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The iPhone 6 Plus is a gorgeous, massive smartphone (pictures)

Apple's iPhone 6 Plus is the biggest iPhone yet. Let's take a closer look.

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Tim Stevens
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The iPhone 6 Plus

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is a significantly larger take on the traditional iPhone experience. But it looks and feels great: it's thinner than the iPhone 5S that preceded it, and sports revamped hardware.

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It's a handful

But this smartphone isn't for everyone. With a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display it's going to be onerous to hold for folks with small hands.

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Landscape mode

The iPhone 6 Plus will be able to operate in landscape mode, just like its iPad brethren. That's a first for an iPhone.

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More screen real estate

iPhone apps displayed in landscape mode can offer alternate layouts, which should take advantage of the extra breathing room.

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Split-screen apps

In the Safari browser, for example, landscape mode will let you quickly shuffle between your bookmarks while still leaving plenty of room for your favorite websites.

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A roomier keyboard

The extra room on the display will also give iOS 8's keyboard some room to grow, which will make for a more finger-friendly typing experience.

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Plenty of room for video

And let's not forget video: the iPhone 6 Plus' 5.5-inch display and 1080p resolution leave plenty of room for HD videos.

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Supplies are limited

While larger, the iPhone 6 Plus is going to be very familiar to iPhone fans.

But if you want to get your hands on one, be prepared to wait: preorders sold out rather quickly, and arrival times have been pushed back a few weeks.

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The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 Plus' 5.5-inch screen offers 401 pixels per inch, while the 4.7-inch display on the iPhone 6 offers 326 pixels per inch (identical to the iPhone 5S).

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Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are equipped with iOS 8, which packs a host of new features, including widgets and customizable keyboards.

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Touch ID

Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner makes a return. It allows you to unlock your phone using your finger, and can also replace a traditional password for things like authorizing purchases on the app store.

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The thinnest iPhones yet

Despite the relatively large display size, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the thinnest iPhones yet -- the iPhone 6 is 6.9mm thick and the iPhone 6 Plus is 7.1mm thick, while the iPhone 5S is 7.6mm thick.

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Familiar ports

You'll find the headphone jack and Lightning port underneath, flanked by a speaker.

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The volume controls and lock switch sit on the left side of the phone.

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A revamped camera

Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sport 8-megapixel cameras with upgraded sensors. Apple claims that the autofocus is decidedly faster, which we found was borne out in our own testing.

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The front-facing camera now offers an f/2.2 aperture, which will make for better selfies in low light. The rear camera on the iPhone 6 Plus also gets optical image stabilization to keep your images steady, which should make for clearer night shots and less shaky videos. The iPhone 6 is stuck with digital image stabilization.

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Improved video recording

There have been plenty of upgrades to video recording quality too. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can shoot 1080p video at 60 frames per second, and you can shoot 720p slow-motion videos at 240fps.

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NFC and Apple Pay

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus also have built-in NFC connectivity -- a first for iPhones. The new hardware is currently locked to Apple Pay, and it would seem that it's currently unavailable for other uses. Apple Pay is Apple's mobile payment system, designed to replace your wallet by letting you make secure purchases just by tapping your phone against a store's NFC reader. The service will debut in October.

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A big phone

So, the iPhone 6 Plus is pretty big. That leaves lots of screen space for browsing the Web or reading text, which will be a boon for voracious readers who want a large, comfortable viewing space but don't necessarily want to tote a tablet about.

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A very big phone

But how big is too big? Unless you've got fairly large hands, the iPhone 6 Plus could prove cumbersome.

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Zippier hardware

Both iPhone 6 models are running on Apple's new A8 processor, and the iPhone 6 Plus proved to be very snappy and responsive. It consistently performed 10 to 20 percent faster on benchmarks than the already zippy iPhone 5S.

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In the US, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are available on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

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Long battery life

There's no wireless charging here, so you'll need to grab a Lightning cable to top your phone off. The iPhone 6 Plus did keep kicking for 13 hours and 16 minutes in our battery rundown test, so you shouldn't need to worry about hunting for an outlet.

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Here's the iPhone 6 perched atop the iPhone 6 Plus.

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Despite the size difference, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 isn't too much slimmer than the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

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Here's another look at the size difference between the two new phones.

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The cameras are near-identical, though you'll get optical image stabilization only in the iPhone 6 Plus.

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They're getting bigger

Here are the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. What a difference a few years make.

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Note the differences in button design -- thin bars replace the circles, so the phone can be a bit slimmer.

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Here's another angle. The iPhone 5S feels absolutely minuscule compared with the gargantuan iPhone 6 Plus.

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But that thinness doesn't come without a price -- note the noticeable camera bulge in the new, thinner models.

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The iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Mini

The iPhone 6 Plus is still dwarfed by the iPad Mini, but the size discrepancy isn't too dramatic.

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And here's the whole family.

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The iPhone 6 is less likely to dwarf your head, but folks have been using Android phablets in (relative) comfort for some time.

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Read the full review

Be sure to read our full reviews of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and stay tuned to CNET for more coverage!

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