Apple iPhone 6 review: bigger is beautiful
Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, launching September 19
Apple has unveiled two new iPhones, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Along with larger screens and a completely new iPad-style design with an ultra thin body and rounded corners, the two new phones offer faster processors, better cameras, and Apple’s new Apple Pay payment system.
Apple’s new iPhones are available in Gold, Silver, and Space Gray, and are available in 16, 64, and 128 GB capacities. The iPhone 6 pricing starts at $199, while the iPhone 6 Plus pricing starts at $299.
While both models include the same 64-bit A8 chip and the same general design, there are several differences between the two phones. The iPhone 6 measures in at 6.9mm, while the iPhone 6 Plus is slightly thicker at 7.1mm. Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus also has three major differentiating factors: optical image stabilization for the camera, and a longer battery life, and an iPad-style landscape mode that displays more content on the screen.
Though the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization, both phones got some major camera improvements in form of sensor upgrades, improved tone mapping, better noise reduction, and new “Focus Pixel” technology, which improves the phone’s ability to select autofocus points. For videos, there’s a new 240fps slo-mo option, along with support for shooting in 1080p at 60fps. The front-facing camera was also upgraded, with an f/2.2 aperture that lets in more light and new burst mode capabilities.
Both phones have an impressive new “Retina HD Display,” with the iPhone 6 featuring a resolution of1334 x 750 (326 ppi) and the iPhone 6 Plus featuring a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi).
Design wise, the phones more closely resemble the iPad and the iPod touch than the iPhone 5s. Both models have soft, rounded corners and a curved glass screen that melds smoothly into the thin metal body of the device. The volume buttons on the left side of the device are now pill-shaped, and the power button is located on the right side of the device for easier one-handed use.
To further make its devices easier to use one-handed, Apple has added in a new double tap home button gesture called “Reachability,” which moves items from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen for quick access.
Other new features in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus include WiFi calling support, faster 802.11ac WiFi, and support for Voice over LTE (VoLTE).
Apple provided multiple publications with early iPhone 6 and 6 Plus review units. The embargo has now lifted on review posts, so we have gathered some of the relevant excerpts from each site in order to highlight general release reactions to Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple’s two new devices are essentially identical in design aside from the difference in screen size and the battery life/optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 Plus. One notable improvement in both devices is the longer battery life afforded by the larger batteries. The iPhone 6 Plus is said to last up to 2 days, while the iPhone 6 may last a day and a half.
Brad Molen, Engadget:
Both iPhones are thinner than their predecessor. Whereas the 5s was 7.6mm thick, the 6 comes in at 6.9mm, with the 6 Plus measuring a hair thicker at 7.1mm. I don’t always subscribe to the “thinner is better” mantra, but it’s a benefit in this case because larger iPhones wouldn’t feel as comfortable if they had the same shape as the 5s. If I had to choose based on in-hand feel alone, I’d pick the 6 over the Plus. I can still wrap my fingers around the 6 just as easily as I could with the 5s (and its curved sides don’t cut as sharply as the edges on the 5s), but the large-screened 6 Plus is… well, it’s manageable.
David Pierce/Nilay Patel (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus), The Verge:
Huge phones get to have huge batteries, and the iPhone 6 Plus is a huge phone with a huge battery: I consistently got about two days of battery life from the 6 Plus in regular daily use — slightly more than the day and half we got from the iPhone 6, and basically the same as the Note 3.
Walt Mossberg/Lauren Goode (iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus), Re/code:
In my tests, I found the iPhone 6’s Wi-Fi speeds — both downstream and upstream — were roughly double those of the 5s, and about 25 percent faster than those of the Samsung Galaxy S5. But I saw little difference in LTE speeds, either on Verizon or AT&T.
Jim Dalrymple, The Loop:
The 6 Plus was awkward for me to use at first–it was kind of like using a smaller version of the iPad mini, but it was a phone. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of using it on an ongoing basis, but the larger screen eventually won me over.
How to Buy
The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus will launch on September 19 in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Singapore. Apple is taking in-store pre-orders for the devices as of 8am local time on Friday, September 12.
Online pre-orders kicked off at 12:01am Pacific Time on the 12th at Apple’s online store as well as individual carrier stores, such as Verizon and AT&T. Pre-orders suffered heavily from technical difficulties due to demand, and Apple’s own online store didn’t come up until nearly 3 AM PT.
While several iPhone 6 models remain in stock late in the day on September 12, all models of the iPhone 6 Plus sold out not long after pre-orders began, with shipping dates slipping from 7 to 10 days and then to 3 to 4 weeks.
According to an Apple representative, response to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was “incredible,” setting a new record for pre-orders.
Apple’s iPhone 6 is available in 16, 64, and 128 GB capacities, priced at $199, $299, and $399, respectively, with a two-year contract. The iPhone 6 Plus is available in 16, 64, and 128 GB capacities and will be priced $100 higher at $299, $399, and $499, respectively. Both the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus are available in Space Gray, Gold, and Silver.
Hands-on First Impressions
Following Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 6 and its wearable device, members of the press were invited to go hands-on with the new devices, letting us get an early look at the larger-screened iPhones.
Reviews were largely positive, with several people pointing towards the display of the device. According to Jared Nelson from TouchArcade, the Retina Display HD screens look “absolutely incredible” in person.Engadget noted that despite the resolution difference between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the two displays looked almost identical.
The Verge said the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 “looks great” and feels like a “hybrid of the iPhone and iPod touch.” Multiple reviews said that even though the larger iPhone is big, it’s easier to hold than expected because of its rounded edges.
Testers were also largely impressed with Apple’s one-handed “Reachability” mode, which shrinks anything on the phone’s screen into thumb’s reach with a double tap on the Touch ID home button. Gizmodo called Reachability a “smart solution.”
Apple will also be sending out review devices to many sites, which means we’ll be getting some in-depth opinions of the iPhone 6 in the coming weeks, likely just ahead of its September 19 release.
Questions about the iPhone 6? Ask in our iPhone discussion forums
In More Detail
Measuring in at 4.7 and 5.5-inches, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus dwarf previous iPhone models, but at the same time, the two phones are Apple’s thinnest yet, measuring in at 6.9 and 7.1mm, respectively. For comparison’s sake, the iPhone 5s was 7.6mm thick.
According to Apple, the thinner profile was made possible by the company’s “thinnest display yet,” which is made of slightly curved glass designed to flow seamlessly into the body of the device to highlight the “Retina HD” screen of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Both devices include prominent antenna bands on the back enclosure, along with a protruding rear lens. The volume buttons are pill-shaped, much like the buttons on the iPad Air, and the power button has been relocated to the right side of the device.
The iPhone 6 measures in at 5.44 inches long and 2.64 inches wide, and weighs 4.55 ounces. The iPhone 6 measures in at 6.22 inches long and 3.06 wide, weighing 6.07 ounces. In comparison, the iPhone 5s is 4.87 inches long, 2.31 inches wide, and it weighs 3.95 ounces.
RETINA HD DISPLAY
iPhone 6 rumors largely suggested Apple would use a sapphire display cover in the device, but that turned out to be false. Instead, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus use “ion-strengthened” glass with animproved polarizer (for better outdoor viewing), a photo aligned IPS liquid crystal display, and a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating.
The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display with a “2x” resolution of 1334 x 740 (326 ppi) while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch “3x” resolution of 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi). Both phones are said to offer higher contrast, better brightness, and improved white balance.
Apple has implemented several “Reachability” features to improve the viewing experience on its larger devices, including Display Zoom and landscape view (iPhone 6 Plus only). Display Zoom lets users zoom in to get a closer view at their apps, while standard zoom displays more content on the screen.
Landscape view on the iPhone 6 Plus is designed to make the most of the 5.5-inch screen and to help users be more productive. When in landscape mode, the device will display apps like Mail, Calendar, and Stocks in a wider view similar to the way they’re displayed on the iPad.
The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus both offer improved battery life, but due to the larger size of iPhone 6 Plus, it is able to accommodate a larger battery. While the capacities of the two batteries are unknown, previous rumors pointed towards 1,810 mAh capacity for the iPhone 6 and a 2,915 mAh capacity for the iPhone 6 Plus.
Because it has a bigger battery, the iPhone 6 Plus has a longer battery life than the smaller iPhone 6. 3G talk time for the iPhone 6 Plus is at 24 hours, compared to just 14 hours in the iPhone 6, for example, while HD video playback is at 14 hours for the iPhone 6 Plus and 11 hours for the iPhone 6.
A8 CHIP AND M8 MOTION COPROCESSOR
Both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus have a new 64-bit A8 processor built on an advanced 20-nanometer process. Not only is the chip smaller than the A7 in the iPhone 5s, it’s also able to deliver 25 percent faster CPU performance while being 50 percent more energy efficient.
The A8 takes full advantage of Metal, Apple’s gaming technology that lets developers create console-style games on the iPhone. According to Apple, Metal is designed to let the GPU and CPU work together to provide detailed graphics and complex visual effects, which means gaming on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is going to be better than ever.
Alongside the A8, there’s also a new M8 motion coprocessor, which is the successor to the M7 motion coprocessor introduced in the iPhone 5s. The M8 measures data from the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope, along with a barometer, which is new to the iPhone 6.
With the addition of the barometer, the M8 motion coprocessor can measure elevation in addition to steps taken and distance traveled.
The iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus continue to sport an 8-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera, but the addition of several new features will result in vastly improved picture quality. Continuing to offer improved camera capabilities has always been a priority for Apple, with the company even opting to include a protruding lens design to avoid making image quality sacrifices for the sake of the thin design of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The first major new feature, “Focus Pixel,” is designed to speed up autofocusing by providing the sensor with more information about an image, while improved auto image stabilization will compensate for slight amounts of motion blur and hand shakiness.
Both phones also have improved face detection capabilities and more control over exposure, and the Panorama feature now supports high-resolution panoramic photos of up to 43 megapixels.
Video options have been improved in the two devices, and it’s now possible to capture 1080p HD video at 60fps. There’s also a new 240fps slo-mo mode, and time-lapse video, which was introduced with iOS 8.
The iPhone 6 Plus has one slight advantage when it comes to the camera, however, as it takes advantage of the M8 motion coprocessor to offer optical image stabilization. Optical image stabilization better compensates for hand shake and slight movements in low light than standard auto image stabilization techniques. As a result, it’s likely the iPhone 6 Plus will be able to deliver higher quality low-light photos than the iPhone 6.
Along with rear camera improvements, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus have improved front-facing FaceTime HD cameras with a new sensor and an f/2.2 aperture. With these improvements, Apple says the front-facing camera can capture 81 percent more light, resulting in much better low-light photos. There’s also a new burst mode for the front-facing camera, which will let users take burst mode selfiesfor the first time.
Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus both offer faster LTE with support for LTE Advanced networks, reaching speeds of up to 150 Mbps, and they offer 20 LTE bands for better connectivity when traveling.
The devices also include support for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) which allows users to make higher-quality phone calls over LTE. VoLTE will also allow users on CDMA networks like Verizon to use voice and data simultaneously for the first time. VoLTE requires support from both Apple and carriers, and several carriers have pledged to roll out support for the service.
In addition to cellular improvements, the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus are the first of Apple’s iOS devices to offer support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi. 802.11ac Wi-Fi is able to offer connection speeds that are up to 3 times faster than existing 802.11n networks.
Finally, the iPhone 6 supports calls over Wi-Fi, which can result in higher-quality calls, especially in situations where a cellular connection is low. Calling over Wi-Fi is another feature that requires carrier support, but again, some carriers, like T-Mobile, have already pledged support.
Like the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus continue to offer Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint-based security system. With iOS 8, which ships on the iPhone 6/6 Plus, Touch ID will become even more powerful, thanks to third-party Touch ID integration.
Touch ID is also an integral part of Apple’s new Apple Pay mobile payments initiative, as is the Near Field Communication (NFC) antenna built into every iPhone 6. Apple Pay is designed to allow users to pay for purchases at thousands of retail stores with just a fingerprint.
The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus will ship with iOS 8, Apple’s newest mobile operating system. iOS 8‘s main goal is to improve integration between Apple devices, both mobile and desktop, through the use of “Continuity.”
With Continuity, users can seamlessly transition tasks between iPhones, iPads, Macs, and the Apple Watch. iOS 8 also includes features like interactive notifications, widgets in the Notification Center, third-party keyboards, and a new QuickType predictive keyboard. More information about iOS 8 can be found in ouriOS 8 roundup.
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