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iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Should you upgrade?

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Is the iPhone 6 worth the upgrade?

The iPhone 6 is here. The world is excited. But should you be if you already own the iPhone 5S? For now we’re just going to look at the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 compared to the old model. For the non Apple obsessives out there, there's also the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

We've already given our first impressions on the new 4.7-inch iPhone and no we compare the specs with the last generation Apple smartphone to see if you a new iPhone is really a necessity.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Design

iPhone 6: Curved aluminium, gold or light/dark silver, 6.8mm thick
iPhone 5S: Aluminium, gold or light/dark silver, 7.6mm thick

The 2014 iPhone is here, and as we hoped it’s called the iPhone 6. Apple has made some pretty big departures this year, including changing the shape of the phone. Angular is out, the sharp-ish edges of the iPhone 5S replaced by much curvier lines. The iPhone 6 is also a fair bit slimmer than the old model at 6.8mm to the iPhone 5S’s 7.6mm.

Of course, the iPhone 6 is also a fair bit bigger than the 5S thanks to its larger screen. To help out, the power button has moved to the side from the top, making it easier to reach. Although there are optimisations, the basic construction of the phones hasn’t changed a huge deal. Both the iPhone 5S and 6 have aluminium backs and toughened glass fronts.

They also share the same TouchID sensor. The one big hardware extra this year is NFC, which lets you make wireless payments with an iPhone 6 using Apple Pay. iPhone 5Ss do not have NFC.

SEE ALSO: iOS 8 tips, tricks and secrets

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Screen

iPhone 6: 4.7-inch 1334 x 750, “Retina HD” LCD with Ion strengthened glass, improved polariser
iPhone 5S: 4-inch 1136 x 640 IPS LCD

The big display news for this year is that the iPhone 6 has a much larger screen than the iPhone 5S. You get bumped up from four inches to 4.7. In Android terms that’s still a pretty small display, but if you want more you can now upgrade to the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch display.

The display architecture has slimmed down a bit in this 2014 generation, but the core technology remains the same. Both phone have IPS LCD screens, as used in iPhones for years. We’re pretty glad this is the case – iPhone displays generally look fantastic. To compensate for the added screen inches (well 0.7 inch), Apple has increased resolution in the iPhone 6 display. Where you get 1136 x 640 pixels in the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 gets you 1,334 x 750.

It’s 38 per cent more pixels, but how much sharper is it? No sharper at all, in fact. Both phones have, rounding-up, 326ppi displays. Of course, a larger display with the same sharpness is always going to be a bit more satisfying for browsing, gaming – most things in fact.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus 

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Camera

iPhone 6: 8MP camera, 1/3.06-inch (or similar) sensor, true-tone flash,f/2.2 aperture dual-LED flash, phase detection
iPhone 5S: 8-megapixel 1/3.06-inch sensor, f/2/2, dual-tone LED flash

Apple has not changed a great deal in the camera of the iPhone 6. It still has an 8-megapixel sensor, still has an f/2.2 lens and sensor pixels 1.5 microns a piece in size. This is what the iPhone 5S has. While Apple claims the sensor is new, we don’t expect to see any radical changes in image quality beyond what is provided by processing.

However, there is a new feature – phase detection autofocus. This is used in the Galaxy S5  and many top-end dedicated cameras to provide faster focusing, and it should perform the same trick here.

Both phones have Apple’s TrueTone flash, which uses two different LED to colours to avoid washing-out people's faces.

The front FaceTime camera seems to have been given more of an overhaul in the iPhone 6, though. It apparently lets in 81 per cent more light for better shots, and has more selfie-centric features. These include one-shot HDR and a burst mode. Selfie. Tastic.

More: iPhone 6 camera: A Photographer's Perspective


iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: CPU and RAM

iPhone 6: Apple A8 20nm, 20 per cent faster CPU, 50 per cent faster GPU
iPhone 5S: Apple A7 dual-core 1.3GHz, 64-bit, 1GB RAM

The iPhone 6 introduces a new generation of processor called the Apple A8, taking over from the Apple A7 of the iPhone 5S.

It’s not a world-changing upgrade, but it does seem to supply the goods. Apple has changed the system architecture from 28nm to 20nm – meaning it uses absolutely tiny transistors – to make the new CPU more efficient. That should also mean it’s able to run cooler.

Apple claims the Apple A8 provides 20 per cent more CPU power and 50 per cent more GPU power. Some of that improvement is gobbled-up by the increase in resolution in real-life terms, but we should see a few nicer visual effects in a handful of games in the iPhone 6.

We’re still waiting on some more in-depth figures on the Apple A8 CPU, but it’s a solid generational upgrade.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Battery Life

iPhone 6: 11 hours browsing, 11 hours video
iPhone 5S: 10 hours browsing, 10 hours video

As we expected, Apple has chosen to make the iPhone 6 slimmer rather than significantly adding to the battery life. Even the official figures show that stamina should be roughly the same as it is in the iPhone 5S. You’ll get 11 hours of video playback in the iPhone 6, to 10 in the iPhone 5S.

By Android standards, that’s good, but not great. The best phones from Sony and LG manage numbers will into the teens in our own testing.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Storage

iPhone 6: 16/64/128GB
iPhone 5S:16/32/64GB

For the past few years iPhones have been stuck offering 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions. Only the iPad has offered a 128GB option. That all changes this year. You can get a 128GB iPhone 6, but it costs £619. To put it into perspective, you can get a MacBook Air for the same price. It is perfect for those who want to dump a lot of music or video on their phones.

Sadly there’s no 32GB version this year and there hasn't really been an explanation why Apple is not doing one. So, you will have to pick between 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models.


Next, read where to find the best iPhone 6 deals

Early Verdict

The iPhone 6 is quite a departure in some core ways, but it’s also pretty conservative in others. Apple has not significantly improved the camera hardware, and while the screen has gotten bigger, display quality is unlikely to improve all that much. There isn't an objective reason, at this stage, to upgrade from an iPhone 5S. Perhaps the trickier question is whether you should upgrade to the iPhone 6 Plus instead?

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