• iPhone 6 Review


    If you were one of the ones that managed to get in on the pre-order list and had your phone delivered already, I donít think this review will worry you too much. Youíll already have had your phone for a couple of days and you will probably have made up your mind. For those of you that havenít received yours, I hope this review doesnít make the decision more difficult.

    When launch day arrived I had a 128GB 6 Plus on pre-order. I was headed up to get some bread and milk just before 8 when I noticed the store near our house was open and there were only 5 people in the queue. I decided to go in and have a look at the phones and that's where my problems started. Like most of the previous iPhone users, Iíd wanted the 6 plus because it was bigger and better, but I hadn't really thought about how big was and how much it may impact the way I work. It's big and one handed typing is now a virtual impossibility and I use it a lot.



    I went home and after scratching my head for an hour, I headed back to the store to cancel my iPhone 6 Plus order and swap it for a 6. I was fortunate, my order had gone into error so it was never going to be delivered on launch day but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

    Packaging

    The iPhone 6 is pretty much like every other iPhone you've received to date. White box, phone on top, cables and the rest of the accessories under the phone. It comes with the compact 5W charger like the 5S, which to be completely honest, I actually prefer due to the compact size for travel. The iPhone 6 box can be easily differentiated from the 5S due to the raised iPhone shape on the box. It was exciting for the first iPhones, now, unless it comes plated in gold, itís the same experience youíve got used to with the last 5 iPhone you purchased.



    Earphones

    For those hoping that Apple had taken advantage of the Beats relationship with some new headphones, you may find yourself disappointed although given itís a recent acquisition, it was probably optimistics to expect this in such a short timeframe with the current demands and preplanning for the launch. The earphones provided are the usual headphones with Appleís optimally shaped design although mine are optimally shaped to remain in the box Ė I have a set of Bose QC20i, which I canít really expect the Apple headphones to compete with. It would be great to see if Apple incorporate some noise cancelling functionality in the phone itself at some point but Iím not sure if Sony patents would exclude this. (I believe Sony were the first to release this in a phone with their Xperia Z2)



    Phone design

    As usual, Appleís design work is impeccable in contrast to the faux leather used by companies on some of their phones Ė no names mentioned. The design looks similar to the HTC One M8 which I have always considered to be one of the more stylish Android design. The choice of materials may pose some challenges with scratches but that is always one of the challenges with a brushed aluminium style case. The iPhone 6 comes in a choice of silver, gold or space grey, my personal preference being for the silver or space grey although thatís always a subjective issue. The gold and silver come with a white front while the space grey comes with a black front. Apparently black is better for watching videos, but Iíve had both and honest canít say one is better than the other.



    The iPhone 6 case is one of these designs that takes a little time to truly appreciate how incredible the design is. Simple things like the glass curving down onto the size of the phone are things that are easily dismissed at first glance because you donít see them. I am not a massive fan of the splits in the rear casing (the HTC has the same design) but I suspect this is something Apple had to do for technical reasons. I.e. impact on signal strength, wifi etc. The only challenge with this design is that it looks so good, a lot of users wonít want to put a cover on it and that means the risks of scratches and bumps is going to be higher. Iím still weighing up my options but mine is caseless now.

    The size of the iPhone 6 is close to perfect. I say close because the extract length of the phone does take some getting used to and you really need to take advantage of some of the iOS reachability functionality to get access to the top icons in single handed mode. Iím not completely sold on the extra length and I think as time goes on, we could see Apple finding ways to take advantage of more of the phone front to get access to a large screen in the same size phone, or the same size screen in a smaller phone. My preference is to keep it at this size as a maximum and preferable achieve the same size screen on a smaller phone. I have long fingers and even I find reaching the top of the screen difficult.



    For existing iPhone users, the movement of the on/off button to the side is likely to result in short term frustration but it only takes a couple of days to get used to the new location which does make more sense on the larger phone.

    The curved phone, while nice in the hand, does make it a little more slippery so if you donít have much moisture on your skin, it provides some challenges with single handed typing. Sometimes you may find yourself balancing it on your fingers rather than gripping the phone. Whilst the previous design wasnít as aesthetically nice, the hard edges made it easier to grip in the hand.

    Okay, the white elephant in the room, the camera sticks outÖ it is noticeable but I really donít see the issue. Buttons stick out. They are not going to catch on your clothing and Iíd rather have a lens stick out slight with a better quality camera than something flush. Itís a non-issue to me but some people are pedantic enough to point to it like the phone has leprosy.



    The 6 vs 6 Plus - Did Apple get the demand right?

    Iíve seen some articles and comments on the demand and volume of phones produced. Some articles have commented on the 6 being the girls phone and I tend to disagree. Iíd also be interested to see the comparative sales numbers because itís always difficult to know if the shortage is better Apple produced 80% 6ís and 20% 6 pluses or whether the demand has just been that much higher for the 6 Plus. I think the current demand for the 6 plus will be short lived. If you compare current demands of iPhone sizes to the Samsung phone range, the larger phones have far less proportional volume compared to the smaller phones. I donít believe this is because Apple got the design right. I think it is because the larger size is new concept for Apple users and the 6 is very close to the existing phone. Most buyers in the first batch are early adopters and Apple fanatics which is likely to position them more in the geek category where electronics have more extensive no phone use. I also think there will be a large number of people who buy the 6 plus, and then find themselves in a position where the phone is a little more awkward to use and may shift to smaller sizes next year.



    For those who donít see the challenge immediately, it may become more relevant when you climb into your car with tight pants or when you find yourself having to leave your phone on the table instead of in your pocket. Putting your nice shiny iPhone 6 Plus on a table may seem like an easy way to impress people but it only works that way until people start spilling beer.

    Donít get me wrong, its not to say people buying the 6 plus has made a mistake. I do think some of them may have got caught up in the hype and may only realise this after having used their phones for a couple of weeks as this article from SMH points out.

    Usability

    One of the challenges of being part of bleeding edge is you tend to get iOS betas long before they hit the market. Whilst its good to get to grips with the latest iOS updates, it also means that when a new phone is released, you lose some of the fanfare associated with the changes to iOS. This is one of those cases and when people ask me what the changes are, I sometimes find myself have to check the Apple website to see what changes arrived because Iím used to all of them.



    One of the things that wasnít in the 5S version of iOS8 was the new functionality for one handed mode on the 6 and 6 plus. Essentially a double tap (as opposed to a double press) brings the entire screen down enough so you can reach the icons in the top two rows which may have been difficult working with the phone in itís usual screen mode. This definitely has valid applications, like editing of contacts where the top right or left corner is out of reach when using one hand.

    One of the new things I do like about iOS 8 is the use of swipe keyboards which Android users have had the benefit of for ages.

    What's new:

    In terms of the phone, there isnít much thatís noticeably new. Itís not like when they introduced retina or fingerprint readers where the changes were instantly noticeable. NFC is obviously a big one, but it wonít be usable for a little while. Obviously there are a whole heap of features that come with iOS 8 but most of these will be accessible to 5S and other previous generation users so letís look at what is unique here:
    - Shape - New shape and screen size increases from 4Ē to 4.7Ē
    - New processor (A8)
    - Camera upgrade with better slowmo. You can find a detailed comparison at Evocative
    - NFC - Near field communication is finally in the phones but it probably wonít be much use for Apple users until the Appleís paypass hits the market.
    - VOLTE (Voice over LTE)



    There are some small things but itís difficult to get excited about them unless you are a complete spec freak. If you want to do a detailed spec comparison, Apple give you the facility here.

    Performance

    For those who are non tech-heads, it's faster. Everything is faster. Apple say itís up to 50x faster (than what, I am not sure) and the graphics is 84x faster. That's awesome but itíll still be fast now and slow in 2 years time when you are waiting for the iPhone 7 to be released and it feels like ios10 has forced its high spec processors to a grinding halt.
    On the performance front, I am not going to go into the detail as I don't have the tools to do complete comparison but if you want a technical review, I would wait for the AnandTech one which is likely to be the most complete.

    Battery

    The iPhone 6 comes with a larger batter and this is likely to be adequate. Apple claim the iPhone 6 has better standby than the 5S but the reality is the larger screen is going to drain more batter. The new phone is thin, which is great, but I canít help feeling that Apple could have sacrificed a little thickness for the addition of some added battery life. While the iPhone will generally get through a day of usage, if youíre a heavy phone user or use your iPhone for more than just a phone, you may be inclined to consider a battery cover because the battery may not be adequate for all users. I think most users I know would be happy to sacrifice 1mm for an extra half a day of battery life.



    Conclusion

    The new iPhone is exactly what the number says it is. Itís the iPhone 6 which is an upgrade on the 5S. As per Appleís update cycle, itís a new shape along with the performance gains that come with the new insides and the new shape is beautiful in the flesh. Most of these updates will not be immediately visible and some will only appear after a little time like the NFC. Battery life is on a par with the 5S and I can get through the day, but as I mentioned, like a lot of users I would be pretty accepting of a slightly thicker phone if it meant longer battery life and I think itís something that could easily be achieved in future.

    Itís not the 6 Plus which is where a lot of the fanfare is, but itís the phone most people should be seriously considering because itís not the 6 Plus. It fits your pocket, allows for one handed typing and is likely to be what most users need.

    If I can make any recommendation in this review, itís for prospective buyers to go into a store and have a look at the two side by side before making a decision, or at least to go into the store and have a look while you are waiting for your preorder. Donít get me wrong, the 6 plus is a great phone, but it comes as the expense of many things, namely one handed typing and portability (think tight jeans). I think a lot of people see the 6 as a sub par 6 Plus when in reality itís a 6 plus with a slightly smaller screen and better usability as a result. Yes, the pixel density may be slightly lower but this is only really visible when you put the two side by side and no one is really going to carry both around to compare them. Itís not the same difference as a retina vs non-retina display. In much the same way as the Macbook Air has become the vehicle of choice for most users, the iPhone 6 will probably become the vehicle of choice for users.
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    Bexford

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