iPhone 6 first impressions: Thin, lightweight and comfortable with a big display

image iPhone 6 FI9

It’s Friday, September 19, which means it’s iPhone Day. This year, there are two new models to choose from, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. First impressions matter when you take your device out of the box for the first time, so how does the iPhone 6 stack up? It’s time to find out if we swoon or cringe.

For many consumers, looking at options for their next smartphone often comes down to a simple thing: screen size. Sure, other features play a part, and battery life is probably a big deciding factor, too. But, if a phone can catch someone’s eye because of its screen size, then they’re already in the door and the rest is (potentially) just icing on the cake. For at least a few years now, Apple’s smartphones have shied on the small size when compared to, well, just about every other handset manufacturer’s devices. In the last couple of years, especially, the market has seen a ridiculous growth to the display size of our daily drivers. As a result, Apple’s eventual release of devices with screen sizes over 4-inches seemed almost inevitable.

There had always been rumors, and there will always be rumors, but now the time for waiting has finally ended. It’s been over a week since Apple initially announced and unveiled their new iPhone 6 lineup, but the devices are finally out there in the wild. It may have been hard for some to find the larger model, but if you were always opting to go with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, it sounds like there was plenty of stock to select through.

That was the case for me this morning, as I stood in a line and waited to get my hands on the iPhone 6. This year was a bit different than years prior, because this would be the first year that I had not actually seen, touched or used in some capacity a new iPhone before I purchased it. I was aiming to go fresh with the second-largest iPhone, and I’m glad that I did. Of course, I switched from an iPhone 5s to the iPhone 6, so the immediate differences were impossible to ignore. The good news is, though, that the change was far easier than I expected.

Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 6 and Nokia Lumia 1520
Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 6 and Nokia Lumia 1520

The simple truth is, the iPhone 6 feels absolutely amazing in the hand. I’m a strong proponent that 4.7-inches is pretty much the perfect screen size (especially for me), but the iPhone 6 feels better than any other 4.7-inch or similar handset I’ve ever used. It’s lightweight, and yet there’s enough there to actually make it worthwhile to hold and not feel like some child’s toy. It’s thin, but it still feels like I’m holding a high-end smartphone. This latter part, about how thin the iPhone 6 is, goes hand-in-hand why the device feels so great to hold despite the bigger screen.

It’s not as easy to reach the furthest edge of the display with my thumb anymore, but I’m okay with that because the phone itself isn’t overbearing. Even as I shift my hand to reach an option I want, I don’t feel like I’m going to drop it, and my hand doesn’t cramp from trying to hold a heavier device. And, yes, Apple’s Reachability function is there to help with these situations if they do get too annoying, but with the overall design of the device, I don’t think I’m going to use the functionality all that often — if ever. (That would probably be a very different story if I were dealing with the iPhone 6 Plus.)

The screen is big and bright and beautiful to look at. What’s more, the curved edges, which means the chamfered edges from the iPhone 5s are gone, are actually very nice when it comes to swiping gestures. Swiping from the left side of the display always meant rubbing the finger against an obvious edge. This time, though, it’s just a smooth curve, and the result is a far more comfortable gesture. And, overall, the curved edges of the iPhone 6 make it comfortable to hold, even as you stretch a finger across the display.

image iPhone 6 FI7

My biggest worry with the iPhone 6, though, was the antenna bands. Ever since they first showed their obvious lines in leaked images, and in subsequent videos of devices put together from leaked parts, I just wasn’t a fan of them at all. And, to be honest, while I’m in love with the phone as a whole, the antenna bands are still rubbing me the wrong way. I think I’m starting to get used to them, and I may even start to like them eventually, but for right now I’m just not a fan of them at all. In fact, I probably still hate them just a little bit. I will admit that they are not nearly as bad in person, especially on the Space Grey model. They’re just about awful, but they aren’t a deal breaker.

icon iPhone 6

And neither is the protruding camera. Yes, it’s obvious. Yes, if you set the phone down on a flat surface, you can indeed rock the device ever so slightly. But, I don’t mind the look of it at all. Yes, it’s different, and I’m sure people would have preferred a slightly thicker device to get that protruding camera to go away, but not me. The thinness of the iPhone 6 is perfect, and it’s the only reason, as far as I’m concerned, it’s such a pleasure to hold and use. I’ll take the protruding camera, thanks.

image iPhone 6 FI5

Finally, Apple deciding to alter the length of the Volume rocker, and reposition the Power/Sleep button to the right-side of the handset is a no-brainer and I’m so happy that they did it. This is something that they could have simply glossed over, kept the same as previous generations, but the changes make the whole device seem whole, and they work together. It’s all part of the overall design and, again, it all works to create a ridiculously good looking handset that feels remarkably comfortable to use.

My first impression of the iPhone 6 was a lot better than I thought it would be. I didn’t think I’d hate it, or even dislike it, but I also didn’t think that I’d actually love it as much as I do. Apple has reconfirmed my idea that the 4.7-inch display size is perfect, and that has a lot to do with the overall refinement and design of their 4.7-inch device.

I can’t wait to dig in and start using it. Stay tuned for more hands-on impressions of Apple’s iPhone 6.