Apple iPhone 6 hands-on

Can Apple's iPhone 6 fend off its better equipped Android rivals?

The long awaited Apple iPhone 6 went on sale today. The next generation smartphone is bigger, faster and better equipped than its predecessors. It brings many features to existing iPhone users, although most of them have long been enjoyed by its Android rivals.

Is bigger better?

Key to the new iPhone 6 is its redesigned body. It stands 2cm taller than Apple’s iPhone 5S and weighs an additional 17 grams. The Apple smartphone stands almost as tall as Samsung’s Galaxy S5 flagship, and that’s in spite of it having a smaller screen.

Apple has compensated for the bulk by trimming the edges down from 8mm to 7mm, but a millimetre difference isn’t noticeable. The most effective way Apple has made the iPhone 6 comfortable is by rounding its corners.

The aluminium body now rounds from the back right up to the Gorilla Glass screen. The glass too has been shaved down along the edging.

Few differences set the iPhone's back apart from its predecessors. The premium texture of glass no longer adorns the top and the bottom of the phone. In its place is a plastic strip necessitated by NFC and the smartphone’s radio antenna. Another difference is the protruding lens of the iSight camera. Then there’s the dual-LED flash, which has ditched its elliptical shape for the cleaner lines of a circle.

The power button has been shifted to the side for the sake of ergonomics. Giving it a good push delivers power to the iPhone 6’s showpiece.

Improved multimedia

Upping the screen size to 4.7in is behind most of the iPhone 6’s appeal. The display has a 1334x750 resolution and achieves a 326 pixel-per-inch density. Brightness levels remain the same as older model iPhones, but the iPhone 6 does have an improved contrast ratio of 1400:1 (up from 800:1).

A brief video comparison reveals the iPhone 6’s screen delivers a greater sense of scope. Otherwise Apple has focussed on maintaining the quality of the display rather than improving it in clarity, brightness or colour. It’s the same, only bigger.

The Apple homescreen, recent contact now line the task manager and a redesigned shortcut pane
The Apple homescreen, recent contact now line the task manager and a redesigned shortcut pane

Read more: Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen.) android smartphone
Actionable text messaging, Spotlight now searches the Internet and the App store, plus Siri can now recognise the name of songs
Actionable text messaging, Spotlight now searches the Internet and the App store, plus Siri can now recognise the name of songs

The bigger screen adds a sense of spectacle to the iPhone’s iOS 8 operating system. The software has continually led the market in design despite being confined to screens 4-inches and smaller. Running iOS on an iPhone with a 4.7in screen makes the minute details Apple has laboured on more noticeable.

Apple's revamped software introduces subtle refinements. Updates include better messaging, improved photo editing, content sharing with family members and the ability to install third-party keyboards.

Complementing the larger screen is a better speaker. Speaker quality has always been a sore point for the iPhone, and even though the next-gen model champions an improved speaker, it continues to lag behind rivals capable of stereo sound, including the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z2 and Motorola Moto G.

Read more: Apple iPhone 6 Plus: Does the world need an Apple phablet?

Not much has changed with the rear or front cameras. The iSight camera continues to take photos at 8 megapixels, though improvements in software allow it to record in super slow motion (1280x720) and timelapse videos. Rivals have the camera’s video recording capabilities beat as the iPhone 6 maxes at 1920x1080 (Full HD).

Here’s a sample photo:

Read more: Vodafone: Unlimited international calls, double data on prepaid

Apple has remained tight lipped on the processing innards of the new iPhone. The smartphone packs an Apple A8 chip, a dedicated M8 motion processor, 2GB of RAM and internal storage options of 16GB, 64GB and 128GB. The capacity of the battery has not been confirmed by Apple either; however, Tim Cook claimed the smartphone will last as long as the iPhone 5S. Good Gear Guide will test these claims in our full review of the iPhone 6.

First thought

The iPhone 6 is the big screen iteration Apple fans have long wanted. It maintains Apple’s hallmark attention to detail, build quality and ease of use, and it comes backed by Apple’s comprehensive ecosystem.

Not everything is peachy. The iPhone 6 once lead the market on screen quality; now it runs the risk of falling behind Full HD rivals. Then there’s its inferior sound quality and the low resolution of its 1.2MP front facing camera. Apple’s iOS operating system is well established, but so is Google’s Android.

Existing Apple customers might flock to the iPhone 6, though we’re not sure many Android users will.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6

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Tony Ibrahim
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