With two days to go until the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus finally start selling in stores – or ship to the doors of the millions customers who have preordered one of the new iPhone 6 models – the first reviews are in. Unsurprisingly, the reviews will tell you what you already suspected: Apple’s completely redesigned iPhones are “bigger than bigger,” just as the company claims.
FROM EARLIER: Get pumped for Friday with this iPhone 6 unboxing video!
The most important feature of the new iPhones is screen size, with reviewers saying that long-time iPhone users may have a tough time adjusting to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at first, when it comes to one-handed operation and pocketability. But the bigger screen, capable of offering the same performance, if not better than predecessors, while showing a lot more content, is definitely worth having to adjust to using an overall bigger gadget.
“There’s a downside to having a bigger screen: You have to carry around a bigger phone. The small of hand won’t be thrilled about the added width. The iPhone 6 Plus, in particular, is a pocket-filler,” Yahoo’s David Pogue wrote in his review of the new iPhones.
Apple blogger John Grubber even shared an interesting tidbit of information about how Apple chose the new smartphones, revealing that Apple’s decision to go with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays for its 2014 iPhones was a thoroughly calculated move. “My understanding, talking to people at the event last week, is that Apple’s industrial design team mocked up prototypes of every single size between 4.0 and 6.0 inches, in tenths-of-an-inch increments, and from those 20 sizes selected the two that best hit the sweet spots for ‘regular iPhone’ and ‘ginormous iPhone’. We might never see new iPhone sizes again — or at least not bigger ones,” he wrote.
Will women buy the bigger iPhone 6 Plus that’s definitely harder to handle with one hand, not to mention hide away in a pocket? Re/code‘s Lauren Goode seems to be attracted to the 5.5-incher, liking it a lot more than Samsung’s giant devices that she looked at in the past.
“I have to admit it: I’m tempted. I really like this phone. And to people who actually prefer huge smartphones: You are going to like this phone, too,” she said. “That’s mostly because it’s not just a smartphone; it’s a statement phone. What Apple is doing isn’t even especially innovative — ‘Us, too!’ the company is shouting, as it chases after that flatbed truck filled with phablets — and yet, they’ve made this big phone feel fresh and desirable.”
Aside from size difference, the two devices are basically similar, with the iPhone 6 Plus only having two advantages over the smaller model, including a bigger battery, and a slightly better rear camera which comes with optical image stabilization (OIS). That basically means that no matter what iPhone 6 model users buy they’re likely to get the same experience. Both devices have the exact same design, and come preloaded with the same iOS 8 version, which is itself one of the major features of the handsets.
Speaking of camera performance, USA Today’s Ed Baig found that “larger displays double as larger viewfinders,” revealing that the iPhone 6 was generally easier to maneuver than its bigger siblings. Baig also highlighted the OIS feature in the iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the other camera features, including the new focus system, faster frame rates, time-lapse videos and selfies-friendly features. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Topolsky further praised Apple’s choices for the camera. “On the plus side, the iPhone camera continues to be in a class by itself. The improvements Apple has made prove that the iPhone isn’t just a fantastic smartphone with a camera; it’s a fantastic camera, period,” he wrote.
As for battery life, another important smartphone feature especially for devices with bigger screens, reviewers found the iPhone 6 to be slightly better than predecessor, with the iPhone 6 Plus being the real star of the two, thanks to its gigantic battery. Even so, iPhone power-users will likely have to charge their iPhone 6 nightly, as they might already be doing with the iPhone 5s. “Battery life on phones depends heavily on how you use them. In my daily use, the iPhone 5s generally lasted from eight to 10 hours between charges. But during my week of testing, the iPhone 6 did better, going 14 or 15 hours. Most people will still have to charge it nightly, but won’t be hunting for plugs during the day,” Re/code’s Walt Mossberg said in his iPhone 6 review.
“The real magic, though, happens because of Apple’s new operating system,” New York Times’ Molly Wood said. “The iOS 8 software doesn’t look greatly different, but many refinements make it more powerful and flexible. Some of the features catch up to competitors and some are totally new,” she added, detailing some of the new iOS 8 goodies that iPhone 6 users, and not only, will enjoy. “Ultimately, it’s what’s on the inside that keeps them just in front of their competitors,” she concluded.
“There’s no one right choice for everyone,” Wall Street Journal reporter Geoffrey A. Fowler said in his review about choosing the right iPhone 6 purchase. Fowler too believes that size is just one of the things to consider when buying iPhone this year. “So what makes the iPhone 6 the best? Performance, usability and camera refinements, coupled with a safe, powerful operating system that now lets the iPhone’s big collection of apps do more.”
Unfortunately, even though the new iPhones are made of metal and reinforced glass, they’re not shatterproof as the early rumors suggested, and Mossberg learned that the hard way. “Late in my testing, I dropped the iPhone 6 Apple had lent me for this review. It fell flat on its screen from about five feet onto a concrete driveway when I got distracted while taking a photo. This was entirely my fault. But the entire screen was full of cracks,” he wrote.
That mishap did not prevent him from recommending the phone as “the best smartphone you can buy.”
Some of the reviews mentioned above come with video versions. To check them in full, follow the links below:
- Yahoo’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review
- John Gruber’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review
- Re/code’s iPhone 6 review
- Re/code’s iPhone 6 Plus review
- The New York Times’ iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review
- The Wall Street Journal’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review
- USA Today’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review
- Bloomberg Businessweek’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus review