Apple's iPhone 6

My First Few Days with the iPhone 6 – A Review

It has to sink in. This is what I tell myself whenever I’m about to start using a new phone. Today, we use phones for just about every part of our lives, and most of us hold the phone as the last thing we’ll carry everywhere we go (beyond a wallet). On September 19th (or iPhone day), a new iPhone 6 was injected into my daily life. Here are several thoughts and observations about this new phone if you’re considering making the jump.

Briefly: I quasi-review the new iPhone 6 after spending a number of days living with it as my daily phone.

The initial backup and restore from iCloud was quite painless [1]. It’s the first time I’ve depended on this to upgrade an iPhone (previously using iTunes). The one difficulty I had right from the beginning was migrating all of my two-step auth codes across to the new phone’s Google Authenticator. Given that this doesn’t move across, you’re forced to go to each site and set this up again manually (can’t this be done any better?). Make sure that you’ve finished the authenticator set up on your new phone before wiping the old one (or you’ll have a hell of a time logging in).

It’s a big phone. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but it can’t be understated. I’m a big guy at 6’5″ (with big hands), and I still can’t get my thumb anywhere near the far corner of the iPhone 6’s 4.7″ inch edge. If I shift my hand into a more dangerous cupping position, I’m able to get out there – though I feel doing these types of gymnastics opens me up to dropping the device more. I can’t imagine an even larger screen, and I’m glad I didn’t get the Plus model.

Web browsing is a letdown. I found it to be almost the same experience as the iPhone 5s, and I was really hoping for an improvement in rendering pages, and just the general use of the screen in the browser. It just felt like the same screen, blown up. I guess that’s not necessarily bad, but this stuff should be improving. With phones this size, we should be starting to allow full desktop rendering of pages with smart options for zooming. Why do we still insist on the site redrawn to a mobile view?

The screen is, however, much clearer, brighter and noticeably improved on the 5s. When I turned on this new phone, the screen jumped out and screamed how much better it was than the 5s. When I go back to the 5s, it almost feels like I’m spinning up ancient technology. That’s no small feat in a single generation phone upgrade [2].

The thinness of this phone is very impressive. If you didn’t know it weighed more than the iPhone 5s, you’d think the iPhone 6 was lighter. That’s a sort of optical (weighable?) illusion. I didn’t think the rounded edges would be a good thing, and I was right. I feel Apple threw away utility by losing the squared edges. No longer can you rest the phone sideways to take pictures. Now, you’ll need a tripod set up to do that if you have any hope of keeping this phone scratch-free. This will probably lead to more dropping anyway.

My feeling is the battery lasts longer. This is more unscientific than anything, but the phone is handling some of the more intense things that use to suck up the power on the old phone, and when I glance at the battery meter – I didn’t kill the battery. The most important thing a phone can do is last an entire day of use with one charge, and the iPhone 6 does.

Also, if Apple hadn’t advertised the iPhone 6 as supporting NFC (via Apple Pay), you’d have no idea this was possible. I saw no real mention of NFC anywhere on the phone, in settings or in an app. I’m still not sure how this is even possible, though Apple Pay likely won’t be in Canada for the foreseeable future.

Finally, this phone is not water-resistant or waterproof. Shame on Apple for missing out on the chance to bring something so useful, to so many. If you submerge this phone, expect it to be completely fried in under ten minutes.

Other notes

– I rarely use Siri, but the new “Hey Siri” mode [3] looks very promising. I had it enabled and tried it a couple of times and I found myself drawing a blank about what I might ask. Maybe we’ll see a day “Hey Siri, drive my car”.
– I’m not sure the predictive keyboard is useful (yet), but it’s very straightforward to shut off with a simple dragging downward motion.
– I did not try, but it seems possible to move all icons of the first screen of the phone. Nifty.
– Widgets are another underused, but potentially useful feature. Currently, Instapaper’s support of the feature seems to work the best, but this stuff is too kludgy with home screen updates. Naturally, there’s a Tumblr for that.

1. My ringtone was even transferred, that was an unexpected bonus
2. I didn’t feel that way going from the iPhone 5 to iPhone 5s
3. When enabled and charging, the phone is always listening