iPhone 6s Plus full review
Which is better: the iPhone 6s Plus or the Google Nexus 6P?
Both the 6s Plus and 6P are big devices - classic phablets - with large screens made for large hands. They are, in many ways, the two main rivals for big-screen smartphone buyers.
While there are lots of different phones around that run Google's Android software, Nexus is the line that Google works most closely on with suppliers. (Google doesn't make the phones itself. The Nexus 6P is made by Huawei - not a bad brand by any means, but certainly not one with Apple's reputation.)
This review is a comparison test between the iPhone 6s Plus and Nexus 6P. We'll look at the technical specs, price and software on both devices, and help you decide which is the best big-screen smartphone for your needs.
For more comparisons between the new iPhones and their rivals, see:
iPhone 6s Plus vs Nexus 6P: Tech specs
iPhone 6s Plus tech specs
- Dimensions: 2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
- Weight: 192g
- Display Size: 5.5 inches
- Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi)
- Software: iOS 9
- Chipset: Apple A9
- CPU: Dual-core 1.84 GHz
- GPU: PowerVR GT7600 (six-core graphics)
- RAM: 2 GB
- iSight Camera: 12 Mp (4032 x 3024 pixels)
- FaceTime Camera: 5 Mp 1080p
Nexus 6P tech specs
- Dimensions: 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
- Weight: 178 g
- Display: 5.7 inches
- Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi)
- Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
- Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810
- CPU: Octo-Core (Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57)
- Camera: 12 Mp (4608 x 2592 pixels), laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
- Secondary Camera: 8 Mp
The Nexus 6P seems to win out on tech specs, in ways that may or may not matter.
The Nexus 6P has a bigger screen (marginally), and is a little lighter. It has an octo-core processor made up of two quad-core processors. This setup forms what Google is referring to as the 'Android Sensor Hub'. It is a low-power secondary processor, and its purpose is to monitor the device's movement by connecting directly to the accelerometer, gyroscope, fingerprint reader, and camera's sensors. The main CPU only kicks in when it needs to provide more speed.
The Nexus 6P also has 3GB of RAM, outpacing the 2GB provided by the iPhone.
It's hard to tell if this will come to anything, though. Apple's iOS has much more efficient software than Android. A recent speed test by Cult Of Android showed an iPhone 6s smashing a Galaxy Note 5, even though the latter had an octo-core processor and 4GB RAM. So there's no guarantee that the Nexus 6P, with its Android Sensor Hub, will be any better.
There's also no guarantee that it'll matter either way. Both phones strike us as plenty fast enough for regular users to do all the usual things they want without undue lag. Both phones are marching in on laptop territory, both in terms of clock speed and RAM, and both iOS and Android are much lighter than OS X or Windows. Exactly how fast do you need your apps to open?
Feature-wise, it's much of a muchness. Both phones pack fingerprint sensing technology, and a form of mobile payment (Apple Pay and Android Pay respectively).
The cameras are similar in specification, and both phones can record 4K video. Although Apple's new Live Photos feature is a point of difference, it's a bit gimmicky, and there are similar apps available for Android.
The biggest difference between the two phones is Apple's new 3D Touch interface. 3D Touch is both a hardware and software implementation, but the real difference is noticeable in software (so we'll come to it in a bit).
iPhone 6s Plus vs Nexus 6P: Models and pricing
The iPhone 6s and Nexus 6P are available in a range of different models and prices. Here are the options available:
- iPhone 6s Plus (16GB): £619
- iPhone 6s (64GB): £699
- iPhone 6s (128GB): £789
- Nexus 6P (32GB): £449
- Nexus 6P (64GB): £499
- Nexus 6P (128GB): £579
Price is clearly a differentiator between the two phones. The Nexus 6P is much cheaper than the iPhone: £200 or £210 less where equivalent storage options are available.
And it gets worse for Apple customers, because there isn't a 32GB option for the iPhone 6s Plus, which means you're likely to end up being forced up to 64GB. We think 32GB should be the entry point for a new iPhone - 16GB phones tend to leave you constantly scrabbling around for free storage, deleting apps that you can live without for the short term, continually pruning your music and photos etc - and are still slightly disgruntled that Apple hasn't got a 32GB model available.
In other words, for a lot of buyers the most relevant comparison will be between the cheapest usable model of each device: which is to say, the 32GB Nexus 6P and the 64GB iPhone 6s. And that comparison leaves the Apple buyer a whopping £250 down (although kitted out with twice as much storage space, even if 64GB is more than a lot of people will need).
That's a serious amount of money, and Apple has been increasing the price gap between the iPhone and its rivals for a few years now. It wouldn't hurt so much if the entry-level storage option was more generous, but it all adds up to a bit of a shake-down from Apple.
Read next: Want to know what to expect from the next iPhone Plus? Read our iPhone 7 Plus release date and new features rumour roundup for the latest clues.
iPhone 6s Plus vs Nexus 6P: Colours and options
Both the iPhone 6s Plus and Nexus 6P come in a range of different colours. In all instances, it costs the same amount for each handset, depending on your choice of colour. Here are the official names of the colour options (the more straightforward descriptions in brackets are ours):
- Rose Gold (pink)
- Space Grey (black)
Nexus 6P colours
Rose Gold seems to be the interesting new choice for the iPhone, although it's not for everybody. The gold of the iPhone looks metallic gold, rather than the plastic gold. It looks stylish, but quite bling. Space Grey and Silver are less ostentatious options.
The Nexus 6P comes in more sombre shades of black, white or silver.
The iPhone does look more stylish to our eyes (in terms of design and colour schemes) although the build quality on both phones is great.
iPhone 6s Plus vs Nexus 6P: Software and apps
What it comes down to is software - or, to be more precise, the integration of software and hardware. And here the iPhone leads the way. Apple manages to integrate software and hardware in a way that few other companies seem to match, and it consistently delivers new ideas.
3D Touch is a good example of this. The iPhone 6s Plus has a new type of touchscreen that senses varying degrees of pressure. You can use this to "peek" and "pop" inside items in iOS 9, or to perform quick shortcuts. We've made a video showcasing some of our favourite new 3D Touch-enabled features:
Android has a similar gesture in the form of a long-press, where you hold your finger down for a while. It's just not as good an implementation.
Beyond that, there's the whole of iOS vs Android debate. From various speed tests, it's clear to us that iOS is more efficient than Android. It's also a safer operating system because Apple keeps such a tight rein on development.
There are, however, advantages to Android's side-loading feature (where you can install apps without Google's permission or security). And Google has a much faster turnaround for app development, which is why it's becoming much more popular among developers and enthusiasts. And, of course, it's cheaper.
At the end of the day, the iPhone remains the better phone. Its software is slicker, Apple merges software and hardware together better, and it is better looking. You do get your money's worth with Apple, but the company is asking a lot of money, and for pure specs for your money, the Android alternative will almost always be superior.
iPhone comparison reviews
If you've enjoyed this article, perhaps you'd be interested in more iPhone buying advice? We've written a series of comparison reviews, which set various combinations of iPhone against one another, head to head:
- iPhone 6s vs iPhone 5s
- iPhone 6s Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus
- iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s vs iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6
- iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6 Plus
These may be useful if you're trying to device between two specific iPhone models.
iPhone buying guide, autumn/winter 2015
And for a broader look at Apple's current iPhone range, take a look at our iPhone buying guide video for autumn/winter 2015:
Or, if you'd prefer to see our buying advice in written rather than video form, head over to our iPhone buying guide article.
But now, on to the verdict!
iPhone 6s Plus: Specs
- A9 chipset
- 2GB RAM
- 5.5in 1080p display
- 3D Touch
- 12Mp rear facing camera
- 4K video recording
- Live Photos
- Front facing 5Mp camera with display flash
- Bluetooth 4.2
- dual band Wi-Fi
- iOS 9