phone puts Apple’s beloved operating system and gorgeous third-party apps into a body that no longer looks and feels cramped. That’s enough to earn the iPhone 6 an Editor’s Choice award on Verizon Wireless.
Now there’s a too-big iPhone, a too-small iPhone, and a just-right iPhone: the iPhone 6. The newest iPhone’s biggest feature is that it’s bigger, and yes, that’s a big deal. Although most apps aren’t yet coded to take advantage of the iPhone 6’s additional real estate, the new
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This is primarily a review of the Verizon iPhone 6, but the phone is available on all the major carriers at a bewildering range of prices. For instance, Verizon charges $199 with contract for the base 16GB model, Sprint includes a 16GB unit as part of a special $70 unlimited plan over two years, and T-Mobile charges nothing up front, but $27.08 per month. Unlocked, you’ll pay $649 for 16GB, $749 for a 64GB unit, and $849 for 128GB.
The Measure of an iPhone
Figuring out the best size for a phone is a very delicate balance. Back in 2011, I judged the 4.65-inch Samsung Galaxy Nexus to be too large for some hands, but what I didn’t get was that screen size isn’t the problem. It’s the overall phone width, which needs to be narrow enough so people with small, stubby fingers can grip it comfortably, while people with big, hammy fingers don’t mistype words. Narrower bezels have meant we now have smaller phones with bigger screens, so everybody wins.
But there’s still a limit. When LG introduced the G2, it said comprehensive hand studies had led it to believe that anything wider than 2.8 inches couldn’t be used well in one hand, across a range of hand sizes. (Then it introduced the LG G3, which is wider than 2.8 inches. When I asked why, LG execs just threw up their hands and said “people want this,” like they had no choice in the matter.)
This all goes to say that Apple has figured out where the limit is for a one-handed device, and it’s just teetering on it. The iPhone 6 is 2.64 inches wide. In my experience and that of many other tech reviewers, the 2013 Moto X, at 2.57 inches, is the perfect one-handed phone (seriously, that thing has a cult). The Samsung Galaxy S5, at 2.85 inches, is just over the line. The iPhone 6 Plus, at 3.06 inches, is way past it.
That all goes to say that the iPhone 6 is the right-sized iPhone for right now. It’s usable in one hand, it fits in a pocket, and it gives you maximum keyboard and video playback size while still feeling convenient. Yeah, sure, it could have been 0.07 inches narrower, as Motorola showed, but it’s within the margin of comfort.
Physical Design and Battery Life
The iPhone 6 feels considerably different from previous iPhones. It’s not just the size—at 5.44 by 2.64 by 0.27 inches (HWD), it’s bigger and wider, but slimmer, than the iPhone 5s$124.99 at Best Buy. It’s tapered and smooth, rather than hard-edged; it feels a little more organic and less like an industrial product. We got a gold one, which has a white front and some white plastic lines running across the back, looking a little like a Mondrian painting.
Apple has maintained its premium feel. Compared with any Samsung phone now available in the U.S., or even my beloved Moto X, the iPhone 6 feels classier and made from more expensive, if not tougher materials. (Durability, alas, hasn’t been shored up at all. Get a case.) Because it’s so slim and rounded, the iPhone 6 slips very easily in and out of a pocket.
The iExperienced will notice Apple moved the power button off the top, where it’s been for years, and onto the right side, where it sits on many competing phones. The side bezel looks like it’s been reduced a tiny bit from the iPhone 5s, but this isn’t one of those nearly bezel-less phones like the LG G3. The headphone jack, Lightning port, and speaker sit on the bottom edge, just as before.
Apple says that the A8 processor’s advantage comes more in battery life than speed, and I found the iPhone 6 to have significantly better battery life than the iPhone 5s—although not nearly as good as the Samsung Galaxy S5. In our toughest battery test, which streams a YouTube video over LTE, I got 4 hours, 33 minutes on the iPhone 6’s 1,810mAh battery, as compared with only about two and a half hours with the iPhone 5s and a spectacular 7 hours with the Galaxy S5. That doesn’t mean that the iPhone 6 is going to last twice as long as last year’s model, but it means that it’ll have significantly more stamina if you turn the screen on a lot.