What is the iPhone 6?

There’s no escaping it, 4-inch screens are now the domain of budget handsets not flagship phones. Apple had to react and has. It’s no surprise that the iPhone 6 sports a bigger, 4.7-inch screen. Times have changed, we’ve become accustomed to larger phones. Apple has finally accepted that it’s what the people want.

The screen size is undoubtedly the major talking point of the iPhone 6, and even more so for the giant 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. But with a brand new super-slim design, a much improved processor and some nifty iOS 8 additions there’s plenty more to discuss. There is no doubt that the iPhone 6 is a great phone, but then there are a few of those on the market already. Has Apple done enough to cement its position as the king of premium smartphones?

Watch our iPhone 6 video


iPhone 6: Design

Gone are the machined aluminium edges of the iPhone 5S. Instead the iPhone 6 opts for soft curves and seamless, chamfered joins between the screen and the back. Barring some plastic detailing on the rear, which houses the antennas, it’s all glass and metal.
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It’s not as striking. The square design and shiny edges of the iPhone 5S stand out and it clearly distinguishes between the chassis and the screen. It’s the same with the iPad mini and iPad Air, although they marry the diamond cut edges with rounded edges.

The iPhone 6 looks like it’s been hewn from a single piece of metal and glass and fused seamlessly together. The effect is particularly strong in the space grey finish and with the screen turned off. It is a beautiful slab of black glass and anodised aluminium, but the design feels safe rather than ground breaking. The white bezel on the silver version ruins the seamless effect a little – we’d go for space grey every time.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

As always with Apple’s phones the iPhone 6 has superb balance, it feels right in the hand regardless of orientation. The comfy edges are also a lot easier on the palm than the sharper ones on the iPhone 5S and the 6.9mm thickness makes it feel sleek yet strong.

Some owners are already claiming that it may not be quite as robust as Apple hopes. Reports of the iPhone 6 bending in pockets have surfaced. We’ve had it in the front pocket of jeans and have not experienced any issues even after a few half hour bike rides, and Apple have refuted the claims stating that only nine complaints have surfaced. That's not bad out of more than 10 million phones sold already.

It’s big, but not too big
And while it is bigger, the iPhone 6 doesn’t feel too big. Aside from being much thinner and lighter at just 129g it’s very similar in size to the original HTC One, one of our favourite phones of last year. If you have smaller hands you might struggle to get to the top corners of the screen, but we had no problems.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S
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There is some help if you do find the screen of the iPhone 6 too big. Clunky one-handed use features are available on some Android phones, but they’ve never felt particularly intuitive. They often just shrink the whole screen diagonally down. Apple has also thought about the issue and come up with a typically elegant solution. Tap twice on the home button and the entire top of the screen scrolls down bringing all the hard to reach areas into your thumbs range. It works on every app that works in portrait mode too, so you can easily get to the address bar or a browser without a problem.

Apple has realised that a power button at the top of the _phone_ of this size doesn’t work. Instead the power button is at the right edge, above the nano-SIM tray. This makes it easy to access with your thumb, if you’re right -anded or with your index finger if you’re a lefty. It works a lot better than the top power button on the HTC One M8 which requires a little juggling to get to if you’re not ET.

In all other respects the layout of the iPhone 6 is the same as previous versions. The slightly recessed volume buttons sit on the left just under the mute toggle. The 3.5mm headphone jack resides at the bottom, with the lightning port and six handsome holes for the speaker.

SEE ALSO: iOS 8 Tips, Tricks and Secrets
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There’s only one area where the iPhone 6 deviates from the principles of smooth, seamless design and that’s with the rear camera. To ensure no compromise on image quality due to the slimness of the phone, Apple has had to raise the camera slightly from the body. But it isn't anywhere near as severe as some other phones.  Put a case on and you won’t notice this at all, but you will feel it when holding the _phone_ in landscape. Helpfully, the edges are lightly chamfered, which means it slips into pockets without snagging at all.
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All-in-all the iPhone 6 has an accomplished design. It doesn't scream 'look at me', instead it’s refined, elegant and ergonomic, great for long hours of use, whether you’re gaming or visiting your favourite sites. Do we like it more than the HTC One M8’s design? The jury’s still deliberating; we have mixed views at the TrustedReviews' offices.

There’s one final thing to talk about. The iPhone 6 is not water or dust resistant unlike the Galaxy S5 or Sony Xperia Z3. If that’s important for you then you’ll need to either opt for a waterproof case or go for one of the Android phones.

Next: iPhone 6 Screen

iPhone 6: Screen

If you’ve never heard of Retina before it’s a term trademarked by Apple. It refers to the resolution of the screen — that's the pixels per inch (ppi) a display has and the viewing distance you would typically use it from. It means that even if you have perfect vision you won’t be able to spot pixels in normal use.

For the 4.7-inch display on the iPhone 6 that’s 326ppi, the same as every iPhone from the iPhone 4 onwards barring the iPhone 6 Plus, which packs 401ppi.

There’s no denying that the iPhone 6’s screen lags behind the competition if you look at numbers alone. It won't win at Top Trumps. The resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels pales when compared to the QHD 5.5-inch display on the LG G3. But just like a camera sensor’s megapixel count this only tells part of the story.
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The screen on the iPhone 6 is great, possibly only behind the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the upcoming Note 4 for visual quality.

Colour accuracy is outstanding. Regardless of whether you’re watching a movie or flicking through your holiday snaps, the iPhone 6’s screen displays colours exactly as it should. Incredibly, there’s also no colour shift when you tilt the screen. It’s impressive although the benefits are arguable, you don’t often hold your phone at obscure viewing angles.

Of more benefit is the peak brightness, which maxes out at 558 nits. That’s more than enough to make it viewable in bright sunlight. The screen isn’t reflective either, which helps even more in this respect.

So where does it fall short compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5? Quite simply when it comes down to contrast ratios. The iPhone 6’s LCD screen has twice as high a contrast ratio as the one on the 5S, but it is still an LCD. This means it struggles to display deep blacks. Light bleeds behind pixels in dark scenes and this makes blacks look a little grey. What’s more there is plenty of shift in the grey if you tilt the screen.
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We whacked up the sensitivity of the camera and took a picture of the iPhone 6 (left) and Galaxy S5 in a very dark room playing a video of pure black. The iPhone 6 seeps light, though it's nowhere near as apparent as this to the naked eye

The Galaxy S5 has the edge here with pitch black scenes and fantastic screen performance in low-light conditions. We still like the colours on the iPhone 6 better, but the contrast prowess of AMOLED is hard to beat.

Give us the choice between the QHD LG G3 and the iPhone 6, however, and we'd take the iPhone every time. It just goes to show that the race for a higher pixel count doesn’t necessarily provide a better experience.

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Sound Quality
One area where the iPhone 6 has the Galaxy S5 and LG G3 licked is the speaker. It manages to be louder and clearer than both and is surprisingly good for listening to movies or music if you haven’t got your headphones handy. The speaker grille sits at the bottom, which means you can accidentally muffle the sound with your hand. Other than that Apple has done an impressive job — only the HTC One M8 surpasses it in the phone speaker department.

Next: iPhone 6 Performance

iPhone 6: Performance and Features

Apple blew everyone away when it showed off the A7 processor on the iPhone 5S a year ago. The dual core 64-bit processor wiped the floor with the quad-core and octa-core competition. The 5S still runs like a dream on iOS 8, which shows that there’s still plenty of life left in the A7, but Apple has never released a new flagship iPhone without boosting the processor. It’s obliged once more with the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Again looking at the specs alone there doesn’t seem to be a huge boost in performance. The A8 packs a dual-core processor running at 1.4GHz, which is only slightly up when compared to the 1.3GHz A7. The PowerVR GPU from Imagination is also a quad-core, just like the previous iteration, not a hexa-core (that’s six cores) as some have reported.

Regardless, Apple has managed to make some significant performance improvements. The iPhone 6 scores more than 25% higher in our graphics benchmarks and 10% more in our CPU test when compared to the 5S. Apple claims the wins are even higher with a 25% boost on CPU and 50% boost on graphics performance in some use cases.

What does all this mean in real terms? It means that the iPhone 6 is fast – very fast.
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You’ll notice the performance too. Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint recognition feature, is noticeably quicker when unlocking the phone. Zipping through menus and opening apps is as slick an experience as ever. If you’re a bit of a mobile gamer then you’ll really enjoy playing the latest 3D games with all the extra graphical effects on the larger screen.

The only issue we experienced with performance has to do with certain apps. The Facebook app, for example, jerks and judders in use. We suspect this may be down to buggy iOS 8 update to the app, which should be resolved soon.

M8 Sensor Co-processor
There has also been an update to the co-processor that looks after all the data captured by the iPhone 6’s sensors. As well as keeping track of the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, the M8 co-processor looks after a new sensor – a barometer. The iPhone 6 can now measure altitude, which means it knows when you’re going up stairs and can provide that information to fitness tracking apps.

The M8 co-processor is also a lot more energy efficient than the main processor for these tasks, which is good news for the iPhone 6’s battery life. For example, it can also recognise if the phone has not moved in a long time and stops it pinging the network to look for signal when there is none. This stops the iPhone 6 leaking battery if it’s sitting in a locker at the gym, for example.

The iPhone 6 comes with the usual gamut of mobile connectivity you would expect from a flagship phone such as Bluetooth, AirDrop, and Wi-Fi 802.11ac, which is up to three times faster than the Wi-Fi on the 5S. It also comes with one of the most comprehensive 4G offerings available with 20 channels supported. What does this mean for you? It means that you should get excellent 4G coverage in most places in the World.  

iPhone 6: Storage and Pricing

One of the things about iPhones that sets Android users to finger wagging mode is their lack of microSD card slots. The iPhone 6 is no different – if you want extra storage for your music, apps, photos and movies you’ll need to pay for it up front.

The 16GB iPhone 6 costs £539/$649 contract-free, which is cheaper than the iPhone 5S was at launch but that only leaves you with around 10GB of free storage after iOS 8 takes its cut. There is no 32GB version this time round – the storage option we would normally recommend. Instead the iPhone 6 jumps to 64GB for £619/$749, which is actually cheaper than the 32GB iPhone 5S started at.

This is the iPhone 6 to get unless you desperately need shedloads of storage. If you do you can opt for the pricey 128GB option for £699/$849.

Next: iPhone 6 and iOS 8

iPhone 6: iOS 8

At first glance you might not notice many differences to iOS 8. On the iPhone 6 it looks identical to iOS 7, but scratch the surface and you’ll find plenty of new features.

We’ve gone into lots of detail on iOS 8 and some of its best features in our iOS 8 tips and tricks article and iOS 8 review, but here’s a whistle stop tour of what’s new.
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Interactive Notifications
These let you respond to messages, invites, texts and more from certain apps like Facebook without actually entering the app. This can be done by dragging down on banner notifications when they appear.

Notification Centre 'Widgets'
They’ve been on other mobile operating systems for a while, but iOS 8 brings a form of the Android staple to the iPhone 6. Instead of appearing on the home screens widgets are set up in the Notification Centre and surface some app information without having to open the app. So far app support is a little patchy, though.
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Choose your Keyboard
The keyboard on the iPhone is pretty good, but it might not be perfect for everyone. It’s had an upgrade in iOS 8 and now comes with predicted words appearing at the top of the keyboard. It also pays attention to the way you write and begins predicting words and phrases more accurately the more you use it.

More importantly Apple has opened up the keyboard to third-party apps for the first time. Swype or SwiftKey fan? Well you can finally get them on your iPhone. 

Audio Messages
Too lazy to even use your new keyboard? Then simply send a voice message via the texting app.

Recently Called Shortcut
iOS 7 brought the ability to flip between open apps by pressing the home button twice. iOS 8 has added bubbles with your most recent calls for easy access so it’s easy.

Health
Apple’s new health oriented app is unimaginatively called Health. A hub for all the data relating to your body and health, it can store everything from your blood type to your diet. Currently it’s more of a repository of information you have to input yourself rather than an automated service with a load of app data fed into it. This may be because Apple found a security flaw and pulled HealthKit apps from the App Store. Once the issue is resolved we expect plenty of apps to hook into Health.

Battery Monitor
If you want to find out what causing your iPhone 6 to run out of charge quickly you now can. Just go to the settings and hit usage and you can see all the most thirsty apps and limit them.

SEE ALSO: iOS 8 Battery Problems: Extend your iPhone’s Battery
iOS 8 review


Continuity
Continuity is one of our favourite additions to iOS. It lets you work from your iPhone 6 to your iPad or MacBook Air (running OS X Yosemite). Initially it’s a little surprising – there you are playing Candy Crush on your iPad or working on a presentation on you MacBook and suddenly someone’s calling you. It’s great though, you don’t need to dash and get your phone if it’s charging, just decide whether you want to take your call on whatever Apple device you’re using at the time and start talking. It works brilliantly when receiving calls, but we did have a few issues trying to call out while using it. 

Apple Pay
We never thought it would happen but Apple has finally added NFC to not just one but three of its products. The iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch all come with NFC and Apple Pay, the ability to pay for products using contactless technology and Touch ID. We’ve not been able to test this feature yet as it won’t be coming out until October in the US.

Hey Siri
Siri’s had a little nip and tuck too. You can now activate Apple’s virtual helper without pressing a button. Plug your iPhone 6 in to charge and shout ‘Hey Siri’ and you can ask your question. It’s also now integrated with Shazam so you can ask Siri what song is playing and it will tell you the artist and song and let you buy it in a few steps.

Family Sharing
Apps, video, audio and books can now be shared among a household. Family sharing lets parents create Apple IDs for their children which includes the option to send an approval request for purchases.

Search is under the Spotlight
Instead of just being able to search your iPhone iOS 8 for locally stored content you can now expand your search using Spotlight. Swipe down on any screen and the Spotlight text box appears. As well as looking through the iPhone 6 it will scour the iTunes and App Store as well Wikipedia entries, news and even find out local movie times and locations.
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So there’s plenty of additions to iOS 8 and that’s before we even look at Metal, which gives developers better access to the hardware to make games look slicker or Swift which is a new developer language. iOS 8 is still very new, so expect app developers to take advantage of all the new features as time goes on.

Next: iPhone 6 Camera

iPhone 6: Camera

Yet again, at face value the iPhone 6’s camera is just like the iPhone 5S’s one. It has an 8-megapixel 1/3-inch sensor with a 1.5µm pixel size. So far so last year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the iPhone 5S still has one of the best cameras around.
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However this is a new iSight camera and the differences become quickly apparent in use. Apple has added something it calls ‘Focus Pixels’ to the camera to help with speedy focussing. Otherwise known as phase-detection AF, it has been available on DSLRs and compact cameras for years and is also the same tech that the Galaxy S5 uses to help it focus quickly.

Regardless of whether Focus Pixels are an innovation or not, it works. You won’t notice the iPhone 6 taking a picture much faster than the iPhone 5S, but they do look less blurry, particularly in lower-light conditions. It also manages better in some cases when compared to Samsung’s finest, even though the S5 packs twice the number of pixels. Brightness and colour accuracy are better and there’s less apparent noise.
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The iPhone 6 (left) does a decent job in low light and is better than the iPhone 5S (right)

It works really well on sunny days, too. You won’t get quite the amount of detail you will on phones with many more megapixels, but pictures are vibrant and sharp.

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You get more detail on the Galaxy S5 (top) compared to the iPhone 6 (bottom)

At night you can use the True-Tone LED flash to help proceedings. It works just the same as on the iPhone 5S – it checks the ambient light and then changes the colour of the flash so that it provides more accurate skin tones. It works to a degree. Faces don’t have that harsh look that white LEDs provide, but we’d still rather have a bright xenon flash.

Of course, there’s one omission from the iPhone 6 camera that the iPhone 6 Plus has and that’s optical image stabilisation.

Image stabilisation, as the name suggests, helps compensate for the little movements your hands make and allows for blur free pictures. We’d have liked to see it in the iPhone 6, but it simply would not fit in such a slim body. It's not something we've missed as much as expected. There is not a great deal of difference between shots we've taken with the iPhone 6 and ones we've taken with the iPhone 6 Plus.
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Colours are less accurate on the Galaxy S5 (inset) when compared to the iPhone 6

Simplicity really is the name of the game when it comes to the iPhone 6’s camera. It is a point and shoot dream. Aside from choosing whether you want the HDR on or off Apple has added one other control setting to the iPhone 6’s camera and that’s exposure control. Tap the screen and a slider appears allowing you to control an image’s brightness. It’s a small addition, but a welcome one.

It does come with a few aces up its sleeve, too.

iPhone 6: Slo-mo Video

Slo-mo on the iPhone 5S was a revelation. 120FPS videos look fantastic and offer something different. The iPhone 6 now comes with super Slo-mo – click here to watch a video shot at 240FPS 720p to make action scenes look even cooler.

iPhone 6: Time Lapse

There’s plenty of time lapse photo apps out there but Apple makes it as simple as anything. Hit the time lapse button and the iPhone 6 starts taking snaps at selected intervals. It does all the heavy lifting and leaves you with a cool short movie.

Click here to watch a time lapse of my train ride to work:

We’re at risk of sounding like a broken record but the front facing camera is, yet again, very similar on paper to the one on the iPhone 5S. It’s 1.2-megapixel but this time comes with a f/2.2 aperture, which allows loads more light in. It means that FaceTime or Skype calls look decent even in low light and better selfies in dingy pubs. In fact, Apple has added a timer and burst mode to the front camera so you can get the perfect selfie. And now we can stop using the word selfie. Phew.

Next: iPhone 6 Battery Life and Verdict

iPhone 6: Battery Life

The slimness of a phone can give an indication of its stamina. If we judged the iPhone 6’s battery life like that we’d be worried.

The iPhone 6 is powered by an 1,810mAh non-removable battery, which is a little larger than the one on the iPhone 5S, but then it needs it to supply the bigger and brighter screen. Compare that to the power packs in the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 (2,800mAh) or the LG G3 (3,000mAh) and the battery on the iPhone 6 looks titchy.

But Apple does things differently and the iPhone 6 performs on par with most of the competition. It also manages to last a few hours more than the iPhone 5S before it.
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Our video test, where we loop SD video until the phone dies, lasted ten hours, an hour more than the iPhone 5S but one less than the Galaxy S5 manages. In terms of 3D gaming the iPhone 6 managed two hours and thirty five minutes of non-stop action - an hour less than the Galaxy S5 and 6 Plus.

In real world testing we found the iPhone 6's battery lasted 35 hours of low mixed usage (including standby) and 14 hours of heavy usage, with the brightness set to 50%. 

All this means that you can eek two days of life out of it if you're very careful, but on most days you'll head home after work with between 30-60% of your battery left depending on how much you use it.

One major positive about the battery is that it charges very quickly. You get 31% from a 30 minute charge and it charges fully in two hours exactly.

The iPhone 6's battery life is solid but we can’t help but feel that we would happily give up a millimetre of thickness for a few more hours of use.

iPhone 6: Call Quality

A noise cancelling microphone sits at the top of the phone to improve sound quality when taking calls. There’s also a new system which uses your data connection to boost voice signal known as VoLTE (Voice over LTE). This doesn’t work out of the bat – your network or carrier needs to support the feature. Most have plans to add the feature but you’ll need to check with your provider to find out when.

Even without VoLTE the iPhone 6 has good call quality. The noise cancelling mic works well in windy conditions and voice quality carries well.

As with all phones if you are in an area with poor reception you will start sounding like you’re speaking with a gob full of toffee so we look forward to VoLTE becoming a mainstay of mobile phones.

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Should I buy the iPhone 6?

The 4.7-inch screen makes the iPhone 6 a very different proposition if you have an iPhone 4/4S/5/5S. The extra real-estate offers a great benefit that Android users have been enjoying for years now and comes with the added benefit of the best apps around, which will take full advantage of the extra space. One-handed use isn’t quite as intuitive, but it's nothing like using some of the Android giants; the iPhone 6 is slim and narrow enough to make life easy unless you have very small hands.

The performance boost the A8 processor provides is also well worth considering for an upgrade, not if you’re on an iPhone 5S but certainly if you’re on an iPhone 5 or 4S.

The other consideration is whether you want this or the iPhone 6 Plus – the 5.5-inch phone Apple announced with the 6. Here the difference is massive, the iPhone 6 Plus is a beast. Be very sure you want a very big phone.

Finally, there’s the price. The iPhone 6 is a tad cheaper than the iPhone 5S was at launch and the 64GB version offers even better value when compared to its predecessor. Then there’s the resale value. iPhones retain their value better than any other handset, that is if you decide to sell before upgrading. That’s of no value if you leave your old phone languishing in a drawer.

Verdict

The iPhone 6 is Apple’s best phone yet – but we expected nothing less. It might not be a design classic like the iPhone 4 or iPad mini, but it nevertheless looks and feels great. Like the 5S before it the iPhone 6 manages to do everything with aplomb – it has no serious weaknesses.