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Apple iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: turning over a new leaf [spec showdown]

|September 10 2014 |Apple iPhone, Apple, iOS, Comparisons

“The latest iPhones are massive leaps compared to the existing iPhone 5s”

In case you've been living under a rock thus far, then you may have missed the Cupertino giant taking the curtains off its latest iPhone along with its first wearable, the Apple Watch. Err.. not just one, but two iPhones, badged as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While the brand always creates its own path, it seems that the new iPhones mark a paradigm shift since the inception of the iPhone seven years ago. Apple has eaten humble pie and is now following the market trend of bigger displays, better pixel density than the ‘Retina Display’ and more. With the new iPhones, Apple has also ditched its strategy of improving  the design and internals in the alternate years, i.e., both these things have changed in the iPhone 6 duo.

Apple iPhone 5s Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

So, in case you’re wondering what the new iPhones bring to the table and how they’re different from their predecessor, the iPhone 5s, then you have come to the right place.

Bigger and thinner is better

The most important visual change in the new pair of iPhones is that they feature larger screen sizes of 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch, instead of the comparatively tiny 4-inch display found on the iPhone 5s. Apple refers to them as Retina HD displays, which means that while the Apple iPhone 6 maintains a pixel density of 326ppi with its 1,334 x 750 pixels resolution, the iPhone 6 Plus phablet flaunts a pixel density of 401ppi thanks to the full HD resolution. The display technology remains the same with the use of IPS LCDs, but the new iPhones get a layer of ion-strengthened glass. The displays on the latest iPhones feature better contrast ratio and dual-domain pixels providing wider viewing angles.

Apple iPhone 6 2

What’s good though, is that while the iPhone 6 duo might be upsized with regards to its predecessor, they’re the thinnest iPhones ever. The iPhone 6 has frame measuring 6.9mm, while its sibling has a slim waistline of 7.1mm. In comparison, the iPhone 5s has a thickness of 7.6mm.

Apple iPhone 6 thickness

In terms of build quality, the iPhones are as premium as it gets, with the use of anodised aluminum and unibody profiles. The layer of glass at the front extends to the edges giving the devices a seamless and unique look. The button placement has also been tweaked a little bit with the power key now on the right spines instead of up top and the volume keys on the left are slightly elongated. The cameras at the back protrude now compared to being flushed earlier.

Hardware gets a refresh

Apple pioneered the 64-bit architecture in mobile phones with its A7 chip running the show in the iPhone 5s. Its successors now get the same 64-bit compatibility with the Apple A8 chip. While the exact specs of the chipset haven't been disclosed, the Cupertino-based company claims that the new processor is up to 25 percent faster than its predecessor, and is also 50 percent more energy efficient.

Apple iPhone 6 3

The processor is accompanied by the M8 co-processor in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which is the next-gen co-processor after the M7 used in the iPhone 5s. The co-processor helps in tracking the device’s sensors like  the accelerometer for tracking one’s fitness without impacting the battery life. The M8 chip goes a step further as it can differentiate between running and cycling, and can make use of new barometer sensor for tracking elevation.

Other sensors in the latest smartphones are similar to the iPhone 5s such as accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.

Cameras with better ‘focus’ and video capabilities

While it might sound disappointing that both the Apple iPhone 6 twins sport 8-megapixel iSight cameras at the back just like the iPhone 5s, (considering that some Androids pack 20-megapixel cameras), Apple has done some optimisations to improve the quality and experience. The latest iPhones make use of a new image signal processor, which offers more info about the scene you’re trying to capture and thus get faster autofocus.

Apple iPhone 6 6

The iPhone 6 comes with digital image stabilisation which compensates for hand movements by taking four photos in quick succession and combines them into one. The Apple iPhone 6 Plus goes to the next level using optical image stabilisation to improving images with the help of the A8 chip, the gyroscope, and M8 motion co-processor.

Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can capture high-quality panoramas at 43-megapixels.

Not just images, the main cameras in case of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also boast of amazing video recording features. They can shoot full HD videos at 30fps or 60fps, as well as capture slow motion 720p videos at 120fps or 240fps. With Cinematic video stabilisation you can be assured that your video seems smooth and not shaky.

The improvements haven’t happened for just the rear camera, but for the front-facing snapper as well. While the resolution is the same at 1.2MP, the sensor features a bigger aperture of f/2.2 compared to the f/2.4 earlier, capturing 81 percent more light. There are several software features too, such as the ability to take 10 photos per second in burst mode or the ability to take photos and video in HDR mode.

Interface optimised to take advantage of larger screens

The new iPhones run the latest iteration of iOS, which is now in its eighth generation. While it’s true that iOS 8 will be available for download for previous-gen iPhones too, including the iPhone 5s, there are quite a few features which are exclusive to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so that they can take advantage of large screens at their disposal.

The very first thing that you might be worried about is that it might be difficult to use the new iPhones with a single hand, Well, Apple has got you covered with its new ‘Reachability’ feature allowing you to double tap the home button and the app window shrinks towards the bottom of the screen, so that you can do whatever you wanted to using a single hand. There’s also a zoom view which enlarges the screen.

Apple iOS 8 landscape view

With the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, you can make use of landscape view, which opens the default apps like Mail, Calendar, etc. in two-sided pane.

Here’s a peek at the top features of the iOS 8.

The battery life doesn't take a beating

If you’re worrying that the new pair of Apple iPhones will struggle with battery life considering that they've got bigger screens, then there's no need to do so as Apple has optimised the battery life. While we don’t know the exact battery rating used in the new iPhones, Apple has mention the talk time and standby times, which seem to be better than the Apple iPhone 5s.

Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus battery life

3G talk time, for instance, is rated at 24 hours for the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, while its smaller sibling offers 14 hours. The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, offers a 3G talk time of 10 hours.

Apple Pay and connectivity options

It’s not just about hardware only with the latest Apple iPhones, as the brand is now stepping into the mobile payments space. Dubbed as Apple Pay, the new system allows you to make payments at various offline stores as well as online easily without even taking out your credit card.

Apple Pay

The technology works in conjunction with the NFC and Touch ID, letting you hold your iPhone near the reader inside a store and pay for purchases using fingerprint authentication in case of offline payments. For paying through partner mobile apps, you just need to authenticate yourself with your fingerprint. Your card info is fully secure and is stored in the Passbook app, which is already a convenient way of storing your tickets, coupons and more.

Apart from Near Field Communication, other connectivity features include 4G (accept nano-SIMs and support the Indian 4G band), Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth and GPS. These connectivity options are mostly the same as what the iPhone 5s has on board, barring support for the Wi-Fi ac standard.



Apple iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

With the new iPhones, Apple has definitely turned a new leaf in the iPhone series. Things like bigger screens brings the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus near the competition posed by Android devices. Features like Apple Pay also give the brand an immense opportunity in the nascent field of mobile payments and gives users a seamless way of paying for things, though it’s yet to be seen if it comes to India anytime soon. As can be seen from the comparison table above, both the iPhones have numerous advantages over their predecessor, the Apple iPhone 5s.

However, if you were expecting something really game-changing from the brand, then you might be disappointed since these changes are iterative upgrades only, barring the increase in screen sizes, which was the need of the market.

To sum up, the Apple iPhones are great pieces of hardware and worthy upgrades from the Apple iPhone 5s. If you want to choose between the iPhone 5s and the latest iPhones, it's clear that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are much better options, letting you enjoy larger screen real estate along with tons of enhancements related to performance and the camera. Of course, the new Apples will come at a significantly higher price compared to what the 5s retails for currently, so you might have to let your bank balance make that call. You won't have to wait long, as Apple is bringing its products in India without much delay on October 17th.

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