A Completely Irrelevant iPhone 6 Review
4 months too late and from a guy who isn’t at all qualified to review iPhones.
I’ve always been a bit of a late adopter. I got a Nintendo when the Super Nintendo came out, a Super Nintendo when the N64 came out, and well, I still enjoy playing my original Xbox. This trend has unsurprisingly continued up until the present day.
I like Apple products quite a lot and get a little giddy every year when the WWDC rolls around—like every other human male in Middle America. But before I go out and purchase the latest iDevice, I like to wait and see if I can get a good deal on it somewhere down the line or, even better, amass a large amount of related gift cards. I consider it a practice in self-deprivation. See also, masochism.
So then, just last week my 2-year Verizon contract came up for renewal and I decided it was time to pounce on the iPhone 6. Only a short 4 months since it’s initial release, score! I’m a Major-Release-Updater (MRU)©, meaning I skip all the half-releases (“S”) in favor of the seminal models.
I thought for about a half-minute about going for the iPhone 6 Plus but I probably need to work my way up to a phone of that size. I mean, good God, it’s massive. Having no experience with the larger Android phones that seem to be ubiquitous these days, I feel like I need to step up my tolerance to these newer gargantuan devices gradually.
First things first, this is a big step forward for Apple. That 0.7" is a bigger jump than you think it’s going to be. I like the way it fits in my hand but get frustrated when I have to adjust my grip to reach my thumb to the top-opposite corner of the screen. If nothing else, the dexterity of my right thumb is only getting better.
I first noticed a big difference while using the 6 before bed. I used to be able to prop my old 5 on my chest and hold it/operate it with only one hand. After having it fall and slide into my face several times, I realized that my whole phone-before-bed world was in for a change.
Going with the two larger-sized models was a bold move for Apple. Sure, if you want a more hand-held size you can stick with the 5S but they've made it clear they’re going big or going home. I suppose the long game they’re shooting for now is that if you want to run, workout, etc. with an iDevice then you’ll get an Apple Watch, which make sense. I ran with the 6 in my pocket last night and it definitely wasn't ideal.
If there’s one thing that has stuck out to me the most so far, it’s how very obvious it is that Apple is in bed with the protective case & screen protector companies. They just have to be. This phone won’t last a month without some form of protection around it.
More so than the boxy-by-comparison 4 through 5S styles, the iPhone 6 is a friggin’ torpedo when it’s in your hands. With it’s slim profile, rounded edges and smooth back surface, there aren’t any ledges for your fingers to get a good grip on. This makes taking the phone out of your pocket—without letting it fly out of your hand into the cool, dark night—an especially daunting task. Don’t get me wrong, the phone and it’s “shamfered a-LU-min-ium bezel” look great. I just want it to look great throughout the entire length of the time that I own it.
It’s gotten so bad with the iPhone now, that when the associate at Verizon went back to get my phone for me, she came out with an overpriced case and screen cover already in hand. The upsell was on. And rightfully so, this thing does need a case. The nice Verizon lady also informed me the $25 screen protector “feels just like the glass on the iPhone screen!” and will “break before the glass does!” if I inevitably lose my grip on the phone and send it hurtling towards the pavement.
The thing is, I don’t think a phone should need a screen protector. It ideally shouldn’t need a case either. I don’t want to cover up my phone’s “Apple-i-ness”, I want to show it off to all my coolest peers! I would think that Apple wants me to as well, so thus their logic seems flawed in selling a sleek/slick phone that in almost every scenario requires a case. That is, unless they want you to buy a case along with your phone. Which I think is entirely their aim nowadays.
I wound up leaving Verizon and risking it without a case for a few days, daredevil that I am. I promptly ordered a decent, cheap bumper from Amazon (notice the uninhibited view of all Apple-i-ness in that product photo). I’ve used plenty of bumpers in the past and really think they work well with iPhones. They usually wear out quick (again, they’re cheap) but have protected my phone from quite a few cringe-worthy tumbles. They also provide a nice matte edge for my fingers to grab and hold comfortably. Win-win.
Honestly, I’d love to see a graph of Genius Bar cracked screen repairs comparing each iPhone model through the years. I would guess there’s a significant up-tick every new model year.
Lastly, let’s talk about that camera protrusion because man is it a head-scratcher. If I needed a final piece of evidence to prove that Apple is in the tank for the case/screen protector companies, this would be it. Why in the world do you let that guy hang out there to be scuffed up when the phone is laying flat?
Obviously, we’re at the point where the push to make phones thinner is reaching diminishing returns. The iPhone 6 is just too thin to fit the entire stack-up of the camera and it’s lenses within the depth profile of the phone. I see that as a problem. And apparently one that Apple couldn’t solve satisfactorily. When you lay the phone on a flat surface without a case, it teeters on that protrusion. As an engineer myself I can save you the consternation: it’s just a bad design.
I just don’t see a reason why the phone being a few thousands of an inch thinner is that much more important than keeping the back of the phone flat. If nothing else, let the bottom of the phone stay at the current dimension and then gradually slope the body to catch the camera protruding out.
I will say the phone by itself feels light and very well balanced in my hand. Adding a clunky case just throws all that good mojo off, though.
Touch ID was the one thing I didn't think I was going to care much about in the new iPhone. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s probably my favorite feature. Saves me a lot of swipes and hassle. Those that have a 5S and up know what I’m talking about.
I also really enjoyed the change in the phone’s vibration. It’s subtle but seems to hum at a much more pleasing frequency.
It’s the little things.
I haven’t noticed a huge difference in battery life but it seems to be improved. I’m on WiFi at work and at home for the majority of my normal work day so I don’t push it’s too it’s limits that often. I do, however, run the Moves and Human apps which track my activity all day and that puts more of a strain on the battery than most. I hope that the new M8 chip makes a difference in that regard.
Again, there’s a noticeable upgrade in speed, especially coming from a guy who just hits the major releases (MRU, if you’ll kindly recall). Anything that will let me tear through Two Dots and refresh Instragram at an incredible rate of speed is going to win me over.
My last bit of advice is to all my iOS developer friends out there: please rethink your UI designs with these larger phones in mind. Now that we’re all stretching our thumbs to their limits, we really should do away with any controls at the top of the screen. I don’t even want to imagine what that’s like on the 6 Plus.
In that regard, Apple needs to think of a new way to activate the auto-scroll up feature. That tap-on-the-notification-bar motion is more of a lunge-and-hope-your-thumb-hits-anywhere-close motion now.
Lastly, curse words to all the app developers who haven’t updated their apps for the new screen resolutions yet. Ouch. It’s like a punch in the eyes every time I open them.
One of my favorite games for iOS is called Trainyard and it still hasn’t even been updated for the 5's longer screen yet—and at this point I’m assuming it won’t ever be. So on top of the pixelation there are the old familiar black bars as well.
Ahhh! All those poor, wasted pixels.
P.S. — I haven’t had a chance to try Apple Pay yet but I’ve heard good things. I’m hoping that this whole CurrentC B.S. goes the way of the buffalo soon enough so that Apple Pay opens up to more stores. I have a feeling this is going to shape up to be a HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray-esque showdown.
Well, that was certainly cleansing.
Now that I got a lot of that negativity out of my system, I’ll say this: I love this phone. What else did you think I was going to say? It has it’s quirks, mind you, but overall I really dig it. The sum is truly greater than it’s parts.
And honestly, I can’t wait to see where Apple takes these phone(s) in the next two years. Because yea, it’ll be another 2 years before I let myself buy another one.
MRU for life.
Ok, one last negative: Where’s the 6C? You guys gave up on the “cheaper” iPhone idea already, eh? “Let’s just ditch the one with all the color options for this big-ass one. Who’s going to notice?”