The iPhone 6 Plus

IMG_0106

As many of you know I got an iPhone 6 Plus about a month and a half ago. I have used it as my only phone every day since and think that I have had enough time with it to do a full review. The model I got is the AT&T 64gb Silver version. Let’s get right to it.

Design

The iPhone 6 Plus (as well as the 6) are quite a bit different design wise than the previous 2 models of iPhone. While the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, & 5S all had flat edges and a chamfered cut, the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus have curved edges with an all aluminum back. It’s quite a different feel in the hand and has it’s plusses and minuses in my opinion. While it feels better in the hand to me and is very pleasing when swiping from the edge of the screen to the sides it is quite a bit more slippery in the hand than the older models. Also, while I still think it is a beautiful phone, it just doesn’t have that classic Leica look of the iPhone 4 & 5. To me, those phones just felt and looked so solid. This is all just a matter of taste of course but I would have loved to have seen a bigger iPhone done in the style of the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 6 Plus is really thin. At just 7.1 mm thin it is the second thinnest iPhone ever. Only the iPhone 6 at 6.9mm is thinner. So while it is a lot bigger phone than any of my previous phones, it is by far the thinnest phone I have had. I really appreciate the thinness & at just 6.1 ounces it is really light for it’s size as well.

Another change that the 6 & 6 Plus have is the sleep/wake button has moved from the top of the phone to the right side. This is necessary due to the larger size of the phone which would make reaching the top of the phone much more difficult compared to the previous models. The volume buttons and mute toggle switch all feel fine to me.

The screen on the iPhone 6 Plus is a 5.5″ 1080p display (1920 x 1080) which is good for 401 ppi. I have no complaints about this screen at all. It has excellent color reproduction, great contrast, gets plenty bright enough, and is a great size in my opinion. It is quite a change going from the 4″ display of the iPhone 5S to this. You can see so much more information on this screen than you could on previous iPhones and it is just a pleasure to read on. I’ve found that I am much more likely to read on my phone now than I did in the past. It has definitely cut into the time I previously would have used my iPad mini.

The iPhone 6 & 6 Plus have a new “reachability” mode which you access by tapping the home button twice. Doing this brings the top half of the screen down to the bottom half so that you can reach the icons at the top while using the phone one handed. While this is a cool trick I don’t really find myself using it much at all. Instead I have just started holding my phone higher up than I used to and I can pretty much reach everywhere without doing this. If you have small hands, this would probably be more useful. Here’s a gif of how it works:

giffffr-1

A few nitpicks about the design: One, the antenna lines on the back are kind of ugly. I appreciate the effort to go all aluminum on the back but to me, the glass on the top and bottom of the previous iPhone models looked better. Two, the back camera on both the 6 and 6 Plus sticks out just a little from the casing, causing the phone to wobble slightly if laid on a flat surface. I know most people (myself included) will use a case which will negate this but it still kind of sucks if you are one that likes to go without a case.

All that being said I do really love the design of the 6 Plus. It took a couple of weeks to get used to the size coming from an iPhone 5S but I have fully adjusted and have no desire to go back. I have picked up my wife’s iPhone 5 several times since getting the 6 Plus and I cannot get over how small it now feels to me. I know all of the Android fans are like “We’ve had giant phones for years” but it’s nice to have the bigger size in the iPhone. Better late than never in my opinion.

Camera

If there’s one thing about iPhones most people can agree on, it’s that the cameras they use are excellent. While both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are still sporting 8 megapixel cameras, I believe that they are the best smartphone cameras yet. I can’t go into near the detail that these guys go into but I can tell you that for everyday shooting the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus is great. It has incredibly fast autofocus and the built in optical image stabilization helps a lot in low light situations as well as when shooting video.

I still wouldn’t use it for taking vacation pictures or for something like my child growing up if I had one, that’s what my Sony NEX 6 is for, but for everyday photo taking for Facebook & Instagram it is more than sufficient.

It also takes some really nice panoramas, up to 43 megapixels. Here is one I shot downtown the other day:

IMG_0119

 

As far as video is concerned it seems to do a really good job. I have had a lot of fun playing with the new 240fps Slo-Mo mode. There is an excellent video of some skateboarders shot with this feature that I will put below. This was shot handheld with an unsteady hand and it still came out really smooth.

Performance

The 6 Plus comes with a 1.4 GHz 64 bit A8 processor. Performance on the 6 Plus is very good. I haven’t noticed any slowdown when using it. If I could change one thing it would be for Apple to give us 2gb of ram as opposed to the 1gb it has. This would seriously cut down on your safari tabs and apps in the background having to reload so often. Apple did give the new iPad Air 2gb of ram so I am hopeful that future iPhone models will as well. I have attached a screenshot of my Geekbench score below:

IMG_0142

Battery

This right here is probably the strongest part of the iPhone 6 Plus to me. This phone is an absolute beast in regards to battery life. I cannot kill it in a single day no matter how hard I try.

On weekends when I’m not using it much I can easily go 2 days without a charge. A normal work day of me getting up at 7:00 AM, using it hard throughout the day and night and plugging in in around 10:30 or 11:00 PM will have it at 40-50%. My iPhone 5S  could barely make it through a work day at all. I would normally charge it in the afternoon so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it dying that night.

I cannot stress how nice it is to not have to worry about the battery on my phone at all anymore. It’s one less thing for me to worry about everyday and that’s a very good thing.

Touch ID

After a month and a half, Touch ID is still working great for me. Touch ID is so convenient and it would be very hard to go back to a phone that doesn’t have it. I wish I had it on my iPad and my MacBook. It just works.

Apple Pay

I unfortunately have not had the chance to try out Apple Pay yet as my bank still doesn’t support it. I have emailed their support and they have responded saying they will probably be offering it sometime this year. If they do, I will be sure to come back and update this section with my thoughts on how well it works. Reports of people who have used it have been generally positive. This video does a decent job of showing how it works:

Accessories

I have bought a couple of cases for my new iPhone. As much as I would like to go without a case the phone is just too slippery for me to trust it. I am very careful with my phone though so I wanted something very minimal. I ended up buying the official Apple leather case a well as the Griffin Reveal. Both cases are very thin while providing much improved grip as well as negating the back camera bulge. The Apple case specifically gives the phone a really solid grip. The Griffin case has decent grip with the rubber bumper on the sides while having a clear back so you can still see the design of the phone. I really love both cases and switch between them constantly.

Wrap-up

So there you have it. Is the iPhone 6 Plus a good phone? Absolutely! Is it the right phone for everyone? Absolutely not! For some it will be just too big. Luckily Apple makes the iPhone 6 as well. But if you have been waiting for a big phone that runs iOS I would wholeheartedly recommend the iPhone 6 Plus. I am very satisfied with it and can’t imagine going back. Thanks for reading.

Extra

I love reading and watching tech reviews (big surprise). I have read and watched probably over 100 reviews of the iPhone 6 Plus. My absolute favorite one is by my absolute favorite youtuber MKBHD. Do yourself a favor and check out his video review if you are interested in this phone.

 

 

Advertisements

Quick Thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus

apple-iphone-6-plus-silver

I got an iPhone 6 Plus over the weekend and wanted to give my first impressions of it. I got the AT&T silver 64gb model. I will hopefully have a more in-depth review after I have had it for a month or two.

  1. The iPhone 6 Plus is really big, especially coming from the 4″ iPhone 5S. It is fairly hard to use one-handed even though I have fairly large hands. That kinda bums me out but I love how much easier it is to type on it and the screen is just gorgeous. For me the positives of it being big outweigh the negatives but this is definitely not a phone for everyone.
  2. The battery life is really great. I used it heavily today at work. I listened to several podcasts, made a ton of phone calls, browsed the internet during lunch, & used bluetooth all day. It hasn’t been charged at all since 7:00 am. It is now 9:00pm and it is at 38% battery. This is much better than my 5S which struggled to get through a full day of even light use without needing to be recharged.
  3. The built in speaker is really loud. Yes, it’s still on the bottom of the phone and yes it is still mono but it is much better than the speaker on the 5S. I still want something like HTC BoomSound on the iPhone though!
  4.  I thought I would have a hard time adjusting to the sleep/wake button being on the right side instead of on the top but I haven’t at all. It really does make more sense for it to be there than to have to reach all the way to the top.
  5. Touch ID seems to be even better. It was already working extremely well on my 5S but it has been perfect with the 6 Plus even right after washing my hands, which is when it usually fails for me. I don’t know if there is actually a better Touch ID sensor in this phone or if it is just because I had to retrain my fingerprints but it has been a pleasant surprise.
  6. The apps that I have that are not optimized for the new screen size do look pretty janky. Hopefully they will get updated soon.
  7. Overall I really like the iPhone 6 Plus. It is definitely different but I really think I made the right choice for me. I highly suggest that you spend some time with one in the store before buying though. The iPhone 6 may be the better choice for you.
  8. Things I haven’t got to try yet and hope to soon are how much better are the new cameras, the new 240fps slo-mo video, how well the M8 processor tracks stairs climbed, & lastly, Apple Pay. Sadly my local bank doesn’t support it yet so I will just have to dream of what it would be like to pay for McDonalds with my phone.

The iPhone 5S

SONY DSCI purchased an AT&T 16GB Space Gray iPhone 5S on launch day (September 20th 2013) and would like to post my thoughts on it. First off a little backstory. For the past 2 years I have been using an AT&T 16GB White iPhone 4S. It was my first smartphone and I loved it dearly. It had begun to slow down a little with iOS7 installed on it & it wasn’t getting quite the same battery life that it once had but other than that it was still a very usable phone. I have used my new 5S heavily in the last month and a half and have posted my thoughts below.

  • The Design: The first thing I noticed with the 5S coming from my 4S is how much lighter the 5S is. This is because the iPhone 5 & 5S have aluminum (a-loo-minium) backs compared to the iPhone 4 & 4S, which had glass backs. I would describe the weight difference as feeling like the 5S’s battery had been removed from the phone. I am slightly torn on how I feel about this. On one hand I like that it is lighter and it is less likely that the back will break if it is dropped but on the other hand the glass back on the 4S made the phone feel a little more like a premium product to me.  The 4S had a good heft to it. The screen is also really nice. I appreciate the jump from 3.5″ to 4″ even though that is still a relatively small screen size for phones these days.  Other than that I love that it has a lightning connector instead of the old 30 pin dock connector. I really like the Space Gray color on the back. It is supposedly much more resistive to scratches and scuffing compared to the Slate Black colored back on the iPhone 5. The hardware buttons are fine but I do think the ring/silent switch on the left side is a little worse than the one that was on the iPhone 4 & 4S. It works fine but it’s just a little harder to toggle if you have fairly big fingers. One more note, I’m not sure but it seems like to me that the vibration on the 5S is also not quite as strong as it was on the 4 & 4S.

SONY DSC

  • The Camera: The camera is simply incredible on the iPhone 5S. Between the excellent low light performance, improved flash, burst mode shooting (10 photos per second!), and slo-mo video recording, it is a very nice upgrade from my previous iPhone’s camera. I still use my Sony NEXc3 as much as I can but the iPhone 5S’s camera is very capable on  it’s own.
  • The A7 Chip: The iPhone 5S is powered by the first 64bit processor ever in a cell phone. It is a substantial jump from the A5 chip that was in my iPhone 4S. I’m not going to go into detail about the processor, if you interested in more I would point you to the excellent AnandTech review.  Simply put this phone is fast. Everything just loads so much faster than my last phone. Apps, webpages, emails, etc. all just load nearly instantly. I am very happy with the performance of this phone. Apple has upgraded all of their apps to 64bit and it shows. Once 3rd party developers start updating their apps to 64bit, we should see even more performance improvements. I ran the Geekbench 3 app and have posted my results below.

IMG_1458

  • The Touch ID Sensor: The iPhone 5S comes with Apple’s Touch ID Sensor which is built into the home button. This sensor allows you to simply place your finger on the home button to unlock your phone as well as to authorize purchases on the App Store. It is a feature that nobody actually needs but is very convenient & very cool. Also, when it works it is nearly instantaneous. It is a very “magical” feeling when it scans your fingerprint & unlocks your phone for you. I go to a lot of Apple related sites and by all accounts Touch ID seems to work 90% to 100% of the time for the vast majority of people. As for me, I had some trouble initially getting it to work reliably but it now works for me about 75% to 80% of the time.
  • The LTE Speed: I know LTE is nothing new but this is my first phone that supports it. The AT&T speeds where I live are very good. I routinely see speeds of 15 Mbps up & 15 Mbps down. It is very nice to have speeds like that when you are out and about.
  • The Battery Life: I am very satisfied with the battery life in the iPhone 5S. I charge it every night and it rarely is under 40% by the end of the day.
  • The Software: The iPhone 5S comes with iOS7 installed. iOS 7 is a major departure from the previous iOS releases. It replaces the skeuomorphic designs of the previous OS’s with a clean, simple, & more modern look. For the most part I really like it. High points include the control center which comes up from the bottom, new voices and functionality for Siri, a much improved Weather app, FaceTime audio calls, & better multitasking. Overall I am very happy with iOS7. It’s not perfect but I like where Apple is going with it.

SONY DSC

In conclusion, I am very happy with the iPhone 5S and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Yes, it is not a perfect phone but between the improved camera, the A7 processor, great battery life, & most of all the incredible app ecosystem, I can’t think of a phone that I would rather have. It is the best iPhone yet.