iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Is It Worth the Upgrade?

Senior Editor
Updated

The long-awaited iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plusare finally upon us, and Apple addicts everywhere are getting ready to toss their old devices to make way for the new. Apple's newly unveiled pocket powerhouses have bigger, crisper displays, a stronger A8 processor and tout some major improvements to camera features and battery life. But if you just nabbed the already impressive iPhone 5s over the past year, is it worth making the jump? Here's our breakdown.


iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 5s

Price

$199/$299/$399

$299/$399/$499

$99/$149

Display

4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 Retina HD display

5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 Retina HD display

4-inch, 1136 x 640 display

CPU

Apple A8 CPU

Apple A8 CPU

Apple A7 CPU

Storage

16/64/128 GB

16/64/128 GB

16/32 GB

Size

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches

6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches

Weight

4.55 ounces

6.07 ounces

3.95 ounces

Front/Rear Camera

1.2-MP, 720p video recording
/ 8-MP, 1080p video recording, slow motion video at 120 or 240 fps

1.2-MP, 720p video recording
/ 8-MP, 1080p video recording

1.2-MP, 720p video recording
/ 8-MP, 1080p video recording

OS

iOS 8

iOS 8

iOS 7 (upgradeable to iOS 8)

Design and Display

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus share one key difference from the 5s: bigger, sharper displays. Apple has finally adopted the larger form factors of many of its Android rivals, with the iPhone 6 sporting a 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 display and the 6 Plus touting a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen. Both screens are billed as "Retina HD" displays, and both are larger and pack more pixels than the 5s' 4-inch, 1136 x 640 display.

From a design standpoint, both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have decidedly curvier edges than their 5s predecessor. The smartphones will arrive in Apple's familiar trio of Gold, Silver and Space Gray, although now your color of choice seems to spill through the entire back panel rather than just the center portion. Both new iPhones are thinner than the 7.6-millimeter-thick iPhone 5s, with the iPhone 6 sporting 6.9-millimeter edges and the 6 Plus measuring in a 7.1 millimeters thick.

Processor and Performance

The iPhone 6 is the first device to utilize Apple's robust A8 processor, which is reported to have 25 percent faster processing power and twice as fast graphics as the A7 found in the iPhone 5s. If you want to go back even further, the device is said to be 50 times faster than the very first iPhone. Apple claims that the iPhone 6 family is also 50 percent more energy efficient, meaning you should be able to look forward to consistently strong performance as you hop between apps.

The iPhone 6 will take advantage of Apple's Metal game engine for iOS 8, which is designed to make your mobile gaming experience feel like what you get on a high-end console. Top developers such as EA Games, Ubisoft and Square Enix are already working on iPhone 6-optimized titles, so the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus might be worth your while if on-the-go gaming is a priority.

Camera

The iPhone 6's 8-MP iSight camera hasn't gained any megapixels over the iPhone 5s, but it has gained a wealth of neat improvements. The device's upgraded camera sensor allows for phase detection autofocus, a feature that could allow your iPhone to shoot as quickly and accurately as an expensive DSLR camera. Both iPhone 6 models have been optimized to better stabilize your photos, with the iPhone 6 Plus featuring optical image stabilization for especially impressive photos under low light.

Like the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 allows you to shoot 1080p video. The real kicker, however, is the iPhone 6's ability to capture slow motion video at up to 240 frames per second. iPhone 6 videos take advantage of continuous autofocus and cinematic video stabilization, or, in more basic terms, your videos will look smoother and crisper than ever.

There are also some noteworthy upgrades for selfie lovers. The FaceTime camera's upgraded sensor lets in more than 80 percent more light, which allows you to capture vibrant HDR selfies during epic moments. There are also burst selfies now, which means the process of finding the least-awkward group shot should get a whole lot easier.

Features and Software

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus pack a multitude of big software improvements, which will also be coming to older iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches via the iOS 8 software update. However, the massive iPhone 6 Plus has an exclusive landscape view, which lets you better multitask when doing things like reading e-mail and catching up on texts. Both iPhone 6 models have a barometer for measuring elevation, which means fitness apps will be able to track when you go up and down, not just forward.

The iPhone 6 also supports the new Apple Pay software, which uses the phone's new NFC chip to allow you to store credit card information and pay for goods both online and in-store with nothing but your iPhone.

If you plan on sticking with an iPhone 5s, you'll still be able to take advantage of iOS 8's key features. The software has a big focus on fitness with Health and HealthKit, which will gather wellness data from both wearables and your iPhone itself. iOS 8 will also introduce custom keyboards, a better Siri and a new HomeKit interface for controlling any smart gadgets in the house.

Bottom Line

If you've been clamoring for an iPhone that's as big as most of its Android competitors, the iPhone 6 ($199) and iPhone 6 Plus ($299) are absolutely worth the upgrade come Sept. 19. The same can be said for hardcore mobile gamers or smartphone photography geeks, as the subtle tweaks made under the hood make the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus some of the best devices around for playing games or taking sharp photos.

If you're content with the size and performance if your iPhone 5s, however, it's not a bad time to hold out. You'll still be enjoying most of Apple's big software improvements when iOS 8 hits on Sept. 17, and we'd be surprised if app developers didn't support the 5s for at least the next year. And if you're looking to get your very first Apple phone, the feature rich 16GB iPhone 5s just dropped to $99 with a two-year contract, while the iPhone 5c can now be had for free with a plan.

Mike Andronico is an Associate Editor at Tom's Guide. When he's not writing about games, PCs and iOS, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter. Follow Mike at @MikeAndronico. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.