I preordered the iPhone 6 somewhere around 3:30 in the morning a little over a week ago, and I anxiously awaited last Friday when I’d be able to pick it up at the Apple Store. After waiting in the preorder line for what felt like an eternity (actually only an hour and a half), I got my hands on a pristine, white iPhone 6 with 128 GB of storage. After loading my most recent backup, apps that weren’t backed up to iCloud, and my music from my computer, I began to use the iPhone 6. This is Apple’s biggest (pun intended) update to the iPhone line since it was introduced in 2007. The latest version of the iPhone is fantastic, Apple’s best phone to date, but it’s not without a few small flaws.
The new iPhone comes in two different sizes for the first time. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7 inch screen, up 0.7 inches from the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5 inches, 0.8 inches larger than the iPhone 6. I like to store my phone into my pocket, and I like using it with one hand, so for me, the smaller 4.7 inch iPhone 6 was the clear choice. That’s why, for this review, I’ll be discussing the iPhone 6. Perhaps one day when the Apple store isn’t so crowded, I’ll go back and test out the iPhone 6 Plus.
Obviously, the first thing you’ll notice about the new iPhone is the size of the thing. If you’ve been using an iPhone for some time, you probably remember the jump from the iPhone 4s to the iPhone 5. This was a half of an inch, and only in the verticle direction. The change wasn’t all that noticeable. This time, you’ll notice it from the moment you pick it up. The entire phone is bigger, and it feels bigger too. If your iPhone 5 barely fit in your pocket, this may not fit well. However, because it’s so slim, it would likely still fit in even the skinniest of jeans, as long as the pocket was deep enough.
The phone’s bigger because of the screen, and the quality of that screen needs to be mentioned. It’s brighter, and can even be seen clearly in the sun. It also has improved color and contrast over the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, making it thhe most beautiful screen Apple’s ever put in a mobile device. The display seems to be closer to the glass, and that glass has a smooth texture. It’s almost like you’re interacting directly with what’s on your screen.
The edges of the iPhone 6 are curved, making it feel comfortable in your hand. The bezel around the screen is also smaller, making it easier to reach around the screen. I have long fingers, and that helps me touch every corner of the screen without issue. For those who can’t reach the top corners of the screen, Apple has introduced Reachability. With a quick double tap (not an actual click) of the TouchID sensor, you’ll pull the whole screen down. On top of that, forward and back can be accomplished with swipes, meaning you’ll rarely need to reach to the top of the screen anyway.
The glass on the front of the screen has a slight curve on the edge, mathing the curve on the back of the phone. It’s just one of those small details that’s fascinating. Apple included it because it feels nice in the hand, and makes the swipe motion from the edge of the screen feel natural as well. It gives the edge of the screen a tactile feel, and that works well with the software. Overall, the phone is larger, but it doesn’t feel as though it’s grown too much. Although, when you look at your old phone, you’ll be surprised at how small it seems now. The fact that the iPhone 6 is the thinnest phone Apple’s ever makes this possible as well, along with the shape of the phone. This phone feels great in your hands, the only phone I’ve used that was as good as this was the HTC One, with it’s curved backing making it comfortable to hold. The iPhone 6 takes a similar philosophy, only moving the curves to the side of the device.
The iPhone gets faster with every iteration. Apple’s latest A8 proessor in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is no exception. Apple says the cpu is 50% faster and the graphics are 84% faster than they were on the iPhone 5s, which was already incredibly fast. Apple has also created Metal, which helps developers create more stunning games and graphics than ever before. Basically put, the iPhone makes games look amazing, and everything, from opening apps to loading and playing games, is faster and smoother than ever before on iOS, perhaps faster than any other mobile phone.
I was concerned about the memory. It was rumored that the iPhone 6 would only have 1 GB of RAM, and I didn’t think this would be sufficient. After all, the iPad Air has only 1GB of ram, and has frequent crashing issues. I haven’t seen these issues in my iPad Air after upgrading to iOS 8, and I haven’t seen a single issue with my iPhone 6. This is excellent news. It means that even if Apple stuck with 1GB of memory, they did so without compromizing the stability of the platform. I still think it could use a bit more though, to keep pages from reloading in Safari when you have many open.
Apple didn’t add more megapixels to the camera, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been improved. Chasing megapixels is a thing that phone and camera manufacturers do as a marketing stunt. It’s not something that a company that actually cares about photo quality does. What Apple did do is take a powerful sensor, with large pixels to collect more light, and a 5 element lens with a sapphire cover to let in as much light as it can. With the iPhone 6, Apple added focus pixels. This is a feature typically seen in DSLRs. It allows each pixel to calculate how much the camera needs to focus, and is much faster than the more simplistic methods used by other cameras. The end result is a camera that focuses quickly, and can even refocus quickly in video to follow motion. Along with the TrueTone dual LED flash, you can get fantastic photos, day or night. It’s all thanks to an impressive mixture of hardware and software, and it ensures a fast camera that takes amazing photos. You won’t believe the photos taken with the iPhone 6 is taken with a smartphone, I couldn’t.
iOS 8 was designed with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in mind. With features like reachability, Apple has ensured that the larger screen of the iPhone 6 is not a hinderance. Apple then took advantage of the larger screen with new keyboard features (and wonderful third party keyboards). The larger screen is perfect for the new third party keyboards, and the zoom feature will work for anyone who has bad vision. iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 were designed together, and it shows.
The iPhone 6 has some surprisingly great battery life. I used my device as much as I typically do today, and found it had almost 30% more battery life than it normally would. The screen is also very bright, and can be turned down more than it could on the iPhone 5 without sacrificing visibility. The new iPhones can even be charged faster than the old ones. The charger provided with the new iPhones is the same as the ones Apple has always given with iPhones, however, if you have an iPad charger laying around, you can charge your iPhone faster than ever. Old iPhones wouldn’t charge with the extra juice provided by the iPad charger, but these new ones do.
TouchID was introduced on the iPhone 5s, and I discussed it in my review of that phone. It still works great, with very few failures. I found that it works quickly, and most of the time. It also is faster than typing in a pin number or password. This is a great feature, one that you might forget about because it’s such a natural motion.
The speakers seem to be improved over the iPhone 5s though. They’re louder, but they’re still not comperable to dedicated speakers, and due to their small size, never could be. However, that little speaker on the bottom of the phone did really impress me. Apple could have bragged about the speaker during their press event, and I’m not sure why they didn’t. This phone can pump out some good sound, which is amazing for such a slim device.
The M8 motion coprocessor is great for anyone hoping to track their activity levels, without needing to buy a separate activity tracker. It’ll count your steps, track elevation changes, any sort of phone motion, and even make this data available to third party apps. App developers obviously must request access to this information, but once they have it, they can use it in creative ways, like tracking your calories for your diet or the sleep you get at night.
I mentioned the iPhone wasn’t perfect, and this much is true. The curved edges feel fantastic, but they make the phone a bit more difficult to grip. A hard edge may not be as comfortable to hold in your hand as a smooth one, but a hard edge has a higher coefficient of friction, by focing more of the force on a smaller area of your hand. By spreading that force out, you lower the amount of friction on the device, and therefore, it can slip out of your hand more easily. Add onto that the smooth metal body, and you have a phone that can occasionally be hard to grip. I haven’t dropped it yet, but I did have a close call a few times.
Secondly, there’s the issue of the protruding camera. Laying the phone down on it’s back means it can rock. It also means that the Photojojo lenses, and other magnetic lenses like it, won’t work until they release a new metal ring. Making the iPhone so thin is great, but if Apple wanted to improve the camera, they were going to have to deal with the limitations of camera technology. The new camera takes some stunning photos, but comes with the price of being larger than the rest of the phone case.
Thirdly, I noticed that Apple’s larger screen was taken advantage of by many apps. Many used the extra display area to show more of their apps. However, some app developers, notably Facebook, have not yet updated their apps for the larger screen. These apps appear to be zoomed in. This will be a very minor annoyance until app developers update their apps, something that likely won’t take much time, but I thought it should be mentioned.
Finally, and this is also a small thing, but I keep reaching to the top of the device for the lock button. It’s now on the side, and I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to it, but it’s a bit of an annoyance. Taking screenshots is the most difficult part, but it’ll only take a few ore days before my muscle memory has been retaught. Although it’s opposite the volume up button, I found that it cannot lock the screen if both are pressed, which I did try a number of times, unintentionally, of course.
The new iPhone is thinner, faster, has a better camera, and features a bigger, brighter, better screen. It is, by far, the best iPhone Apple’s released yet. It’s a joy to use, incredibly fast, and looks great. It was worth staying up until almost 4AM one night and standing in line for nearly an hour and a half. There’s never been a better time than now to switch to an iPhone, and there’s never been a better time to upgrade. This is Apple’s best smartphone ever, and it’s unlikely anyone could be disappointed by them.