Review: iPhone 6 Plus slays its giant Android rivals

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The iPhone 6s is selling like hotcakes.
The iPhone 6s is selling like hotcakes.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Display

I declared in my 6 Plus first impressions piece that the device’s 5.5-inch 1080p display was the best I’d ever seen on a smartphone, and I stand by that.

The 6 Plus’ Retina HD display has a 1920×1080 resolution with 401 pixels per inch. That’s the same resolution as a full HD television, and it makes it the sharpest Retina display so far. You’ll appreciate that when reading and browsing the web, watching high-definition video, and enjoying your favorite snaps.

Some rival handsets boast even great pixel density — the LG G3’s Quad HD display, for instance, delivers a whopping 534 ppi — but many would argue that passing a certain pixel count is just unnecessary.

iPhone 6 Plus Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
iPhone 6 Plus has the best display of any smartphone. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

No matter how long you stare at the screen, your naked eye will not be able to distinguish individual pixels on the 6 Plus’ 1080p display. LG G3 owners might claim their screens are sharper, but it’s really insignificant: Your eyes cannot tell the difference, and sharper screens use more power.

Plus, it’s not all about pixels.

This Retina HD display is just spectacularly good. It has excellent color accuracy, and even greater contrast than previous iPhone displays, with deeper blacks and terrific white balance. And thanks to a new technology called dual-display pixels, it has superb viewing angles.

It’s not all about pixels.

That’s probably not something you’ll notice when you’re using your device alone and staring directly at its display, but when you’re showing off pictures and videos to friends and loved ones around you, everything will look even better.

Outdoor visibility is also improved by a new polarizer. Previous iPhone displays weren’t exactly terrible outdoors, but Apple’s made this one even better — especially for those who wear sunglasses.

The thing I love most about the 6 Plus’ display is how immersive it is. It’s the thinnest display Apple has ever made, so sharp text and iOS 8’s colorful icons almost look like they’re floating above the surface. It seems as though there’s nothing between the tip of your finger and the pixels of the LCD panel.

It doesn’t matter how you use it — everything that’s optimized for this Retina HD display looks sensational.

The Retina HD display has spectacular viewing angles. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The Retina HD display has spectacular viewing angles. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for content that isn’t optimized for it, and right now, there’s a lot of that. iPhone apps designed for a 4-inch screen (almost all of them) are scaled up to a point where they almost look laughable.

Everything gets bigger, which means text and graphics become fuzzy and everything takes up more space than it needs. It’s like when you accidentally select a low resolution for your computer’s HD monitor and you’re suddenly staring at icons the size of your fist.

But again, this is just a temporary downside. Most iOS developer will already be hard at work optimizing their apps for the new resolution, so over the coming weeks and months, this issue will slowly but surely fade away as the updates roll in.

Screenshot: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac.
Screenshot: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Next: Performance, Networking & Battery Life