iOS 8 iPhone 6 gold

Right after its big iPhone event last Tuesday, Apple gave a select group of journalists early access to its two new handsets: the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Both devices feature larger displays than their predecessor, and both launch this Friday.

The move is a familiar one for the company, who typically gives out products to [favorable] writers for analysis ahead of launch. And as usual, we’ve put together a roundup of excerpts from these reviews to give you an idea of the general consensus.

David Pierce, The Verge (iPhone 6):

Apple took this opportunity to upgrade nearly everything about the device, from Wi-Fi to LTE to build quality to the already-remarkable camera. And since it has a big-enough screen but still works well in one hand and fits snugly in my pocket, this is a device that almost every phone buyer on the planet will at least consider. The iPhone 6 is utterly without obvious problems or drawbacks – it’s going to be a huge hit. I’m going to buy one. (Space Gray, 64GB, Verizon, in case you were wondering.)

Niley Patel, The Verge (iPhone 6 Plus):

Huge phones get to have huge batteries, and the iPhone 6 Plus is a huge phone with a huge battery: I consistently got about two days of battery life from the 6 Plus in regular daily use — slightly more than the day and half we got from the iPhone 6, and basically the same as the Note 3. iPhone battery life tends to fade quickly, however, and I dread the day I inevitably stuff 6 Plus into a battery case and make it even bigger.

Brad Molen, Engadget (both):

Both the 6 and 6 Plus use an IPS Retina HD display, but the Plus is even more high-def than the 6. It has a screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, which means you’ll get a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. On the flipside, the 6 maxes out at 1,334 x 750, which translates into 326 ppi. (That’s the same screen density as the 5s.) Both displays are sharp, but I do see some minor differences between the two when I look at them side by side. Specifically, the Plus’ text and images are sharper, with no jagged lines whatsoever. That said, I don’t think it’s enough to steer you from one device to the other; they both look fantastic from a few inches away. Additionally, the color representation on both phones is less saturated than the Super AMOLED panel on the Note 3, and is extremely close to the colors on a Retina display MacBook Pro.

Walt Mossberg, Recode (iPhone 6):

But it’s very well done. It has the same 326 pixels per inch as the 5s, and a higher resolution that allows it to display 720p high-definition video (Apple now calls it the “Retina HD Display”). In my tests, text, photos and videos appeared clear, sharp and vivid, with great color that avoids the oversaturation I have found in some Samsung models.

Lauren Goode, Recode (iPhone 6 Plus):

Oh, and if, like me, you rarely get a full day out of your current iPhone’s battery, this might excite you: In my tests, which involved setting the display brightness to 50 percent and cycling through my regular routine of apps and phone calls, the iPhone 6 Plus would last from early one morning until evening the following day.

Vincent Nguyen, SlashGear (both):

Breathless superlatives and iPhone 6 displays go hand in hand. Clearly they’re both larger than before – 38-percent more viewing area on the iPhone 6, for instance, and 88-percent more on the iPhone 6 Plus – but the improvements go beyond size. […]

Apple also built in a new polarizer, which means you can now use the iPhone 6 while wearing polarized sunglasses without encountering odd colors. I’ve found it makes a big difference when you’re in the car, using the new phone for navigation.

Tim Stevens, CNET (iPhone 6 Plus):

One place you will certainly notice a huge difference between the 6 Plus and the iPhone 5s, and indeed the iPhone 6, is battery life. The iPhone 6 Plus managed a solid 13 hours and 16 minutes in our battery rundown test. It backed that up with impressive real-world performance, easily and repeatedly making it through a full day of heavy use (constant Web surfing, gaming, video streaming, and GPS navigation), often lasting well into a second day before needing a charge.

And here are a handful of video reviews:

So there you have it. It seems most reviewers view both new iPhone models as considerable leaps forward, but found nothing too ambitious. Displays and battery life—particularly on the iPhone 6 Plus—were easily the most talked-about improvements.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are both available for pre-order now in several countries, and will be available in retail stores beginning Friday morning. iOS 8, which offers some features mentioned in the above reviews, is expected to launch tomorrow morning.