iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus initial impressions

Image: Forbes
Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus earlier this month, and as far as I can recall, there hasn't been a messier launch by Apple than this. First off, the live stream was a disaster, and why Apple still chooses to stream its events in-house rather than on YouTube remains a mystery. Secondly, Apple had to pull all HealthKit apps from the App Store just as iOS 8 was rolling out due to a critical bug with the service. Thirdly, many "new" features that Apple added to iOS 8 such as third-party keyboards and sharing app data via Extensibility didn't work as intended, in addition to the usual complaints of high battery drain and poor WiFi strength. iOS 8 had so many severe bugs, Apple had to release iOS 8.0.1 just one week after iOS 8 went public. As if that wasn't bad enough, iOS 8.0.1 was even worse, killing cellular reception and Touch ID. Apple straight up removed it from their servers. All this bad press, coming hot off the heels of the #icloudhack scandal, and we haven't even started talking about the two new iPhone models yet. To say Apple have had a few rough weeks would be an understatement. If the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were anything short of spectacular, it would certainly be pouring salt into Apple's open wound. So lets talk about the two new iPhone models, shall we?

iPhone 6

The internet went crazy after it was finally confirmed that the new iPhone 6 would come with a 4.7" display. After Steve Jobs famously said "No one is going to buy a big phone", fandroids and Android OEMs couldn't wait to rip Apple apart for jumping onto the large smartphone bandwagon. Samsung in particular did a classy job. So it has a 4.7" display, with a resolution of 1334 x 750 (Apple always uses weird resolutions) which maintains Apple's 326ppi. The processor is Apple's new 1.4 GHz dual-core A8 chip, backed up still after all these years, by just 1GB of RAM. Storage options include 16GB, 64GB and 128GB, but no 32GB option. The large storage options are good, especially since there's no SD card slot as expected, and who knows how much free space will be needed when iOS 9 launches next year. The camera maintains the 8MP count, but is improved in other areas, and the front facing camera comes with a pretty low resolution, just 1.2MP. The battery only got a small boost, up to 1810 mAh from the iPhone 5s' 1560 mAh, obviously a limitation of the phone's thin body, which is a major talking point on it's own.

Bezels on the iPhones makes them larger than other phones with similarly sized displays.

The iPhone 6 is the thinnest iPhone yet, just 6.9mm. Last year's iPhone 5s was 7.6mm. As a result of this thinness, the battery isn't as large as other Android phones of a similar size (even the Nexus 5's relatively small battery is larger at 2300 mAh). Another result of this thinness is that for the first time ever, the iPhone's camera bulges out at the back. It's somewhat of a flaw in the design, even Apple tried to hide it in their official press images. Another design element people are unhappy about is the antenna design. You can clearly see stripes on the back of the phone, which are made of plastic to allow signal transmission. Problem is, it looks tacky. Even The Verge said in their review, "It just looks bad, like someone drew on my phone with a marker.". I honestly think this (along with the 6 Plus) is the worst designed iPhone Apple have put out, alongside the 5c. The iPhone 4/4s and 5/5s were much better.

The magic of Photoshop. Image: BGR
All things considered, this is definitely the iPhone that iOS users need. After being stuck with tiny displays for years, they will finally be able to read text on their phones while holding it at a comfortable distance from their face, and really be able to enjoy watching videos and viewing photos on their phones. It's nothing ground breaking. The specs as usual are comparable to what Android had several years ago. Even the inclusion of NFC is restricted to Apple Pay, while Android users can use NFC to send files to one another, pair with accessories and use NFC tags. Even initial speed tests put it on par with Android flagships (which by the way, are still running last year's software. Things could be much different once Android L is out). Nonetheless, if you are locked in invested in Apple's ecosystem, this is definitely the phone you should be using. The iPhone 6 Plus? I personally wouldn't recommend it.

iPhone 6 Plus

Everything I said about the iPhone 6 applies to the iPhone 6 Plus as well. Everything is identical except for three things - the display, camera, and battery. The display is of course larger, at 5.5" and comes with a higher, more common resolution of 1080p. The camera while identical to the one in the iPhone 6, comes with optical image stabilisation. And with the larger body comes a larger battery, 2915 mAh. One more difference which isn't hardware related is iOS. On the iPhone 6 Plus, you'll be able to view a two-paned interface in some apps when the phone is in landscape orientation, to make better use of the larger display. No multi-window though. Everything else is identical, from the internals, to the antenna design, to the protruding camera lens.

But the biggest story of the iPhone 6 Plus has to be #bendgate. I'm not going to go into detail, but long story short, due to the size and thinness of the iPhone 6 Plus, some users reported that their phones were bending, just by being in their pockets. Even well known (and much respected) journalist Russell Holly said his iPhone 6 Plus was a little bent out of shape. Apple have since responded by inviting certain members of the press into their testing facilities to reassure their customers that the iPhone undergoes stringent torture testing before going onto store shelves. Is the whole issue blown out of proportion, or is it a serious issue you should consider before making a purchase? Well, I would recommend the iPhone 6 over the 6 Plus anyway even without this controversy, since I think the 6 Plus is just too big a jump for current iPhone users. But to each his own. If you're going to put a case on it anyway, why not?

Samsung going the extra mile. Image: Business Insider
Like I said in my intro, the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was kinda messy. And the aftermath, from broken iOS updates to bending phones, definitely didn't help Apple one bit. It's something Android OEMs were keen to capitalise on. With each passing year the iPhone is becoming more and more like Android. Heck, even fragmentation is becoming an issue. Apple used to be the pioneers of the mobile industry since the original iPhone. I have no problem acknowledging that. They may never have been the first to do anything, but when they did it, they did it well. Compare iOS to Android just 5 years ago and you'll see how different the industry is now. Apple is now playing catch up with Android (and even Windows Phone) instead of leading the market, and the old "it just works" saying, doesn't work any more. Am I being too hard on Apple? Possibly. But for a company of Apple's stature to be in the position it's in now, who wouldn't be?

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