Size does matter, after all

Size does matter, after all

Apple has made a U-turn on its stand on small screens with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. TREVOR TAN finds out if bigger is really better.

iOS 8

Both iPhones come with iOS 8, which has many news features.

One of these upgrades is the built-in predictive QuickType Keyboard. It was quite good in predicting what I wanted to type, making it faster for me to write text or e-mail messages.

You can also install third-party predictive keyboards such as SwiftKey (free) or Swype ($1.28). Once you download the keyboards, go to Settings >General >Keyboard >Keyboards. At Add Keyboard function, you will find SwiftKey or Swype available.

Android users who are reading this are probably laughing now as they have had this feature for a long time. But better late than never. I found Swype to be really superb, as it allows me to slide my finger across the virtual keyboard instead of typing letter by letter. And it almost always got me the word I wanted and predicted the next one intelligently.

You can now record and send audio or video messages within iMessages. You can set these audio and video clips to expire after two minutes. Listening to the audio clips is particularly cool, as you can just put the headset to your ear to hear the message instead of tapping a play button.

For iPhone 6 Plus, the icons in the Home screen will rotate to match the orientation of the display in landscape mode. In this mode, iPhone 6 Plus apps such as iMessages and Mail will show two panels: one, a list of messages; and the other, the selected message.

The Health app, which relies considerably on third-party apps for information, is hampered by delays till the end of the month because of a bug in the HealthKit framework.

Certain features, such as Continuity, will come in handy only when the new OS X Yosemite launches. Continuity lets you continue typing an e-mail message or viewing a website when you switch from iPhone to Mac, for example.

Display

The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with a screen resolution of 1,334 x 750 pixels and a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

The iPhone 6 Plus has the same display as its sibling. However, it is substantially bigger at 5.5 inches and has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. This gives it a pixel density of 401ppi, the highest ever in an iPhone.

Its rivals the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 4 have 432ppi and 550ppi respectively.

Apple said the Retina HD displays are made of ion-strengthened glass, which is more resistant to scratching and shattering.

Both displays use the same technology that is supposed to give you a better viewing experience, with deeper blacks and sharper text.

Dual-domain pixels ensure colour accuracy from corner to corner for a wider viewing angle, while an improved built-in polariser lets you see the screen more clearly when you are outdoors in sunlight.

Both displays looked sharp. I saw very little colour or brightness shift when viewing both displays from the side. Even when you are outdoors, you will be able to see what is displayed clearly.

Because the iPhone 6 Plus has a bigger screen, its display looks brighter and sharper even though it has the same brightness level and its pixel density is only marginally higher than that of the iPhone 6. Photos and videos all look much better on this display than on the smaller iPhone.

I think the bigger screen of the iPhone 6 Plus accentuates the whole viewing experience. In addition, the extra real estate provides ample space for virtual buttons while leaving enough to display the main action.

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