With the iPhone 6, Apple has finally addressed the need for a larger screen on its smartphones. To many, this may look as if Apple is playing catch up with Android - it's difficult not to, considering the stark similarities in the latest iPhone and Android (*cough* *cough* Samsung) devices both in terms of hardware design and software. Irrespective of what critics think, Apple continues to enjoy a huge fan following and its latest iPhones have only added to those numbers.
The iPhone 6 is the smaller of the two models launched this year, which sports a 4.7-inch display. The iPhone 6 Plus, sports a larger 5.5-inch display for those who need that extra real estate for getting work done. Apart from the larger screen, the iPhone 6 is quite similar to its elder sibling including the design and features.
The 4.7-inch Apple iPhone 6 comes with nifty improvements with a price to match, but is it the right smartphone for you? Read our detailed review to find out.
Design and build: 8/10
One of the biggest changes Apple has given to the latest iPhone is perhaps the design overhaul, which now makes room for a larger screen and marks its move from the straight-edged design. The iPhone 6 is great to look at given the sleek, fully-metal body design and edge-to-edge glass. At first glance, it could easily pass of as one of Android’s many candy-bar shaped devices from Samsung or HTC.
The 4.7-inch screen is easy to get used to and, thanks to the edge-to-edge glass design, the iPhone 6 manages to fit a larger display without increasing the width of the overall phone by too many inches. The phone still manages to fit inside pockets, though they don’t fit as snugly in the hands as the dinkier iPhones. We like the slim bezels on both sides.
We are not sticklers for diminutive screen sizes; in fact, it’s refreshing to see the iPhone finally come with a larger screen, as typing, reading and web browsing is a lot easier now. The screen size should be adequate for most people, but if you are used to a large "phablet", the iPhone 6 Plus might be a better option.
It’s really thin at just 6.9 mm and feels great to use - if a little slippery because of the curved edges. As with most super-thin phones, the camera of the iPhone 6 protrudes out slightly and there’s a ring to protect it. This means the phone does not sit evenly on its back. While the phone is still all metal, the iPhone 6’s body feels flimsier in comparison with the iPhone 5s. This could be a result of Apple trying to reduce the weight of the device.
The button to lock the display has now been moved from the top to the right edge of the phone, so that your fingers don’t have to reach out too far. The volume buttons are recessed and the ringer switch is now smaller to make the phone look as skinny as possible. It’s also lighter now, which you may or may not like.
Unlike other flagships, such as Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z3, the Apple iPhone 6 does not come with rugged features such as water-proofing and dust-proofing.
The Apple iPhone 6 houses the Apple A8 system-on-chip which is backed with 1GB of RAM. The Apple A8 SoC is based on the 20nm manufacturing process and houses a dual core Cyclone ARMv8 processor with support for 64-bit OS. It has Imagination's PowerVR GX6450 GPU. The 16GB version comes with around 11.5GB of free space for saving apps, music, photos and other downloads.
The 8MP iSight camera comes with a dual LED flash and improved optics for better low-light photography and action photography. Also, you can now capture photos and videos simultaneously. Note that with iOS 8, you can integrate additional photo-editing apps to the default Photos app. Learn about more iOS 8 features here.
The camera now has a slow-motion mode, which lets you capture videos at either 120 frames per second or 240 frames per second. In addition, iOS 8 adds the time-lapse feature that lets you get creative with your videos. And then there’s the usual panorama mode and the ability to focus specific areas by touching the screen.
Like the iPhone 5s, the fingerprint scanner works well and is useful for quickly unlocking the screen and authorising payments on the App Store. The latest iPhone comes with Apple Pay for cashless payments, though the service is not available in India yet.
As with most Apple devices, the iPhone 6 is extremely easy to use, even if you are a first-time iOS user. The iPhone 6 comes with iOS 8, which you can update to iOS 8.1. While some users have reported issues with the new update, we had no trouble with the device we tested. iOS 8 lets you add widgets on the notification screen, install third-party keyboards and with features called Handoff and Continuity, you can take off from where you left on another Apple device. This means, if you started a game on the phone, you can finish it on an iPad, or if you are working on a document on a Mac or iPad, you can carry on with the same on your phone. This worked well when we tried it, though you will need to have a common iCloud account set up on all the devices to make use of this feature.
With Reachability features, you can bring down the screen by double-tapping the home button. This helps if you are not used to a large-screen phone, so you don’t have to stretch your fingers too far when using apps.
The device runs smoothly and can even take on heavy app use and graphic-heavy games. However, the phone tends to get noticeably warm on intensive use. This could affect the battery life during the course of time, unless Apple rectifies this in its future iOS updates.
The iPhone 6 maxed out in the 3D Mark benchmark test, while the AnTuTu benchmark test showed that it is faster than the iPad Air and considerably faster than the iPhone 5s, though you can’t really tell the difference in regular use case scenarios.
Call quality is excellent whether you are receiving or making calls.
If you are already an iOS user, there’s little you’ll need to adapt to in terms of getting media on to your device. With the iOS 8 update, you can now delete songs and create playlists directly from the app, without having to connect it to your computer. You can transfer songs and movies by installing the iTunes app on your Mac or PC. Once connected over Wi-Fi or via the microUSB slot, you can quickly sync apps, transfer music and videos or create backups on iCloud. You can also download movies, songs and music albums from Apple’s comprehensive iTunes Store after creating an iTunes account.
You get the same set of Apple’s signature Earpods that are designed to fit perfectly in your ears. Sound quality is very good compared with most earphones that are supplied with mobile phones. You can always switch to your own good pair of headphones with the 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s no FM radio and iTunes radio is not available in India.
The iPhone 6 supports all modern frequencies and connectivity options including 4G LTE. There’s support for NFC, but only for making purchases via Apple Pay.
Apple has spruced up the resolution in the iPhone 6 going from 1136x640 on the iPhone 5s to 1334x750 on the iPhone 6, but the pixel density is the same at 326ppi as the screen is now larger. It looks fantastic nevertheless and images and text look very sharp. Apple has included some not-so-obvious changes to the display – it’s now less reflective under bright light, has a shatter-proof glass and an oleophobic coating to minimise fingerprints.
The iPhone 6's 8MP iSight camera comes with some nice improvements from its predecessor. While the resolution is similar to the iPhone 5s, you get a major boost in the autofocus department. The iPhone 6 supports phase detect pixels which help in faster AF acquisition. You can now adjust the exposure while shooting, focus faster for capturing fast-moving objects and take better low-light photos. You can also lock the auto focus and auto exposure of a specific area by holding your finger on the screen for a moment. This is very helpful in instances when taking a picture in bright light where you need to mange shadows.
The iPhone 6’s camera is among the best we’ve seen on a smartphone. Not only is it really fast at capturing photos, but it’s also accurate with colours and come out crisp and detailed, especially in bright outdoors.
It’s great for taking low-light shots, too. Noise levels are well controlled even in shots taken in the dark, and the camera focusses quickly and accurately enough most of the time. This makes it great for capturing blur-free, fleeting moments.
While the main camera has been updated, there's no big improvement in the front camera. Self-shots taken from the 1.2MP front camera appear quite pixillated and colours look slightly smeared. However, compared with the 5s, it does tend to do a better job at taking selfies in dim light. In addition you get more control over selfies, as you can now adjust the exposure, time your clicks or take multiple self-shots by holding down on the shutter button.
Battery life: 7/10
There iPhone 6 packs a 1,810mAh battery, which may seem paltry compared with other phones in its league. However, its battery life is above average, if not the best in its class.
In our tests, the iPhone 6 managed 14 hours of calls on the 3G network with the auto-brightness set on and location access switched off. When left on standby, it managed nearly six days without charging with mobile data and location access switched on.
On average use,which consisted of about an hour of calls, moderate web browsing and app use (WhatsApp, Facebook, Messages and Music), the phone lasted for a full day and a few more hours before we had to plug it back to the mains. While these are not outstanding results, it should be able to get you through at least 12 hours of heavy smartphone use.
Location access for apps eats up your battery faster when switched on.We recommend turning it off when you don’t need it. Alternatively, you can switch off location access for specific apps from the settings app.
Verdict and Price
The iPhone 6 starts at Rs 53,500, which is around the same price at which the iPhone 5s was launched last year. Considering the limited storage and the fact that you can’t expand the memory with a memory card, the price may be a deal breaker for many.
Apart from that, the iPhone 6 surpasses most areas, which makes it one of the best smartphones you can buy right now. It has a brilliant display, one of the best cameras you’ll find on a smartphone, excellent call sound quality and it’s super-fast to use. It's definitely the best iPhone you can buy, but if you don't mind the massive screen, you may like the iPhone 6 Plus more.
On the downside, the iPhone 6 lacks in features compared with rivals. For example, it's not waterproof, you can't expand the storage and you can't use NFC for transferring data. Also, despite the improvements in iOS 8, it's sill not as flexible as Android. If these are things that matter to you, consider other alternatives such as the Galaxy S5 or the LG G3.
If you are already an iPhone user and are unhappy with the screen size, the iPhone 6 is worth the upgrade. But iPhone 5s users, in particular, won't find much of a conceivable difference in terms of the overall performance.