It takes a good bit of courage, as well as a slight dose of desperation, to knowingly turn a blind eye to the specific guidelines set by your idol, mentor and forerunner, to whom you basically owe everything. “No one is going to buy a phone you can’t get your hand around” said Steve Jobs in 2010.
“Bigger than bigger” said Tim Cook upon unveiling the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, at last acknowledging the superiority of the phablet. Sorry, the “iPhablet”.
Bold move, when Cupertino knew full well it was exposing itself to an unprecedentedly facile wave of public ridicule. I mean, it took a copywriting virtuoso to come up with the classic “dude, you’re a barista” line, but a trained monkey could have probably penned the latest “It doesn’t take a genius” and “Then and Now” commercials.
Still, iSheep iFans are flocking to stores to commit to a pair of handhelds that’s a couple of years late to the jumbo-sized party. Not to mention horribly overpriced. Why? Because they don’t know any better. Or so we hope, as the other scenario, according to which they’re aware of the Android competition yet go for the iPhones nevertheless, is much bleaker.
Either way, we feel it’s our civic duty as advocates of quality over marketing to round up a few sturdy, good-looking, affordable iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus alternatives. And if we can convince a single mobile tech consumer to leave Apple’s ship, it’s mission accomplished. Here we go, in no particular order, the iPhone 6-crushing magnificent seven:
- Moto X – available at $399 unlocked, $0.01 with Verizon contracts
- Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – $400 unlocked
- OnePlus One – $409 outright on Amazon
- Lenovo Vibe Z – available at $295 unlocked
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra – $330 factory unlocked
- LG G3 – $500 factory unlocked; $50 with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint contracts
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – $520 factory unlocked; $100 with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint pacts
For the first time in history, Cupertino can’t settle on one form factor. So, as Caesar used to say, “divide et impera”. Divide and rule. In other words, we shall split the standard iPhone 6 and the Plus, and crush them one by one.
The Moto X is, in our humble opinion, the perfect iPhone 6 slayer, as it offers the same 4.7 inches of screen real estate into a much more compact body. Yes, believe it or not, the X is a whopping 9 mm shorter and 2 mm narrower.
The pixel density is mostly in the same ballpark (312, 326 ppi, potayto, potahto), and then you have twice the iPhone’s RAM, plus all sorts of customization options via Moto Maker. And don’t get me started on the huge pricing gap. We’re talking $250 or so outright, and $200 with carrier agreements.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – $400 unlocked
Still think the 4-inch frame of the iPhone 5s hits the sweet spot? Then why compromise on outdated technology when you can get a powerhouse like the Z1 Compact? True, Sony’s mini-flagship is a little larger. But for 3 extra mm in height and 6 in width, you receive 0.3 inches more of 720p IPS panel.
Needless to point out to the massive retail cost gap… again, while the difference in performance and quality is perhaps most striking when looking at Z1 Compact’s camera pitted against its iPhone 6 counterpart. 20.7 vs. 8 megapixels. It’s like David and Goliath all over again, only this time Goliath destroys its underdog opponent.
OnePlus One – $409 outright on Amazon
Beyond advertising bloopers, distribution gaffes and build quality woes, the OnePlus One is a spectacular, breathtaking 5.5-inch smartphone that the iPhone 6 Plus has nothing on in a head-to-head battle.
Beauty? Check. Compact form factor? Check. Vibrant Full HD display? You got it. Plus Snapdragon 801 punch, 3 GB RAM, 13 MP rear camera greatness, 5 MP selfie-friendly potency, etc., etc. And the icing on the cake is the low, low price point.
Lenovo Vibe Z – available at $295 unlocked
Speaking of low prices, the Vibe Z is apparently worth 40 percent of the iPhone 6 Plus. Otherwise put, you can buy two Vibe Zs and a half for the costs of one single iPhone 6 Plus. All while the Z measures 9 mm less than its high-priced adversary in height, and sports an identical (on paper) 5.5-inch Full HD screen.
Also, our low-cost Android soldier packs a quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC, which we have every reason to believe is a near match for the Apple A8, as well as two gigs of RAM, one more than the 6 Plus.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra – $330 factory unlocked
See, this is the beauty of the Android “ecosystem”. No one forces a certain form factor, a certain size or design on you. Want to be able to comfortably hold your phone in one hand? The Z1 Compact has your back.
Fully agree that “bigger is better” and not afraid to push the boundaries of phablets? Then why settle for 5.5 inches when you can score 6.4 inches of Full HD awesomeness? No, the Z Ultra is not everyone’s cup of tea.
But as far as giants are concerned, it’s the best. Crazy affordable, crazy thin (yes, thinner than the thinnest ever iPhones), crazy zippy and crazy water-resistant. It’s crazy good, too.
I know, I know, I promised to list the iPhone 6 killer candidates in no particular order. But of course I saved the best for last. The LG G3 and Galaxy Note 3. Now, the two aren’t exactly dirt-cheap. And they can’t really be had for “a fraction of the iPhone 6 Plus price”.
But they’re still cheaper and better. The G3, for instance, will knock your socks off with a fantastic design, rear physical buttons included, and a mind-blowing Quad HD display. Though a 5.5 incher, just like the iPhone 6 Plus, the G3 is merely 146.3 mm tall and 74.6 mm wide (vs. 158.1 and 77.8). And it’s 8.9 mm thick, yet it manages to accommodate a 3,000 mAh juicer.
The rest? Snapdragon 801, 3 GB RAM, 32, yes, 32 GB standard internal storage, microSD support, the whole shebang. Even with the Note 4 looming, this may remain the all-around best smartphone in the world.
Ah, the Galaxy Note 3. The Rolls Royce of phablets, at least until the LG G3 dropped, with an unrivaled creative side, thanks to the S Pen support, Snapdragon 800 heat, 3 GB RAM, a 3,200 mAh battery and in many ways perfect 5.7-inch 1,080p Super AMOLED panel.
Sequel around or no sequel around, this is a classic, and as its list price drops, its popularity shall endure. Eat your heart out, Apple.