Apple iPhone 6 First Impressions

Apple iPhone 6 First Impressions

This is the more preferable of the new iPhones

My son received his iPhone 6 yesterday, so I was able to finally compare that device to its bigger iPhone 6 Plus sibling, as well as to competing devices like the Nokia Lumia Icon and Samsung Galaxy S5. Long story short, if you're going to go iPhone, the smaller iPhone 6—as opposed to the iPhone 6 Plus—is the better choice for most. It's closer to the smart phone sweet spot, size-wise, and will be less of a shock for those upgrading from other iPhones.

I won't be switching to iPhone, and I purchased an iPhone 6 Plus specifically because it has a slightly better camera (with optical image stabilization), and because I have been using an even bigger Lumia 1520 and figured the large size of the iPhone 6 Plus would be familiar. But now that I've seen the iPhone 6 in person, if I could do it all over again, I would opt for that version. And if I was switching to iPhone, that is the version I'd buy personally.

From a functional perspective, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are of course identical. They both run iOS 8, and they both support a number of unique features—i.e. iOS features that don't work in other iPhones or iDevices—including reachability, the new landscape mode functionality, and display zoom. You can find out more about that stuff in Apple iPhone 6 Plus Second Impressions and 10 iPhone 6/iOS 8 Features I'd Like to See in Windows Phone.

So what this comes down to are two things: The camera. And the size of the respective devices. I'll compare the cameras in my eventual review. But for most people, it's the size that matters. So let's look at that, the easiest way possible: With pictures.

In Apple iPhone 6 Plus First Impressions, I wrote that the iPhone 6 Plus is "a beautiful, large phone [with] newly curved edges are much easier to hold [than its predecessor, the iPhone 5S]. The device is [also] thinner than its predecessors." This is all true. But it's even true for the iPhone 6 than it is for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Oddly enough, the iPhone 6 is only a hair thinner than the iPhone 6 Plus, at .27 inches (6.9 mm) vs. .28 inches (7.1 mm) for the bigger device.

iPhone 6 (top), iPhone 6 Plus

But pick the devices up in each hand and you can really feel the difference: The iPhone 6 isn't just smaller, it's much lighter, noticeably lighter. The iPhone 6 weighs 4.55 ounces (129 grams), compared to 6.07 ounces (172 grams) for the iPhone 6 Plus. It's dramatic.

iPhone 6 (top), iPhone 6 Plus

The other thing that's interesting to note is that there is a smaller jump, size-wise, from the iPhone 5S to the iPhone 6 than there is from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 6 Plus. This suggests, as noted, that the iPhone 6 is the natural upgrade to Apple's previous flagship, and won't in fact be a terrible experience for most people.

iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S (top), iPhone 6 (middle), iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 also compares more favorably to its contemporaries, in particular the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is its closest competitor. As you can see, the size of each is very similar, but the iPhone 6 is made of quality materials and feels like a luxury device. The S5, by comparison, is plastic, which I don't mind. But the weird ribbed edges are just low-class. This is a big design win for the Apple device. (The S5 does have a slightly bigger 5 inch screen though.)

Samsung Galaxy S5 (left), iPhone 6

Few outside of these circles would ever draw this comparison but for now at least, the closest thing we have to iPhone 6 in the Windows Phone camp is the Nokia Lumia Icon, which is of course notably thick and heavy and also has a 5-inch screen. That device is both much thicker than the iPhone 6 and bigger and boxier, with squared off corners.

iPhone 6 (left), Nokia Lumia Icon

iPhone 6 (left), Nokia Lumia Icon

If there's one issue with the iPhone 6, it's the same issue that's dogged Apple's smart phones since the first version in 2007: They're too delicate. My son's iPhone 6 lasted less than 24 hours without serious injury when a schoolmate dropped it on the school bus this morning from a height of about two feet.

He lucked out though: My wife brought him to the local Apple Store, where they miraculously had a replacement. $109 later—the new, much cheaper price for such a repair—they walked out of the store with the new iPhone 6.

To be clear, we ordered a case with the phone, but Apple won't ship that until late October. So we're looking for something local. And he won't be handing his phone to others anymore, I bet. But the lesson here is simple: If you're serious about using an iPhone, protect it. And while that may add some bulk and weight, you'll still end up with something smaller than the iPhone 6 Plus. Which I suspect is where most people want to be.

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