On 9 September 2014, at a super exclusive event, Apple launched their new flagship smartphone. Sporting a larger 4.7in display, rad new features, improved specs and fancy new design, the iPhone 6 is Apple’s answer to the world’s growing lust for powerful, large screen smartphones with premium design.
After spending a couple of weeks with the new device ahead of today’s launch, we would like to walk you through a few of the awesome new features, design elements, performance improvements, camera updates, essentials and more to help you make an informed upgrade decision.
Apple have obviously conceded defeat and finally addressed the issue of the larger screen and sorted out a couple of other issues at the same time by adding a boosted processor, sharper camera, better battery, and for some, most importantly rubbed some funk on design.
This is the 5th iPhone I have had the pleasure of using, but this time around, there really is the feeling that Apple have leapt forward from their previous iterations and the iPhone 6 feels superior in so many ways.
Some of you (I moaned for the first 2 days) might miss the smaller screen, but trust me; you get use to it fairly quickly and then wonder how you ever survived with the smaller screen. It is also worth noting that, although the screen is much larger, the device itself isn’t all that much bigger than the 5s.
Certain problems are clearly solved, while others are still pretty glaring. There are plenty devices on the market with higher res screens. Has Apple done enough to fix its horrible battery? Many high-end Android devices are able to get through a day’s hard graft without demanding a charge thrown in once or sometimes twice a day.
Looking at the price of the device paints a fairly rough picture. If you are thinking of paying cash for the shiny new iPhone, prepare to part with some serious loot. The 16GB iPhone 6 will set you back about R11,500 and goes up to close to R15,000 for the 128GB option.
The iPhone 6 is one of the thinnest and sleekest handsets out there. It feels exceptionally premium and has quite clearly pinched a boat load of iPad Air design language. This is a good thing. The curves are sexy. Plop it down on the boardroom table and watch people sit up and take notice. “Is that the new iPhone?”, “Wow it’s gorgeous”, “Im so jealous” are just a few of the things people have said to me over the last few weeks.
But if we have to be critical, the large plastic strips (which are there to help signals penetrate the device) look a bit at odds with the usual uber stylish Apple design ethos.
The other major change here is the power button that now sits along the right side of the device, which considering the size increase makes a lot of sense. The other buttons are more raised and slightly less shaky. The camera also juts out a little bit, showing Apple haven’t sacrificed its quality for design. This could be an issue because it could be susceptible to scratches.
Speakers, lightening port, headphone jack are all similar to the 5s. It comes in Space Grey, Gold & Silver.
If we had to be super critical of anything here, it would be of the bezel around the display. Below the screen we get that the home button has to be housed somewhere, but the real-estate at the top could have accommodated more screen.
The iPhone 6 looks the business, feels extremely well made and fits beautifully in the hand. Slips into the pocket (without bending), super light and provides the ideal amount of screen space to watch video, play games and view images.
The 4.7in display on the iPhone 6 comes with a resolution of 1334×750, which is the same 326ppi pixel density as the 5s that Apple has dubbed “Retina HD” (Retina HD refers to the number of pixels across the screen rather than density of the pixels. There are some modifications in the screens design, such as dual-domain pixels which increase viewing angles and an improved polariser which makes things clearer when viewing through shades).
This is a little upsetting to be honest because there are a good few rival devices that have an excess of 400ppi displays. Apple have fitted the iPhone 6 Plus with a 401ppi display but that doesn’t do much for this review.
That said, I love the display. When I switched it on I immediately got the vibe it was massively improved even though in reality it’s a slight technical improvement. It’s bright and crisp and content looks like it’s above the glass as opposed to under it. Apple have made some edits to improve the viewing angles as mentioned above and the contrast ratio and these seem to have made a significant difference to the display quality.
Some of you might struggle with the size of the text on the iPhone 6’s bigger screen, or reaching the corners on the display. Apple has got you covered. They have introduced Display Zoom which allows you to zoom in making everything larger and Reachability slides the display down to a 3rd of the screen so your little fingers can get to where they need to go without much strain. To use Reachability you give the home button a double-tap (don’t press it in, just touch it twice).
Use the zoom function at your own peril. When active you do lose out on some of the tweaks made for the larger screen. When the keyboard is in landscape, you will see new columns of buttons. There is now an undo button, comma on the left, and cursor keys and a full stop on the right. And don’t forget the added third-party keyboard support that comes with iOS8.
The iPhone 6 camera has been improved but you may not think so when just looking at the specs. The rear facing camera is still 8MP, has the same True Tone dual-LED flash, its aperture is still f/2.2 , the pixels are 1.5 microns and you can record video in full HD (1080p at 60fps)
Apple reckon that the all new sensor, new autofocus, advanced face detection and digital image stabilisation will lead to improved snaps. Dedicated “focus pixels” have been added to the camera and that brings much faster and smoother autofocus for photos as well as video. This is very noticeable on the iPhone 6 and where I noticed most was with video autofocus which is clear & smooth as opposed to terribly jarring on the previous iPhones.
At last you can shoot slo-mo at 240 fps (there is an option to toggle 120fps but why would you) which means you will be impressed by the slow motion clips you shoot which are only improved by the better video stabilisation. Golf swing, cat jumping, or balloon popping, now you can have some real fun or get super serious.
The video function now comes with the ability to shoot 1080p film at 60 fps and the improvement is immense. It almost looks as real as real life so is superb for home movies.
The FaceTime HD camera (front-facing) ships with a new sensor, an improved aperture and better low-light photos. It can now also use Burst mode and HDR.
If you love a selfie, then you are going to love these new features!
The new range of iPhones quite obviously ship with iOS 8 preinstalled (which you can already upgrade to 8.1). The new iOS is fairly similar to the previous version so it won’t disappoint current iPhone fans.
There is a deeper focus on extended functions: third-party keyboards (Popkey is awesome), plug-ins, interactive/expanded notifications, easy hand-off to the new OS X Yosemite running Macs, and the long awaited new HealthKit app that will be fed by other apps and sources to help you keep track of how many calories you are burning or how many steps you have taken in a day.
This is a full blown review post on its own so we will just cover a few of the rad new improvements:
Continuity: Possibly the feature that will get the most attention in the upcoming weeks, and requires OS X Yosemite to use. Continuity brings much needed compatibility between Apple’s desktop and mobile platforms and allows you to take a call on your Mac or picking up an email you’ve started on your iPhone on your Mac (or vice versa). You will need to be using the mail app on the Dock in Os X.
Airdrop: Which is a feature of Continuity but deserves its own point. This now allows you to Airdrop between your mobile and Mac.
Third-party Keyboards: You can now download and use third-party keyboards on your iOS device. This is huge – Check out our round up of GIF keyboards here
Quick contact access and saving: When you double press the home button (press not tap) to access multi-tasking menu there is an added “recent contacts” gallery at the top, swipe all the way to the left to access your favourites. When you are reading a mail, you can now quickly save the sender’s details to your contacts from their email signature.
Interactive notifications & widgets: Now you don’t have to leave the app you are in to reply to messages. A small banner appears at the top of the screen where you can reply to an iMessage, like a Facebook update, accept or decline a calendar invite, all from the lock-screen or Notification Centre. Engage them, or just flick them away. Check your favourite apps for Notification Centre widget options. Open Notification Centre, select “Today”, and scroll to the bottom and hit edit. You can figure out the rest.
Extensibility: In short, apps can now talk to each other, share data and modify each other’s behaviour in small ways. This means that FIFA 15 could use HealthKit to spit out data on how far a player has run or Safari could use a translation app (or Bing/Google translate) to help you read a page and then to top it all off Siri could read it back to you. This also sounds a lot like Widgets…
Handoff: Means better document syncing and version control, so you’re less likely to suffer file corruption or lose versions of documents you’ve been working on other devices.
Reachability: Double tap (touch not press) the home button to drop the screen down to easily get to things the larger screen may have put out of reach.
iOS 8 is hugely impressive and runs smoothly on the iPhone 6.
The iPhone 6 ships with Apple’s new 64-bit A8 processor which is, as you would expect, more powerful than the A7 (but isn’t the quantum leap the A7 was). Many tests show that the new processor is more of a bump than a giant step forward and Apple claim a 25% boost in speed and a solid 50% graphics improvement over the 5s.
All you really want to know though is what has it done for UI and app-launch speeds? Everything is (in my opinion) noticeably faster than before. As we see more apps developed that are optimised for the new display, then we will get a better idea for how things feel. Stay tuned for iPhone 6 games & apps, and keep in mind that Apple’s new metal coding tool for game developers will likely help iOS games perform even better with the A8.
Apple have made the A8 13% smaller than the A7 as well as designing it to be 50% more power efficient which has an effect on battery life.
The A8 is running at 1.2GHz which is similar to the A7’s clock speed and has 1GB of RAM (same as 5s)
Looking at connectivity, the iPhone 6 has better LTE capabilities and a welcome addition in 802.11ac (2.7x faster than N technology) Wi-Fi, for faster browsing on both Wi-Fi and LTE. NFC tech has to get a small mention here which will work with Apple Pay but who knows what, if any of those features will be usable in South Africa anytime soon.
Apple claim an hour more Wi-Fi and LTE browsing, an hour more video playback, 4 hours more talk time and 10 hours more audio playback than the 5s.
My own “general usage” which was some pretty heavy use of the camera, a couple hours on Spotify, the usual never ending social checks, some pretty intense web browsing and the odd text, WhatsApp and phone call, showed a slight improvement on my 5s.
I had gotten into the habit of charging overnight, charging on my way to the office (and when going to meetings) and a quick top up when I got home. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, I can get away with a charge overnight, use it pretty heavily and come 8pm it’s still got about 20% to play with.
With iOS8, you can now check which apps are sucking battery which should help you out a little – see how here
I love it and so will you. It’s an overdue screen upgrade and feature boost that Apple missed the boat with last year. iOS 8 is hugely impressive and runs smoothly on the iPhone 6. The tweaks and upgrades make a noticeable difference and have come together to make a truly slick mobile experience. Battery life, optical image stabilization, and a bigger, higher-res screen are features that matter. Apple have truly leapt forward with the iPhone 6 – the best device they have ever made.
iPhone 4/4s Owners: You should definitely upgrade.
iPhone 5 Owners: Treat yourself to an upgrade.
iPhone 5s Owners: You could probably survive waiting for the next version. But you know you want to upgrade anyways 🙂
Android owners: This is the one to switch for.