iPhone 6 Review

Overview

The iPhone 6 was released on September 19 alongside its big brother, the iPhone 6 Plus (our full review here). While its larger sibling caters to those who prefer phablet-like proportions, the 6’s screen size has been bumped up to 4.7″, the (minimum) standard screen size for smartphones these days. Other than the size bump though, is the iPhone 6 merely an incremental upgrade to the 5s?

Pros

  • 128GB internal storage for the highest end
  • Highly polished and ergonomic design
  • Larger, brighter and more accurate display
  • Excellent camera
  • iOS 8 is the most polished iOS so far
  • Snappy 64-bit processor

Cons:

  • Pricey compared to competitors
  • Bezels could be smaller
  • Protruding Camera
  • Display still at 750p
  • NFC useless except for Apple Pay (ie useless outside the US)

Introduction

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With the iPhone 6, we are once again, given a product that does not have any major issues, however this time, neither were we provided with any major innovations. Just check out the spec sheet below:

  Apple iPhone 6
Display 4.7”, 750p IPS LCD display (326ppi)
Camera 8.0 MP, dual tone LED flash, 1/3 inch sensor
Video Recording 1080p @ 60fps
Processor Apple A8 1.4Ghz Dual-core (64-bit)
GPU PowerVR GX6450
RAM 1 GB
Storage non-expandable 16/64/128GB
Battery 1810 mAh, non-removable battery
Other NFC (only for Apple Pay)

Unboxing, Design and Build Quality

Apple’s iPhone 6 box is simply a plain white box. Sliding the box from the bottom out of its cover is a rather annoying process, and several people have dropped their brand new phones simply because it’s so ridiculously hard to open. It comes with Apple’s EarPods, charging accessories, and the manual.

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The iPhone 6 is made of anodised aluminium, stainless steel and glass. Unlike most other unibody phones (such as the Lumia 925 or HTC One M7), the iPhone 6 manages to blend the various materials together, forming one smooth, seamless surface. The iPhone 6 comes in at an extremely slim 6.9mm, though not as extreme as the 4.85mm profile of the Oppo R5 (that thing’s so slim they couldn’t even fit in a headphone jack). The volume buttons have been elongated and the lock button is now located at the side of the phone so as to make it easier to reach due to its new larger profile.

Apple has also included a software function called reachability which allows you, by double-tapping the home button, to shift the entire screen down to facilitate one-handed use. I have personally found that I never use this function. Well, once in a blue moon perhaps, but simply for the sake of testing that the function works rather than for any actual… function.

The iPhone 5s is, overall, better looking
The iPhone 5s is, overall, better looking

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 I recalled being stunned by how sexy the phone looked. But after using it for a substantial amount of time, I’m starting to feel that the iPhone 5s is, overall, better looking. The glass back and flat metal rims really make for a gorgeous looking design. And that camera hump on the 6? It really is an eyesore. It’s not one of those mildly protruding cameras like the one on the 5th generation iPod. No. It’s a fully blown pimple that looks like it could pop off any minute, like a googly eye that got glued onto a plastic doll. I agree with MKBHD when he said that Apple could have avoided the hump altogether and gone with a slightly thicker iPhone with a larger battery. That would’ve made owners of the new phone much, much happier.

Handling

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The iPhone 6 is really slim

The iPhone 6 is ridiculously slim. That, plus the smooth brushed metal back means that you’re going to have a hard time getting a good grip on the phone. Fortunately, the curved sides do help a little bit. Once you get used to the slim profile of this phone though, all other phones start to feel a little fat. Even the 8.5mm thin Lumia 925 felt a little thicker than it really was after using the iPhone 6 for a couple of weeks.

I came from using an iPhone 5 and when I first began using the iPhone 6, I often found myself slipping the phone due to it’s new larger size and thinner profile. This has resulted in me dropping the phone on occasions and users that come from smaller phones should certainly be careful of this. Hence the dilemma: get yourself a case and you compromise on the beauty and sleek looks of the phone, but you’ll rest assured that your phone is well protected; don’t get a case and it’s like holding on to a bar of soap (almost). Alternatively, you can always opt for skins on the back of the phone to provide better grip.

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Display

This year’s iPhone sees a bump of 0.7″ over last year’s model, but Apple has unfortunately decided to retain the same pixel density of 326ppi. Yet, the screen quality of the iPhone 6 is excellent with great colour accuracy and brightness.

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The new display has dual-domain pixels, allowing for greater colour accuracy from all viewing angles and an improved polariser, meaning improved outdoor visibility even in extremely bright environments.

User interface, apps and audio

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iOS 8 isn’t a big change from iOS 7, but rather a more refined and improved version of it. The most significant changes include Handoff and HealthKit, as well as Apple’s extension to third party apps and keyboards.

With iOS 8, you can now seamlessly work between your various Apple devices, starting on one device and continuing of another. This applies for applications such as Safari, iWork suite and various other applications. Developers can now also integrate this into their applications. I have used my Macbook and iPad to take calls coming in for my iPhone which was surprising when it first happened but it came to be quite a convenience.

I have personally not used HealthKit much other than the occasional checking of stats. Apple had not been able to integrate enough developers and applications into this new ecosystem fast enough for people to adopt it. However, with time, there will be more applications that work with HealthKit and I can see myself using it one day as a centralised collection of all my health data.

Moving up from the iPhone 5, the 6’s TouchID fingerprint scanner is an extremely welcomed addition. In the past, I did not bother to use a password for my iPhones due to the hassle that came with unlocking the phone every time. However, with TouchID, unlocking the phone is as simple as touching the home button. The scanner also allows you to make purchases on the App Store and iTunes, eliminating Apple’s annoying and unnecessary security measure of having to type in your password every time you want to download a new app.

Battery Life

With a 1,810 mAh battery one might not expect the iPhone to last a full day, but it manages to do so with ease. I’ve been using Apple’s latest phone as my daily driver for the past 3 weeks now and not once did I have to plug in before the end of the day. On light to moderate usage (occasional whatsapping, web-browsing on LTE), it managed to clock in at 70% of its battery remaining at the end of the day.

On heavier usage, with several hours of playing games such as PVZ 2 and Crossy Road on top of Whatsapp and web-browsing, you’ll find yourself with about 20% of battery left by sunset. It’s by no means mind blowing like the legendary Xperia Z3 or Lumia 1520, but the fact that it is able to last a full day of heavy usage on a measly 1810mAh battery is a testament to the software-hardware optimisations that Apple has going on under the hood. By any means, it definitely lasts longer than the iPhone 5s.

If you want a longer lasting iPhone, you’ll have to look at the iPhone 6 Plus, which provides significantly better battery life.

Performance

For the iPhone 6, Apple has given the standard upgrade to the processor, with the new A8 chip, built on second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture. Included is also a more efficient M8 coprocessor which helps to handle less intensive tasks such as measuring health related data, enabling better battery life.

Apple has also introduced Metal, “a new technology that lets developers create highly immersive console-style games on iPhone, optimised to allow the CPU and GPU to work together to deliver detailed graphics and complex visual effects.”

Camera Interface

Apple has always been lauded for its simple and snappy camera interface, and the one present on iOS 8 doesn’t disappoint.

The camera interface has little change from previous versions, with standard features such as panorama, 10 photos per second burst mode and time-lapse functions, plus an all new 240 fps slo-mo video which allows you to create awesome action videos.

Camera Performance

With larger 1.5-micron pixels and a larger ƒ/2.2 aperture, the 8 MP camera of the iPhone 6 performs extremely well. Focus pixels technology that provides  faster autofocus for photos and continuous autofocus for video. It’s no optical image stabilisation (that’s only present on the 6 Plus), but Apple’s digital stabilisation features aren’t half bad themselves.

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Still Image Quality

Below are some samples of both day and night photos from the iPhone 6.

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Video Quality

Pricing and Conclusion

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In conclusion, the iPhone 6 again shows off the best that Apple can do and it is an amazing phone for anyone who loves the beauty and simplicity Apple iPhones seem to always have. Although the iPhone 6 didnt have any major innovations or improvements, it is still an amazing phone for those who are willing to spend the money.

The iPhone 5s is an interesting alternative option. It’s now at a more reasonable price and you’re still getting a snappy 64-bit processor and an equally good camera (save for the new 240fps mode). Plus, the iPhone 5s has a more refined design that’s arguably more polished than the 6. If you don’t mind the small 4″ screen size, or if you actually prefer it, then the 5s may be a better option for you.

At a base price of $988 for the 16 GB model and $1148 and $1288 for the 64GB and 128 GB model respectively, the iPhone 6 does not come cheap at all. However, if the Apple brand, iOS ecosystem or superb after sale service can outweigh the cost, then sure, the iPhone 6 is a phone for you.

Editor’s note: Both Allan and Nicholas contributed to this review since they both own an iPhone 6. While Allan has had an iPhone since day 1, Nicholas has switched over from Android and Windows Phone. Hopefully a mix of both perspectives will provide a more balanced review.

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