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As expected, reviews for Apple's new iPhone lineup hit the Web on Tuesday, with most assessments being largely positive on hardware — especially the 6 Plus' battery life— but giving the nod to iOS 8 for keeping the handsets ahead of the competition.
Walt Mossberg, who handled the iPhone 6 review for Re/code, called the handset "the best smartphone on the market, when you combine its hardware, all-new operating system, and the Apple ecosystem whose doors it opens." Despite calling the 4.7-inch screen a "catch-up feature," Mossberg said Apple did a good job in keeping color accuracy on track, unlike competing models from Samsung.
Interestingly, Mossberg found the iPhone 6 battery to last some 14 or 15 hours before needing a recharge, substantially better than the previous generation iPhone 5s, which usually gets eight to ten hours per charge. At the end of testing, Mossberg dropped the unit on its face, cracking the screen. He suggests a case.
Reviewer Lauren Goode took on the iPhone 6 Plus phablet for the publication, saying that while she does not prefer larger handsets, the 5.5-inch version is tempting. During testing, Goode found the battery lasted well over one day with screen brightness set to 50 percent, no mean feat for such a large and thin device.
At his new post at Yahoo, Pogue calls the new iPhones beautiful, pointing out the new curved edges and slimmed down chassis. The main theme of his video review is "big," and he pulls out a variety of novelty size props to help cement the idea that the new iPhones are, indeed, larger than before. Pogue offers little in the way of new insight into Apple's handsets, but does a good job in demoing the units for the camera.
One of the more comprehensive reviews comes from Engadget, which scored both models highly, but gave the edge to the iPhone 6 due to cumbersome handling with the 6 Plus. Some interesting highlights include a side-by-side look at the devices' displays, which the publication found slightly different, but not enough to warrant a higher recommendation.
Further, benchmarks from the new A8 chip reveal only minor boosts in performance from the iPhone 5s' A7 SoC, with the iPhone 6 Plus version coming in ahead of the pack. Again, the uptick in speed may not be worth the price of upgrading for some. Also included are image galleries comparing the iPhone 6's digital image stabilization with the optical image stabilization of the 6 Plus.
Darrell Etherington also points out great battery life with the iPhone 6 Plus, saying it easily outperformed the iPhone 6 by at least a full day's use. For Etherington, the 6 Plus was oddly comfortable despite being extra large, but in the end the 4.7-inch version gets the nod for overall portability with high-end features.
Jim Dalrymple of The Loop
Dalrymple said he likes the new iPhone 6 form factor and new Retina HD displays, which to his eye appear more vivid and bright than current iPhone models. The larger size is obviously most apparent with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, but Apple's implementation of Reachability and other UI tweaks keep the phablet manageable.
The New York Times
Molly Wood of The Times also made note of how large the iPhone 6 Plus is in the hand, saying the thin and sleek design will likely cause a number of users to drop the device when reaching for a far away icon. The review compares Apple's latest iPhones with competing large-screened smartphones like Samsung's Galaxy S5 and the LG G3, noting those models have special UI functions that help users deal with the expansive screen area.
"As for the features that people love about their iPhones, they only get better," Wood writes. "The iPhone 6 cameras, for example, are outstanding."
Other notable reviews:
Nilay Patel and David Pierce for The Verge
Scott Stein for CNET: Solid hardware is larger but easy to handle.
Ed Baig for USA Today
Joshua Topolsky for Bloomberg
Stuart Miles for Pocket-lint
Geoffrey Fowler for The Wall Street Journal
Charles Arthur for The Guardian
Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus go on sale this Friday at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores.