM version. The Galaxy 5 isn’t selling well so maybe consumers are wising up.
            [url<]http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/feature/2387814/samsung-and-sonys-troubles-see-apple-taking-the-2014-crown[/url<] Cheaper droids have always been popular among workers or the young student and office crowd, especially in the Asian cities I've been to. Career and business people who aren't in the tech industry would rather associate with Apple for that reason. Apple's premium branding has transferred socially to top schools where most students have iPhones like their peers.

    • NeelyCam
    • 5 years ago

    I saw iPhone6 Plus in real life. It was BIG. BIGger than what I imagined.
    I saw Note4 in real life. It was Big. Almost as BIG as iPhone6 Plus. But it didn’t come with iOS, so that was a bonus.
    But then I saw Galaxy S5. It was pretty much the perfect size. Just a little bit bigger than iPhone6. And cheap(*. I just couldn’t resist.

    Yes – I admit, I would like to see a review comparing iPhone6 Plus to Note 4 and iPhone6 to S5.

    *) AT&T thinks the difference between AT&T Next and contract-price is $15/mo or $360. The $1 price w/ 2-year contract would make the S5 a $361 device…

    Note that before you bring up AT&T’s “horrible” contract prices, I’m sitting on a grandfathered “contract” plan that gives me 200MB and 200 messages per month + enough minutes (lots of roll-over) for about $50. Two years is $1200 (minus how much an S5 is worth, compared to non-contract plans).

    • LoneWolf15
    • 5 years ago

    I got an iPhone 6 as work has standardized on them; I’m coming off a Droid MAXX.

    Things that work well on the iPhone:
    -The camera
    -Construction is good
    -Battery life is better than I expected
    -Display quality is good
    -People may think TouchID is a gimmick, but it’s nice to have when you have a passcode, like when your phone is set up for an Exchange e-mail account.

    That said, there are some things that drive me batty about it. First of all, my MAXX knew when I was driving in the car (GPS speed and the mic could hear road noise), and it would offer to read me text messages, and respond, completely hands free, with my eyes still on the road. Google Now also meant I could tell my phone to perform some tasks without laying a finger on it. For all of Apple’s processing power, you can only do that if the phone is plugged in to AC.
    Google Now makes Siri look pathetic. Siri thinks my wife’s name is spelled in a very esoteric Scandinavian way, even though her correct spelled name is in my contacts. I had to define her as “my wife” so that I could tell Siri “Call my wife”, otherwise the phone got it wrong every time. Half of my requests to Siri resulted in “Here’s a web search for (the command you just asked me to execute)”; Google Now got things right far more often than not.
    The Apple keyboard drives me nuts. Why can’t numbers be set up like on Android, where a long press on the Q gives me the number 1, and so on, so I don’t have to constantly be switching between an alpha keyboard, a numeric keyboard, and a symbol keyboard? This just makes good interface sense.
    Finally, while I like the phone’s construction, it’s a little too thin to hold without a case, and way too slippery; you’re going to drop it without one. I’d have preferred they made the camera flush with the body, used the extra 1mm for a little more battery, and made it a little easier to hold on to.

    I don’t have hate for Apple; I just have a love for things engineered well from a software perspective, and I think there’s room for improvement. I’d much rather have a 2014 Moto X (I’m now on AT&T instead of Verizon) than this phone.

      • End User
      • 5 years ago

      [quote<]Why can't numbers be set up like on Android, where a long press on the Q gives me the number 1, and so on[/quote<] [url<]http://www.swype.com/product-features/ios/features.html[/url<]

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 years ago

        You probably also don’t have the issues where [url=http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1771733<]3rd-party keyboards lock up[/url<] in iOS 8.x. Man, you really are magic. Also, Apple's requirement that you not use 3rd party keyboards to enter passwords makes entering my passwords a pain in the rear, since they switch between numbers and letters frequently.

          • End User
          • 5 years ago

          Stop raining on my magic parade.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            OK I laughed.

            But seriously, when I get an iPhone 6 (probably early next year) you need to pick out which specific one I get for me, so that way I can get some of that Midas touch.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            Midas touch or Midas denial?

            • End User
            • 5 years ago

            Talk to the (golden) hand [url<]http://www.midas.com/[/url<]

            • End User
            • 5 years ago

            It sounds as if the 128GB 6+ has issues. Get a 128GB 6.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            I was probably going to get a 64GB of whatever I got anyway. I don’t come close to filling my Galaxy S4 + 16GB SD card, or the 32GB on my iPad.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      My mother-in-law and my dad both have Droid MAXXes as well. The MIL drives a ton for work and is really impressed that the phone knows when she’s driving, and it automatically starts reading texts aloud for her. If I was getting an Android phone today, I think it’d for sure be a Moto.

    • sweatshopking
    • 5 years ago

    I DON’T HAVE TO SAY A WORD. YOU KNOW WHAT I AM THINKING.

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      Justin Beiber is your hero?

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        HE’S NOT MY HERO. HE’S THE WORLD’S. QUIT PRETENDING LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE A POSTER OF HIM ABOVE YOUR BED. I SAW IT UP THERE LAST TIME I WAS OVER.

          • Deanjo
          • 5 years ago

          THAT’S NOT JUSTIN! THAT’S A YOUNG ALAN THICKE!!!

          [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoQ4ZuiSh8A[/url<]

            • VincentHanna
            • 5 years ago

            Got to admit, I’m a little gay-er than I thought I was.

            Is this why all those dinosaurs in the republican party are so afraid of gay marriage?

      • entropy13
      • 5 years ago

      No high-end Lumia’s for the next 9 months?

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        THE IPHONE 6 AND 6+ COMPETE WITH THE YEAR OLD 1520 AND ICON/930. SERIOUSLY. APPLE IS GETTING FURTHER AND FURTHER BEHIND THEIR COMPETITORS IN EVERYTHING BUT IPC.

          • Zizy
          • 5 years ago

          Well, soc is great, better than SD 80x. Screen of 6+ is the best LCD one according to displaymate, although Note4 is better (afaik note 3 isn’t, so 930 is likely to be worse as well). Lumias only have better camera and touch as far as hardware goes.
          So, iPhone wins hardware comparison.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            Wut? the 930 is an amoled, not ips. So good luck with that argument. i WAY prefer amoled to ips, but some people don’t. last time i checked you couldn’t adjust the display on the iphone, but you can change to your liking on the lumia’s.

            the LUMIA’S HAVE nokia’s dynamic assertive display, so brightness varies across the screen vs one standard brightness. the iphone might have better color reproduction, but who cares? the iphone 6 isn’t even full HD. iphones also have a slower refresh rate than the lumias. It also lacks the clearblack feature on lumias. Also, the 1520 has glance, which the iphone sure doesn’t (and i wish the 930 had as well).

            It’s not a straight across comparison on the displays. I’m not saying the iphone has a bad display, it doesn’t. it’s excellent, but it’s not a cut and dry comparison. ALSO, THE IPHONE 6 IS A YEAR NEWER THAN THE 1520. IT SHOULD HAVE A NICER DISPLAY, AND IF IT IS, IT’S REALLY MARGINAL, AND THE 1520 IS STILL COMPETITIVE. WHILE THE 930 IS AMOLED AND TOTALLY DIFFERENT. I PREFER AMOLED, SOME GUYS LIKE THE COLOR OF IPS BETTER.

            THE IPHONE HAS NO QI, 1 GB RAM, THE 6 HAS NO OIS, BUT PRE-DENIM, TAKES FASTER PICTURES THAN THE 930/1520, ALBEIT GENERALLY AGREED AS NOT AS NICE, AND ONLY 8MP.

            I’M NOT SURE HOW THE “IPHONE WINS HARDWARE COMPARISON”. THEY DO HAVE A MUCH BETTER SOC, AND LIKE THE LUMIA’S, AN EXCELLENT DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY. AGAIN I’M NOT SAYING THE IPHONE IS A BAD PHONE. IT ISN’T, BUT IT’S COMPETITIVE WITH PHONES ON THE OTHER PLATFORMS FROM LAST YEAR. I THINK THAT’S PRETTY CLEAR. IN MANY WAYS, LUMIA’S BEAT THE IPHONE EASILY.

            NOT ON MOTHER FLIPPING APPS THOUGH. IPHONE REIGNS SUPREME THERE. BUT I’M NOT 12, SO IDC.

            LOVE TO HEAR THE WAYS THE IPHONE BEATS THE HARDWARE OF THE LUMIA’S, SO PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW IT ACTUALLY DOES. YOU PREFER THE SCREEN, ANY OTHER WAYS?

            • Zizy
            • 5 years ago

            I know. 930 is an amoled of older generation, which is slightly inferior to 6+ afaik. (although I too greatly prefer amoled, even if its quality is worse than LCD)
            And yeah, this is only for 6+. 6 is worse.
            Most of the other display list, true. Software and firmware is better on Lumias. But I was comparing only hardware.
            OK, I forgot about QI, shame Apple is so set on shiny it cannot include that. But iphone has that fingerprint sensor which is about as good.

            I consider screen, soc and some minor stuff to outweight camera and similar minor Lumia advantages (vs 930).
            —-
            The funny thing is that almost nobody cared about 1520 when it launched. But if MS released it now, it would be the hailed as “finally a WP flagship we have been waiting for”. The only WP (and one of the very few phones in general) that can be still easily recommended after a year.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 years ago

        No kidding. If I wanted to switch to Windows Phone now, I can choose from the HTC One M8 and…err…that’s the only flagship Verizon sells right now. They dropped the Icon and there’s no way I’d buy a Samsung Windows phone given how craptacular my Galaxy S4’s battery life is.

          • sweatshopking
          • 5 years ago

          I just grabbed an icon on swappa. Works perfectly in Canada on lte. I miss glance from my 1520, but my wife likes it better. She’s not embarrassed when I use it in public like when I had the 1520

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            I could get one on Swappa, I guess, but the used phones I’ve bought in the past all seemed fine but had some sort of niggling problem. With my HTC One S, the area where the status bar is displayed was a different color in full-screen apps than the rest (probably due to a little bit of OLED burn). That 928 which you helped me to get fixed under warranty was from Swappa, too. I had the option of returning it to the seller or trying the Nokia route, and so I went the Nokia route.

            Nokia’s service was awesome, though.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah, I recall. Buddy was just selling a brand new icon still in box on swappa the other day for 210$. I bought a used one for 250$ the day before :/

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            AND NOW YOU FEEL LIKE A CHUMP

          • entropy13
          • 5 years ago

          In my case I could grab a Windows Phone for relatively cheap (for $67 and $112), but when someone told me there are no Windows Phone equivalent for MX Player (which is also the only one with the least compatibility issues with almost any encoding and subtitle embedding), the appeal vanished.

            • sweatshopking
            • 5 years ago

            What formats do you need?

            • rxc6
            • 5 years ago

            Well, it seems like a matter of time for MX Player to be full featured: [url<]http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/mx-player/8ec67eb7-1158-4d34-9898-007fcc49683e[/url<]

    • Spiny
    • 5 years ago

    Just purchased an iPhone 6 Plus 128GB here.

    Those rumors about defective iPhone 6 Plus phones? Especially 128GB ones? Appear to be completely true. Nothing to do with the number of apps installed. Just random pauses and hangs. No crashes yet. iOS 8.1.2 installed, supposed to fix some of these problems, but doesn’t help. There are rumors about defective memory modules. This phone is going back.

    Apparently some people are on their 6th or 7th replacement iPhone 6 Plus. Not interested in going through that.

      • adisor19
      • 5 years ago

      Yeah, I’ve read reports as well that TLC NAND in the 128GB devices is at fault. Take it back.

      My jailbroken 64GB 6 has 0 issues so far but it’s probably got MLC flash.

      Apple tried cheapening out and screwed up big time. If you ask me, this should have received more media coverage versus the other non issues : bend gate, antenna gate etc.

      Adi

        • End User
        • 5 years ago

        Strange. I have a 128GB iPhone 6 and I have had zero issues.

          • sweatshopking
          • 5 years ago

          THEN WE KNOW HE’S LYING.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah, totally. End User is never affected by anything that hits a decently sized portion of Apple users. He didn’t have Yosemite wifi issues that 10.10.1 addressed. He didn’t have iOS 8 and 8.1 wifi issues that were finally addressed in 8.1.1. He doesn’t have wake-from-sleep issues. He’s unaffected by Macbook Air audio problems. End User should pick out all my hardware for me, because he’s apparently got the magic touch.

            • End User
            • 5 years ago

            I started with dev builds of Yosemite on my 2012 11″ MBA and used every release up until 10.10.1. I saw none of those issues. It’s not my fault. 🙁

            Same thing with iOS.

            My main access points are Airport Extremes.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            That last sentence I think explains why. They didn’t QA with anything other than their own stuff.

            • End User
            • 5 years ago

            Now that I think about it I may have seen the Yosemite Wi-Fi bug. I went on a two week trip to Europe in October and every time I visited an IBIS hotel I could not log onto their Wi-Fi with my MacBook Air. I though it had something to do with their crappy logon method but maybe it was the bug.

            My magic touch was an illusion.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 5 years ago

            A shame, too. I was really looking forward to having no problems. :-/

            For a while there I was actually considering buying a Time Capsule. For a 2TB NAS and a router combined, the price is surprisingly affordable.

    • tipoo
    • 5 years ago

    Any plans on reviewing that Oneplus One you have on hand here?

    • Deanjo
    • 5 years ago

    I still like the smaller form factor of my 5 over the 6(s). I just use it too much for one handed operation while the other hand/ arm is usually occupied holding a door open, hauling in the shopping bags, etc. I also use it heavily for unlocking doors to the vehicles and house, use it as a remote for the lighting and htpc, and having it often wedged in-between my shoulder and ear while trying to do something that requires both hands.

    The 6 / 6+ / Android big phone clone’s I find hard to handle in such situations where a thicker but smaller phone feels more natural and easier to control with one hand.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      If you can’t put your phone down long enough to take in the groceries, you got a problem., yo.

        • Deanjo
        • 5 years ago

        The phone unlocks / locks everything. It’s basically the keys to the breezeway, house, vehicle, garage.

          • oldog
          • 5 years ago

          Does that mean someone in North Korea can open them as well?

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            If my items were in North Korea, absolutely!

            • oldog
            • 5 years ago

            Pardon my paranoia.

    • trackerben
    • 5 years ago

    Great write-up, now I can point a wider range of friends and associates here. Most non-tech people I know who are taken seriously in their fields use iPhones almost exclusively, and I can now get them to look up TR.

    Hopefully we’ll next hear about the 2014 Moto G, not everyone can afford to own or give Apple stuff.

      • Gyromancer
      • 5 years ago

      Buy a OnePlus One, eh, eh? I love mine, but you know, some people don’t like to trust in new companies. (Cyanogen Mod is amazing)

        • dmjifn
        • 5 years ago

        Huh. “Gyromancy” is an actual real thing. Neat. And here I was just a few hours away from having learned nothing new in a day!

        • trackerben
        • 5 years ago

        There’s a cheap copycat regional brand which undermines the name, and flagship droid buyers tend to Samsung anyway. Cyanogen is a good fix for some droids but among non-techie buyers who spend on gear as social extensions of their wardrobe, it’s an invisible aftermarket thing.

        I’ve given up on Google launchers and other Play upgrades for my big-battery Lenovo, and no longer trouble with jailbreaking/rooting. Better to stick with default launchers which issues are known. Jellybean and up exposes enough quirks as it is to risk yet another layer of uncertainty. Like Nexus 4 and 5, Moto G and X and similar Play models get good reviews for their near-vanilla UI. I hope to safely recommend these to employees and students for whom the latest Apples are out of reach.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 5 years ago

    I’m glad everyone else is happy about having a smart phone review, but I would prefer if The Tech Report’s income went to the articles they are already known for. Things like price/performance charts, frame latencies, SSD tests, and general hardware reviews are why I became a subscriber. There are tons of phone review websites that can review every make and model and provide a broad enough range for comparisons.

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 5 years ago

      So what if they become known for awesome phone reviews as well?

      • cygnus1
      • 5 years ago

      The Tech Report, PC hardware explored.

      Smart phones are the most personal of computing devices these days. I think it’s fully appropriate TR review mobile personal computing devices.

      Keep up the awesome work TR dudes!

    • obarthelemy
    • 5 years ago

    “For those of you wondering which one to get, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with both of the new iPhones, and I think the answer is clear. The iPhone 6 is undoubtedly the sane and proper size for a phone that will be carried on your person pretty much constantly.”
    That’s intensely personal. I care not so much that I’m carrying my phone, a lot more that I’m looking at it: for me the sweet spot is around 6.5″ (my old 6″ had some room to grow, my current 7″ is a bit unwieldy).
    The right advice is that people should try a phone out, not just in the shop but for a few days. they’d have to pay me a lot of money to make me go back to 5.5″ even.
    Also, the iPhones are rather large for their screen size (lots of bezel); other phones have a much better “useful” ratio.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      /looks at Nexus 7

      You put *that* to your face?

        • obarthelemy
        • 5 years ago

        Rather, it put this: [url<]http://consumer.huawei.com/minisite/worldwide/MediaPadX1/[/url<] . A fair bit smaller. Also 1- I mostly put it in front of my eyes, not to my face. Desktop equivalent vs 4.5": 26" to 15". You'd use a 15" on your desk ? 2- even when I phone, it's mostly w/ a headset 3- even w/o headset, it's not more bothersome to handle than any other phone. People who get upset for looking at it should... deal with it ? Over the years, I got the same (knee-)jerk reaction from the Fashion Police about my 4.3" HD2, my 5.1" Note, my 6" Ascend Mate... they really should learn to live and let live

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 5 years ago

    Awesome review! I hope to see more of kind of unbiased reviews.

    Technology growth is shifting to hand held devices as you say. I concur cuz I can’t even begin to keep up.

    I especially liked the videos of you walking outside. I noticed the shakes on the phones while you were walking. Was wondering if they could be turned on or off? But damn, they have come a long way!

    I tried two of the tests on my 2-year-old LG Nitro phone (Geekbench 3 and Kraken) and was not only blown away by how low my score was compared to yours, but in the fact that half of my battery was used up. Need to get a new one.

    That is my question. Being deaf, horrible eyesight and all, I don’t use a phone for talking, but for texting. I’m a data hog and I’m seriously thinking of iPad Air 2. Think that is the way to go? I like the idea of something that just works. I don’t care about brand and prices, just as long as it works.

    Keep up the good work as always!

    • Milo Burke
    • 5 years ago

    It was a little weird to see no comparison from high-end Android phones in the charts and graphs. But I understand your limitations.

    – The occasional smartphone review here is nice. They’re very limited on products, but at least they’re thorough and fairly objective. Keep it up.

    – If you add two top competitor phones once a year, that will make it better still.

    – If you add fifteen competitors, I feel it goes against what TR does best and distracts from the reasons I read and subscribe. Keep it simple.

    • libradude
    • 5 years ago

    I was all set to get a 6 Plus; it would have been a huge upgrade from my 4S – until I saw how well the Note 4 works, and that beautiful screen, OMG… the 6 Plus screen can’t hold a candle to it (I’ve compared them side by side and the blacks are pure black on the Note; still quite a bit of backlight wash on the 6, and the color saturation is just insane).

    Add to that the higher resolution display and camera, 4K video recording, S-Pen for quick notetaking (I grew up with a PalmPilot so for me it’s like coming home), ability to expand the memory with an SD card, available wireless charging with a different backplate, and Quick charging with the included charger, and the Samsung is, imo, easily the winner in terms of bang for the buck. I was very hesitant about ditching iOS after using it for this long, but I’m totally in love with my Note 4 and I won’t be going back to Apple until they (a) provide more value than they currently do compared to Android (bang for the buck) and (b) stop charging $100 for each tier of onboard memory upgrades. ApplePay and a fingerprint reader were not enough to keep me in the fold when the competition offers so much more.

    Just my .02 – I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts in your upcoming Note 4/ iPhone 6 comparo.

      • obarthelemy
      • 5 years ago

      I think the biggest difference is the SD slot. Unless you’re willing to pay huge bucks for 128 megs, an iPhone will always be tight and won’t be able to carry a lot of media, which is a pain because you most need your media when you’re out of coverage (plane, train, …), and then you need the right media for your mood/tiredness/situation/…, which means a lot of different stuff.

        • Gyromancer
        • 5 years ago

        In a world full of cloud services, I’ve never found a use for an SD slot on phones. Google Drive integration into android on my OnePlus One has made copying files over a breeze.

          • obarthelemy
          • 5 years ago

          The Cloud has a tendency to not be here when I need it most: travel, during the trip and once I reach my destination if it’s abroad. If you stay between home and work, and around town on week ends, you’re probably fine with the cloud. Don’t forget about backups though.

          • Kretschmer
          • 5 years ago

          I spend a lot of time on the subway, planes, and using mobile data. If you don’t have Wifi, it’s easier to keep your music, shows, and movies on an SD card instead of downloading them each and every time.

      • revparadigm
      • 5 years ago

      Yep I just upgraded from a SIII to the Note 4. Yeah the screen really amazing… is just fab-ul-ous 😛

        • entropy13
        • 5 years ago

        Good thing you can afford to upgrade from an S3….Right now the only upgrading I can do for it is replace the 16GB microSD (which I will shift to a cheap secondary phone in the future) with a 64GB one.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 5 years ago

    What shooting mode and/or camera settings are you using with your OnePlus One? I have an OPO as well, and the shots I take with it are, often, nowhere near as nice looking as what you and other reviewers have managed.

      • Damage
      • 5 years ago

      I stuck with Auto, pretty much. The one change was using burst mode and selecting the best exposure from the group.

      As I noted in the review, you’re seeing the best sample shot from each phone, but getting those results is harder on the OnePlus than on either iPhone 6–esp. the Plus with IS.

    • Whispre
    • 5 years ago

    Personally I can’t stand the larger phones… I love the size of my Droid Mini and hope to never have to go larger.

    I also will never buy an iPhone until they stop working so hard to impose their morals on my content… for example I subscribe to Zinio digital magazines, I can view any of them on my computer or Android devices, but using the same Zinio app on iPhone/iPad some of the magazines are blocked because Apple believes they are inappropriate.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      Despite the bigger screen, the Droid Mini is actually a little smaller than the 5s in some ways – it’s shorter, because it doesn’t have the symmetry that Apple apparently requires, and though it’s a tiny bit thicker and wider, according to GSMArena.

      • End User
      • 5 years ago

      Which magazines?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 years ago

        This doesn’t have a list, but the OP says they are of the “adult” variety.

        [url<]https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2417349?start=0&tstart=0[/url<]

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 5 years ago

    Good review, and I’m glad to see some mobile stuff on TR! I have high hopes that you guys can correct a lot of the wrongs from other sites in this area and go beyond the basics of just running the common mobile benchmarks and reporting the results. If anyone are the right people to do it, it’s you guys 🙂

    That said, I do have to take issue with the browser benchmarks. Namely they are entirely that: *browser* benchmarks that have very little relationship with hardware or architecture. Thus while they are relevant in terms of daily use, drawing conclusions about the underlying hardware (an in particular, how it compares to desktop stuff) based on the results is fairly absurd.

    To give an example… go ahead and run sunspider on Chrome vs. IE on Windows. On my system, the results are 2x different. TWO TIMES. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that if you just use “the same browser” (Chrome or similar) on all platforms that makes it comparable… the code base for various browsers on different platforms diverges as the platform needs and hardware are different.

    Anyways I don’t think it really affects the overall review at all, but just wanted to point out a common pitfall that people fall into so that you can avoid it. Running browser benchmarks is all well and good but don’t try and extrapolate the results of different software, JITs, OSes, etc. to hardware differences. And definitely *always* quote the browser and OS versions along with the results 🙂

      • Damage
      • 5 years ago

      Yes, browser-based benchmarks are very browser-dependent and tend to be optimized for, a lot like SPEC tests are. Folks will want to keep that in mind, but I don’t think it means browser-based tests are pointless. SPEC certainly gets wide use, and we need cross-platform tools.

      In all cases for this review, we used the default OS browsers for benchmarking, which means Chrome on Android and Safari and iOS. The versions were all then-current for the phones, of course.

        • Andrew Lauritzen
        • 5 years ago

        To be clear, I’m not saying they are pointless in general (obviously web browser performance is very relevant for day-to-day use), just that their results say a lot more about *software* than *hardware*.

        I’m making a distinction between “optimized for” as is done with something like SPEC and “goes through so many JIT/translation layers that what the hardware sees is almost entirely a fabrication of the browser itself” 🙂 I don’t think you’ll typically see a 2x difference in SPEC on exactly the same hardware, even in different OSes. You sometimes see double-digit percentages based on compiler flags, but that’s in the weaker of the SPEC tests to start with I think.

        Regarding versions, I’m guessing the results you threw in for desktop/Windows were from Chrome? Incidentally IE is the one that tends to be 2x faster in sunspider at least. But the level of variance is really what casts doubt on the architectural comparison – it’s really just software and compiler layers that are being tested.

    • UberGerbil
    • 5 years ago

    The “social acceptance” of Phablets is kind of interesting. For calls and texts I have an old Nokia dumbphone (lasts a week on a charge! Is allowed everywhere because it doesn’t have a camera! Can be used to drive nails, or hammer smartphones into pieces!) But I carry around a 7″ tablet (2012 Nexus originally, now a 2013) in my jacket because most places I am regularly have Wifi. At the pub, pulling the tablet out didn’t elicit much comment (except for one woman who wanted to know if it was a new Samsung Tab, because she had the largest one then available and wanted something bigger). At least, it didn’t until the iPhone 6+ was introduced (and advertised…extensively). Suddenly everybody wanted to know “Is that a phone?” or “Is that the new iPhone?” I would sometimes hold the slab up to my ear to show how ridiculous that would be… but someone actually using a 6+ for a call without a headset is most of the way there. Of course, they’re hardly ever used that way.

    “You can tell Apple is run by men when they call it a 6+ and it’s only 5.5 inches.” — Kara Swisher

    • anotherengineer
    • 5 years ago

    I am disturbed by those videos.

    No Snow!!

    It’s not Christmas unless there is snow!!

      • DPete27
      • 5 years ago

      Honey, our weird neighbor has been walking back and forth between his front door and the end of his driveway with his phone all morning….and he’s not wearing pants again… we should move.

      • revparadigm
      • 5 years ago

      Well here in Minnesota, almost all our snow melted last weekend, with 50 F & rain. Snowed a little the other night…so there is like a inch on the ground.

      Almost a brown Christmas here!

      • culotso
      • 5 years ago

      Very true. 😐 All the Christmas lights everywhere look rather silly without the snow. Why even Xmas at all, why even December? If snow is being withheld I demand we just skip to April already. Oh Mother Nature, don’t smother Father Christmas.

    • jjj
    • 5 years ago

    There is a tool that detects what NAND you got and yes TLC impacts storage perf and RAM usage.
    Also when testing perf and battery , if you don’t have a few things in the background running like in normal usage the results can be misleading when you have only 2 cores.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 5 years ago

    OK I’ve been very skeptical of the idea of Apple switching to ARM on the Mac platform, but after seeing some of these results I kind of wonder…what would a ~2GHz A8X do, if these things really run at ~1.3Ghz? Especially if it was given a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller. I have to think they’d be pushing awfully hard on Ultrabook CPUs. And I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen these results.

    • blastdoor
    • 5 years ago

    Congratulations on adding a smartphone review to the TR repertoire!

    The smartphone is arguably the most interesting general-purpose computer being sold today. It’s where most of the competition and innovation is taking place.

    With the loss of Anandtech, TR may be the last best hope for thorough, independent reviews of these increasingly important devices.

    I think this is a nice first effort and I hope to see more in-depth, original analysis in the future.

    Maybe it’s time for me to finally subscribe…

    • tsk
    • 5 years ago

    Very nice review.
    I am pretty happy with my Nexus 5, but the iphone 6 is so much nicer to hold.

    Love watching the progress i mobile SoCs, it’s like the good old Intel vs AMD days.
    Now can Qualcomm please buy AMD and make a desktop chipset?

      • culotso
      • 5 years ago

      > Now can Qualcomm please buy AMD and make a desktop chipset?

      They’ve already got a [url=http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/AMD-Sells-Handset-Division-to-Qualcomm-for-65-Million/<]headstart[/url<]. Why not finish what you started, Qualcomm, eh? QAMD? AMDQ? QDAM! (Also good names for a bbq sandwich.) QualAMD? Quallaqualla AMDQ pulled-pork special? Mmm..

    • Anovoca
    • 5 years ago

    Interesting to see a smartphone review but it feels like it belongs on here and an overall welcome addition to the site. Now you better just hurry up and review a competitor’s device before the trolls arrive.

    (looks both ways cautiously)

    • Firestarter
    • 5 years ago

    Ah yes, the iPhone. I’d love to have one as Apple has proven time and time again that they can make great devices, but for me to ever buy one or recommend one to friends or family, they’d first have to show me that they want me to have the phone and do with it what [b<]*I*[/b<] want to do, regardless of whether they approve of it. As long as that ain't happening, I'm not getting one. Sitting here and looking at my Nexus 4 though, I can't help but wonder how much happier I'd be if I just didn't care about all that and drank the iOS kool-aid instead.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      I used to be a big custom OS guy, running Cyanogenmod on my phones and basing purchase decisions at least in part on whether or not there was a decent CM port for the device. Then for network coverage reasons I switched to a CDMA carrier that locks everything down and bought a Samsung phone that turned out to have an electronic kind of fuse that, if you failed to unlock the boot loader correctly, would brick the phone, and the unlock able version of the firmware was old enough that the new, patched version as preinstalled on the device. I was stuck. Then I kinda quit caring, honestly. It’s unfortunate that the carrier requires this of the device manufacturer, and even more unfortunate that the manufacturer went to such great lengths to prevent tampering, but I’ve kind of moved on. I’m going to be stuck with whatever OS the phone comes with on the next purchase, and so I guess that makes the iPhone more interesting now. I can’t make what I want of it.

        • entropy13
        • 5 years ago

        Good thing CDMA isn’t the “worldwide” standard…LOL

          • derFunkenstein
          • 5 years ago

          I figured everyone in the US could guess who my carrier was that way. 😆

          And honestly, if I have to choose between good coverage and unlockable boot loaders, I’ll choose good coverage every time. I don’t think it’s my house being wired poorly, because even in my yard the only carrier that has really strong signals is Verizon. T-mobile is weak-to-OK in the yard but unless you’re by a window there’s no signal inside. Sprint is just…no. No Sprint. AT&T is very weak in the yard and completely nonexistent inside. USCellular has so much that roams. And everything else is an MVNO riding on one of the big 4. Verizon is very strong in the yard and good enough even in the basement to use inside, so I’m kind of stuck with them. I’d rather they allowed phone unlocking, being the biggest carrier in the US, but since they don’t (and they don’t allow unlocked phones – at least in part due to the way CDMA works) I learned to cope.

          That’s what sucks for Americans that don’t live in a top-100 or even a top-200 metropolitan market.

        • A_Pickle
        • 5 years ago

        I have an S4 and cannot flash it, and I [i<]hate[/i<] it. I mean, it works. Samsung's done a good job with the hardware. They just think they've also done a good job with the software, and... well, they haven't. The software sucks, and not having control of it... pisses me off.

        • VincentHanna
        • 5 years ago

        the e-fuse doesn’t brick the phone, it just makes it impossible to wipe and re-install your original image if you need to send it in for some reason.

        If you don’t care about the warranty, you can ignore the e-fuse.

      • AdamDZ
      • 5 years ago

      What is it that you do that can’t be done on na iPhone? I never quite understood this argument and nobody has ever clarified it for me.

        • Firestarter
        • 5 years ago

        AFAIK, you can’t sideload an app on iOS without jailbreaking it first. That means that you’re either content with the list of apps that Apple has approved for your device, or you exit their ecosystem and live with a totally unsupported device. With an Android phone, you can download and install any app you want, as long as you click ‘yes’ when it asks you whether you understand the risks.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 5 years ago

          For some people that’s a feature rather than a limitation. If we all got a dollar for each time an [url=http://www.androidcentral.com/google-removes-32-apps-google-play-over-malware-concerns<]app is removed from the Play store[/url<] we'd all have at least 30-odd bucks.

          • cygnus1
          • 5 years ago

          I used to drink the customize everything kool aid till I realized it wasn’t worth the effort. So much junk software out there that just makes your device unstable.

          How many times have you ever actually sideloaded an app, an app you still commonly use, onto an Android device?

          Those customization features, to me, are not worth the price of admission to Android. Namely putting up with all the junk, inferior software. Every major app I use (spotify, facebook, waze, etc) on my iPhone has an equivalent Android app that invariably lags behind in features or quality or both. Much like Linux, no one part of Android sticks around long enough to get enough polish to be considered done. And most Android devices are stuck on old versions to top it off. Just not worth the hassle. My time is more valuable.

          • TakinYourPoints
          • 5 years ago

          iOS apps are almost all better than what can be sideloaded. This is before we get to the official apps on Play, nearly all of which are ports from the iOS versions.

          iOS apps are why I’m on the platform. They’re better, more powerful, launch on iOS first, and don’t lag in features or developer support.

          Its like the difference between being on Windows or Linux. I can tweak Linux to my heart’s content but I know that it doesn’t have developer support in the way Windows does.

        • BabelHuber
        • 5 years ago

        For me, this is first of all some sort of philosophy: When I spend [b<]my[/b<] money, I want to do with the device what [b<]I[/b<] want, not what the manufacturer allows me to. Hence I do not buy any device which restricts me in any way. Regarding things you can do with Android, but not with iOS: - Connecting my phone to my car via rSAP. This way I can access e.g. the online traffic information of the navigation system without having to plug in a second SIM-card to the car (Audi MMI Plus). In Android-land, Samsung supports rSAP, but most vendors don't. But this is no problem: Root the phone, install the rSAP-drivers, install the rSAP-App and you are done. iPhone users can mess around with 2 SIM cards or live without the online features (this includes Google search and whatnot). - Set any app as default app. Keyboard, contacts, phone app, browser etc. No need to use the pre-installed stuff if you do not want to (no rooting required!) - With sideloading, I can e.g: - InstallApps which haven't been officially released in my country - Use a previous version of an app (if I do not like an update) - Use apps which were replaced by other apps - I can install any OS I like. This means that I can try a new version of the OS, and if I don't like it I can re-install the old one (some of my iPhone-using colleagues couldn't do phone calls after updating to iOS 8.01 LOL). Of course this won't necessarily work on devices with locked bootloader, but nobody is forced to buy such a device. - I can tweak my device for better battery runtime or more performance by tweaking the Kernel settings (root required of course). I can even install other Kernels (with alternative drivers, over-/ underclocking features and whatnot) - A real file system with real file browsers makes a real computer for me. Everything else is a toy. Of course you can always point out that you do not need this features, but in general I prefer to be flexible instead of relying on the manufacturer. So if a situation arises where I need the flexibility, I can use it to my advantage (rSAP!).

        • entropy13
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]What is it that you do that can't be done on na ([i<]sic[/i<]) iPhone? [/quote<] Save money.

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        In my rooted phone I have several “rules”:

        GPS only on when the apps that I want are on. Otherwise: off.
        Wi-fi on as GPS.
        When the Screen is off, the CPU clock is halved.
        My phone goes to plane mode when I’m sleeping and exits that mode when I wakeup (I program the hours)
        I have a “pie” like emergent menu that I can activate whenever I want with configurable buttons
        I “darkify” almos everything from the OS. That’s important when you have an amoled screen!

        Some of these are for the battery saving. Other for convenience… And are just a few examples from a medium user that started dubbling with something more than “stock” just a few weeks ago. AFAIK, I wouldn’t be able to do these things with an iPhone.

      • trackerben
      • 5 years ago

      What would your wanting a phone for have to do with what your friends or family want it for? I’m sticking with big-batty droid because Apple doesn’t make a dual-SIM model, but this doesn’t keep me from recommending iPhones to others with standard needs.

      • demani
      • 5 years ago

      I’ve gone back and forth, and my final decision was this: a phone is a device I depend on in more crucial situations than my laptop or tablet. I need it to work the moment I take it out of the box, and be good at the main tasks. I don’t see nearly as much need for a as wide a variety of functionality on my phone as I do on my tablet, and as a result the more refined implementation of the iPhones features have proven their worth. Additionally, I’ve found more useful accessories (from battery cases, to special waterproof cases, to stands and holders) that work better because there is either greater competition (cases) or a more limited set of hardware options to design for-so more design time can be put into making it work well (like battery cases). The only thing I’d like to see vastly improved service wise is the Apple Maps, but Google Maps is right there when I need it (it would be nice to be able to set default apps for email, maps etc. but that’s not the end of the world).

      As for parents and relatives: the decision is even easier for me: those people are going to come to me if they have issues since I was the one to recommend it. But if they have the Apple Store Genius Bar as the default go-to tech help, and not needing to know which version or skin is running on their phone, I am much more comfortable suggesting an iPhone knowing I am not going to need to support it ever again (not that I won’t , but just that I don’t need to). That’s the biggest issue for me with Android-even with stock devices its harder to know what the feature set is, and what the differences are-all time and effort I just don’t need to spend. The limited model and generous OS support make it easy to know what they are talking about without even seeing it.

      On my tablet however, I expect it to do more, and be used in many different types of scenarios. So my decision calculus is a fair bit different there. My usage of it is closer to a laptop, and I expect my ability to work with it to be closer to that as well.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 5 years ago

    ZOMG A smartphone review on TR?

    Allow me to welcome this change. I buy a new smartphone almost every year and would love to hear your take on the different models.

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