Buy iPhone 6 Plus for its Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)?

September 30, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus optical image stabilization text

Today I’ve asked about whether it’s worth buying the Apple iPhone 6 Plus device because it has a better camera? — I want to address this question for those who are having problem deciding between the two.

I assume that for most people, buying the iPhone 6 Plus or the iPhone 6 is can a bit problematic. This is the first time Apple has introduced two phone with different sizes and some other differences. Those “other” differences are important to understand. The iPhone 6 Plus is much bigger device, 0.3mm thicker than the iPhone 6, it has a significantly larger display (5.5-inch vs 4.7-inch) with higher resolution (1920×1080 vs 1334×750 pixels) but slightly lower contrast (1300:1 vs 1400:1), has a landscape mode for the home screen, longer lasting battery life, some additional apps and of course, the rear facing camera that has an optical image stabilization.

So the iPhone 6 Plus optical image stabilization is one of the most prominent upsell features.  The camera performance is the same on both, as both utilize the same sensor, optics and image processor. the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus camera is a significant improvement from the iPhone 5S. You can check my iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus vs 5S comparison for more details.

You might prefer the iPhone 6 Plus for it much bigger screen (it’s like a micro tablet per se) which give you a much better viewing experience than a smaller display. Viewing images, browser the web, watching videos and playing games — all this will be more engaging on the iPhone 6 Plus. Of course for some people, the iPhone 6 Plus might be too big and much less portable. Whatever the reason, the camera itself is not the only reason why you might prefer the iPhone 6 Plus over the iPhone 6.  The iPhone 6 Plus is also more expensive.

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 size comparison

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 size comparison (via

So you thinking about buying the iPhone 6 Plus for its camera’s optical image stabilization?  — I can understand you because I am having the same debate myself. The optical image stabilization is very effective in making sure that your stills are sharp when shooting at slow shutter speeds and you get stable non-shaky videos. It doesn’t solve the shakiness completely, but Apple did combine the optical image stabilization with an improved digital stabilization (“Cinematic Video Stabilization”) that further reduce shakiness.

People reporting that the iPhone 6 Plus stabilization is super effective. I personally wanted to know if the Cinematic Video Stabilization (the digital stabilization) is also available on the iPhone 6, not just the 6 Plus. According to the iPhone 6 official product page, both the 6 and 6 Plus have Cinematic Video Stabilization.

I than found this amazing comparison made by GSM arena, which compared the Apple iPhone 6 vs 5S video stabilization. It’s amazing how effective this cinematic video stabilization is!

You don’t need to turn on the Cinematic Video Stabilization, it works by default when you shoot videos.

So if it works so good for videos, what the added advantage of having an optical image stabilization. Does it further improve the video stabilization or is it just effective for shooting photos (stills)?

Watching the following video on YouTube that compared the iPhone 6 stabilization vs the iPhone 6 Plus in video, shows a marginal advantage in favor of the 6 Plus (around minute 2:50)

If you hold the phone quite still, I guess that the differences are probably not that significant, but the iPhone 6 Plus certainly helps to make your videos look even smoother, which is always a plus.

I think that the main advantage of the iPhone 6 Plus optical image stabilization is actually for shooting stills. the OIS works in conjugation with the A8 chip, the gyroscope and the M8 motion processor in order the provide improved stabilization when shooting in slow shutter speeds. This is of course more effective when shooting in low-light situations, as the camera tries to compensate for the lack of light by reducing the shutter speed. This allows the camera (or when done manually by the photographer) to capture the photos in lower ISO, thus reducing the amount of image noise (higher ISO speeds yield more noise).

This is probably the main reason why you want to get the 6 Plus over the 6, for the ability to get better looking photos in low-light situations. Low-light images will have the optimal exposure and the lowest possible image noise that can be achieve under the same lighting situation.

So is the iPhone 6 Plus camera worth it, if only for the OIS? — Well, it’s entirely depends on you personal shooting style. If you love shooting at night and want even better stabilized videos, the 6 Plus is the way to go. I have a friend who really wanted to get the iPhone 6 Plus for the OIS, but once he tried it at his friends’ house, he figured out that the phone is just way too big for him. So if the size of the phone and the price aren’t an issue, get the iPhone 6 Plus, you’ll just love it!

 Check out the iPhone 6 Plus vs iPhone 6 size comparison here!

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