Every year when the new iPhone comes out you'll find me in the queue in Belfast on launch day waiting for the latest gadget that Apple have brought to market. Far from being an Apple fan boy I also have used the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the latest Nexus in the last year as well as the previous iPhone the 5S. Every picture that I take for this blog is taken on a phone and given the amount of content I produce in general, my social media interactions, and the fact that I run two businesses, makes me place incredible emphasis on my phone. It is the device that is with me 24/7 and that 90% of the time is within a couple of feet of where I am in the world. With all that in mind I wanted to do a big review and try answer the question... Should you buy an iPhone 6?
When I first looked at the phone during the keynotes I wasn't overly impressed. It just didn't look that amazing and I couldn't believe that they'd let the camera stick out of the back of it looking so ugly and not being flush with the device. I'm sorry but that just wouldn't have happened under Steve Job's watch. They would have found a way to make it smaller. It may be a better camera but it just isn't perfect from a design stand point and it lets the whole phone down as a whole. The other thing that I've noticed is that because I always have the phone early people always want to grab it, touch it and examine it when out in bars, restaurants or in public. I've not had that once this time simple because people don't know that it is an iPhone 6. Phones have become so commoditised that at a quick glance this could just be an HTC, Samsung or Nexus. They all look the same now. Having said all of that, the phone does feel nice in the hand. The perfect weight, shape and size and once you hold it the older ones feel ridiculous and there is no way you could ever change back. Bar the camera issue, which most people could get over, I think this is the perfect design for a phone.
As I mentioned above the main reason I buy these phones is because they take incredible photos that I use here in recipes, reviews and in my every day life. Most of us take multiple photos with our smartphones every day of the week and this is hands down the best "point and click" camera I've ever used. I have zero clue about photography yet I can take stunning images with this and the camera does all the work in terms of making my photos look good. It also has some nice new touches like the time lapse feature and the panoramic camera has drastically improved in terms of stitching photos together.
The new iPhone 6 isn't a whole lot different to the iPhone 5S apart from the fact that it is slimmer and faster. Where the big difference comes is in the size of the screen. It may not look that much different in the photos below but the difference in the hand is huge. I first realised that this was the absolutely perfect size for a phone when I owned the Samsung Galaxy S5 and fell it love with it. The problem with the Samsung was that the Android apps just weren't as good and after a couple of months the whole thing started to feel a little buggy and slow and I longed for iOS. I said to myself if ever Apple built a phone that size I would never move again. Fast forward a couple of years and this is the size phone 90% of the world will want. It fits in the hand perfectly, it allows you to watch videos and isn't too bulky in the pocket like the plus and other larger devices.
What I noticed first here when I powered my phone up was just how much of the Apple stuff I deleted immediately. I'd done the same on my Samsung with their own built-in apps but I never thought I'd see a day where I had to "clean up" an Apple phone so much. Gone were mail, maps, game centre, safari, keynote, iTunes, iMovie, garage band, movies, newstand and a few others buried into a folder never to be seen again. That's a worry for Apple long term. iOS8 itself looks well and is made for this device and has really matured to a point where we now take it for granted and feel as if we have had it our whole lives. It is slightly buggy but I'd put that to the apps transitioning over to the bigger screen and it will sort itself out over the next couple of weeks. I'd love to be able to tell you about Apple's big new development, Health Kit, but it wasn't working during the time of this review and their other exciting move into payments with "Apple Pay" is pretty much useless in Europe (in the real world anyway) for the foreseeable future until we catch up with America. I pray it takes off but as with some of Apple's other failed projects I listed above you do wonder. Why would this be a success where Maps and Safari have been such inferior software products?
This is the bane of all our lives. On my last iPhone (The 5S) I was back to charging it twice a day and would often find myself out and about by lunch time with a dead phone. The 6 is a lot better but they always are at the start. I am getting the full day out of it since I've had it with heavy enough use but that is a stretch. I can only base it on previous experience of iPhones and say that is probably going to get worse over time and there have been no significant improvements here. You'll get the day out of it but if you are buying this with some big hope of a vastly improved battery that lasts days, you'll be in for a disappointment.
Something really weird happened when I was using phone on the first day, I fell in love with the gorgeous leather cover that I bought for it. It is one of Apple's own branded covers and is made in red leather. I'm not a cover fan normally but because this device was so expensive and felt so slippy in the hand I thought it was absolutely essential. This is one of the rare cases where a cover makes the phone better. It has Jony Ive's beautiful design aesthetics written all over it from the way the phone fits in so flush to the case right through to the smell and gorgeous texture of the cover in your hand. I'd gone there with no intention of buying a cover but I now love the cover as much, if not more, than the device itself.
This phone is really really expensive. I went with a Gold 128G because that is all they had left and it set me back a crazy £699 which is about €880. Add in the cover and you are getting up towards €1000. The plus will actually come in at over €1000 if you go for the top end model. Now you can get it with a carrier and it might seem cheaper because you pay it monthly, but the reality is you'll pay the same over 18-24 months as I was paying with it sim unlocked. That is a staggering amount of money for a phone. It's the first time I bought an Apple product and thought "hold on this is just too much money". I can sort of justify it to myself given the 1000s of pictures, amazing content and amount of work I'll do via the device but even then it is a stretch. Phones are starting to do a lot of the stuff that laptops do and they are now being priced accordingly.
I've been making video for the internet for years and it has gotten to the stage where a phone is nearly as good as a professional set up. The video quality on this phone is superb as you can see from this review myself and Jamie did when we were unboxing his phone at the weekend.
Nice To Haves
There are always nice to have touches on an Apple product that seem to make the little difference when you buy one. I love the fingerprint unlocking because it just works so well and I really want to see this extend beyond unlocking and buying apps to hopefully one day remove all passwords and the need to type. It is super early days for Health Kit, but I see that as being something really useful with huge health benefits and 3rd party apps will tap into that in a big way. The time lapse feature is also going to allow a bunch of us amateurs create some pretty amazing content for social channels. They'd be the 3 things that I'd have the highest hope for and which set the phone apart for me.
Should You Buy One?
The phone isn't perfect but it is as close as you are going to get in a modern smartphone. This is the phone I've been waiting years to buy (larger screen iOS) and I can't see myself moving away from this in the future. Its all about the bigger screen which is an absolute must have once you use it for a day. Old, smaller phones will feel mickey mouse once you own this.
- Perfect size
- Gorgeous big display
- Camera and video
- Camera exterior design
- Better alternatives to lots of Apple software