I stood in line on Friday to buy the new iPhone 6. And so far, I’m very happy with that decision.
As expected, the phone is super light, super thin, and super gorgeous.
The display is a real thing of beauty — but it doesn’t get its “Retina HD” name from its pixel density, which is identical to the Retina displays from the iPhone 5S and 5C.
The iPhone 6 display is “Retina HD” because of its dual-domain pixels, which enable consistent colour accuracy and high contrast levels across the entire display. And with an improved polarizer built-in to make it easier to see in the sunlight, the 6 can get considerably brighter than its predecessors. Everything looks very crisp.
At first, I was worried about picking up this phone — and I mean literally.
After Walt Mossberg obliterated the screen on his review unit with a single drop, and the first iPhone 6 customer in Perth, Australia, dropped his on concrete before he could even hold it in his hands, I thought I’d definitely need a sturdy case for this year’s iPhone.
Turns out, the iPhone 6 isn’t that slippery.
The back is indeed quite smooth, but it’s easy to grip the phone from any orientation, partially because of the longer buttons along the side of the device. I feel quite comfortable twirling it around in my hands. Plenty of people will turn to cases, but beware: The only case I’ve held in the last 24 hours made the iPhone 6 extremely slippery, and it was a leather case built by Apple.
The other thing I love so far is the camera. This thing takes gorgeous pictures — and auto-focusing occurs near-instantaneously. It also handles low-light settings much better than the 5S, which may have been the only Achilles’ heel for that phone’s camera.
I have yet to shoot a video worth sharing, but I hope to create some compelling videos — in normal and super slow-motion — when I sit down for a full review.
There are some other goodies in this new phone, but to be honest, I have yet to really feel their impact. Specifically, I’m talking about this year’s A8 chip, which contains a billion more transistors than the A7 that powered last year’s iPhone 5S. Everything is about as fast as the iPhone 5S right now, but I’m guessing a forthcoming software update will take fuller advantage of the new, more powerful chipset. Unfortunately, the update that brought those improvements to last year’s iOS 7, iOS 7.1, didn’t arrive until March.
The same goes for the new WiFi and LTE capabilities in the iPhone 6 — I honestly haven’t noticed much of a difference from the iPhone 5S. Verizon is rolling out its “Advanced Calling 1.0” technologies for the iPhone 6, but I have yet to activate those features on my phone. I was also hoping the support for next-generation 802.11 a/c WiFi — roughly 3x faster than normal WiFi — would play nice with my Airport Extreme that offers those speeds, but again, I haven’t noticed a noticeable improvement yet.
Those features will improve over time. But other features can’t be changed — and that includes the back, which I’m honestly not a fan of. I think the face of the iPhone 6 is the most beautiful of any iPhone, seriously — it’s thin but also rounded on the edges, which makes swiping exceedingly easy. But the back… oy, the back.
The new iSight camera, albeit a terrific advancement, bulges out like a blackhead. (Don’t worry, it sits fine on a table, and you won’t scratch it since it’s covered in sapphire crystal.) And the antenna breaks on the top and bottom of the phone are necessary but rather unsightly. For a company known for its designs, I’m disappointed Apple hasn’t figured out how to hide those antenna breaks, or at least make them look a little better.
But owning this phone isn’t about two lines on the back of the phone, or if the camera sticks out a little bit. It’s about the entire experience — the hardware and the software combined — and everything is very polished, from top to bottom. The bigger screen offers a bigger playground, and I’ve loved looking at all the same apps I’ve used every day on a larger, brighter display. In the coming days, I hope to learn more about the day-to-day nuances of owning this bigger, sleeker, thinner, rounder iPhone, and come back with a full review.