The iPhone 6 & 6S are among us, and they are absolutely beautiful. I have been using the Nexus 5 for the past year as a filler device because I wasn’t too stoked about iOS 7 or the iPhone 5S – it kinda felt as though Apple had lost its way – so I thought it was the perfect year to try something new. I don’t regret trying Android for a year, but I am beyond happy to be back to iOS and the hardware that runs it!
Items that are a PLUS
Hardware Design: My favourite aspect of the new device is the design of the hardware in general. The attention to detail that Apple puts into it’s products is second to none, and the iPhone 6 proves that yet again. This is hands down the best feeling phone I have ever held in my hands. It’s thin, has beautifully rounded edges, and an excellent (if not perfect) weight distribution. I do wish that they would have dropped the antenna break lines on the back, but obviously that’s not feasible at this time or else I’m sure they would have. They have still managed to work them in in a way that does not look out of place though. I especially like the new rounded edges of the front glass panel – and I agree with others who have said that this improves upon the experience (and intuitive-ness) of swiping in from outside of the screen edge to navigate around certain apps.
NFC & Apple Pay: This one is HUGE for me. I have been waiting for Apple to introduce NFC and some sort of actual digital wallet (not Passbook) for what seems like forever. However, I do know that the main reason for the slow uptake in digital payments is due to overly-cautious banks, money hungry service providers (i.e. Rogers), and the largely fragmented payment processing industry. Even still, I have been anxiously waiting for the day that Apple enters the market, and does what it does best; convince big industry players that what they are going to introduce will change the industry like nothing before, and get them on board. It seems that they have finally been able to do this for the mobile payments industry, and I’m excited to see how the next 12 months pan out for Apple Pay.
Screen Size: Yes, other device manufacturers have had larger screen sizes for a while now, and yes, there are countless jokes about how only Apple could release a larger phone, and claim it is revolutionary. All that aside, it was a good move by Apple to increase their screen sizes, and I think they picked two great sizes. While there are still some who will prefer the size of a smaller phone, I think generally, people will be happy with the 4.7″ and 5.5″ options. I do think that phones (from Apple and other manufacturers) will stick around these sizes for at least 3-5 years to come – there is just a natural limit to the size that people want to carry with them everyday.
Processors: The iPhone 6 comes with Apple’s custom 64-bit A8 chip along with an M8 motion co-processor. I believe that the advancement in these chips will allow the battery to last longer for simple tasks, as well as perform more complex tasks than prior generation iPhones/iPads. However, from a daily usability standpoint (checking email/twitter/rss, responding to messages, etc.) it’s hard to notice a speed improvement as older processors were already really quite good at these types of things in the past. I think the newer chips will really shine with more advanced games, video editing, slo-motion recording, etc.
Camera: The new camera on the iPhone is truly great. With the addition of 1080p at 60fps, 240fps slo-motion video, and time-lapse, it just keeps getting better and better. Also the new auto-focus method supports Focus Pixels, which significantly speeds up the auto-focus time for most photo situations. I still think Apple leads the way in mobile phone photography – and I’m sure we’ll see that trend prove itself again this year when we look at Flickr’s stats on the most popular smartphone device.
Radio Improvements: Upgraded LTE speeds (up to 150mbps), and support for 802.11ac (up to 3x faster than 802.11n). These are real world improvements that you’ll really only notice when you pick up a phone that is a couple years old and notice that it is quite a bit slower feeling. However, you will also need to be sure you are using upgraded infrastructure (appropriate cellular markets, and Wireless AC compatible routers) to take advantage of these improvements.
Storage Increase: This year Apple bumped the storage capacity to 128GB at the top end, 64GB as the mid end, and 16GB on the low end. While I think they should have killed the 16GB option, and bumped it up to 32GB on the low end, it’s still great to see the 128GB option. This is another area, where we are likely to see a halt for the next few years – as more and more services allow you to store files in the cloud, thus reducing the need for much more local storage. Of course in a few years, 1TB iPhones could be possible thanks to cheaper storage technology, but we’ll wait and see if they’ll even be necessary :)
Items that are a MINUS
Protruding Camera Lens: While this may not be a minus to others, it’s one of only things I don’t love about the iPhone 6/6S hardware. The Nexus 5 also had a protruding camera lens, and I disliked it from day one. My biggest caveat with this, is that the phone will not site flat on it’s back when placed on a table or flat surface. Instead, when tapping on the phone, it will teeter-totter like a table with a missing foot. Again, this is just a minor complaint, and I’m sure if Apple had their way they would have opted to have a flush mount camera lens.
NFC Limitations: As Apple has done in the past, they have introduced an awesome hardware feature, but have somewhat limited it’s capabilities. Apple did this before with it’s camera and Touch ID hardware – but have since opened these up to developers. So the good news here is that I’m almost certain they will open it up in the future to other uses. Two things that come to mind is wireless charging, and having the ability to use an iPad as an NFC reading device. On the flip-side, I also understand why Apple rolls out these hardware improvements in stages – to ensure the stability of the system. Side note – this paragraph is basically just here to add bulk to the minus column of this review as I can’t really think of any other minuses :P
So that does it for my iPhone 6 Plus/Minus report. Overall, I feel like the iPhone 6 was a massive step forward for Apple, and for the smartphone industry in general. There are not many phones that compete with Apple on a hardware level, and for the ones that do, the iPhone 6/6+ will certainly make them step up their game even more. If history repeats itself, we will see an iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S+ have the same form-factor and design as the iPhone 6/6+ which will be ok with me – but what really fascinates me at this point is what the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7+ will look like. If I had to make a prediction, I would say it will have a bezel-less screen, be a few tenths of a millimetre thinner, have a combined lightning/headphone port or no ports at all, have a sapphire display, and incorporate some type of nano-waterproofing system.