The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will finally be available to the public this Friday, September 19th, but early reviews of the two new devices have gone live this evening from several publications. The iPhone 6 is the biggest iPhone yet, coming in with a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone 6 Plus packs an even larger 5.5-inch panel. Both of the models feature “Retina HD” displays. The internals of the devices have also been upgraded to include a new second generation 64-bit A8 chip that Apple claims is 25% faster CPU-wise than ever before and 50% faster graphically.
Both models of the new iPhone went up for pre-order this past Friday and Apple says the devices set an all-time pre-order sales record. You can read our round-up of all the product reviews below:
On Apple Pay:
The iPhone 6 models have an NFC chip inside (near-field communications), just like Android phones. That makes them work on those same contactless terminals, of which there are 220,000 across the United States. But you won’t have to turn on your iPhone, open an app, or fool around with credit cards. You just hold your phone (screen still asleep) near the terminal with your finger on the Home button. The screen lights up, shows your preferred credit card, sends you a receipt, and the deal is done.
The Home button, of course, is also a fingerprint reader; no bad guy can steal your phone and then start buying stuff, unless he also chops off your thumb. There’s more security stuff, too; you can read about it here.
Nobody can try out Apple Pay yet, though, because Apple won’t be turning it on until October; at that point, we’ll get an iOS 8 software update that includes Apple Pay features. (One important one: You’ll be able to store your credit card details in the Passbook app just by taking a picture of your physical cards — no typing.)
On the design:
Immaculately crafted, the iPhone 6 shows that you can create a device that blows everything else out of the water when it comes to design. That might sound like an Apple fanboy cliché, but we’ve put the iPhone 6 in the hands of ardent Android fans and they agree: the iPhone 6 sets a new standard for smartphone design. We’ve habitually been reaching to the top for the power button – something you’ll adjust to with use – but its position on the side is better for those who don’t have big enough hands or fingers to reach on this new larger frame. Overall, we’re mightily impressed with the iPhone 6’s design and build. It’s very much a phone we’d recommend you go and touch, because it’s likely to make a number of manufacturers take a second look at their own premium portfolio. Importantly, however, it feels like a big upgrade over the iPhone 5S, something that iPhone owners are going to want to upgrade to.
Another interesting side effect of the size difference is how they manage thermal heat dissipation. Since it’s the smaller of the two, the iPhone 6 got noticeably toastier than the Plus when playing games — in fact, I rarely had any problem with the Plus getting warm.
But tests are tests: Real-world performance is where it’s at. And this is where the Plus truly shines. In my usage tests, I do a little bit of everything on the phone: calls, games, email, social networking, e-book reading, the works. After all that, I got through a full 17-hour workday with just 3 or 4 percent battery life remaining. On the 6, I managed to squeak out around 13 hours. With moderate to light usage, you should expect to see the Plus get roughly a day and a half, if not more.
There is no doubt in my mind that iPhone 6 Plus will be hugely successful, because clearly there are people out there that want a larger screen device. There are markets in the world where people like to use only one device and having a phone this large is a benefit.
For me, I think the iPhone 6 will be the perfect upgrade for people in the U.S. that haven’t embraced larger screen devices yet. It’s the perfect size for almost any hand.
Both devices are very fast and with the help of Apple’s iCloud services, they can be setup and ready to use in under two minutes.
I found nothing significant in my week of use with either iPhone 6 model that would lead me to any other conclusion than to recommend both. Choose the one that fits your lifestyle the best and be happy.
On iOS 8:
The keyboards are just one example of how apps can now integrate and talk to Apple’s hardware and software. Even the iPhone’s Touch ID thumbprint reader now talks with other apps. I tested a beta version of my favorite password manager, Dashlane, that can use my thumbprint as a master password and fills in usernames and passwords in the mobile Web browser automatically.
The operating system’s organization feels stale. The information and apps I need the most are buried. While the Today screen will soon support third-party widgets, I wasn’t able to test it and besides, it feels a little out of the way. There’s no easy way to just peek into an app from the home screen, or personalize a device, a la Android and Windows Phone.
I’ll probably always have gripes, but iOS 8 pulls out ahead of the competition by leveraging the greatest strengths of the iPhone: its apps and ecosystem. After you tap the Update button, those small perks and fixes will make the most difference.
On which model to choose & wrap-up:
While consumers are already clamoring for the larger of the two phones, I found the iPhone 6 Plus too large and unwieldy to use as my daily driver. It does offer better battery life and an improved camera stabilizer compared with the iPhone 6, but its size proved to be more than I wanted to grapple with on a regular basis. Think of it this way: The iPhone 6 Plus is only slightly smaller than an iPad Mini, which means one-handed use is messy even with Reachability, and holding it up to a normal-size head looks slightly absurd. Maybe there are legions of Galaxy Note fans in the world just waiting for Apple’s take on the phablet, but I’m not one of those people.
On the other hand, the iPhone 6 feels like the perfect phone in my hand. Not too big and not too small. Its thin frame still makes the device seem compact, but the added display real estate is a breath of fresh air if you’re coming from an earlier model. Yes, this is an iPhone 6 in my pocket. And yes, I am happy to see you.
With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple has proven that not only can it make a bigger phone, but it can make a bigger phone better than anyone else in the marketplace. Between the slick software, killer hardware, and deep integration into Apple’s amazing ecosystem, the iPhone is back in the spotlight.
hey guys today I’m going to review this years black rectangle, its bigger than the black rectangle from 2013 so thats good
— Michael Steeber (@MichaelSteeber) September 17, 2014
My review: you’re going to buy it anyways, just get the size you’re more comfortable with.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) September 17, 2014