An Honest iPhone 6 Review

Ok, I’ve now spent a fair bit of time with the new iPhone 6, and here’s the amazing thing I discovered: the new iPhone 6 is better in nearly every way than the iPhone 5S it supersedes. Staggering, I know.

Basically that’s all most people need to know. I’ll discuss why this is so a bit later, but for now, if you truly need some more detail:

  • The iPhone 6 is faster. It runs on a 2nd generation 64-bit chipset with an A8 processor. The new processor is eighteen per cent smaller, more energy efficient and features a billion more transistors than the A7 processors.
    • Wow, that’s a lot, what does that mean?! It means the phone does stuff a bit quicker.
  • The new screen is bigger and better. The iPhone 6 boasts a 4.7’’ screen with a Retine HD display. The display itself is 326 ppi at a resolution of 1334 x 750, with a contrast ration of 1400:1.
    • Wow, that’s a lot, what does it mean?! It means things look a little bit prettier, viewing angles are slightly more generous, and you can read the display a little more easily in direct sunlight.
  • The camera is fantastic. While the rear-facing camera is still 8MP, it proves that megapixel counts really count for little. This one takes really brilliant photos. So did the old one, to be honest, but this one is better. It also records 1080p video at 720fps, which frankly looks superb, and enables better slow-mo effects, if that’s your kind of thing.
    • That’s great, what does it mean?! It means it has a really nice camera.
  • Battery life is decent. I’ve found it lasts a few hours longer than the iPhone 5S, and will last longer still if Apple manages to sort out iOS8, which is still a bit of a mess.
  • It has more storage. While the base model has the same 16Gb as the iPhone 5S, the top end model doubles the previous model, with 128Gb (from 64Gb). There’s still no removable storage.
  • It has other features that amount to less than the marketing proclaims. There’s a barometer that helps out with the Health app. There’s a type of NFC (Near Field Communication) that enables Apple Pay, which will either revolutionise paying for stuff or won't, but won’t be released until later in October. 
  • The iPhone 6 features improved LTE speeds, which is nice though largely unnoticeable on current networks (I tested on Telstra’s LTE network). Wi-fi speeds are also apparently improved, although to be honest I haven’t noticed any difference.

Mobile phone reviews are curious things, and surprisingly difficult to pitch, especially when it comes to the iPhone. I sometimes wonder precisely who they are intended for. After all, a mobile phone is something that just about everyone has - at least in this country – but most people aren’t very interested in the tech specs. They just want a phone that works well, out of the box. This of course has always been one of Apple’s chief strengths (and one that is eroding given the issues with iOS8). Yet so many iPhone reviews are written under the impression that the readerships are tech gurus basing their decisions on sometimes arcane details.

In this sense, most iPhone reviews are written like wine reviews, which take the view that readers are interested in the subtle variations between various wines, and the myriad factors that produce these variations. Reviews of the new iPhone 6 speak in hushed whispers about the new form factor (it has more rounded edges!). Some suggested that it feels ‘completely different’ to the iPhone 5S.

But the fact is, it doesn’t feel ‘completely different’. Maybe a rotten cabbage feels completely different from an iPhone 5S, or the feeling of sunlight on your face. I’ve handled the new iPhone quite a bit, and in the grand scheme of things, it feels uncannily like the old model. It’s still a beautifully-constructed glass-fronted oblong. It still has a home button. It still feels nothing like a cabbage.

More importantly, it still does everything most people would reasonably expect a smartphone to do. It just does it slightly faster on a slightly larger screen. Is that worth the price to you? Only you can judge. It’s a great device, but it isn’t the only great device, and isn’t necessarily the best device, though it is the best iPhone.