The iPhone. It’s a device that’s done more for the smartphone industry than we probably ever deserved. As a result, we’ve been under the constant deluge of new devices, new technology, more powerful processors and displays, better cameras, thinner handsets, camera bulges, and whatever else you can throw in there. It’s certainly been a roller coaster of a ride, and despite the fact that we’re more than 7 years into it, there’s obviously still more coming.
The iPhone 6 is, without a doubt, late to the show. There’s simply no way to overlook that fact. Apple is noteworthy for many different things, but one of their most prominent traits is their stalwart methodology. They do things when they want to do it, and not a moment before. As a result, the iPhone 6 is late to the party. Every other manufacturer on the planet has launched some kind of large device. The market craved them, voiced their opinion, and here we are now with Apple finally launching their own huge device.
If you’re jumping from an iPhone 4 or 4S, I have no doubt that the iPhone 6 is going to feel like a huge handset. It is. I’ve used more than my share of 4.7-inch devices, and the iPhone 6 is indeed a big phone. And, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you here: It’s a lot to adapt to. If you’ve been using iPhones for any number of years now, then it’s been a one-handed device. You may be able to do that with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, but for me it’s something I have had to ditch entirely. Using two hands on an iPhone isn’t ideal, but the truth is the iPhone 6 is worth it.
And that’s ultimately what it all comes down to. The iPhone 6 is another leaping off point for Apple. This isn’t just about a device with a bigger display, or a bigger battery, or more prominent antenna bands, or a camera bump. This iPhone is a redesign, something that Apple is obviously intent on building on. It’s thinner than previous generations. It’s light, and yet doesn’t feel like it’ll break in your hand like some child’s toy.
I’ve been using the iPhone 6 since Friday morning, and here’s the brunt of the review: I love using this thing. I love picking it up, sliding through Home pages, using the features tied into iOS 8 like interactive notifications, and using apps on the bigger display. I love the fact this is one iPhone, one in a very long time, that I haven’t had to worry about the battery life.
Basically, this is the iPhone that I’ve been waiting for and I didn’t even know it.
My device hasn’t had any issues, either, out of the box, and considering how many Apple support forums I’ve skimmed through after the launch of iOS 8, I’m thankful for that. The iPhone 6 is fast, steady and it flows from one thing to the next. Applications open quickly, I haven’t noticed any lagging or freezing, and I’ve only had apps that haven’t been updated to iOS 8 (which aren’t many on my device) crash on me.
Display and Design
While I have to use two hands more often than not when handling the iPhone 6, the changes Apple has made to the physical buttons along the edges certainly work in favor of the overall design. With a 4.7-inch display, setting the Power/Sleep button along the right side was the right choice. Now, as you hold the device, naturally pressing the button means you’ve already got force from your fingers working in the other directly, holding it in place. Setting my thumb on the Power button means that two of my other fingers are resting right on top of the Volume rocker. Making them longer, instead of round, also aims to make pressing them easier on a bigger handset.
The iPhone 6’s display is bigger, but it’s also incredibly sharp and bright when it needs to be. Colors are accurate. Watching videos on the bigger Retina HD screen is certainly worthwhile. It’s never been a secret that consuming content on an iOS device is one of the biggest draws, and the new display on the iPhone 6 feels like this is what we should have been consuming all that content on in the first place. The gentle curves along the edges feel great in the hand, and sliding a finger from one edge to activate gesture controls no longer means sliding it against a hardened edge.
iOS 8’s New Features
New features really stand out, too. iOS 8’s widgets within Notification Center have completely turned me around on the feature. Notification Center was something I never used, unless it was to clear unused notifications. (I know I’m probably the odd one out here, but I just never found a use for it.) Now, though, it’s the first thing I open every morning. Drop it down, check a news widget, or find an article I saved from the night before to check out when I can.
Interactive notifications make replying to text messages easier than ever before, thanks to an easy option right there on the Home screen when one pops in. Just slide the notification to the left, the keyboard pops up, send away and you’re good to go. iOS has always been quick and easy, but these changes have been a long time coming and they’r welcomed with open arms.
One thing Apple did include to make using the device easier for one-handed use is what they call “Reachability.” With it, you simply double-tap (not double-press, mind you) the Home button, and the display’s contents literally slide down. So, the icons that were at the top of the screen are now in the middle of it, making them easier to reach with a single hand. It’s a quick fix, and it doesn’t last long, but if you need to touch an icon or other option at the top of the display, it’s a nice addition. I never actually used it, other than to show it off inside the store when I bought the handset, but I can see how it could be very useful for most people.
The camera is one area that I was wondering how it would really stack up. Obviously I’ve seen the professionals with it, and the comparisons across the board with older iPhones, but I’m not a professional and I just need a camera that can snap a quick (great) photo of my daughters when they’re doing awesome things. And, simply put, the camera is amazing. Even without optical image stabilization. Apple’s Focus Pixels aren’t just a gimmick here. Focusing is quick and painless, and the images are sharp, crisp and colorful in all of the ways they should be. This camera has impressed me right out of the box.
Battery and Call Quality
As I’m writing this review, my battery usage looks like this: Standby: 1 Day, 3 Hours. Usage: 2 Hours, 44 Minutes. There’s still 69 percent of my battery remaining. I’m not charging the iPhone 6 every day, or even close. It’s not the biggest battery out there in the world, even when compared to other 4.7-inch devices, but it’s certainly good enough. Yes, heavy usage will still kill it, but heavy usage will kill any battery. For moderate usage, this device lasts as long as it needs to.
I don’t make a lot of calls normally, but making them on the iPhone 6 resulted in crisp audio, on my end and for those I was talking to. Background noise was pretty minimal, too, and people were quick to point out how clear I was coming through. As far as reception goes, the iPhone 6 hangs onto my AT&T signal better than I’ve experienced on other devices. While others are quick to drop off LTE, or even 4G in some areas, the iPhone 6 seems to hang on a bit longer to those faster network speeds. Not much longer, but it was certainly noticeable.
The iPhone 6 is a tipping point for Apple, and now that the device is out there in the wild, the company has officially closed the book on one of the biggest gripes many potential customers had about iPhones. The big, beautiful display on the iPhone 6 is a dream to use, especially with the curved edges that make it comfortable to hold.
As a consumer, the iPhone 6 hits the checkmarks I need: long battery, beautiful display, eye-catching physical design, speedy and lag-free software, and plenty of apps to hold me over when I really need them. If you’re in the market for a new device, and you don’t want a really big device in the iPhone 6 Plus, I can’t find any real reason why the iPhone 6 wouldn’t fill a gap you’re looking to fill.
The one thing I’d strike against Apple is the lack of a 32GB model. This should be the standard, base model. Ditch the 16GB, Apple, and let’s keep the 32GB and move up from there.
In the end, the iPhone 6 is still making me a very happy customer. It’s a bold change for Apple, but it’s one that will only get better from here — because it’s so good right from the start.