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Acer Aspire R13 hands-on review

17 Sep 2014

Acer unveiled several tablets and laptops at the IFA trade show in Berlin earlier in September, but perhaps the most significant model in its new range is the Aspire R13, which follows on from the Aspire R7, released last year. 

Acer Aspire R13 convertible with Windows 8.1

Much like the its Star Trek-inspired predecessor, the laptop comes with Acer's Ezel Aero hinge, allowing the Aspire R13 to be used in six different modes, including "tent mode" and "pad mode". Perhaps surprisingly, the device can also be used as a standard laptop, while the "stand mode" is aimed at doodlers, with the device shipping with a Microsoft Surface-style Active pen.

Design and build
At first look, the Acer Aspire R13's chassis does feel rather plasticy. Although it has a gunmetal grey finish, it looks a bit cheap and we would have preferred to have seen a satin or aluminium finish, considering its £700 price, to give it a higher-end appearance.

Nevertheless, measuring 25.4mm thick and weighing 1.5kg, it does feel rather sturdy. Closing it down and picking it up, the R14 feels strong and robust and thus would probably survive a good knock or two.

Acer Aspire Hands-on - hinge

Saying that, it is thick and bulky and as a result heavier than you'd like for a transportable device. However it's nowhere near as heavy as the Aspire R7, so it's definitely more ideal for those who often want to transport the device between office and home.

As for the keyboard, it feels high quality and was easy enough to type on. Knocking out a few sentences seemed pleasant enough, so we think it will be good to type on.

Acer Aspire Hands-on - flat

Stylus
The Acer Aspire R13 has an active stylus for note-taking, digital design work and other creative work. In our tests it seemed fluid and responsive, though not as responsive as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 stylus pen.

Acer Aspire Hands-on - Stylus support

Screen
The Acer Aspire 13 comes with a 13.3in screen, with the options of 2540x1440 or 1920x1080 resolution. It has a brilliantly vibrant display with very responsive touch and minimal glare. The Full HD model will use an in-plane switching (IPS) panel, while the 2560x1440 QHD model will have an indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) panel.

When testing the rotating display, we found that tilting the screen to change the viewing angle works very easily and stays in the position you want it to, due to the Ezel Aero Hinge.

Overall we were rather impressed by the resolution of the display and it offered good viewing angles. We look forward to testing this fully when we receive a unit for a full review, to see how movie playback fares on the Aspire R13.

Performance
In terms of power, users can choose between Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, up to 8GB of memory and up to 1TB solid-state drive (SSD) when buying the Aspire R14.

Unfortunately, we didn't have long enough to test the Acer Aspire R13's performance capabilities during our brief hands-on time with it. But, during the time we did use it, it seemed very responsive to commands, likely due to its Intel Core i5 processor.

Acer Aspire Hands-on - side

Overall
The Aspire R13 convertible has a fresh and innovative design, marking as different from others in the Windows 8.1 laptop market. In our time with it, we found it performed quickly and responsively and it was fun to use. The Acer Aspire R13 will cost from £699 when it is released in the UK in October.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S specs comparison

16 Sep 2014

Apple's new iPhone 6, which the firm announced on 9 September, offers plenty of improvements compared with last year's iPhone 5S. Here, we compare the two handsets' specifications to help you weigh up whether it's worth upgrading to the iPhone 6 early.

Design, measurements and weight
iPhone 6: 138x67x6.9mm, 129g
iPhone 5S: 124x59x7.6mm, 112g

With its larger 4.7in screen, Apple's iPhone 6 is unsurprisingly longer and wider than its 4in-screened predecessor. However, Apple has been keen to tout the iPhone 6 as "the smallest iPhone yet", thanks to its slim 6.9mm profile, compared with the 7.6mm thick iPhone 5S. The iPhone 6 is slightly heavier than last year's model, tipping the scales at 129g, while the iPhone 5S weighs 112g.

Apple iPhone 6 features a redesigned 6.9mm thick casing

The iPhone 6 is to the iPhone 5S in design what the iPhone 5 was to the iPhone 4S, with the smartphone boasting a radical redesign. It features a new glass front that curves away at the edges, making the iPhone 6 more curvacious than its predecessor, and the handset's physical buttons have been redesigned to be similar to those on the iPad Air.

Like the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 will be available in white, gold and grey colour options, and it comes with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the home button.

Display
iPhone 6: 4.7in, 1344x750 resolution, 326ppi Retina HD display
iPhone 5S: 4in, 1136x640 resolution, 326ppi Retina display

The iPhone 6 shows the first signs of Apple joining the trend to larger screen sizes, and is the first iPhone to feature a display larger than 4in.

The iPhone 6 boasts a 4.7in Retina HD 1344x750 resolution 326ppi screen, so as well as being larger, the display has a higher resolution than the iPhone 5S. While this could prove troublesome for developers, Apple claims the iPhone 6 has 38 percent more pixels than the previous iPhone and offers wider viewing angles.

Processor
iPhone 6: Apple A8 chip
iPhone 5S: Apple A7 chip

The iPhone 6 likely will deliver higher performance than its predecessor, with Apple's new A8 chip under the hood. While Apple hasn't revealed many details about its latest processor, the firm claims it offers 25 percent faster processing and delivers up to 50 percent faster graphics.

Software
iPhone 6: iOS 8
iPhone 5S: iOS 7, upgradeable to iOS 8 

The iPhone 6 arrives running iOS 8, Apple's incoming mobile operating system release that sees the debut of HealthKit and HomeKit, Apple's OS X Continuity features and a new landscape mode designed with the larger iPhone 6 Plus handset in mind.

iPhone 6 with iOS 8

While the larger screen size will provide room for an extra row of icons, the iPhone 5S is due to receive an update to iOS 8 before the iPhone 6 is released, and will boast all of the same software functionality as its successor.

Camera
iPhone 6: 8MP, f/2.2 rear camera, 1.2MP front-facing camera
iPhone 5S: 8MP, f/2.2 rear camera, 1.2MP front-facing camera

On paper, it doesn't look as if the iPhone 6 offers much if any improvement in its cameras, with the handset having an 8MP rear-facing sensor like its predecessor.

iPhone 6 features an 8MP camera with optical image stablisation

However, Apple has been keen to point out otherwise. The firm has a new feature called Focus Pixels, for example, which means it focuses twice as fast as before, and has added Phase Detection Autofocus. The iPhone 6 camera is also the first capable of capturing 43MP panoramic images.

Apple has also improved video recording in the iPhone 6, and while it still records in HD 1080p like its predecessor, it is now capable of capturing slow-motion video at up to 240fps.

Battery
iPhone 6: 14 hours
iPhone 5S: 10 hours

Apple's A8 chip apparently enables longer battery life, with Apple promising that users will get 14 hours of talk time from the handset compared with 10 on the iPhone 5S.

Storage
iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB
iPhone 5S: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB

While some had speculated that Apple would drop the 16GB iPhone model, it actually dropped the 32GB model, making way for a higher-capacity 128GB model.

Price
iPhone 6: From £539 SIM-free
iPhone 5S: From £459 SIM-free

For £539 you'll get the 16GB iPhone 6, while the 64GB and 128GB models will fetch £619 and £699, respectively. In comparison, the iPhone 5S 32GB model cost £629 when it launched.

iPhone 6 is available in silver gold and space grey

 

While it was more expensive at launch, Apple dropped the price of the iPhone 5S after it unveiled the new model. Now, you can buy the 16GB iPhone 5S for £459, and the 32GB model for £499. It appears that the 64GB iPhone 5S is no longer on sale.

Overall
For anyone who's been waiting for an iPhone with a bigger screen, it's worth buying the iPhone 6, and its improvements – such as its upgraded processor, longer battery life and better camera – are all likely to tempt any iPhone 5S owners to upgrade.

Nokia Lumia 830 hands-on review

15 Sep 2014

In a bid to take on Samsung and Apple, Nokia released its Lumia 830 at IFA in Germany earlier this September, at its first event as part of Microsoft after the Redmond firm bought Nokia's devices division a year ago. The Lumia 830 adds to the firm's recently announced models such as the Nokia Lumia 530 and Nokia Lumia 630.

Nokia Lumia 830 hands on - screen

The Lumia 830 is the formerly Finnish company's "thinnest and lightest" high-end Windows Phone yet, priced at €330, or around £300.

Design
The main design feature of the Lumia 830 is that it offers a feature set similar to the flagship Lumia 930 but in a more compact chassis. Measuring 8.5mm thick and weighing 150g, the Lumia 830 is one of the lightest Lumia phones, and thus fits more comfortably in the hand than previous high-end Lumia iterations such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 1020.

Nokia Lumia 830 hands on - side

The handset measures 139x70x8.5mm from top to bottom, a little bigger than the Lumia 930's 137x71x9.8mm chassis but a lot thinner, which makes all the difference. It's also 17g lighter than the Lumia 930, at 150g, meaning it won't slip as easily into a pocket like its predecessor, but it does feel a touch easier to hold. We found that we liked the handset's design and feel, with the aluminium edging adding to its overall robust impression.

Nokia Lumia 830 hands on - side

It might be Nokia's first release since it was bought by Microsoft, but the good news is that the firm has kept the Lumia brand's splash of colour. Like the Lumia 930, the Lumia 830 will be available in vibrant orange and green models, which certainly will turn heads on the street. Nokia has also opted for matte polycarbonate for the colourful casing rather than the shiny plastic often found on its Windows Phone devices, which means that it sits comfortably in the hand and likely won't be too prone to picking up fingerprints.

For the more conservative buyers, the Nokia Lumia 830 will also be available in black and white models.

Display
The Nokia Lumia 930 has a 5in in-plane switching (IPS) 1280x720 resolution display that we found crisp and bright during our hands-on time with the smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 830 hands on - camera

Thanks to its ClearBlack display technology, Nokia boasts that the Lumia 830 offers 180-degree viewing angles, and the phone lived up to this during our time with it on Thursday at the launch event. However, we found the display quite reflective, and it struggled under bright fluorescent lighting.

Camera
In our hands-on tests, the Lumia 820's 10MP camera seemed to respond brilliantly when we took pictures of the greenery outside the launch event window. Shutter speed was reasonably fast and images taken were crisp, due its PureView image sensor. Nevertheless, it isn't quite as impressive as the Nokia Lumia 1020's 41MP rear-facing camera.

Nokia Lumia 830 hands on - camera lens

We have yet to put this camera fully through its paces, but early impressions suggest that it will produce images of similar quality to those taken on the Nokia Lumia 930, which impressed us with its crisp and natural image-taking capability.

Performance and OS
Powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the Lumia 830 seems fast and fluid when swiping between different apps. Nokia said that its new smartphone's performance is "either better or on par" with the Samsung flagship competition, without naming which smartphone it was referring to.

The Nokia Lumia 830 arrives running Windows Phone 8.1 and thus is pre-loaded with Microsoft Office for productivity, OneDrive for cloud storage, and the Cortana voice control app "for markets it's available in".

Nokia Lumia 830 hands on - Windows OS

We have yet to test all of the features of Windows Phone 8.1, but it also delivers Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant, WiFi Sense, Word Flow and enterprise additions.

Of course, all of Nokia's usual additions are also in place, including Here Maps, Nokia Music and the Finnish phone firm's custom camera applications.

Wireless charging
Like the Lumia 930, the Lumia 830 supports wireless charging and Nokia has announced an accessory alongside it at IFA – the second-generation wireless charging plate. The device charges a wireless phone via NFC so when users tap their phone on the plate, they can customise notifications via the plate's lighting feature. They can then choose between different blinking patterns.

The wireless charging plate requires Windows Phone 8.1 and will be available in green, orange and white to match the covers of the Lumia 830.

First impressions
While the Nokia Lumia 830 didn't immediately strike us as a breathtaking smartphone, our hands-on has convinced us otherwise, and we think that this could one of Nokia's most popular Windows Phones yet, mainly due to its relatively low price.

The screen is the most impressive we've seen on a Nokia Lumia smartphone yet, and the Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 mobile operating system brings some impressive additions, including built-in VPN support, integrated Skype access and low system requirements, meaning its more nippy. With all these extras, people might be more open to switching to Windows Phone from more popular operating systems such as iOS and Android.

Check back with V3 soon for our full Nokia Lumia 830 review.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix hands-on review

12 Sep 2014

Lenovo revealed a range of new phones, all-in-ones and business laptops at IFA in Germany earlier in September. The Chinese firm's most significant unveiling was an update to its Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, unveiled at CES in January.

Taking on the Microsoft Surface tablets and Samsung Ativ series of hybrids, the ThinkPad Helix offers businesses an all-in-one tablet that is also an ultrabook.

Lenovo announces Thinkpad Helix at IFA for businesses - overall

Design and build
The 11.6in ThinkPad Helix features a Gorilla Glass display, weighs 815g and measures just 9.6mm thick, a design that has been made possible by the featured Intel Core M processor, which Intel also announced at IFA during its press conference on Friday.

At first glance the ThinkPad Helix has a lot more in common with its ThinkPad predecessors than other convertible laptops. The product's design features the same minimalist black, hard-edged plastic design associated with all ThinkPad laptops.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands on - dock

It's only when you open it up and look closely that you realise that the ThinkPad Helix is actually a convertible, sporting the obvious left-hand switch that, when popped, separates the tablet section from its dock.

Playing with the ThinkPad Helix, we were fairly impressed by the hinge mechanism's build quality. Despite being made of plastic the connecting section felt sturdy.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands on - keypad

Popping the tablet in and out of the dock a few times, we felt suitably reassured that the section wouldn't break during prolonged use. The same was true of the ThinkPad Helix main tablet section, which also seemed fairly robust.

Screen
The 11.6in ThinkPad Helix features a Gorilla Glass FHD display with a 1920x1080 resolution, 10-point multi-touch screen. During our initial tests we found the display boasts great viewing angles, colour and brightness levels.

Testing the screen we found that the ThinkPad Helix was pleasantly responsive, easily picking up and responding to every swipe and poke we threw at it.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands on - stand

Performance and OS
The ThinkPad Helix is designed to offer users ultrabook-level performance, with the top-end version having up to an Intel Core M processor, either 4GB or 8GB of RAM and a range of different storage options such as a 128GB SATA, 256GB SATA eDrive, 512GB PCle or 180GB to 360GB Intel hard drive.

Running Windows 8.1 Pro, the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix has the same five modes as seen on the previous version and the consumer IdeaPad Yoga products, allowing users to put the device into Tablet, Stand, Tent, Laptop and Desktop modes.

In our tests the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix seemed to work flawlessly, with apps and web browser pages popping up instantly. 

Lenovo announces Thinkpad Helix at IFA for businesses - hands on tent

Overall
Our initial impressions of the ThinkPad Helix are positive, as it has some worthy upgrades from its predecessor, particularly the Intel Core M processor.

Lenovo added that the ThinkPad Helix also features better power efficiency and battery life compared with its predecessor, as well as a suite of add-on security options, including a biometric fingerprint reader, a military-grade smart card reader and three-factor authentication. We weren't able to test the improved performance or battery life on the IFA showroom floor, but check back soon for a full review. 

With a hefty $999 starting price, which tops many other convertible laptop-tablet hybrids, we're not sure the ThinkPad Helix will attract a great deal of users when it is released worldwide at the start of October.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

11 Sep 2014

Every Apple event causes a stir as fans speculate about what new devices and technologies the Californian firm will bring to the table. Sometimes the anticipation ahead of the event has been more exciting than the end product that's unveiled, other times Apple does something great and launches something that has the potential to change the direction of the technology industry.

Luckily for us, this year Apple has done the latter and unveiled its first ever "phablet", the iPhone 6 Plus alongside its new flagship, the iPhone 6. However, with both devices looking close to identical in every aspect but size, many fans have missed some of the more subtle technological and software differences separating the two.

Design
iPhone 6: 138x67x6.9mm, 129g
iPhone 6 Plus: 158x78x7.1mm, 172g

Outside of their size difference the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus are both close to identical and feature the same aluminium curved chassis and glass front. Both handsets feature custom Touch ID fingerprint scanners in their front-facing physical home buttons, and Lightning charge ports.

Display
iPhone 6: 4.7in, 1334x750, 326ppi Retina HD display
iPhone 6 Plus: 5.5in, 1920x1080, 401ppi Retina HD display

Apple made a big deal about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus's respective 4.7in and 5.5in Retina displays. As well as having a larger display, the iPhone 6 Plus features a higher resolution than the iPhone 6.Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

However, considering the stellar colour balance and contrast levels seen on past Retina displays, the resolution difference may not be that big of a deal and the iPhone 6's screen will likely still be very impressive.

Operating system
iPhone 6: iOS 8
iPhone 6 Plus: iOS 8

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are both powered by iOS 8. This means both iPhones have access to Apple's wealth of productivity services, advanced iCloud cloud storage and Mac OS X synchronisation features.

However, it's important to note that Apple has added a few extra features to showcase the benefits of the iPhone 6 Plus larger display designed to make it more pleasant to use in horizontal mode. For example, the iPhone 6 Plus's Messaging and Mail apps have a special two-tier horizontal user interface and separate keyboard with special keys for actions such as cut and paste.

Processor
iPhone 6: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture with M8 motion co-processor
iPhone 6 Plus: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture with M8 motion co-processor

Both new iPhones run using Apple's new A8 chip and reworked M8 motion co-processor, and if Apple's bold performance claims are anything to go by this is no bad thing. Apple claims it offers 25 percent faster CPU performance than the A7, meaning on paper both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are more than 50 times faster than the first iPhone.

Camera
iPhone 6: 8MP rear, 1.2MP FaceTime front camera
iPhone 6 Plus: 8MP rear, 1.2MP FaceTime front camera

Apple has radically improved the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus's 8MP rear cameras, giving them a new sensor with True Tone flash, 1.5 micron pixels and f/2.2 aperture.

The sensor adds a number of improvements to the iPhone 6's camera compared with past iOS handsets. Key additions include phase-detection auto-focus – which allows it to focus twice as fast – tone mapping, noise reduction and a slow-motion mode that can capture video at 240fps.The iPhone 6 a 4.7in screen and the iPhone 6 Plus a 5.5in display

The only differentiator between the two, is the addition of optical image stabilisation technology to the iPhone 6 Plus. This improves photo quality by compensating in real time for shaking and vibrating while shooting, so there are no alterations or light degradations to the captured image.

In the past we've been really impressed by how well the optical image stabilisation technology works, and as a result we're fairly excited to see it included on the iPhone 6 Plus's 8MP rear camera.

Storage
iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB, unspecified RAM
iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB, unspecified RAM

Storage-wise the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus are evenly matched. Neither model comes in a 32GB storage version.

Battery
iPhone 6: Unspecified, 11-hour listed life
iPhone 6 Plus: Unspecified, 14-hour listed life

Apple lists the iPhone 6's unspecified battery as offering users 11 hours of video playback. This means the iPhone 6 Plus should last three extra hours off one charge. Both listed lives are well above the average, with most Android handsets generally offering between seven to eight hours of video playback.

Price
iPhone 6: From £539
iPhone 6 Plus: From £619

Neither the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus are cheap. However, the iPhone 6 Plus is the more premium device of the two with the basic 16GB version costing £80 more than its smaller iPhone 6 sibling.

Overall
The iPhone 6 Plus does have a few extra features on top of its smaller iPhone 6 sibling. Key additions are optical image stabilisation technology in its rear camera and a number of novel software tweaks designed to help users take advantage of its larger and higher-resolution 5.5in Retina display. However, costing an extra £80, the iPhone 6 Plus's perks come with a hefty price tag.

Check back with V3 later for full reviews of the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5

10 Sep 2014

The annual battle between Apple and Samsung has become a staple event in every tech fan's calendar and this year is no different. Both Samsung and Apple have come out guns blazing, releasing completely redesigned flagship handsets that come loaded with more new features and custom technologies than can easily be counted.

In fact, the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5 are so packed with features some fans have justifiably struggled to keep track and have been left wondering how the two match when they're run head-to-head.

Design
iPhone 6:138x67x6.9mm, 129g
Galaxy S5: 142x73x8.1mm, 145g

Both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 have very different designs. The iPhone 6 has an aluminium curved chassis while the Galaxy S5 has a pebble-like perforated detachable polycarbonate backplate that connects to its metal sides.iPhone 6 is available in silver gold and space grey

Of the two, the iPhone 6 is the lighter and thinner of the two, however the Galaxy S5 is on paper more robust, with Samsung having built it to meet IP67 certification standards. The certification means the Galaxy S5 is the only phone of the two to be dust and water resistant.

Both handsets feature custom fingerprint scanners in their front-facing physical home buttons, though the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the only one of the two to feature a biometric heart scanner on its back.

Display
iPhone 6: 4.7in, 1334x750, 326ppi Retina HD display
Galaxy S5: 5.1in, 1920x1080, 432ppi, Super Amoled touchscreen

Apple made a big deal about the iPhone 6's 4.7in Retina display. But on paper it is still lagging behind its Android competition in terms of resolution. This is particularly true when comparing it with the Galaxy S5, which, featuring Samsung's Super Amoled technology, is currently one of the finest on the market.Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini with 4.5in HD screen

However, considering the stellar colour balance and contrast levels seen on previous Retina displays we're not willing to rule the iPhone 6 out just yet and will wait and see how the two compare with real-world use before offering our final verdict.

Operating system
iPhone 6: iOS 8
Galaxy S5: Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung Touchwiz

Comparing Android and iOS phones from a software perspective is always a tricky affair and this remains true on the KitKat-powered Galaxy S5 and iOS 8-powered iPhone 6. While iOS's lack of malware is a selling point for the iPhone 6, both handsets are rife with enterprise features.

For example, iOS 8 features improved password security, S/MIME features and VIP threads, and support for Microsoft Exchange out of office replies as well as advanced synchronisation features with Mac OS X computers.

By comparison, the Galaxy S5 comes with Samsung's custom Knox security as well as Google's own enterprise applications and services. Knox is a sandboxing service that lets users create a separate encrypted password-protected work area on their device.Apple iPhone 6 features a redesigned 6.9mm thick casing

The Knox version 2.0 running on the Galaxy S5 also features upgraded certificate management, VPN+ and enhanced container-security powers, as well as new Marketplace and enterprise mobility management (EMM) services.

Processor
iPhone 6: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture with M8 motion co-processor
Galaxy S5: Quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

Both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 are on paper powerhouse smartphones. However with the iPhone 6 being the first ever smartphone to run using Apple's new A8 chip and reworked M8 motion co-processor, which Apple claims offers 25 percent faster CPU performance than the A7, we won't know how the two compare until we get our hands on the new iPhone.

Camera
iPhone 6: 8MP rear, 1.2MP FaceTime front
Galaxy S5: 16MP rear, 2MP front

Camera technology is one area where Apple has been falling behind in recent years, and when it was released the Galaxy S5's 16MP rear camera was better than the iPhone 5S's 8MP rear camera in close to every way. Even now, featuring what Samsung claims is the fastest auto-focus speed of 0.3 seconds, the Galaxy S5's camera is a very impressive piece of technology.

Aware it is facing stiff competition Apple has worked to radically improve the iPhone 6's 8MP rear camera and has loaded it with a new sensor with True Tone flash, 1.5 micron pixels and f/2.2 aperture.Samsung Galaxy S5 review back

The sensor adds a number of improvements to the iPhone 6's camera compared with previous iOS handsets. Key additions include phase-detection auto-focus, which allows it to focus twice as fast, as well as tone-mapping, noise reduction, and a new slow-motion mode that can capture video at 240fps.

Storage
iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB, unspecified RAM
Galaxy S5: 16GB and 32GB upgradable via Micro SD, 2GB RAM

The Galaxy S5 comes with fewer storage options than the iPhone 6, but it is the only one of the two that can have its storage upgraded after purchase. Via the Galaxy S5's Micro SD card slot, users can add a further 128GB of space, meaning the handset can technically feature more physical storage than the iPhone 6.

Battery
iPhone 6: Unspecified, 11-hour listed life
Galaxy S5: Li-Ion 2,800mAh seven-hour burn score

Apple lists the iPhone 6's unspecified battery as offering users 11 hours of video playback and WiFi browsing and 10 hours of LTE and 3G browsing. If accurate this means the iPhone 6 will feature a significantly better battery life than the Galaxy S5, which during our burn tests generally only offered between seven and eight hours of video playback.

Price
iPhone 6: From £539
Galaxy S5: From £580

Neither the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S5 are cheap, though the Samsung handset does carry a more premium price tag, with the basic 16GB model costing a full £40 more than its equivalent Apple competitor.

Overall
Run head-to-head, both the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 are very impressive handsets. However, thanks to a slew of new untested technologies, such as its new camera sensor, A8 processor and iOS 8 operating system, it's difficult to gauge how the iPhone 6 will perform with real-world use. As a result, until we get our hands on an iPhone 6 and thoroughly test it, we won't be able to accurately know which is the better phone.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

iPhone 6 Plus first impressions

10 Sep 2014

Since Samsung released its first phablet in 2011 – the Galaxy Note – big-screen smartphones have become an increasingly common sight in the Android ecosystem.

Despite their popularity with Android users, though, key competitor Apple had so far not released a 5in-plus iPhone, sticking to deceased founder Steve Jobs' design philosophy that people didn't want giant handsets.

However, this all changed when CEO Tim Cook took to the stage to unveil Apple's first phablet, the 5.7in iPhone 6 Plus.

Design
The iPhone 6 Plus lives up to its name and looks like a blown-up version of the iPhone 6. In our mind this is no bad thing. Featuring a rounded glass front that runs round the sides of its curved aluminium chassis, the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 look great.

Additionally, despite being larger, the iPhone 6 Plus is surprisingly thin, measuring in at a modest 7.1mm. This means despite being large it should still be reasonably comfortable to hold.

Display
Packing a 5.5in 1920x1080 Retina HD display, when it comes to resolution the iPhone 6 Plus is still on paper lagging behind its top-end Android competitors. For example the LG G3 boasts an equivalently sized but much sharper 5.5in, 1440x2560, 534ppi True HD-IPS+ (in-plane switching) LCD capacitive touchscreen.

iPhone 6 Plus design in gold

However, considering past Retina displays' stellar colour balance and vibrancy levels, we're going to reserve judgement on the iPhone 6 Plus's screen and wait until our full hands-on review before giving our definitive verdict.

Operating system
Like its smaller sibling the iPhone 6 Plus runs using Apple's iOS 8 operating system. However, keen to showcase the benefits of the iPhone 6's largest display, Apple has added a few novel features designed to make it more pleasant to use in horizontal mode.

For example, the iPhone 6 Plus's Messaging and Email apps have a special two-tier horizontal user interface and separate keyboard with special keys for actions such as cut and paste.

Past its additional horizontal services iOS 8 comes loaded with a number of useful features, many of which are aimed at the enterprise. Key additions on this front include improved password security, S/MIME features and VIP threads, and support for Microsoft Exchange out of office replies.

OS X Continuity is another useful feature debuted on iOS 8. Continuity is the latest stage in Apple's ongoing work to converge its iOS and Mac OS X operating systems and offers users a variety of synchronisation features. One of the most useful of these is the ability to Airdrop files between the iOS and Mac OS devices.

iOS 8 also adds support for third-party keyboards such as Swype, the ability to add widgets to the Notification Center and a QuickType word-prediction feature.

As a final bonus iOS also has HealthKit and HomeKit services. HealthKit is designed to help users track their calorie intake and exercise routines, while HomeKit is an Internet of Things-focused service designed to let users control appliances using their iPhone 6.

Processor
Like the smaller iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus is powered by Apple's new 64-bit A8 chip and reworked next-generation M8 co-processor.

Apple claims the A8 offers 25 percent faster CPU performance and 50 percent faster graphics performance than the A7. If true, this makes it 50 times more powerful than the first iPhone.

Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple also said the M8 co-processor can measure elevation and can tell when you're cycling, walking or running, meaning fitness apps should perform better on it than on competing Android handsets or previous iPhones. If the iPhone 6 Plus lives up to Apple's claims, it could be one of the fastest on the market when it is released.

NFC and Apple Pay
Near-field communication (NFC) has been a key technology missing on past iPhones. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus fix this issue and come loaded with an NFC antenna. However, rather than just giving users access to existing NFC services, such as Visa's V.me payment service, or PayPal, Apple has created its own Apple Pay platform.

Apple Pay has an API developers can use to directly integrate the Apple payment option into their websites and apps. Having already scored key partnerships with Visa, Amex and Mastercard, Apple Pay allows users to make and take payments.

As an added assurance to security-conscious iPhone users, Apple has also loaded the iPhone 6 Plus with a Secure Element chip and that stores all the user's payment details locally. This means prying intelligence agencies and hackers should have a harder time getting it.

Camera
The iPhone 6 Plus is the first ever iPhone to feature optical image stabilisation technology. This, combined with its new sensor with True Tone flash, 1.5 micron pixels and f/2.2 aperture mean it should offer radically better imaging performance than past iPhones.

For example The sensor adds a number of new or improved features, including phase-detection auto-focus, which allows it to focus twice as fast. New tone-mapping, new noise reduction and a new slow-motion mode that can capture video at 240fps.

Battery
The iPhone 6 Plus runs using an undisclosed battery that Apple lists as offering the users 11 hours of video playback and WiFi browsing and 10 hours of LTE browsing and 3G browsing as its smaller iPhone 6 sibling. If accurate, the iPhone 6 Plus's battery life will be well above average, with most handsets still struggling to make it past the seven to eight hours of multimedia use mark.

Storage and price
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus will be available with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options, and it will cost £619, £699 and £789 respectively at retail pricing.

Overall
If opening impressions are anything to go by, while Apple may be slightly late to the phablet market, its opening device is fairly impressive. Featuring a reworked camera, cutting-edge processor and Apple's latest iOS 8 operating system the iPhone 6 Plus has the on-paper chops to be one of 2014's best plus-sized handsets.

Hopefully the iPhone 6S will make good on its opening promise when it arrives in the UK later this year.

Check back with V3 later for a full review of the iPhone 6 Plus.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

iPhone 6 first impressions

09 Sep 2014

Unveiled at Apple's exclusive launch event alongside the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6 is on paper one of the most advanced smartphones ever made. However, with leaked details still fresh in many buyers' minds, some have justifiably been confused about what's actually new in the iPhone 6. Here to help we've separated fact from fiction to offer our opening impressions of the iPhone 6.

Design and build
The iPhone 6 has a redesign, and now features a rounded glass front that runs round the curved aluminium sides of its chassis. As well as looking slightly more ergonomic than the hard-edged iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 is also noticeably thinner, measuring in at just 6.9mm thick.

This means the iPhone 6 should be fairly comfortable to hold and be fairly travel and small-hand friendly.

Display
The iPhone 6 features a 4.7in, 1334x750 HD Retina display Apple claims can display 38 percent more pixels than the iPhone 5S's 4in 1136x640 326ppi Retina display. This means the iPhone 6 display is still slightly behind many of its Android competitors when it comes to screen resolution, with the likes of the LG G3 with its 5.5in, 1440x2560, 534ppi True HD-IPS+ (in-plane switching) LCD capacitive and Samsung Galaxy S5's 5.1in, 1920x1080, 432ppi, Super Amoled touchscreens easily beating it.iPhone 6 4.7in model with iOS 8

But considering past Retina displays' solid colour balance and vibrancy levels, we're hoping the iPhone 6 will still compete when it comes to display quality and we are going to reserve judgement until we come to review the device.

Operating system
As expected the iPhone 6 runs using Apple's iOS 8 operating system. This is no bad thing as iOS 8 comes loaded with a number of useful features, many of which are aimed at the enterprise. Key additions on this front include improved password security, S/MIME features and VIP threads, and support for Microsoft Exchange out of office replies.

OS X Continuity is another useful feature debuted on iOS 8. Continuity is the latest stage in Apple's ongoing work to converge its iOS and Mac OS X operating systems and offers users a variety of synchronisation features. One of the most useful of these is the ability to AirDrop files between the iOS and Mac OS devices.

iOS 8 also adds support for third-party keyboards such as Swype, the ability to add widgets to the OS Notification Center and a QuickType word-prediction feature.

As a final bonus iOS also has HealthKit and HomeKit services. HealthKit is a health-focused service designed to help users track their calorie intake and exercise routines. HomeKit is an Internet of Things-focused service designed to let users control appliances using their iPhone 6.

Processor and performance
Performance has always been a key selling point for Apple iPhones and Apple has worked hard to continue this legacy with the iPhone 6, loading it with a new 64-bit A8 chip and reworked next-generation M8 co-processor.

Apple claims the A8 is its most advanced processor to date and offers 25 percent faster CPU performance and 50 percent faster graphics performance than the A7. If true this makes it 50 times more powerful than the first iPhone.

The firm also says the new-generation M8 co-processor can measure elevation and can tell when you're cycling, walking or running, which means fitness apps should perform better on it than on competing Android handsets or past iPhones.

Add to this the Apple iPhone 6's cutting-edge wireless 150Mbps LTE and the handset should be one of the fastest on the market.

NFC and Apple Pay
Near-field communication (NFC) has been a key technology missing on past iPhones. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus fix this issue and come loaded with an NFC antenna. However, rather than just meaning users can get access to existing NFC services, such as Visa's V.me payment service, or PayPal, Apple has created its own Apple Pay NFC wallet platform.iPhone 6 is available in silver gold and space grey

Apple Pay is interesting as it has an API that developers can use to directly integrate the Apple payment option into their into websites and apps. Having already scored key partnerships with Visa, Amex and Mastercard, Apple Pay allows users to make and take payments.

As an added assurance to security-conscious iPhone users, Apple has also loaded the iPhone 6 Plus with a Secure Element chip that stores all the user's payment details locally. This means prying intelligence agencies and hackers should have a harder time getting it.

Camera
While the iPhone 6's rear camera has the same 8MP specification as the 5S, its new sensor with True Tone flash, 1.5 micron pixels and f/2.2 aperture make it a massive step up.

The sensor adds a number of improvements to the iPhone 6's camera compared with previous iOS handsets. Key additions include phase-detection auto-focus, which allows it to focus twice as fast, plus new tone-mapping, noise reduction and a new slow-motion mode that can capture video at 240fps.

Battery
The iPhone 6 runs using an undisclosed battery that Apple claims will give users 11 hours of video playback and WiFi browsing, or 10 hours of LTE browsing and 3G browsing. If accurate the iPhone 6's battery life will be well above average, with most handsets still struggling to make it past the seven to eight-hour multimedia use mark.

Storage and price
Apple will start taking pre-orders for the iPhone 6 on 12 September ahead of its 19 September shipping date.

The company will be offering the iPhone 6 in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB versions, which will cost £539, £619 and £699 respectively. No 32GB version was listed.

Overall
While the iPhone 6 isn't as interesting as its larger sibling, the iPhone 6 Plus, there is still plenty to like about it. Featuring Apple's enterprise-friendly iOS 8 operating system, a sleek-looking new design and being powered by a new A8 super-chip, the iPhone 6 on paper is a fantastic handset and we can't wait to put it through its paces come our full review later this year.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

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