Mobile Technology

iPhone 6: Early impressions

iPhone 6: Early impressions
Before publishing our full review, Gizmag takes an early look at the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Before publishing our full review, Gizmag takes an early look at the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View 12 Images
The iPhone 6 feels great in hand, thanks to those curved edges (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 feels great in hand, thanks to those curved edges (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 is just 6.9 mm (0.27-in) thick (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 is just 6.9 mm (0.27-in) thick (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
It's hard to do it justice with pictures, but this is one beautifully designed phone (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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It's hard to do it justice with pictures, but this is one beautifully designed phone (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
"Reachability" lets you reach top-level targets by sliding the entire display down (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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"Reachability" lets you reach top-level targets by sliding the entire display down (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Trace keyboards like SwiftKey (pictured) and Swype are finally on iOS (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Trace keyboards like SwiftKey (pictured) and Swype are finally on iOS (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
So far, the iPhone 6's camera seems to be quite good (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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So far, the iPhone 6's camera seems to be quite good (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 is available today (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 is available today (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Though it isn't as easy to use as one hand as older iPhones, the 4.7-in screen has more pros than cons (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Though it isn't as easy to use as one hand as older iPhones, the 4.7-in screen has more pros than cons (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The new iPhone's design harkens back to the 5th-gen iPod touch (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The new iPhone's design harkens back to the 5th-gen iPod touch (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
We're handling the silver/white color variant (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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We're handling the silver/white color variant (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Before publishing our full review, Gizmag takes an early look at the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Before publishing our full review, Gizmag takes an early look at the iPhone 6 (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 has a solid aluminum build (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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The iPhone 6 has a solid aluminum build (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
View gallery - 12 images

The iPhone 6 is officially here, and Gizmag is putting our review unit through the paces. Join us for some early impressions of Apple's new 4.7-in flagship.

The iPhone 6 is the most beautifully-designed smartphone I've ever seen. And I'm not someone who says that about every new iPhone. In fact, for the last couple of years, I thought the HTC One (M7 and M8) wore that crown. But the iPhone 6 has an outstanding combination of curves, premium metal, lightness and thinness. It sounds cliché, but pictures don't quite do it justice; you have to see it and touch it to fully appreciate it.

The iPhone 6 has a solid aluminum build (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 has a solid aluminum build (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Physically, the iPhone 6 is much like a bigger (and cellular-enabled) version of the latest (5th-generation) iPod touch – protruding camera and all. The way the new iPhone's front glass panel gently slopes off into rounded edges is a particularly striking touch. It's also a refreshing alternative to the boxy, angular look we got from the last four iPhone flagships (2010's iPhone 4 through last year's iPhone 5s).

The iPhone 6 is just 6.9 mm (0.27-in) thick (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
The iPhone 6 is just 6.9 mm (0.27-in) thick (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

I could go on about design, but looks aren't everything. There's a sharp and powerful smartphone here too.

On paper, the iPhone 6's 326 pixels per inch display is looking pretty dated, but, in experience, I really can't say I pick it up and think "this needs to be sharper." The screen's contrast, as well as color range and accuracy, all help its cause. Despite having used countless 1080p (and a couple Quad HD) displays through the last year or two, I have no complaints about this 750p screen.

"Reachability" lets you reach top-level targets by sliding the entire display down (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
"Reachability" lets you reach top-level targets by sliding the entire display down (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

So far I'm a fan of Apple's approach to one-handed use ("Reachability"). By double-tapping the home button (that's two light taps, not full presses), the top of the screen slides down so that you can easily hit top-level targets. The sliding effect is quick and smooth enough that I find myself using it often.

Trace keyboards like SwiftKey (pictured) and Swype are finally on iOS (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Trace keyboards like SwiftKey (pictured) and Swype are finally on iOS (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

Though it's more of an iOS 8 feature than an iPhone 6 feature, third-party keyboards are a most welcome new addition. With Android having had Swype – and a host of trace keyboard competitors – for more than four years, Apple's tap-only keyboard was a huge hole. Now Swype, SwiftKey and more are available to download from the App Store.

So far, the iPhone 6's camera seems to be quite good (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
So far, the iPhone 6's camera seems to be quite good (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

During early testing, camera quality looks very good. It shoots quickly, it's good at keeping the right subject in focus, and colors look great. I could say the same about several recent Android flagships as well, though, so, with further testing, we'll see if the iPhone 6's camera is able to separate itself from the pack.

It's also too early to comment on battery life, but I haven't noticed any alarming drain. Overall performance appears to be buttery-smooth – proving again that Apple can make a dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM go farther than anyone else.

Though it isn't as easy to use as one hand as older iPhones, the 4.7-in screen has more pros than cons (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Though it isn't as easy to use as one hand as older iPhones, the 4.7-in screen has more pros than cons (Photo: Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

We have a lot more time to spend with the iPhone 6, but my early take is very positive – in fact, surprisingly so.

On paper, it looks like it might sit several steps behind some of the biggest Android flagships. And while there are some truly great phones on that side of the fence as well, so far I see few reasons to hesitate about the iPhone 6. It fills in the iPhone's most obvious gaps – on both hardware and software levels – making Apple's walled garden that much tighter a fortress.

The iPhone 6 is available today, starting at US$650 full retail or $200 with a two-year contract. Several carriers offer subsidized equipment installment plans as well.

Product page: Apple

View gallery - 12 images
7 comments
neutrino23
I got my iPhone 6 yesterday and was astounded at how good it is. I have had several iPhones and expected this to be a nice upgrade, but I was really surprised at how much better it is than anything that came before.
zevulon
i'm sure they will be saying the same thing about the iphone 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15....
and on and on until people stop buying them. because no one could possibly imagine a future humanity without the iphone let alone apple.
no one except those people who saw kodak, ibm, and a whole list of other industrial powerhouses go broke or even extinct.
Bob
They are getting too big. I want something that fits in my pocket. If I need a giant phone I just get out my ipad mini. I saw a gal at a phone store with a handle on the back so that she could hold it more easily. Right now the only better features I really want are much more battery life, quicker charging, and water proofing. Better add some better shock proofing as well. My wife has a habit of laying the phone on her lap and dropping it on the ground every time she gets out of the car. I'm not sure how much more the Life proof case can take.
Synchro
@zevulon - what is your point? You're trying to say that Apple is doomed to the same fate as IBM and Kodak? I don't think IBM is in any particularly bad position, but Kodak is a prime example of what happens when you spend years resting on your laurels instead of doing anything interesting. Apple's not in the least bit like that - they are the definitive example of what happens when you have relentless focus, something deeply lacking in many other companies.
foghorn
Yeah, it's too big. Actually the 5 is too big. I hope Apple will continue to support the 4s untill they make make a model that size again, otherwise I'll be done with iphones when the 4s is obsolete.
Frankie Seuss
You do realize they will never make these phones waterproof or shockproof. People will always break their phones. Then they will have to buy a new one. And they have your money once again.
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
Don't put it in your pocket for too long or you will risk bending it. You should put it in your coat, or bag from now on.