Since the iPhone 3G was released in 2008, Apple has changed the design of the iPhone every two years on the even year. The iPhone 3G in 2008 and the iPhone 3GS in 2009 were thick but had curved sides. The iPhone 4 in 2010 and iPhone 4S in 2011 had a somewhat boxy design. The iPhone 5 in 2012 and iPhone 5s in 2013 used a similar but thinner boxy design with a taller screen. Following this pattern, 2014 was the year for a new design for the iPhone, and boy did we get one. Most obviously, the iPhone 6 (and iPhone 6 Plus) are larger than ever before. They are also thinner than ever before, with curved edges. I pre-ordered an iPhone 6 from AT&T, and it arrived at my house this past Friday (so I was able to avoid waiting in line for hours to get a new iPhone on the release date). I've been using it extensively since then, and I really love this iPhone, although the larger size has mostly pros but a few cons. Here are my thoughts based on my own experience with the iPhone 6, which supplements my initial post on the iPhone 6.
The new design: thinner and curved sides
The most obvious difference in the iPhone 6 is the new design, and the first aspect of the new design that I really like is thin, curved side. My first iPhone, the iPhone 3G, had a curved side, and it felt great. Here are two photos of the last four iPhone designs: the iPhone 3G/3GS, then the iPhone 4/4S, then the iPhone 5/5s, and on the right the new iPhone 6:
One reason for the curved side of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS was to make the iPhones seem thinner than they really were, but the curved side also felt nice in your hand. The iPhone 6 is thin enough that curves are not needed to create the illusion of thinness, but the curved side of the iPhone 6 still feels great. It is smooth, and dare I say almost soothing — somewhat like a worry stone. I really like it, subject to one caveat noted below.
As a result of the thinness, the iPhone 6 feels lighter to me than the iPhone 5s. I know that isn't really true; the iPhone 5s weighs 3.95 ounces and the iPhone 6 weighs 4.55 ounces. But because the weight is distributed across a larger iPhone, whenever I use the iPhone 6 it just feels like a much lighter iPhone. And even when I hold my iPhone 5s in one hand and the iPhone 6 in the other, my mind still tells me that the iPhone 6 is lighter. You certainly don't want an iPhone that feels too light because that would make it feel like you don't have anything of substance in your hand, but that isn't a problem here. The weight of the iPhone 6 just feels great. For a device that you are going to be using in your hand throughout the day every day, and perhaps even carrying in a pocket all day long, the weight, the thinness and the curves make a big difference, and I love this aspect of the new iPhone design.
The new design: larger and better screen
Of course, the most obvious design change in the iPhone 6 is that is has a 4.7-inch diagonal screen, much larger than the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s (and the 3.5-inch screen of the iPhone 4s and earlier models). I am of two minds on this larger screen.
When you are looking at content on the iPhone 6's screen, the screen is amazing. In part this is due to the new Retina HD screen, which has a higher contrast so that text is sharper and blacks are deeper. But it is also because the screen is larger.
As I explained in my initial post on the iPhone 6, there are two different ways you can take advantage of the larger screen, and you select which mode you want to use in Settings -> Display & Brightness. If you select Standard View, and if you are using an app that was written take advantage of the larger screen, you see more on the screen. For example, the iPhone 5/5s home screen can display five rows of apps (plus the dock) per screen. In Standard View you see six rows of apps per screen (plus the dock). If you select Zoomed View, then you see the same screen that you would have seen with an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s, but everything is just larger.
My eyesight is far from perfect, and on my iPhone 5s and prior iPhones, I used the Accessibility settings to make the text bold and larger. I found that this made it easier and more enjoyable to read emails and other text. With the iPhone 6, I find that I can turn off bold text and keep the text size closer to "normal" because the larger screen already makes everything bigger and easier to read. If you are like me and you found the default view of the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s a little small and hard to read, then you are going to love using the Zoomed View on the iPhone 6. On the other hand, if you have great eyesight, you'll probably prefer the Standard View so that you can see more at one time on the screen.
Watching a video or looking at a photo is much, much nicer on the iPhone 6 than any prior iPhone because of the larger screen. Reading emails and attached documents is also much nicer with the larger, sharper screen. I prefer virtually all of my apps at this larger size, and the larger screen is by far the #1 reason to upgrade to an iPhone 6.
Having said that, I mentioned above that I was of two minds on the larger iPhone, and there is also a drawback of a larger iPhone: the larger size is somewhat harder to hold in your hand. In fact, when I first started holding the iPhone 6, I held it the same way that I held my iPhone 5s and I found the phone starting to slip out of my hands because of the additional width. Over the course of this weekend, I've started to adjust my grip, and I presume that I will eventually get used to the new grip but I'm not quite there yet. Moreover, as good as those curved sides feel, the one downside is that it makes the iPhone 6 (without a case) more prone to slipping out of your hand. So if you are holding a more slippery phone on which you don't have a good grip to begin with, that's a recipe for a dropped iPhone — which I haven't done (yet), but I've been worried about it.
Another slight downside of the larger iPhone is that it is harder to operate with just one hand — not just because it is larger in your hand, but also because your thumb has to reach higher to tap the top of the screen. I have larger hands, and perhaps for that reason this has not been a big problem for me. I haven't really found the need to use the new feature where you can double-tap the home button to make the top of the screen move down so that you can reach it more easily, although it is nice that it is there.
Again, I've barely spent more than 48 hours with this new design, and I'm sure I'll get used to the larger size in my hand. And I can already say that the advantages of the beautiful, larger screen definitely outweigh sticking with an iPhone 5s. But if you upgrade to an iPhone 6, keep in mind that there will be a transition period.
Moreover, as I get used to the larger iPhone 6, there is no question in my mind that the iPhone 6 was a much better choice for me than the huge iPhone 6 Plus. I can't imagine getting used to the size of that iPhone in my hand, and while I'm sure that movies and many apps look nicer on a larger screen, if I want that much of a larger screen I'll just use my iPad. And holding an iPhone 6 Plus up to your face to make a phone call does seem a little too much like a Maxwell Smart shoe phone to me.
Apple says that one of the best features of the iPhone 6 is the improved camera. I've seen some amazing things that you can do with the iPhone 6 camera, such as this post by photographer Austin Mann that I linked to this past Friday. While I haven't yet done an in-depth comparison of the quality of the iPhone 6 camera versus the iPhone 5s, the pictures I took this weekend with my iPhone 6 came out great. For example, on Saturday I watched my 6-year-old daughter play soccer (and you'll be pleased to learn that the Snowballers played a great game). My hand was moving quickly with the iPhone to keep up with the action, and the girls were all over the place, but the iPhone 6 did an amazing job of staying in focus and giving me sharp, vibrant pictures. I know that this is partially because the iPhone 6 has nice optics, partially because of really good camera software, and partially because of the super-fast processor in the new iPhone 6, but whatever the reason, the iPhone 6 performed like a champ. (As did my daughter, who kicked her first goal of season. Woo-hoo!)
I can't wait to try the new Apple Pay system, which lets you pay for items at a number of merchants by just tapping your iPhone, making it faster and more secure to make purchases. But it doesn't start until next month, so for now all I can say is that I really look forward to it.
Every new iPhone is faster, which means that is even more responsive to your commands. Emails pop up faster, attachments download faster, websites load faster, etc. The iPhone 6 continues this trend.
Not only does the iPhone 6 have a faster processor, but it also has better WiFi. When I ran speed tests of my iPhone 5s and my iPhone 6 running side-by-side on the same WiFi network, my iPhone 5s would typically top out at 50 Mbps while my iPhone 6 would typically see over 70 Mbps. Of course, you get different results every time you run a speed test so I hate to read too much into individual tests, but WiFi tests on my iPhone 6 consistently had results around 50% better when tested in the Ookla Speedtest app, and subjectively, I consistently felt that large websites were loading even faster on the iPhone 6 than they did on my iPhone 5s.
It takes some time to get used to the larger iPhone 6 in your hand, especially if you are holding it while you are walking around. But when you are using the iPhone 6, this is really an amazing device. The screen is beautiful. The smooth, curved, thin edge feels fantastic. This is the fastest, most responsive iPhone ever. The camera takes amazing pictures, with more pictures in sharp focus. I really love using the iPhone 6, and if you have been thinking of upgrading, I encourage you to do so.