The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stretch Apple's formula to much greater sizes than ever before, while bringing a potentially game-changing mobile payments option alongside typical upgrades like processors and cameras. They have got a slick new design, and boast the latest version of iOS as well. What do the critics with advance access think of all these changes?
Behold, the Gizmodo meta-review.
After using both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for a week, I can report that Apple has successfully addressed its size deficiency, and much more. The $US199 (with contract) iPhone 6 packs a 4.7-inch screen, big enough to get down to business, into the most comfortable smartphone I've ever held. And while the iPhone 6 Plus feels too big for my taste, for $US100 more its 5.5-inch screen offers an option for road warriors who don't want to carry a tablet.
But after almost a week of trying the phones, it became clear that the hardware was not the best part of the package. In its quest to deliver bigger phones to a market clamoring for them, Apple has made one phone that is actually a little too small and one that's a little too big.
The slim new iPhones aren't a big-screen slam-dunk, but they work well, as we have come to expect from Apple. Ultimately, it's what's on the inside that keeps them just in front of their competitors.
With only a couple of small exceptions, this is the right way to build a larger phone. It's thinner, more comfortable, more friendly to the touch. But what Apple didn't do was come up with a way to take advantage of the new screen real estate, or make it easier to navigate. Other devices have clever screen-unlock mechanisms, or stylii, or split-screen multitasking, or always-on voice control. (The iPhone 6 does let you yell "hey Siri!" to give voice commands from across the room, but only when it's plugged in.) Apple is clearly saying a big phone is better, but it doesn't answer the critical question: how is it different?
The 6 Plus at least gestures in this direction. A few apps work in landscape, with handy two-pane modes, and even the homescreen rotates on its side. On the "smaller" model, though, the only concession to gargantuanism is Reachability, in which you double-tap (but don't click) the home button and the whole screen just slides downward. It does the job, I suppose, but it just looks like you broke something when there's only half an app on the screen and the rest of the display is just empty.
Watching video on the 6 Plus is tremendous — the display is almost as big as the iPad mini showing 16:9 videos since the mini has to letterbox those videos to fit its 4:3 screen. I watched a lot of football using the Sunday Ticket app last weekend; I never once wanted to find a TV. I could spend days banging through YouTube and Vevo on this thing. If you're a traveller who carries an iPad just for movies on the road, the 6 Plus is going to be your best friend.
From the start, Apple has never attempted to make its phones do everything; it's just tried to make them do the things they do as well as possible. It's not an approach designed to please impatient types. But by keeping people waiting for much-requested features, the company bought the time to do them right in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. iPhone fans, your life is about to get better — and the smartphone wars are going to get more interesting for everybody involved.
The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone available. It offers improvements in almost every way that matters, and it delivers those in a striking new design that balances consumer demand for larger screens with a thin, light and durable case. It's Apple's most attractive phone, visually, and the 4.7-inch size is going to be more generally appealing than the iPhone 6 Plus' larger proportions.
...overall the sense you get of the iPhone 6 Plus is one of extreme high quality, which is not something that can be said for the rest of the 'phablet' field. Apple has managed to make the very first well-designed smartphone of epic scale, regardless of your thoughts on the merit of the category as a whole.
For the first time, iPhone fans can enjoy something Android users have taken for granted: choice. Until this year, buying a high-end iPhone wasn't a tough decision. You either bought it or you didn't. Now there are two to choose from, and while they look identical, each has its own set of trade-offs that you need to weigh: The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 features a respectable display size and a comfortable in-hand fit; it's also my personal favourite after using both for several days. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, on the flipside, isn't as easy to hold in one hand, but you'll want it if you're hoping to get an iPad-like phone with great battery life and a lot more screen real estate.
It may sound like the Plus isn't ideal, and indeed, it's not for everyone. But for many, the additional screen real estate is worth sacrificing some one-handed comfort. Not only do you get more rows of icons on each screen (the 5s is 6 x 4, while the 6 is 7 x 4 and the 6 Plus is 7 x 4 with slightly larger icons and more space in between), but you're also going to be able to see more emails, tweets, Google search results, Engadget posts, calendar appointments and, well... more of everything. More screen space equates to more room for consuming, creating and manipulating content, and since it's still small enough to fit in most jeans pockets (provided they're not too tight), it's still more portable than any iPad.
There are other smartphones that do some of the things an iPhone 6 can do. Others, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 do more. It and the Amazon Fire Phone actually watch you and react to your gaze. Even so, none put it all together in quite the same way. I do miss the edges of the old iPhone design, but Apple's iPhone 6 is, for my $US200, the most elegant and effective smartphone on the market.
If you want a phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus is a very good one. That big screen is especially well suited to movie watching and game playing, but also packs in a lot more info from web pages and emails than you'll get from the iPhone 6, 5S and other, smaller smartphones.
The iPhone 6 is a great upgrade for current iPhone owners, or for anyone, really. It manages to provide a much larger display in a phone that's still small enough to handle easily. It's my recommendation for the best smartphone you can buy.
There are a couple of reasons why the Apple iPhone 6 Plus might also be too big for me to purchase. But I have to admit it: I'm tempted. I really like this phone. And to people who actually prefer huge smartphones: You are going to like this phone, too.
That's mostly because it's not just a smartphone; it's a statement phone. What Apple is doing isn't even especially innovative — "Us, too!" the company is shouting, as it chases after that flatbed truck filled with phablets — and yet, they have made this big phone feel fresh and desirable.
Though I must say, while the iPhone 5S stood out in a crowd of Android smartphones with its chamfered edges and Leica-esque controls, you might not know the iPhone 6 next to the latest Galaxy S5 or the HTC One. And while the design is still impressive, some details feel a bit off. The bold antenna lines that run around the back of the devices and the protruding camera lens make the phones seem slightly less disciplined compared with the company's previous work.
While consumers are already clamoring for the larger of the two phones, I found the iPhone 6 Plus too large and unwieldy to use as my daily driver. It does offer better battery life and an improved camera stabilizer compared with the iPhone 6, but its size proved to be more than I wanted to grapple with on a regular basis. Think of it this way: The iPhone 6 Plus is only slightly smaller than an iPad Mini, which means one-handed use is messy even with Reachability, and holding it up to a normal-size head looks slightly absurd.
Overall, we're mightily impressed with the iPhone 6's design and build. It's very much a phone we'd recommend you go and touch, because it's likely to make a number of manufacturers take a second look at their own premium portfolio. Importantly, however, it feels like a big upgrade over the iPhone 5S, something that iPhone owners are going to want to upgrade to.
Ultimately, if you're the sort of person who likes to crash through email while hanging onto the train with one hand, or check Facebook while grappling with a small child, then maybe the 6 Plus will be too big for you. If you're the sort of person who likes to kick back and watch movies on your phone a lot, then it might be just the ticket.
Having the benefit of using both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus over the last week we've kept coming back to the iPhone 6 Plus, only to return to the iPhone 6 every time. It's as if our heart drawing us to something new and exciting, but our head is going with the more practical and more efficient, familiar, device.
In order to really judge the iPhone 6 you first have to consider what it's not.
It's not a mega-screened wannabe phablet. It's not a 2K-display-packing pixel king. It's not the most powerful phone ever, it's not the most megapixelly phone ever, it's not even the longest-lastingest phone ever. The best Androids still beat it on all these counts.
But that's just specs. What it is, is the best iPhone ever.
The iPhone 6 Plus will undoubtedly be too big for some hands. It's far bigger physically than any previous iPhone but also bigger than any comparable Android. The LG G3, which has the same size screen, is dwarfed by it. Even the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, with its 5.7in display, is shorter.
That said, the combination of its super-thin body and smooth metal build make it easier to hold and use than you might expect. Plus, it offers a few advantages over the iPhone 6, namely that bigger, higher-res screen and increased battery life.
The iPhone 6 Plus won't be short of fans, and indeed I love its multimedia abilities and how productive I can be with it, but unless you're an avid gamer, a determined mobile video pro, or insist on as much time away from the AC adaptor as possible, the iPhone 6 feels like a more encompassing option.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are absolutely terrific phones. They're fast and powerful and well designed. There's not a single component that hasn't been improved. These phones are a delight to behold and to be held.
These are the phones Apple devotees have been waiting for: iPhones that measure up to what's fast becoming the new normal — the large, modern smartphone display. Count me among those glad they're here.
People have preordered on faith, since they haven't seen these super-sized iPhones up close or experienced what they feel like in pockets and handbags. I have and let me be reassuring — you won't regret your decision, though going big may require a small adjustment, and my experience wasn't totally trouble-free.
Watch this space, because we're updating with more reviews as they roll in around the 'net.