As noted above, the camera on the iPhone 6 is an 8MP affair, but with some key upgrades to make it into a more useable device day to day.
The main element is the addition of ‘Focus Pixels’, which Apple believes will give faster autofocus and improved clarity to your shots.
Faster autofocus is something that’s been used to great effect on the LG G3 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, promising the get more of the picture in focus first time out.
The G3 uses frickin’ laser beams to manage the task, so Apple’s got a pretty lofty goal here. However, it’s been found by DxO Labs to be one of the best cameras on the market, and I instantly found it to be a superior device to general photography compared to the Sony Xperia Z3, for instance.
The Galaxy Note 4 looks to be a better choice though, with early tests declaring it to be among the best cameras around. That said, you’ll need to want that larger device to pick it over the iPhone 6… if you can wait, I’d be tempted to see how that technology is refined for the surely-it’s-got-to-be-awesome Galaxy S6.
The rear camera is very similar to that found on the iPhone 5S, it has to be said, although given that was one of the better snappers out there this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Focus Pixels seemed to help somewhat with getting the clearer picture, but I didn’t notice any big jump in functionality compared to the iPhone 5S in that respect. Saying that, I never really thought the 5S was slow to focus, so it’s perhaps an issue that didn’t need solving urgently.
One extra element Apple has added in is the ability to change the exposure of the photo manually. Simply slide your finger up and down the screen to brighten or darken the shot – well, in theory.
In my testing this seemed to be slightly iffy in terms of registering my desired level accurately – you need to swipe up and down a number of times to really change the level (which could be a good thing in some users’ minds, as it allows a fine degree of control) but too often the swiping led to changing the mode from photo to video or other option.
However, the simplicity of the iPhone’s camera mode is still very much in effect: the f/2.2 aperture of the sensor is indeed rather good in terms of capturing colour. HDR mode is set to auto by default, but only really pops in when outside with bright sunlight cascading all around. For the most part, it won’t fire sadly.
The rest of the interface is largely the same: autofocus and autoexposure can be set with a long press, and the only other modes are timer, flash and the use of filters which show how the photo will look in real time,
The front facing camera, again as noted, is a big improvement for those that like a good self portrait. The brightness is higher, the camera is an HD option with built in HDR, and essentially it’s now really good for taking photos or video calling a loved one from afar.
The other benefit here is that now iMessage accepts short videos (as Apple attempts to topple WhatsApp) the improved video capability of the front is more useful than ever before.
I’m a big fan of the Slo-Mo feature on any smartphone, and by Apple increasing it to 240 frames per second you can now get some VERY slow and smooth shots.
This is a really good feature if you’ve ever wanted to see something almost imperceptible to the human eye – by which I mean finding out how stupid your pet looks when shaking its head at high speed.
Other things, like running style, golf swing or how you sneeze are fun reasons to use the function, and while it’s nothing ground breaking, it’s a slick and easy to use interface. Why you’d want to go back down to 120fps is beyond me, but the option to change it back is there with a tag in the bottom corner.
The video recording function on the iPhone – which now encompasses 1080p at 60 fps – is very clear and almost too real. This is actually great for home movies, giving the sense that you’re there, but not so great if you’re a budding movie producer with no money wanting to use the iPhone to make your next movie.
I will say this about Focus Pixels in the video – Apple was making a big song and dance about how you don’t need to refocus video when moving the camera about.
This is partly true – but mostly if you’ve got a really clear and bright scene with well-defined distances. Going into close up, for instance, didn’t seem to yield much in the way of a decent shot, with the fuzzy bits still needing to be corrected by a tap.
Facetime HD camera
The self portrait craze is sadly going nowhere it seems for the smartphone user, and Apple has joined the race to make people think that it has made the ultimate ‘selfie phone’.
It makes me sadder every time I write that word.
Again, I’ll dig further into this new feature later in the review, but it’s definitely a much better front facing camera, and comes with the features I’d be looking for if I was into taking loads of photos of my face.
For instance, the new f/2.2 aperture ratio of the 1.2MP camera is pretty darn good, and helps take good photos in low light. On top of that you’ve got an HDR mode for snaps and video, which appears to fire automatically as there’s no option to toggle it from within the app itself.
And there’s the lovely pre-shot filters to have a look at as well, so if taking a picture of yourself isn’t enough, you can always make it look weirder.
However, it’s not got the resolution power of some of the other handsets on the market – for instance, the HTC One M8 has a much better front facing camera, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 even incorporates a panorama mode for the self-portrait lovers.
I’m not saying this is critical technology, but if you’re one to buy a phone for the pictures you can take of yourself, there are better options out there.