The iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus go on sale this Friday in the US and iOS 8 is going to released tomorrow and as usual the reviews are out the evening before and iMore has a good round up of the major reviews here. Now, when was the last time Apple released a new iPhone and received less than stellar reviews? Ummm... never. So I am not surprised to see exceptional reviews for both these phones from almost everyone who has reviewed it. However while you can go to a site like The Verge for an excellent video reviews and a site like Re/code for a written review, what is the point of repeating the same points here? So instead here are some of the things that surprised me about these new iPhones, that might be of interest to you.
- The iPhone 6 is 4.7" diagonal and the 6 Plus is 5.5" diagonal. The iPhone 6 is around 28% bigger in the front panel surface area than the iPhone 5S. While its usable touchscreen is only 17.5% bigger (diagonally). So all the pre-announcement rumors about the iPhone 6 having a no-bezel body were not true.
- The volume says another story though. The iPhone 6 is only 15% more in overall volume than the iPhone 5S, but gains 17.5% more workable screen real estate. The weight comparison between the iPhone 6 and 5S, is almost the same as the volume comparison in terms of the percentages.
- If you thought that the iPhone 5 or 5S felt too thin to hold comfortably and hence had to use a case, the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) feel the necessity of a case even more, apparently not just due to their (light) weights to screen size in inches, ratio, but also due to a "slippery" body design, i.e., rounded edges and an almost edge to edge display.
- However there is a contradicting impression of the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus's) thickness. Some reviewers fell that the thinness is a requisite than a good to have attribute. At least a couple of the reviewers made it clear that the humungous size of the iPhone 6 appears less dramatic, thanks to the thinness of these models, compared to some rivals, say like the Samsung Galaxy Note, for example. So it finally looks like, Apple's obsession with thin iPhones has paid off.
- The iPhone 6 Plus has a different iPad like version of the iOS 8, where some Apps like Mail, Messages and Settings App for example have a two pane design like the iPad than the one pane design like the iPhone 5S. iPhone 6 still looks similar to the iPhone 5S in its iOS design, though.
- However the iPhone 6 Plus also has a different keyboard, but only in the landscape mode where there are more modifier keys like "cut", "copy", "undo", etc., in addition to the usual keys.
- Reachability seems to be useful, though sometimes indifferent (software bugs?). But more importantly it is available on both the iPhone 6 models, even the 4.7" iPhone 6.
- iPhone 6 Plus has a much better battery life according to Apple and that is pretty clear from the extra available real estate for a larger battery. But the iPhone 6 model has only "slightly" better battery life than iPhone 5S, according to Apple. But according to the reviews, even iPhone 6 has a noticeable improvement in battery life, apparently due to more efficient power management of the new A8 processor.
- The speaker on both the iPhones are much louder.
- Though the iPhone 6 Plus has a significantly improved camera hardware, like the physical image stabilization kit, other improvements in the camera are universal across both the iPhones or in other words, both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have a significantly improved camera performance, compared to the iPhone 5S.
- The iPhone 6 Plus has a greatly improved screen, thanks to its 401 ppi Retina HD screen. But even the iPhone 6 that has the same pixels per inch as the iPhone 5S has much better contrast.
- iPhone 6 Plus appears much faster than the iPhone 5S in terms of performance thanks to its higher clock speed, but iPhone 6 seems only slightly faster than the iPhone 5S. However this lesser than expected performance improvement from iPhone 5S to the iPhone 6 might be due to the reviewers not trying any complex Apps, like games on these review units.
The elephant in the room
But after reading through almost a dozen reviews on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, I can't shake away the feeling that according to many reviewers, Apple might have missed out something, at least till now on these bigger screen iPhones. Dont get me wrong here. All the reviews I have read so far have almost declared the iPhone 6 models as the best smartphones put there. But it seems although that these reviewers are comparing these bigger screen iPhones with the Samsung Galaxy Notes and since iOS 8 does not have the so called pro features that Samsung crams in its Notes, they claim that though there is a big potential for the iPhone 6 models, Apple seems to have made bigger iPhones for the sake of making bigger iPhones without actually taking advantage of actual bigger screens, again at least not yet.
I am not going to disagree here, not without trying these phones out myself. But their logic makes sense to me. From what we know so far, the iPhone 6 Plus has a slightly more "productive" version of iOS on it, while the iPhone 6 has an almost identical version of iOS as the iPhone 5S. Of course this is a software issue and for all we know, Apple can easily wow us further with say an iOS 8.1 release. But for now, these bigger screen smartphones seem to the getting the tag of "the best smartphones" out there but also with a lot more potential to tap. After all we don't know what plans Apple has for these phones in the future, we can only connect the dots looking backwards...