Apple launched its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this week, but with a price tag starting from £539 here in the UK, is it really worth an upgrade? We compare the new iPhone 6 models to earlier iPhones, to see if you should buy the latest Apple kit.
If you’ve already got a previous generation iPhone, in other words the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s, you might be wondering if it’s worth making the jump to the new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. After all, with prices ranging from a steep £539 to a second-mortgage-demanding £789, the iPhone 6 will put a serious dent in your savings.
Let’s go through the new features step-by-step and see what the difference is, so you can work out if an upgrade is worthwhile.
Apple iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5, 5s and 5c: Design
One of the biggest changes in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is the all-new palm-filling bigger design. Both new iPhone 6 models rock a significantly bigger body and screen: the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a big step up from the previous generation’s 4-inch display.
However, Apple hasn’t simply churned out the same old handset with bigger dimensions. The iPhone 6 boasts rounded edges, which make it feel smooth in the hand and make for a more comfortable grip, compared with the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s’ flat edges. Apple also shaved some of the girth off, so the iPhone 6 is its slimmest phone yet.
Of course, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus is understandably a lot heavier than previous models, with a 172g weight versus the 129g iPhone 6 and 112g iPhone 5s. It’s not a daunting weight, but iPhone users will notice a serious difference.
We like the new curvy look and feel, and the anodised aluminium frame seems suitably tough. Sadly, a lot of the rumoured new design features simply aren’t manifest in the iPhone 6. There’s no uber-tough sapphire screen that’s near scratch-proof; instead, we have an ‘ion strengthened’ display, which should be reasonably tough like Gorilla Glass, but still vulnerable to damage if the phone is dropped or otherwise abused.
So, in terms of design, we’d say there’s very little to persuade existing iPhone users to upgrade. The only real difference is that screen size, which we’ll cover next…
Apple iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5, 5s and 5c: Media and gaming
If you’re going to upgrade to an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, this is the reason to do it.
That 4-inch Retina screen on the iPhone 5 generation is perfectly sharp, bright and responsive, but compared with the latest Android phones it just feels too cramped for general use. Not ideal when you’re playing a fast-paced action games with on-screen controls, or trying to watch a movie on the commute.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 boost that 4-inch IPS LCD screen to a 4.7 or 5.5-inch Retina display, depending on which model you opt for.
If you’re constantly playing fast-paced games or taking in video on your old iPhone, and find you’re always squinting at that tiny display or getting hand cramp from gripping the thing for more than ten minutes, the iPhone 6 will be your saviour. The upgraded screens are just as colourful and bright as previous models but that extra space makes some serious difference to the overall experience.
Apple has thankfully boosted the resolution too, but that larger screen means the iPhone 6 has the same 326 pixels-per-inch as previous iPhones. If you want even sharper visuals, you’ll need to spend a bit extra on the iPhone 6 Plus. The Full HD 1080p resolution gives a crisp 400 ppi, more in line with the latest flagship Androids (but still lagging behind the LG G3, which boasts a mighty 538 ppi).
If you can handle that extra bulk and weight, we have no hesitation in pointing movie fans and gamers to the iPhone 6 Plus over all other iPhone models. Is it worth over £500 for a bigger screen? Well, that depends on how absolutely minted you are…
Apple iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5, 5s and 5c: Performance and battery life
Gamers will also be pleased to hear that the iPhone 6 has a performance boost over previous models, with Apple’s new A8 chip on board. This bad boy can handle absolutely everything, including the latest massive action games such as Vain Glory, which Apple showed off at launch.
Of course, the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s will still be smooth performers after the iOS 8 upgrade (we’ve tested it out already on an iPhone 5), so we’d only say that upgrade is wothwhile if you’re still stuck on a 4s or earlier.
Battery life is another matter. If Apple’s estimates are correct, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will significantly boost longevity over the iPhone 5s and earlier models. Just check out the stats in teh photo above.
If you’re constantly on the go, the iPhone 6 Plus seems to be the sensible choice, with an extra 10 hours of talktime and 30 hours of music playback compared with the iPhone 6.
Of course, we haven’t had a chance to test these claims out yet, but we’ll be punishing the new iphones as soon as we grab review samples.
Apple iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5, 5s and 5c: Features
The iPhone 5c wasn’t much of an upgrade over the iPhone 5, adding only 4G support, a better front-facing ‘FaceTime’ camera and a colourful new plastic design (which many, us included, would consider a downgrade). The iPhone 5s fared much better, upgrading the rear camera, slapping on the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and boosting the prcoessor to a slick new 64-bit chip for future-proof performance.
The iPhone 6 has the same features as the iPhone 5s, but here’s the crux: the iPhone 6 sadly lacks a seriously killer must-have new feature, other than that bigger, Full HD screen on the iPhone 6 Plus. At the moment, Apple is doing a bit of a LL Cool J. Every other release is a winner, with a bit of ‘meh’ action in-between. Love the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 is simply fine. Love the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 is back to ‘hmmm’ territory.
Which at least bodes well for the iPhone 6s, right?
So unless you’re desperate to use your iPhone for NFC one-touch payments, something we’ve had on Android phones since before the Olympics, we’d struggle to recommend an upgrade to the iPhone 6. Likewise, the built-in barometer is a nice touch for fitness fans who are curious about how many steps they’ve climbed that day, but it’s hardlies a reason to spunk up hundreds of pounds of cold, hard cash.
Bear in mind that existing iPhone users from the 4s up will still get the new iOS 8 features anyway, come September 17th. So you’ll still benefit from the downloadable keyboards (including Swype), Time Lapse camera feature, the new health stuff and so on.
Of course, there’s still the iPhone 6’s all-new camera to consider…
Read next: Five best features of iOS 8
Apple iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5, 5s and 5c: Cameras
The iPhone 6 adds in some seriously cool new camera tech, which will be highly tempting to existing iPhone owners.
The new 8-megapixel cameras with f/2.2 apertures boast faster auto-focus for near-instant shots, plus better performance in low light. And then there’s 240fps slo-mo capture, for even cooler slow motion videos. Optical Image Stabilisation has also been built into the iphone 6 Plus to keep your videos smooth, but sadly this feature hasn’t made it to the bog-standard iPhone 6.
Check out the link below for an in-depth look at the new camera features, which rank among the best the iPhone 6 has to offer.
Apple iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5, 5s and 5c: Verdict
So after that whimsical journey through the world of Apple, is the iPhone 6 worth an upgrade?
Well, if you’ve already got an iPhone 5s, your only real incentives here are the bigger screen and the updated camera. For that £500+ price tag, it’s near impossible to justify an upgrade, unless you’re really desperate for more screen space.
If you’re still on the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4s, there might be enough newbies here to make that steep cost worthwhile. The Touch ID sensor provides solid security, you have 4G support for faster browsing, plus upgraded cameras and a new, bigger screen.
And if you’re on the iPhone 4 or earlier, with no prospect of an iOS 8 update, it’s definitely time to jump onto a newer model. Of course, the question is, do you go all-out on an iPhone 6, or do you save some cash and buy the suddenly-reduced iPhone 5s?
Read next: Six things seriously wrong with the iPhone 6