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Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review: Bigger and better. Apple set gold standard for smartphone image quality

By Kevin Carter - Tuesday September 23 2014

Mobile Review
Overview | Imaging results: tested and acclaimed | Video: new class leader | The new iPhones vs competition

Apple’s iPhone have always done well in our mobile rankings for image quality, and the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sound intriguing for their large size and Retina HD displays, and new 8-Mpix sensor which is optically stabilized on the 6 Plus. Read on to see how well the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus perform using our usual industry-standard tests. 

scores

Achieving the highest overall DxOMark Mobile score to date of 82 points each, the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus tie in first place wresting the coveted top spot from Samsung S5 and Sony Xperia Z3 /Z2 each with 79 points.

Mobile Graph

Apple ’s new larger-size iOS 8 powered smartphones features some pretty compelling benefits including a new 8-Mpix sensor with on-chip phase detection pixels for faster autofocus and optical image stabilization on the 6 Plus. 

From our industry-standard series of tests both in the lab and real world use, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus perform very similarly. They have very good, generally reliable auto-exposure in a wide range of lighting conditions and they have both fast and accurate autofocus. Output from the 8-Mpix stills improves the high level of detail in both outdoor and indoor lighting. In low light, noise reduction is handled well with images revealing fine-grained luminance noise and little of the distracting color (chroma) noise.

The main differences between the 2 cameras come from Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) present in the iPhone 6 Plus. On one hand, the OIS helps to increase still images exposure time in low light, leading to better noise performance. Ghosting on HDR images also seems smaller with the iPhone 6 Plus, probably helped by the OIS that ensure a good registration between images. On the other hand, we have observed a video stabilization artifact, on the iPhone 6 Plus, most likely linked to the OIS control that lead to a video stabilization score slightly lower for the iPhone 6 Plus than for the iPhone 6.

Equipped with a new 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920x1080 pixel screen the 6 Plus has the slightly higher resolution panel at 401 ppi over the smaller 4.7-inch 1334 x 750 (326 ppi) display of the iPhone 6.

Both displays have stunning clarity, high contrast, excellent color and wide viewing angles, which is promising for viewing (and editing) stills and video on the go. Video capture doesn’t include 4K but both feature 1080p at 60 fps with slow-motion options at 120 fps and 240 fps. However, while the longer battery life of the larger iPhone 6 Plus looks more appealing that of the smaller iPhone 6 the debate has started about the larger model’s suitability for discreet street photography.

6-photo

6-video

Photo

Pros:

  • Very good overall exposure.
  • Impressive autofocus both in low light and bright light.
  • Attractive color rendering.
  • Good detail preservation outdoors and indoors.
  • Good performance with flash: good exposure, stable white balance, good color rendering, low noise level and good detail preservation. 

Cons:

  • Luminance noise visible in low light conditions (iPhone 6 only).
  • Color quantification, and moiré noticeable on few pictures
  • In addition iPhone 6 has some ghosting and fringing. 

Video

Pros:

  • Autofocus is very fast, accurate and repeatable. Best ever tested by DxOMark Mobile team, at the time of testing.
  • Excellent stabilization in good lighting conditions.
  • Attractive color in wide range of lighting.
  • Fine-grained noise. 

Cons:

  • Occasional exposure inaccuracies can be noticed
  • Some stabilization artifacts visible during video capture (iPhone 6 Plus)