Apple iPhone 6 Plus camera review
11 Conclusion & Gallery
Conclusion - The Good
- Reliable exposure and natural colors
- Good detail and well-balanced noise reduction across all light levels
- Good flash exposure and color
- Smooth and stable 1080p video
- Very good slow motion video feature
- Simple and intuitive camera user interface
- Well-stitched and very large panorama images
- Efficient HDR mode captures natural results
- Premium body materials and design
- Responsive camera and overall performance
- Very fast shot-to-shot times and burst shooting
- Reliable and very fast autofocus system in both stills and video modes
- Good battery life
Conclusion - The Bad
- Limited camera feature set
- File export to computer can be cumbersome
- Occasional slight underexposure in night scenes
- No dedicated shutter button
- Low-resolution front camera
- No 4K video
With its 5.5-inch screen the iPhone 6 Plus constitutes a totally new category within Apple's smartphone line-up. It is by far the largest iPhone ever made but if the larger dimensions don't put you off previous iOS users will feel right at home. As you would expect from Apple, materials and design are top-notch and the new A8 processor ensures smooth and responsive operation at all times.
The large display is gorgeous and great for video and image viewing alike. In terms of the camera app Apple does what it has always done: instead of offering lots of features it focuses on a few key functions and makes sure to get them right. Both panorama and HDR modes are among the best in the business and the slow-motion video mode captures excellent results as well. For everything else there are third-party apps available in the App Store. Next to some competitors the camera specification might not look too impressive but the iPhone 6 Plus squeezes more detail out of its 8MP sensor than some 13MP models and the optical image stabilization system works very efficiently, allowing for low ISO values in dim conditions.
Overall the iPhone 6 Plus is not a revolutionary camera phone but a solid refinement of the previous generation in a larger package. It captures very good image and video quality all around and the comprehensive app and accessory ecosystem make it a compelling option for beginners in mobile photography and enthusiasts alike.
Features & Operation
Compared to some Android competitors the iPhone 6 Plus looks rather slim on imaging features. However the most important ones - HDR and panorama mode - are present and produce excellent results. The 240 fps slow-motion video mode is great to experiment with as well but unfortunately exporting the full-resolution results is a little tricky. Without any control over recording speed the time lapse feature looks a little like an afterthought and you'll find better options for time-lapse recording in the App Store.
The camera app reflects the concise feature set and is simple and intuitive, making it a great choice for easy point-and-shoot operation. However, the addition of exposure compensation in iOS 8 is a crucial improvement and those who want even more manual control over shooting parameters can pick their favorite from a range of third party camera apps. The iPhone 6 Plus body does not offer much grip when using it as a camera and it's a little too easy to shade the lens with a finger but the addition of a decent case can easily mitigate those issues. Thanks to the intuitive user interface and snappy performance the iPhone 6 Plus is a lot of fun to use as a camera.
It's fair to say that Apple gets the most out of the 1/3-inch CMOS sensor in the iPhone 6 Plus' camera module. The lens is sharp across the frame and in good light the Apple captures better detail than many 13MP smartphone cameras. At higher ISOs a well-balanced approach to noise reduction means that noise is finely grained and hardly ever gets too intrusive. At least some fine detail is usually maintained, even in very dark scenes. The very efficient optical image stabilization helps a lot in this respect and mostly keeps the ISO at or below 500, even when light levels are really low. At the very slowest shutter speeds the camera appears to apply a mutli-shot mode to reduce motion blur in the images.
Exposure and auto white balance systems do an excellent job and the addition of on-sensor phase detection to the AF-system means that you'll hardly ever capture an out-of-focus image, even in difficult lighting conditions. The responsive AF also helps in video mode where the iPhone 6 Plus captures detailed and smooth footage with decent sound. Both still images and videos are free of chromatic aberrations, moiré patterns or other artifacts. Occasionally we would prefer brighter exposures in night scenes but with the new exposure compensation feature this is an easy fix.
The Final Word
The iPhone 6 Plus does not revolutionize smartphone imaging nor is it outstanding in any particular area. However, it is simply a very good smartphone camera all around that delivers well-exposed, detailed and sharp images and video at the touch of a button. The HDR and panorama functions are among the best we have seen and more manual control over imaging parameters is available via third-party camera apps.
If you think the device dimensions are right for you and have the spare cash, as an existing iOS user or someone who is not committed to a specific mobile OS you cannot go wrong with the 6 Plus. However, competition is heating up in the phablet segment of the market and the brand new Google Nexus 6, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Nokia Lumia 1520 are arguably all viable alternatives for those who prefer the Android or Windows Phone operating systems.
DXOMark Image Quality Assessment
The iPhone 6 Plus comes with an optical image stabilization system but otherwise the camera hardware is identical to the iPhone 6 sister model and unsurprisingly the test results are very similar as well. In stills mode the iPhone 6 Plus images show "very good overall exposure, very fast autofocus in both low and bright light, good color rendering, nice detail preservation and low noise levels outdoors and indoors". The DxO testers were also impressed by the flash performance.
In video mode the iPhone 6 Plus autofocus is the best ever tested by the DxOMark Mobile Team and the engineers found the footage to be "well stabilized" with good color. However, exposure can be a little unstable and a "horizontal jitter" was observed with the device mounted on a support. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Category: Mobile Phone
Camera and Photo Features
Ergonomics and Handling
Still Image Quality
Speed and Responsiveness
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus offers very solid still imaging and video capabilities all around. Thanks to newer sensor technology, on-sensor phase detection and optical image stabilization image quality has been improved over the previous iPhone generation and panorama and HDR modes are still among the best we have seen. The 6 Plus offers the premium design and materials that are typical for Apple devices and a very snappy overall performance. The 5.5-inch display might be too large for some but if you can live with the device's phablet dimensions it's hard to go wrong with Apple's flagship smartphone.
There are 31 images in our Apple iPhone 6 Plus samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.
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