Apple iPhone 6 review: Scaled to order

This is Apple like we’ve never seen before. Apple like we never thought we’ll see. To begin with, there’s supposed to be no better iPhone than the iPhone 6. That’s the sort of thing you’d expect of Apple. Come September every year, the world grabs a bag of popcorn and gets ready to watch Apple’s bestest iPhone yet come on stage in all its glory.

That’s what we did too, minus the popcorn, which by the way would’ve had nothing to do with the bitter aftertaste the presentation left. And no, we don’t mean Apple’s live streaming blunder.

Things actually started off nicely with the announcement of the long overdue screen size bump, and we didn’t get a cheaper option this time – we were treated to possibly a bigger, better iPhone to go with the best iPhone to date. How Apple – it takes another iPhone to beat the iPhone.


Apple iPhone 6

It felt though like they’re telling the audience, you don’t have to go to the competition to do better. We never thought we’d see Apple do that – imply that. We missed the usual arrogance if you will. The kind that preached that screens bigger than 4″ are a nonsense. The kind that insists on the retina resolution while the competition is at QHD.

Rounded corners? 8MP camera? NFC? This must be year 2012. Apple’s not about cutting-edge hardware, but content and user experience. We’ve heard enough of that. And hey, it’s a valid strategy. But this year even the most loyal iPhone users among us have a feeling they’re being fed a feature a year with Apple withholding significant upgrades that would make the iPhone technologically superior, or equal to the flagships of the competition.

If it wasn’t for the different looks, we’d say all we got this September is another incremental upgrade, an iPhone 5ss, if you will. And the looks – the phone looks gorgeous but once we picked it up, the slippery curves made us miss the sharp machined chamfered edges. Gone is the premium glass material on the back, replaced by cheap looking antenna strips that can’t seem to decide whether they belong to the back or the sides. Oh, and the protruding camera lens – bumper cases will be in high demand again it seems.

Anyway, we’re here to see how much better the new iPhone 6 is compared to last year’s model and we can start with a look at its key specs. Who knows, we might succumb to its charms.

Key features:

  • Metal unibody, 6.9mm slim, 129g of weight
  • LTE connectivity (Cat. 4, 150Mbps downlink)
  • 4.7″ 1,334 x 750px LED-backlit IPS LCD of 326ppi
  • Apple iOS 8
  • Dual-core 1.4 GHz Apple A8 chipset, M8 motion co-processor, PowerVR GX6450 GPU, 1GB of RAM
  • 8MP F/2.2 camera with True tone LED flash, phase detection auto focus, 1080p@30fps and @60fps video recording, 720p video recording @120fps and 240fps, 1.2MP F/2.2 front-facing camera with BSI sensor and HDR mode.
  • Comes in 16, 64, and 128GB of built-in storage
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the Home button
  • New Barometer sensor for tracking elevation
  • 1,810mAh battery

Main disadvantages:

  • Has unimpressive screen to body ratio (the Nexus 5 fits a 5-inch screen in this size of a body)
  • No microSD slot
  • Pricey memory upgrades, 32GB version should be standard for such an expensive phone
  • No user-replaceable battery
  • Protruding camera lens makes the phone wobble if you don’t have a case on
  • Camera is still merely 8MP four years in a row (granted, it’s getting better every with every new generation)
  • No 4K video and video sound is still mono
  • Lacks the optical image stabilization of the iPhone 6 Plus
  • No enhanced resistance to liquids or dust
  • NFC functionality limited to Apple Pay
  • Rather pricey for a flagship (without carrier subsidies) that misses some of the extras of the competition, such as stereo speakers, wireless charging, an infrared port, or FM radio

Feel free to disagree – but the biggest upgrade Apple has delivered in years has left the feature gap wide open – denying them their usual excuse: “We do things our way, we don’t care about anyone else’s screen size or resolution”. And that list goes on to waterproofing, 4K videos, lossless video zoom, OIS, high-res imaging, stereo speakers.

Perhaps we started this review off on the wrong foot, so please forgive us the rant. But the irony in it is that it was Apple’s iPhones driving the competition to heap feature upon feature in hope they can steal users from the superior ecosystem and user experience which, we must say, got even better with iOS 8. It now looks like Apple were wrong about screen size. They’re in a position to explain why it took them a couple of generations to catch up to the screen size of Android… minis – but still fail to match many of the intriguing features the competition has been offering.

The Apple iPhone 6 is not without its merits. It’s just that this year you have to look even harder to spot them. We like how iOS looks and feels on a bigger screen. We love the curvature along the edges of the front glass. The new chipset is more power efficient and yet gets an edge on the 64-bit A7 chip in the iPhone 5s, both in terms of processing power and graphics rendering.

Apple iPhone 6Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6 at HQ

We bet there’s plenty more to discover as we put the iPhone 6 through its paces in our usual review routine. Stick around to see whether this fellow will be able to turn things in its favor. It will be a tough battle, but we’re more than willing to give it a fighting chance.

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