It’s all about the size. The iPhone 6 and huge iPhone 6 Plus are Apple’s reaction to ever increasing phone screens. Is Apple too late to the party? Undoubtedly yes, but it might just have managed to be fashionably late.
One of the key reasons Samsung, HTC and others smartphone makers have eaten into iPhone sales over the past two years is that they offer a lot more screen for your money. The iPhone 6 now totes a 4.7-inch screen. That’s not big when compared to its closest rivals, and even less so when placed next to the huge 5.5-inch display on the iPhone 6 Plus.
The iOS faithful have pining for a larger screen and Apple has finally delivered. And while the screen is the headline feature of the iPhone 6 there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s a brand new super-slim design, a much faster processor and the addition of iOS 8.
And sales figures, so far, have spoken. Apple turned out its most profitable quarter ever following the launch of it’s new phones and the iPad Air 2. Actually that’s putting it lightly. Apple had the most profitable quarter of any company ever and now tops the list of most valuable companies in the world at $700 billion. That’s twice the value of Microsoft and Google combined.
It’s not down to luck and marketing either, the iPhone 6 is a great phone. But these days there’s no shortage of those from the likes of Samsung, LG and HTC, while cheaper contenders such as the Motorola Moto X and Google Nexus 5 have closed the gap on the flagships. Has Apple offered that little bit of extra magic to launch it to the top of the premium smartphone pile?
The iPhone 6 opts for soft curves and seamless, chamfered joins between the screen and the back, as opposed to the machined edges of the iPhone 5S. Barring some plastic detailing on the rear that adds to the design and which houses the antennas it’s all glass and metal.
It’s not as striking as its predecessor. The square design and shiny edges of the iPhone 5S stand out and it clearly distinguishes between the chassis and the screen. It’s the same with the iPad mini and iPad Air, although they marry the diamond cut edges with rounded metal sides.
It may not be as instantly arresting, but the iPhone 6 looks like it’s been hewn from a single piece of metal and glass and fused seamlessly together. The effect is particularly strong in the space grey finish and with the screen turned off. It is a beautiful slab of black glass and anodised aluminium. We feel the design is safe rather than ground-breaking, though. The white bezel on the silver version ruins the seamless effect a little – we’d go for space grey every time.
As always with Apple’s phones the iPhone 6 has superb balance, it feels right in the hand regardless of orientation. The comfy edges are also a lot easier on the palm than the sharper ones on the iPhone 5S and the 6.9mm thickness makes it feel sleek yet strong.
Some owners are claiming that it may not be quite as robust as Apple hopes. Reports of the iPhone 6 bending in pockets have surfaced. We’ve had it in the front pocket of jeans and have not experienced any issues for the months we’ve been using it or the iPhone 6 Plus. We’re not talking super skinny jeans, but we’ve been cycling with it in tight pockets and there’s not been a bend in sight. In fact since the initial furore we’ve heard very little about it. Unless you intend to use your iPhone 6 as a see-saw we wouldn’t worry about it at all.
We do suggest you fork out for a case, though. Like all phones you run the risk of smashing the screen if you drop it and iPhone 6 repairs don’t come cheap. Check out our selection of the best iPhone 6 cases before you buy.
There is some help if you do find the screen of the iPhone 6 too big. Clunky one-handed use features are available on some Android phones, but they’ve never felt particularly intuitive. They often just shrink the whole screen diagonally down. Apple has come up with a typically elegant solution. Tap twice on the home button and the entire top of the screen jumps down bringing all the hard to reach areas into your thumbs range. It works on every app that works in portrait mode too, so you can easily get to the address bar or a browser without a problem.
Realising a power button at the top of the phone of this size doesn’t work Apple has moved it. The power button is at the right edge, above the nano-SIM tray. This makes it easy to access with your thumb, if you’re right handed or with your index finger if you’re a lefty. It works a lot better than the top power button on the HTC One M8 which requires a little juggling to get to if you’re not ET.
In all other respects the layout of the iPhone 6 is the same as previous versions. The slightly recessed volume buttons sit on the left just under the mute toggle. The 3.5mm headphone jack resides at the bottom, with the lightning port and six handsome holes for the speaker.
There’s only one area where the iPhone 6 deviates from the principles of smooth, seamless design and that’s with the rear camera. To ensure no compromise on image quality due to the slimness of the phone, Apple has had to raise the camera slightly from the body. But it isn’t anywhere near as severe as some other phones. Put a case on and you won’t notice this at all, but you will feel it when holding the phone in landscape. Helpfully, the edges are lightly chamfered, which means it slips into pockets without snagging at all.
All-in-all the iPhone 6 has an accomplished design. It doesn’t scream ‘look at me’, instead it’s refined, elegant and ergonomic, great for long hours of use, whether you’re gaming or visiting your favourite sites. Do we like it more than the HTC One M8’s design? The jury’s still deliberating; we have mixed views at the Trusted Reviews’ offices.
There’s one final thing to talk about. The iPhone 6 is not water or dust resistant unlike the Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z3. If that’s important for you then you’ll need to either opt for a waterproof case or go for one of the Android phones.