/ apple

iPhone 6+

I ordered the iPhone 6+ as I said that I would. I received it on launch day so, Iʼve had it for nearly two weeks. Itʼs a great upgrade and I have some thoughts on the changes.

Design

I donʼt know how Apple does it but, every generation of iPhone design is a huge leap forward. Well maybe not the Original to 3G but, that was before I started using an iPhone. Yet again, I find this yearʼs design to be the best one yet. It is far more comfortable to hold than either of the previous two design. The rounded edges feel wonderful in your hands. The way that the curves to join the aluminum backplate is extraordinary. It has only the faintest of seams between the glass and the back. Itʼs barely detectable when you run your fingers over it.

The design is not without its sore spots though. The most widely criticized one of which is the camera bump. While you are using it, it is hardly noticeable as it is unlikely that you will have your fingers near it, due to the shear size of the iPhone 6+. If you do happen to run your fingers by that area, itʼs immediately noticeable. It is the only protrusion from the nearly smooth surface and it sticks out as a sore spot. However, you are only likely to notice it when you look at the phone from the back or when setting it down onto a flat surface. Iʼm not sure what Apple could have done. It seems like the obvious solution is to simply make the whole phone the thickness of the camera lump and to fill that extra volume with battery. Of course, that does sound appealing in the abstract but, I think it would have resulted in a much worse phone. That additional battery would have added significant weight. The 6+ is already quite hefty and the additional weight might have put it into an uncomfortable territory. The other option would have been to shrink the camera. That would have been really bad since it would have greatly decreased the image quality and that would have been a much worse compromise to make.

The other complaint has to do with the plastic separators. Obviously, Apple needed to include some plastic in order for the antennas to get adequate signal. I donʼt like the way that they chose to do them. I feel like the color that they chose is intended to hide them which, it does very poorly. I wish that they would have owned the plastic separators and made them a contrasting color. Perhaps the glossy black that they used in between the parts of the case on the 5s.

Screen

The 6+ʼs screen is gorgeous. It has a 1080x1920 which is probably the same as your television (“Full HD”) in a 5.5″ display. That is simply insane. Iʼm fully aware that this is neither the first smartphone with 1080x1920 px display nor is it the most pixel dense display. Its likely overkill to have such a dense display. No matter how closely I look at it, Iʼm completely unable to see the pixels. Even at this pixel density, its not quite enough for going @3x density. Apple renders everything at 1242×2208 and then scales it down to fit the 1080x1920 display. This is the same process that they use with the Retina MacBook Pros and as with the MacBook Pros, it seems completely undetectable. Iʼm sure that it would look slightly sharper if it was rendered at the native resolution but, as it stands, it is by far the best display that I have ever seen.

Once again, Apple has moved the screen closer to the glass. Itʼs just barely noticeable. It makes the screen look a bit better when not viewing it straight on. It is a very minor improvement but one that was worthwhile to make.

Size

Brains are very strange. After less than a day of using the 6+, I picked up my iPhone 5s and it felt like a toy. I turned it on and started using it. I no longer understood how I was able to use a device with such a miniscule display. It no longer capable of doing useful things. I wondered how I was able to work with the even smaller 3.5″ of the previous models.

5shand-1

Choosing to get the 6+ is not without its compromises. It is very unlikely that you will be able to use it one-handed. Iʼm able to reach a surprising proportion of the the display. Much of it is uncomfortable, though. It is also considerably heavier than the 5s. It feels a little too heavy for comfortable one-handed use. When using it with one hand, it put quite a bit of pressure on my pinky. Even with this slight discomfort, this is my preferred way of holding it while reading.

Apps

It was a poor choice by Apple to leave developers in the dark until a week before the new iPhone sizes were available. Despite Appleʼs assurances, scaled up apps look awful, they look comically large. Text based apps look really bad. We have this new, awesome, large screen but, you canʼt see any additional information. Itʼs just silly.

Of course, once apps have been updated they are able to utilize the greatly increased area and they look great. I really appreciate the developers that have managed to get their updates out. Many of the developers that you would expect to have gotten their apps updated for the new screen sizes have but, some notable ones havenʼt yet gotten them updated. Most of the apps that I use every day have already been updated but, most of the rest of the apps havenʼt yet. It creates a rather annoyingly inconsistent experience. The apps that have been updated look great but, the apps that havenʼt been updated yet look awful.

Camera

comparison-full

This is a comparison from the 3 cameras that I had readily available, the iPhone 6+, the Nikon D60 and the Nikon D7100. The image links to a much higher quality version. I tried to pick images that were similar but, there are clear differences between the photos. What is really remarkable is how little difference there is once you normalize the image size. Of course, this is in nearly perfect lighting. When you get into less than ideal lighting, much larger differences start to emerge.

When I set out to do this comparison, I was expecting the iPhone to be completely blown away by even the 2008 era D60. It turns out that very much isnʼt the case. I think I would have a hard time picking out which is the iPhone photo if, I didnʼt already know. The order is D60, D7100 and then the iPhone 6+ from left to right. The biggest giveaway, for me, is the color. The two dslr photos are considerably more color accurate. The iPhone photo is by far my favorite though. It is a much better composition than the others but the others were the closest ones that I could find.

In well lit photos, the iPhone 6+ takes fantastic photos. I could see it being most peopleʼs only camera. It looks that good to me. Of course, for many people, this has long been the case. Back in 2011, the iPhone 4 became the most popular camera on Flickr and that process has hardly halted in the intervening years. Luckily, Apple clearly realizes that many people use their iPhone as their only camera. Each generation Apple has relentlessly pushed the image quality forward. This generation happens to be a monumental update. This generation adds Phase detection autofocus and Optical Image stabilization. Both of these are usually only found on higher end dedicated cameras and are very welcome additions.

Closing thoughts

The 6+ is another great update to the iPhone line. Iʼm glad that Apple has gone back to a curved back. While the sharp corners on the previous two body designs have looked great, they did not feel very good in use. The rounded edges feel great in my hand. The way that glass blends into the case looks and feels amazing. In my eyes, this is the best update to the iPhone yet. The new screen size is great. I donʼt think I could ever go back to even the 4.7″ iPhone 6. This feels like the size screen that an iOs device should have and it is the perfect pocket computer.