iPhone 6 – Review

8 minute read

Introduction

People wanted a larger iPhone. Apple were losing market share simply due to the fact that a 4-inch screen was no longer big enough. A phone with a 4-inch screen feels small now, if you look at the market, around 5-inches is the norm. So, let me introduce you to the larger, iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6 is available with an all-new design and internals. The biggest change however is that there are two models of the iPhone 6 which come in two different screen sizes, a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch. The 4.7-inch is referred to the iPhone 6 while the 5.5-inch is referred to the iPhone 6 Plus. In this review I am simply focusing on the iPhone 6. Towards the bottom I do have a few words to say about the iPhone 6 Plus. Both models of the iPhone are available in the same three colours as the iPhone 5s, silver, gold and space grey. This year, Apple have changed the storage options, the 32GB version has been dropped while a new 128GB version has been added. For an iPhone 6 in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB the pricing is £539.00, £619.00 and £699.00 respectively.

Using Geekbench 3 the iPhone 6 scores around 1620 for Single-Core and around 2915 for Multi-Core. If we compare this to the iPhone 5s which scored around 1410 for Single-Core and 2560 for Multi-Core you can see that there isn’t much of a difference. Something that may upset potential buyers is that the iPhone 6 comes with 1GB of RAM. However, Apple are great at optimising the iPhone so that more RAM isn’t required. I’ve always said the following “For a phone 1GB is not enough but for an iPhone it is”. Please tell me when you’ve needed more RAM on an iPhone, you see, you can’t. If we’re talking about iPad’s that is a different story, I’m really hoping that when Apple unveil the next iPad’s they’ll ship with at least 2GB of RAM as there has been rumours that in iOS 8.1 Apple may introduce true multitasking for iPad where you can have two apps open at the same time on-screen.

Hardware

Inside the iPhone 6 you’ll find the A8 chip and M8 motion coprocessor. Apple state that you’ll get up to 50 times faster CPU performance and up to 84 times faster GPU performance. If coming from the iPhone 5s you will notice a slight increase in general performance but it’s not that much quicker. The iPhone 5s was (or still is, should I say) a very powerful phone. If coming from a iPhone 5 or below, you’ll notice the difference straight away. Touch ID is of course still present and works very well. Apple didn’t mention it during the unveiling so everything under the Home button remains the same this year. If you want to learn about Touch ID, see the iPhone 5s review where I have a separate section about it. The M8 also has a new feature, a barometer. It can now detect elevation, for example it can detect how many flights of stairs you have climbed.

Next, the display. It comes with a brand new display. Apple call it the Retina HD display. Believe it or not, the iPhone screen has never been classified as HD. These displays are simply stunning, it feels like you’re physically touching the icons. Apple have added something called dual‑domain pixels for more accurate colour at wider viewing angles. The resolution on the iPhone 6 is 1334×750 with 326 pixels-per-inch. People may be a little disappointed that it remains the same PPI as its predecessor as many rival phones have a much higher pixel density. However, there gets to a certain point where our eyes can no longer make out the difference. It might not be the clearest and brightest screen out there as OLED screens are known for being clearer and brighter but for an LCD screen, it’s outstanding. There’s also an improved polariser so that the screen is easier to view when you’re outside and in direct sunlight.

Both camera’s have of course had upgrades but surprisingly Apple stuck with 8-megapixels on the rear iSight camera. Don’t be put off though because this is by far the best camera Apple have made. The aperture rate also remains the same, f/2.2. One new feature is called Focus Pixels. Focus Pixels are enabled by the new Apple-designed image signal processor which results in much faster autofocus. You can also record slow-motion footage at 240 frames-per-second. The FaceTime camera now has the same aperture rate as the iSight camera (the camera on the iPhone 5s had an aperture rate of f/2.4) and captures a massive 81% more light. I’ve taken a few photos so far and the autofocus is non-existent, it’s that quick. Panoramic mode now allows you to take higher quality photos, up to 43-megapixels.

Finally, the battery which is very important for some users. The iPhone 6 features a 1810 mAh battery, this is compared to the 1570 mAh you get inside the iPhone 5s. (The battery in the iPhone 6 Plus by the way features a 2915 mAh battery.) Battery life obviously depends on what you’re doing with the phone but overall, I’d simply say it’s good enough and in most circumstances will last a whole day. As I said, it depends on usage, if you’re watching films or playing games it’ll go down a lot quicker. The battery in the iPhone 5s was fine for me anyway. Standby time is excellent, if you go to bed and it’s 80% for example. it’ll probably go down a maximum of 5%.

Design

The iPhone 6 is only 6.9mm thin and it feels fantastic in the hand. The glass now curves down around the sides to meet the anodised aluminum body. However, be careful because as there are no edges it’s much easier to drop than the iPhone 5s. It almost feels slippery because it’s so smooth. Some people are saying that the iPhone 6 asks to be put inside a case, it would be a real shame to cover up this beautiful design with a flimsy case that cost £8.99 so unless you are always dropping your iPhone, carry it naked.

On the back (you might have seen from the leaks) you’ll find antenna bands on the top and bottom of the phone but it’s really not a big issue for me. I’m guessing NFC has something to do with it so they are quite important! I mean, you normally look at the front of a phone, right? If they really bother you, put a case on it and be done with it. The camera also protrudes from the body a little and this has, for some reason, put many people off buying it. It rocks a little when you place it on a flat surface, what’s the issue here? For me, like the antenna bands, this isn’t an issue. People were basically saying why didn’t Apple make the body a little thicker to accommodate for the camera so everything was flush on the back.

The iPhone 6 looks great. As the iPhone 6 is taller, Apple have moved the sleep/wake button to the right-hand side for easier reach. We are all used to it being on the top of course but after a few days of usage, you get used to it and it’s not a problem. As I’ve mentioned already, the only downside to the design is that because the phone is very thin and rounded it can be quite difficult to handle at times. Just be careful when removing it from your pocket! Every year though, Apple create the best handset available design-wise and competitors can get nowhere near them.

At the bottom of the phone the speaker grills are larger and are positioned to the right of the Lightning port. The volume buttons are now oblong and look better than the circular volume buttons on the iPhone 5s. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack which is positioned to the left of the Lightning port. Just a final note, with the introduction of the swipe gesture in iOS 7, it feels fantastic when, for example, you’re in Safari and you swipe to go forward or back a page.

Connectivity/LTE/NFC

The iPhone now has NFC and alongside the introduction of two new iPhone’s Apple also introduced Apple Pay which allows you to buy products with a simple tap using Touch ID. Apple Pay will debut in America in October and will roll-out to more countries towards the end of the year and into 2015. There’s faster LTE with speeds up to 150 Mbps and the iPhone 6 also supports Voice over LTE (VoLTE) but it’s down to the carriers to enable the feature. Apple also updated the Wi-Fi with 802.11ac. Theoretically it’s four times faster than 802.11n but the experience will depend on what router you have at home and whether it supports the faster standard.

My Opinion

I have to say it’s quite simply, stunning. You have to hold one in your hand before you can appreciate the device. It feels very good in the hand and I love how the glass curves down the sides. The camera can take outstanding photos and the autofocus is very quick, Apple have worked well in this department. I’m now used to the fact that the sleep/wake button is now on the side and not on the top where its always belonged. As I mentioned, for me, the battery is fine, it’ll last me a day and I always charge my iPhone overnight so battery life is never an issue. Depending on what I used the phone for that day, the lowest its been is around 15%. There is one bad thing about the iPhone 6 and it’s not Apple’s fault but applications that have not been updated for the iPhone 6’s display do fill the whole of the screen but look zoomed in and blurry. Apps that have already been updated (CNN for example) look brilliant and take advantage of the larger display. Developers are busy at work to make their apps fully compatible with the iPhone 6.

A Few Words on the 6 Plus

Alongside the iPhone 6, Apple also introduced the iPhone 6 Plus. The 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen and has a resolution of 1920×1080 so it’s officially a 1080p screen. I’d just like to say a few words on the 6 Plus. I could write another review but I’d just be saying the same things again. I’d just like to point out the main differences between the two models. Firstly, its size. It’s huge. Please, if you’ve yet to decide which model to get simply because you’re not sure what screen size to get, visit an Apple Store and hold both in your hands. The 6 Plus cannot be used with one hand.

Next, the battery life. The 6 Plus is bigger than the 6 so that means there’s more room for a bigger battery, a 2915 mAh battery to be precise. To put it simply, it’ll last longer than the iPhone 6 and you won’t need to charge it as often. Some people (I always say the following and I’ll keep saying it, this depends on usage) are getting two days out of their phone before they need to charge it again.

Finally, the camera. The 6 Plus has optical image stabilisation while the 6 has digital image stabilisation. Optical image stabilisation simply means that the camera lens has the ability to move up, down, left or right to improve the video experience. This results in steadier footage even if your hand is shaking.

The iPhone 6 Plus is great in every way just like the iPhone 6 is. I mentioned that with the iPhone 6, apps that have yet to be updated look zoomed in and blurry, with the 6 Plus, because of the bigger screen, apps look even worse but it’s up to the developers to fix that. If they want their apps to look zoomed in and blurry, that’s up to them. The fact the 6 Plus is bigger also means that, compared to the smaller model, you’re more likely to drop it. Oh, and to finish up, it’s true, people did want a bigger iPhone. The demand for the 6 and especially the 6 Plus is staggering, at time of writing, shipping times for the 6 Plus is still 3-4 weeks. For the 6, there’s a 7-10 day wait.

Conclusion

The iPhone 6 is a brilliant device. It’s faster, thinner, looks great and it’s one of the largest phones Apple have made. Even though the iPhone 6 has the same PPI (pixels-per-inch) as the iPhone 5s, thanks to the dual-domain pixels it looks brighter and the colours are a little richer. iOS 8 does need some work as there are still quite a few bugs but Apple will be on top of that. So, my final words, what Apple has done is simply create a larger iPhone but it turns out it’s the best smartphone on the market as this current time.