Apple iPhone 6 Review
Apple has consistently said that smaller screens were ideal for smartphone use. For five years, it was a 3.5in screen which appeared on the original iPhone until the iPhone 4S. For the last two years it was a 4in screen on the iPhone 5/5s/5c.
All the while, the rest of the smartphone world was moving on, with 2014 seeing the standard screen size reach 5in for most other flagship models.
Apple has finally relented and produced two large-screen iPhones to meet the obvious demand from consumers around the globe.
Here we look at the smaller of the two, the 4.7in iPhone 6, and see if Apple has managed to successfully make a big-screen iPhone.
iPhone 6: Design
The iPhone, under the stewardship of Jony Ive, has become an iconic piece of design - and the iPhone 6 is no different.
Since the introduction of the iPhone 4, Apple's smartphone has been all about the industrial aesthetic with flat surfaces and sharp edges.
The iPhone 6 is different. It is rounder, more curved, and looks much more like smartphones from the likes of HTC and Samsung than ever before.
However, pick one up and you will instantly feel the Apple quality shine through. At 6.9mm and 129g it is incredibly thin and light, yet never feels flimsy or insubstantial.
The button layout has changed slightly due to the bigger size, with the power/screen-lock button now residing on the right-hand edge rather than the top edge to make it easier to reach.
Apple has also given the screen a very slight curve, making swiping from the left and right much smoother.
The one oddity is the camera lens on the rear which protrudes from the chassis, meaning you can't lie the iPhone 6 flat on its back - a design choice obviously borne out of space constraints, but one which is very un-Apple.
During my testing I found that my silver review unit did pick up a couple of minor scuffs while in my pockets, but overall the build quality of the iPhone 6 is, as you would expect, superb.
iPhone 6: Screen
Apple has increased the screen size from 4in on the iPhone 5s to 4.7in on the iPhone 6 and boosted the resolution to 1334 x 750 pixels, meaning the pixel density remains identical at 326 pixels per inch (ppi).
This means Apple can continue to call this a Retina display and what you get is the same crisp, sharp display as you got on the iPhone 5s - just more of it.
The 326ppi is puny compared to the 534ppi screen on the LG G3, but Apple argues anything over 300ppi is imperceptible to the human eye. However, keeping the screen resolution at 326ppi gives it the ability to easily upgrade the iPhone 6s next year.
Apple has also improved the contrast of the iPhone 6 screen, added an improved "polariser" to help with outdoor viewing, and created new "dual-domain" pixels for wider viewing angles.
The result is a great screen which is hard to find fault with, despite the lower pixel count.
The taller screen does of course mean some parts won't be within reach when using the iPhone 6 one-handed. However, Apple has looked to address that with Reachability, a feature activated by a quick double tap of the home button which halves the size of the screen to bring everything within reach.
iPhone 6: Performance and Battery life
The iPhone 6 comes with Apple's A8 chip, which is the company's second generation 64-bit processor. It is aided by the M8 motion co-processor which handles tasks like monitoring the iPhones' plethora of sensors.
Apple says the CPU is 50% faster than the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s while the GPU performance has increased by 84%. However, because the chips are dealing with many more pixels, this performance boost isn't hugely obvious.
That said, the iPhone 6 is a powerful device, and everything from live video streaming, to photo and video editing, and 3D gaming all worked without a problem.
Where the A8 chip update really helps however is in how it handles power. Thanks to the efficiencies developed in the A8 chip, and Apple's decision to keep the amount of RAM at just 1GB, the iPhone 6 battery is among the best around.
While it may not match the two-day battery life of the Xperia Z3, it lasted well into day two of relatively heavy use.
iPhone 6: Camera
Cameras are one of the main reasons smartphones became so popular.
The rest of the industry seems obsessed with specs and cramming more megapixels into their smartphones' sensors, but Apple understands that while this may matter to a few photo-enthusiasts, the vast majority of users just want a great camera that works.
And in the iPhone 6, that is what Apple has delivered.
The 8 megapixel sensor may seem tiny compared to the cameras from Sony, Nokia, and Samsung, yet the results speak for themselves.
Apple has added a huge amount of new features to its camera (larger pixels, a new f2.2 lens, manual exposure control, improved face detection) but users don't need to know about these, they just need to know that the camera works.
One new feature which is worth talking about is Focus Pixels, a feature which allows for faster auto-focusing, and it works really well.
On the video side of things, Apple has improved the slow-mo mode it introduced with the iPhone 5s, now shooting at 240fps as well as adding a great time-lapse video feature.
While the number of situations where you can use this are limited, it works really well and can create some brilliant videos with very little effort.
iPhone 6: iOS 8
The iPhone 6 comes with iOS 8 pre-installed, meaning you get interactive notifications, widgets in the notification menu, closer integration with Mac OS X, and many other updates.
As you would expect, the software works flawlessly but having been an Android user for a few years now, this was the first time I felt that Apple's software was really limited compared to Google's.
The freedom afforded by Android does lead to a lot of issues, but most of these have been addressed, and with Android L it looks like Google will make another leap forward in terms of design and usability.
iPhone 6: Price and value
Apple has shaved £10 off the base price of its flagship iPhone, though you will still have to shell out £539 to get the 16GB version of the iPhone 6, which is available in gold, grey, and silver.
It is also available in 64GB (£619) and 128GB (£699) versions.
While the price is obviously very high, it is not much different from the price charged by the other major smartphone manufacturers for their flagship devices. The difference here is that the price of the iPhone 6 won't fall between now and when it is updated, while smartphones from Sony, Samsung, and LG will see significant price cuts within months of release.
iPhone 6: Verdict
Apple has created a smartphone which lives up to what people expect from an iPhone, but in a much larger size. The iPhone 6 is incredibly thin and light, has flawless build quality, superb battery life, and a class-leading camera.
Yes, the iPhone 6 is expensive and iOS 8 may feel somewhat limiting if you are used to Android, but overall this is a great smartphone.
Apple may have been playing catch up in the large-screen smartphone market, but now that it's here, everyone else has a new benchmark standard to reach.
- Screen 9/10 – Big and clear, the screen may not be as sharp as some, but is still a great display.
- Camera 10/10 – It just works - brilliantly.
- Software 9/10 – iOS 8 is another improvement, but feels limited compared to Android.
- Design 10/10 – Rounder than recent iPhones, but just as beautiful.
- Build quality 10/10 – Flawless.
- Overall 9/10 – A new benchmark from Apple.
- Beautiful, thin and light design.
- Great battery life.
- Superb camera.
- iOS 8 limited compared to flexibility of Android.