Apple iPhone 6 And iPhone 6 Plus Review

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iOS 8 Concerns And Issues

With the new screen resolutions and scaling process, I was concerned that older apps might not transition well. When Apple moved from a 3.5-inch screen to a 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5, apps ran into various layout artifacts. Also, scaling up an iPhone app to run on the iPad results in a “fuzzy” appearance due to issues with scaling bitmap graphics. Fortunately, both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are generally free of these issues. Going through a dozen or so apps that have yet to be updated for iOS 8, I only noticed a couple with minor layout issues and all of the graphics looked crisp. Even apps that haven’t been updated for the 4-inch iPhone 5 look good. It appears that these apps are rendered at their original resolution and thus don’t use the whole screen, thereby avoiding any scaling issues.

Part of the reason for the smooth transition to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens is that they maintain the same 16:9 aspect ratio as the 4-inch screen. The previous jump from the 3.5-inch (640x960) to 4-inch (640x1136) screen involved a change in aspect ratio from 3:2 to 16:9, which is more challenging to scale.

Considering the new iPhones still only have 1GB of RAM, memory pressure is another concern. My informal test started by closing all apps and rebooting the 6 Plus. I then opened Safari and started loading websites. After opening each site, I cycled through them a few times to see if any would reload. I found I could open six to seven sites before encountering a forced reload. Next, I opened Mail and switched back and forth between apps and cycling through websites with essentially the same results. I then added Twitter to the mix and noticed random page reloads and occasionally Twitter would need to reload.

For comparison I performed the same test on the iPhone 5s, where I found I could load 13 websites before encountering a page reload. In addition to Safari, I opened Weather, Photos and App Store. At this point I did start encountering more frequent page reloads, but no app reloads. Opening the same apps on the 6 Plus produced frequent page reloads and sluggish performance from the Safari UI. App Store would consistently need to reload and switching back to Safari caused most pages to need a refresh. To be fair, the 6 Plus had more background tasks running since I was using it as my primary phone. However, it’s clear that driving the larger screens on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus places additional strain on already thin memory resources, negatively affecting the user experience.

I encountered several other annoying glitches while using both new iPhones. As of iOS 8.0.2, the 6 Plus exhibited issues with screen rotation, getting stuck in one orientation. Opening and closing different apps usually jarred it loose, but sometimes it required a reboot to fix. There were also times when I couldn’t access the camera or Control Center from the lock screen. The controls simply wouldn’t respond, although I could still swipe to the side and input my unlock pin. I did experience some app and Springboard crashes as well.

The update to iOS 8.1 seems to have solved most of these issues. There’s still the occasional app crash, but that probably has more to do with memory pressure. I still haven’t been able to get Handoff to work and there’s also a serious bug affecting the syncing and performance of iCloud Drive.

Assuming Apple can get these remaining issues resolved quickly, iOS 8 will be a nice upgrade. The new application extensions help overcome many of iOS’ shortcomings and create more efficient workflows. Features like Continuity, Handoff, iCloud Drive and AirDrop to Mac improve operability between all of Apple’s various devices, essentially turning each of them into a single device with multiple screens. While all of iOS 8’s improvements are not revolutionary, the inclusion of widgets, interactive notifications, and 3rd-party keyboards does help close the feature gap with Android.

  • manez
    I can think of a thousand more interesting things to review than the newest iphone x.
  • blackmagnum
    Everyone would want to own one and be the envy of their peers. They want a device that is attractive, well-made and intuitive. That's how Apple sells them by the millions, don't you agree?
  • lanbaner
    Nvidia has a better GPU. The G3 has a better display. The Note 4 has better camera. Gone are the days were the iPhone was the leader on all fronts. Would be nice to see all the strengths from the competition in one phone. Considering the transition to 20nm for Maxwell early next year we could possibly see an iPhonekiller on all aspects. Although I have to agree that the build quality on the iPhones is always top notch.
  • M3God
    Other then just sticking to just 1GB internal memory, there is no mention that apple switched to cheaper and slower TLC memory to make more profits while screwing the customer. The TLC memory has been linked to crashes and bootloops that require a trip to the apple store.
  • aaaas
    I browse the Web and talk on the phone on Verizon all the time. At least the last two generations of devices have been able to do this... at least for android...

    Interesting article, as I've been considering a switch to iphone.
  • KaptainK
    " Wi-Fi calling is currently only supported by T-Mobile in the U.S."

    Not True! Republic Wireless has been using wi-fi calling for years. Republic also includes a feature where it will hand the call off from wi-fi to cellular if you leave the wi-fi zone during the call. Does the iPhone do this??
  • cknobman
    A. Thanks for including the Lumia 1520 in the comparison chart of phablets, most other sites dont do this.

    B. The price for the 6 plus in that same chart ($299) is on contract while every other device price is off contract.

    As a whole if you are an iPhone user I am sure you are happy with the changes made to the 6. Outside of that the iPhone "cool factor" ship has sailed and this wont be winning over many Android users.
  • cmi86
    How can this guy sit here and hump apples leg by saying the A8 should be competitive if not class leading when it's competition averages over 1Ghz higher clock speed and 2 more cores.... I know a lot of people doing reviews now a days feel obligated to shine up certain companies and make their products appear in a positive light. This is not that... this is a blatant lie.
  • SirKnobsworth
    How can this guy sit here and hump apples leg by saying the A8 should be competitive if not class leading when it's competition averages over 1Ghz higher clock speed and 2 more cores.... I know a lot of people doing reviews now a days feel obligated to shine up certain companies and make their products appear in a positive light. This is not that... this is a blatant lie.
    Clock speeds and core counts can be deceptive, the key point here being that Apple's Cyclone cores can execute about twice as many instructions per clock cycle as most of their competitors. This shows up in the benchmarks - the iPhone 6 and 6+ do very well in single threaded tests, though tend to lag behind competitors in multithreaded tests like physics. Note that this is also the approach that Nvidia is taking with their Denver cores - fewer, bigger cores as opposed to more small cores.

    How this translates into actual performance will vary of course - most smartphone workflows aren't particularly well threaded so having four cores as opposed to two probably won't make a huge difference in many situations, but I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions.
  • ZXS
    Due to their zero reading on the black level tests, AMOLED displays are said to have an infinite contrast ratio.

    MATT, do you know this is Samsung's marketing BS?

    Smartphone displays reflect about 6% of incoming light (which is much more than LCD backlight emits). Actual contrast of AMOLED is worse than that of LCD since the reflections are so high, but maximum brightness is much lower than that of LCD.