As the millions of sepia-toned hipster-food-photos posted hourly to Instagram prove, the camera is one of the most important things on any phone. So you might have expected Apple to want to match the 16MP sensor of the Galaxy S5 or the 20.7MP on Sony’s Xperia Z2 and Z3. But no, it’s stuck with eight megapixels. Eight.
Fortunately for Apple, the combination of a good lens, advanced image processing and sublimely simple camera controls in previous iPhones has served it very well. Plus, there's more to a good camera than lots of pixels - after all, the HTC One (M8) takes great shots with a mere 4MP sensor.
Part of the M8's success is that although it uses fewer pixels, they're individually bigger than those on most rivals at around 2 microns. The iPhone can’t match that, but at 1.5 microns, the Apple pixels are bigger than those on the Samsung Galaxy S5 (1.12 microns).
Anyway, that's the specs out of the way, let's get back to the real world...
Innovations this time around include Focus Pixels. These are called phase detection pixels by other manufacturers and a couple of rival handsets share this feature, notably the Galaxy S5. Phase detection is faster than the more commonly used contrast detection and means nippier autofocus - which in turn should mean snappier snaps with greater sharpness. Last year’s iPhone 5s took pictures with no discernible delay anyway, but the iPhone 6 sure is fast. Quality-wise, there's not a huge amount of difference from the 5s - which means it's still one of the best out there.
Where Apple’s camera is consistently better than rivals is in its superbly simple ease of use. No white balance to adjust, no extra granular controls to fiddle with. Now, though, you can deliberately over- or under-expose shots. But don't fret that this'll be an unwelcome distraction from the point-and- shoot ethos. In fact, it’s wholly intuitive: press on the screen until the yellow exposure box appears. Next to it is a little sun icon with a line through it. As you draw your finger up and down it shows you how dark or light the final pic will be. Easy as pie.
Video recording is also improved, with HD filming at 60 frames per second and enhanced slo-mo (now double the frame rate of 240 per second). But there’s no 4K video as found on some rivals. Apple’s skill has rarely been to be first, so we're not exactly surprised as its absence. Still, it would have been a nice thing to have. Quality-wise, footage is smooth and looks striking.
READ MORE: iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 - the weigh-in
Screen: 4.7in 720x1334 IPS LCD (326ppi)
Processor: 1.4GHz Apple A8 processor
OS: iOS 8
Camera: 8MP 1080p@60fps, 720p@240fps rear, 1.2MP 720p front
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC (Apple Pay only), 3G/4G