In the recent 9th September event, Apple had released two models of iPhones, the 4.7″ iPhone 6 and the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus. Both models are significant larger than the 4″ iPhone 5s. This is the second time that Apple has released two iPhones at once in history after the simultaneous launching of iPhone 5s and 5c last year. It seems that everyone is asking for a big-screen iPhone for years and Apple is listening. But is bigger better? Let’s find out!
Although Apple has not previously released any iPhones in this size, you will still able to tell that they are iPhones. Even though they are larger, they carry over the same design language from their predecessors. Despite of the difference in size, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have a very similar design. The front is covered by an ion-strengthened glass and not the sapphire glass we expected from the rumours. Coming back to the ion-strengthening part, Corning Gorilla Glass is using ion exchange to strengthen their glass so I am not sure if there is any difference between the technology behind Gorilla Glass and the glass found on both iPhone 6’s. However, I guess that they should be the same. The front glass also curves around the edges where the glass meets the aluminium frame. This reduces the gap between two materials and improves the experience when you are swiping from the edge.
The back of the phone is made of one piece of aluminium. However, the handsomely chambered edges are gone to give way to the curved sides. This is to improve the grip on the larger phone. The position of ports, buttons, logo and the camera are still the same, except for the power button. It used to be on the top but since the top cannot be reached easily after increasing the size of the phone, Apple decided to place it on the right hand side, which is much welcomed. The camera slightly protrudes from the back and this is the part I dislike the most on the design. Not only it is ugly and more prone to damage, your iPhone 6 will not lie on the table steadily if you are not using a case. I guess the phone will shake every time you tap it.
Although both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are growing taller and wider to fit the larger display, they are still thinner than iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 is only 6.9mm thick and iPhone 6 Plus is 7.1mm thick. Like the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus come in gold, silver and space grey. In my opinion, the space grey model looks the best. The gold model does not look as nice as in iPhone 5s, probably due to the white plastic band at the back being too thick and distracting. Just for your information, the plastic band is necessary to allow phone signal to pass through as the signal cannot pass through metal.
The major difference between the two iPhone 6’s and previous iPhones would be the display size. Apple has increased the display size dramatically this time. As mentioned before, iPhone 6 has a 4.7″ display with the resolution of 1334 x 750. This means that iPhone 6 will have the same pixel density with every previous iPhones with Retina Display, which is 326ppi. iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, has a 5.5″ 1920 x 1080 display with pixel density of 401ppi.
The number sounds great but the truth is that almost every Android flagship has display with pixel density higher than 400 ppi. Phones with 2k display, such as LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, have even higher pixel density with more than 500 ppi. While Apple unavoidably needs to increase the size, they did not took the chance to improve it. We have to admit that other companies have better display than what we found in iPhones. But iPhones being iPhones, their display is not bad at all. Most users should be satisfied by the display on iPhones.
Apple claimed that their new display have better contrast by aligning the liquid crystal precisely. The viewing angle should be improved to by introducing dual-domain pixels. The display can provide more accurate colors too. Despite all these, I feel that most customers will appreciate the size the most as they can look at more things on the display.
Inside the larger chassis also brings the more powerful 64-bit A8 chip, which is also 64 bits. Apple promises 25% processing speed improvement over the A7 chip and 50% increase in GPU performance. Apple also claims that A8 processor is 50% more energy efficient. By using the 20-nanometer process technology, A8 chip has smaller footprint. It is 13% smaller to fit in the thin body of the new iPhones. However, Apple is still sticking with 1GB of RAM. While no actual lag will be detected on iOS, larger RAM will allow fast resuming of apps instead of loading it out again. More RAM also makes the phone more future proof. Anyway, who does not love more of any good thing?
In iPhone 5s Apple introduced the M7 motion coprocessor and this time, Apple packs in the new M8 coprocessor. M8 coprocessor will measure data from all the sensors in your iPhone, including accelorometer, compass, gyroscope and the newly added barometer. The purpose of this motion coprocessor is to reduce the workload from the A8 main processor in order to save battery life. This processor will enable iPhones to count your steps, distance travelled and elevation of your position.
Bigger chassis allows Apple to pack in battery with larger capacity. iPhone 6 has a 1,810mAh battery and iPhone 6 Plus has a 2,915mAh battery. With the larger display and more pixels to push, iPhone 6 has only slight improvement over iPhone 5s on battery life. If you are a road warrior, iPhone 6 Plus will suit you better as it is better than iPhone 6 on every aspect. You can refer to the metric Apple provided.
Apple also put in faster LTE in both iPhone 6’s. It now support data connection speed up to 150Mbps. While the connection speed is not the fastest, iPhone 6 can support up to 20 LTE bands. This is actually not found in other phones and it allows you to connect to LTE network in more places of the world. iPhone 6 also support VoLTE (Voice over LTE) for you to make calls over data connection, provided your carrier supports it. I do not think we will get it in Malaysia anytime soon.
Apple decided to keep the pixel count in the rear camera, which they call iSight camera. While I can accept 8MP sensors, it seems that there is not much improvement for the smaller iPhone 6. Apple added in Focus Pixel in the sensor which improve auto focus. The face detection is improved too. One notable feature added is the exposure control, which will be useful in photos with both bright and dark portion or light coming from the back of the object.
For iPhone 6 Plus, optical image stabilization will be included. What is does it to measure your movement from motion sensors and the lens will move in the opposite direction to counter the movement. This will reduce the blurriness of photos due to hand shake. Low light performance will be improved too as longer exposure time can be done. However, this will only come in the more expensive iPhone 6 Plus.
For video capturing, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can now take 1080p videos at 60 frames per second (fps) and slo-mo 720p video at 120fps or 240 fps. In case you do not know what is frames per seconds, videos are actually made of a series of photos called as frames. So each frame is a photo. In order to have a smooth viewing experience, we need to have at least 30 frame per second. So capturing videos at 240fps will allow you to slow it down by lots of time but still having a smooth video. iPhone 6 can also take time-lapse video and have continuous auto focus for video taking.
For the front facing camera or Facetime camera called by Apple, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has a improved front facing camera. While it is still a 1.2MP shooter, it has larger aperture and new sensor to capture more light. You can take better selfies in the dark. It also have burst mode, HDR mode, timer mode, exposure control and improved face detection.
NFC & Apple Pay
This time, Apple finally includes Near Field Communication (NFC) in the iPhones. The NFC will play prominent role in Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment system. You can pay your bills by tapping your phone on the receiver and authorized the payment by scanning your fingerprint on Touch ID.
You do not need to pull out the credit card from your wallet. Apple says this is more secure as the cashier cannot see your name, your card number and the security number at the back of the card. In case you have concerns over your privacy, Apple is not involved from your transaction. Apple Pay will be only between you, the bank and the merchant. Apple will not be informed on what you bought and where you spent your money.
While mobile payment is nothing new and it is present on other platform for years, Apple did something very important to change the game. It reaches out to other business and persuade them to adopt Apple Pay. VISA, Master Card and American Express will be supported and several banks will be included too. Merchants like McDonalds (including drive-through), Disney, Subway, Apple Stores (of course!), and others will accept Apple Pay. Without retailers to support it, mobile payment is nothing. Apple has done a great job to push mobile payment to the public. The only downside would be the availability as Apple Pay is current restricted in the US only.
iPhone 6 VS iPhone 6 Plus
So you might want to know the difference between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. On the cosmetic perspective, the iPhone 6 Plus is much larger to fit the 5.5″ display. iPhone 6 Plus also has higher pixel density. Due to the large screen, Apple adds in some features to it. iPhone 6 Plus support landscape mode, which is very similar to what we have in iPad. Double touch on the home button will enable the one-handed mode. All the contents will be shrunk to the bottom half, allowing you to reach everything on the screen.
As mentioned above, iPhone 6 Plus will sport hardware optical image stabilization in the camera. iPhone 6 Plus has larger battery capacity and the battery life will be much longer too. Of course, the price will be higher for the larger model.
Price & Availability
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in 16GB, 64GB and the all new 128GB. 32GB model is not available this time. The good news here is you can get a 64GB model iPhone 6 with the old price for 32GB model for iPhone 5s. The price for 128GB iPhone 6 model is the same for the launching price for 64GB iPhone 5s. You can refer the table below for the price in the US.
Please take note that the price in Malaysian Ringgit is calculated by direct currency conversion. The actual price should be higher than this. Both models are open for preorder in US, France, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, Australia and Japan starting 12th of September. The phones will be available on 19th of September. There is no word on pricing and availability yet in Malaysia but based on past record, it should be coming two weeks after the sales commences in the US. Stay tuned for that.
There are tons of leaks before the launching event and most of them are true. This pretty much kills the surprise. But to be honest, even without the leaks, there is not much excitement brought by iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. You can guess how disappointing it is when the larger display becomes one of the major features as we already have the large display on other platform for years.
In my opinion, the improvement is really subtle over the iPhone 5s except the display. It seems that Apple is betting big on the demand of big screen iPhone. The changes in camera, processor and connectivity are incremental updates and there is nothing mind blowing at all. While the screen has grown larger, iOS did not include features such as multi-window applications to make full use of the extra pixels. I really expected much more from Apple on this.
I could not say I am not disappointed with these iPhones but I guess this is partly due to the high expectation I have for Apple. It is hard for me to get excited over these uninspiring updates. So let’s wait for iPhone 6s next year to see what Apple will bring to the table. For me, I would not buy an iPhone with my own money as they are way too expensive. While iPhone 6 keeps the same price, iPhone 6 Plus pushes the upper limit of smartphone price even higher. I would recommend my friends to get iPhone 5s if they can live with the small display.
However, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s will still be two of the best phones in the market. Like the older iPhones, the new iPhones are not best at anything but they do almost everything well. They would still be attractive package for new customers or people who have iPhone 5 or older. Regardless how I think, Apple will still sell millions of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. A lot of people are waiting for large screen iPhone for ages. I knew a lot of people around me who want an iPhone but the small 4″ display is holding them back. So this time it seems that Apple is finally listening to what the they want.