I have gotten an flood of messages asking when this review would go live, and where I went in general, and I appreciate your patience while I worked on it! Since there were features, specifically ApplePay, that would not be live at launch, I wanted to hold off until they were, because I didn’t want to have a half-baked post.
Despite telling myself I would not pre-order this phone, and violate the sacred Wednesday Challenge…I did it anyway. And thankfully, despite waiting almost all day on pre-order day, I was able to do in-store pickup for “iPhone Holiday” September 19. We were sharing a vehicle at that point, due to my accident occuring not even 45 minutes after completing my pre-order (car-ma for violating the challenge?!) so I went straight from work to retrieve the phone, and promptly waited in line for an hour and a half.
Once we opened the box and I got it (mostly) activated in the store, despite my immediate panic over how ridiculously large this phone is, I grabbed a pack of the only screen protectors available, put it back inside the box, and made my way back home like Grandma Moses, death grip on the steering wheel and a panic attack brewing in my chest. Normally, I would not have dared opening the box, taking the phone out of the box, doing anything at all without putting a screen protector ON the phone, etc., first. But since I was doing an in-store activation, I figured I would do all of my inspections on the spot and replaced the plastic film that it had on it at purchase. It passed muster, and no one dropped it, because I wouldn’t let anyone else touch it. Kid gloves, people. That’s also part of why there’s a lack of photos of the naked phone in this post. I got home past sunset, and it was not likely I was going to leave this sucker naked long enough for too many daylight photos.
When compared to the 5S, which I had commented on last year as being extraordinarily light, this thing feels like air. So much less glass on the body makes a tremendous difference. And I am not kidding when I say this: this thing is fucking gigantic. It’s rounded, slippery, thin, light as air, and absolutely HUGE. Anyone used to the previous incarnations of iPhones will immediately think “oh wow, it’s…ridiculous.” Especially when you put a case on. My husband has giant hands, and I thought this would be a good fit for his hands. Even he says it is ludicrously sized. I wonder what he’d think of the 6 Plus!
I took some photos to show you that difference with and without cases–I deliberately used the “same” case for my images, too, because I pretty much always use a Speck CandyShell (the 5s had a Flip, but that’s not out yet for the 6) and the size is, to me, notable. It feels protective, but doesn’t add a ton of bulk. You can see just without the case on here, with the iPhone 6 on the left and the 5S on the right, that’s a pretty considerable size increase.
And here’s where I think you really get that OMG effect:
While the new Speck cases for the iPhone 6 and 6Plus are said to be “thinner” than before, while still just as protective, it still makes a notable difference in size. Even without a case, this is not what I would call a “clutch friendly phone” for those who go out at night with small fancy bags. It is not my idea of pocketable (and with this “bendgate” thing, I wouldn’t pocket it anyway, even with a case.) And if you think this is big, just wait until you see the iPhone 6 Plus–that looks like an iPad Mini! In fact, when I was in store picking this up, there were a lot of people who returned the 6 Plus phones they pre-ordered when they saw them in person because they were shocked at just how big they were in person. The downside was that they couldn’t just get the 6 in exchange because those were all spoken for. They had to reorder and wait.
In their fantastic iPhone 6 review, iMore had a few really great “size comparison images” that show the difference from the 4S to the 5S, to the 6 and the 6Plus. Two of the best are below.
I’ve had the phone for nearly 8 weeks, and I am finally getting used to the size. What I have not yet adapted to? The power button on the right side, versus the top where it’s always been. In fact, I totally hate it on the side! It makes me irrationally angry. I thought I would get used to it, and my muscle memory would adapt…But no, it has not. I know, tiny violin!
Design wise, aside from the size, it’s very pretty. Is that the terminology for a phone? Probably not. It’s a very sleek looking device when not covered in a case. There are some design/practicality negatives, though, like the protruding camera lens and the weird whiteish lines on the back. But with a case like this, those are hidden and the lens protrusion is handled well. I also don’t feel that it is particularly “sturdy” without a case, which is obviously now well documented around the web with this “bendgate” drama. The good news about that? AppleCare will cover it and give you a new phone.
As usual, the screen is beautiful, crisp and vibrant. Just as one would expect. I had read reviews from around the web that people called theirs “muted” by comparison to previous models. I didn’t find that to be the case at all, in fact this seemed more vibrant than my 5S. Photos are very nice and of a nice resolution, in fact some of the photos I have taken for posts recently were taken with my iPhone6. Obviously I would prefer they be of even higher resolution and quality, but that’s because of my field, and the ease of not carrying a second camera for really great shots. They are at least equal to the 5S, if not brighter and crisper. I really do hope Apple gets with the program on a better quality camera in the next iterations.
This phone is also remarkably quick, not just in it’s own functions, but in the speed with which everything data-related processes. LTE speeds are mindblowing. Like oh-my-dog-how-did-it-get-there-already fast. At home we have 40Mg internet, which is, by and large, blazing fast. That speed is pretty uncommon for most providers at a home address. It’s generally uncommon for most business addresses, in all honesty. My phone has beaten my home internet in every speed test I have performed, and because I am a nerd, I have been running them like a crazy person. And by more than double. It beat the 5s by more than triple.
This video from iClarified is pretty much my experience in a much more beautiful package:
The most incredible piece of this puzzle, though, is the battery life. I can seriously get three days on a charge. Not even kidding. Now, I turn my phone to Airplane Mode at night, so that’s probably part of it, and I don’t just leave apps running that I am not using, and I am not a fan of things like Background App Updating or leaving my location open for anyone to track (that’s not just a battery saver, it’s a privacy thing!)
Employing those “rules” on my prior models would get me at least two days per charge, but I have been absolutely mind-blown by the battery life on this particular phone. Those images above are just a few of my usage rates. I try to remember to take a screenshot of the usage before I charge. Yes, I do use my phone, I just don’t leave things running unnecessarily. That is how I get such insane life out of my phone between charges. I also don’t “top off”. I use it til it’s pretty low, then I charge it to full.
You’re probably like “wait, didn’t that phone come with ApplePay?” Yes, it did. And it, too, is GLORIOUS. But since it’s only just been unleashed on the world, it’s not what I call a daily driver. In fact that’s why this review was delayed this long, since I only have been able to use it a few times now since it’s official launch, and like I said earlier, I didn’t want to post a review without that feature being tested.
The ApplePay setup was pretty easy. I have a Discover in my iTunes account at present, and while they say Discover will be supported by the end of this year, AMEX is supported already, so I set that one up for ApplePay. To set it up, you go into the Settings app, and tap Passbook & Apple Pay. It’s listed right below iTunes and App Store in the list within the Settings App on your iPhone.
When you’re in there, you can add a card. If you have a card already supported by ApplePay in your iTunes account, it will give you an option to use that for ApplePay. Since I didn’t, I had to add one. I added my AMEX, and you take photos of the card, where the necessary data is then pulled from the card image and added to the app. The image of the card IS NOT STORED on the phone. Just so we are clear. From there, you can add billing and shipping addresses, and, if you prefer, a different email address is used than your appleID address, you can take care of that. This info is for when you order things through an app that supports ApplePay.
One of the caveats of using ApplePay to pay for things, obviously, is that you 1) have to use a card they support, and 2) you can’t pay with ApplePay if the merchant doesn’t support that form of payment (not just NFC, but that card, some places don’t take AMEX, for example.) I know several people loaded their supported debit cards through their banks, and some of them actually had issues with double charges, but I do not ever pay with a debit card under any circumstance, so that won’t happen even if my banks get on board.
Apple has this demo video, and below is Mashable’s real world test drive of Apple Pay in NYC.
So far, I’ve been able to use it locally at Panera, Macy’s, ToysRUs, Walgreens and once at CVS before they made the epic fail to disable all NFC abilities. I did not test this through any apps, since I rarely do any sort of shopping through apps on my phone. I may try it through the Target app or Sephora app at some point. I will admit, though, it was quite cool, and just my doing so got the employees at one store absolutely giddy. I was the very first to try it there and the manager was even enthralled. At ToysRUs, they remember me as the ApplePay girl. It’s dangerous. It makes you wanna buy things. More things. Because it’s just so fast. Obviously you have to make sure your thumb is registering, but I only had that issue one time. I will agree with the Mashable reviewer in the video that the DuaneReade/Walgreens system is stupid, with the loyalty card first, and confirming your total. But if I can still not swipe my card, I’ll take it.
As quick as it is, and as nice as it would be, I would not say that it’s something that completely eliminates the wallet. One of the locations I used ApplePay still wanted to see my ID and then punched in info off my ID before they’d let the transaction complete. I raised an eyebrow at that, still tracking you and making it less private. It was also something ToysRUs did when I had to return an item. And a few stores are pulling back support on it, two of them being Rite-Aid and CVS, in order to launch their own notoriously insecure competitive service called CurrentC, which has already been hacked at least once before it’s even been active in stores, with email addresses stolen from the merchants it’s going to serve. The reasons for this competitive service are as simple as these merchants participating in CurrentC don’t like not having all of your data transmitted to them during a transaction.
When you swipe your card, all the information they could ever want comes with that swipe: name, address and shopping history and preferences. That’s essentially sold all around to merchants, list sellers, marketers, etc., and that’s why you get a gazillion catalogs, spam messages, and the like. ApplePay kind of took that away because they weren’t getting your name, address, shopping preferences, or even your actual credit card info. You were no longer able to be marketed towards and “stalked” the way the merchants wanted to. So they said “eh nevermind, not going to do ApplePay.” I am hoping that this takes off in a massive way, though. NFC is HUGE in Asia, it has been for years. It may never replace traditional methods, but I hope that it becomes a big enough option that stores take it seriously.
One of the greatest features that came along with iOS8, besides ApplePay, is using TouchID to unlock apps. The ability to unlock my Dropbox and 1Password apps with TouchID is pretty spectacular. I also love the ability to remove myself from a group text. Hallelujah on that one. When I get added to a mass text about a baby announcement, or a direct sales party at someone’s house I don’t actually know, I don’t need 100 people I don’t know replying to me over and over about what they want to buy and whether they’re coming. I can immediately go into the message settings and remove myself. Done and Done.
One feature that this device is touted to work with is the new Health app. I have not explored that since it does not sync with, nor apparently will it ever, the FitBit. I assume that has a lot to do with the upcoming Apple Watch product, obviously a competitive item. It does, however, sync to the MyFitnessPal service, so I guess, indirectly, it will sync your FitBit data. I have also read that OS updates have a tendency to wipe out your Health data and histories, which until now, have not been backed up to iCloud. Those things have been a significant deterrent to me, besides the fact that I am tremendously lazy and while I should care about my exercise milestones (or lack thereof), I apparently don’t.
While the phone supply is starting to get better after a serious supply lag, accessories have been really slow to hit the market. It took Speck a while to get the CandyShells out and most of the ones for the iPhone6Plus are STILL nowhere to be found–and they’re taking a serious beating for this on social media–but thankfully I was able to get one for my iPhone6 at Best Buy a day after the phone came out. I don’t mind this pattern, but the space one was my first choice! It gets the job done. I am looking forward to the Candyshell Flip hitting the market for the 6. That’s my favorite from Speck and makes for easier removal.
Unfortunately, though, screen protectors have been especially fruitless. I have yet to find one that covers into the bezel of the phone and doesn’t stop short of even the active screen. The pack I bought at the Apple Store, the PowerSupport Anti-Glare, doesn’t even cover the active screen, terrible! It is kind of crooked here, but it’s not even into the bezel on either side! The Zagg protectors don’t either, and I returned it unused because of that. What is the failure here? You’ve had schematics for a while, and you’ve done this for a while, shouldn’t you have been prepared? Other phone makers have curvature in their screens now, and you seem to have no issue with that. I don’t need/want a glass screen protector, so a film should be plenty easy to handle curvature…just sayin’!
I just got my TruProtection brand clear films and held out hope that their claims were true that they were able to get into the bezel with theirs. I waited (im)patiently for the clear films to hit their site again in the restock, they sold out immediately after their launch two weeks ago. The minute I saw them restocked I picked up three packs. They arrived just the other day and I immediately installed one before I headed out for the night. Top to bottom the fit is vastly better, much closer to the home button and top with the proximity sensors. However side to side, there’s only a millimeter improvement, if that. So maybe just a hair more width and it literally stops on the line of the active illuminating screen. So that is disappointing. The clear and shiny film is significantly less distracting than the matte films are though, so that is a bonus. But I still hate that there’s so much bare screen edge left unprotected. #analretentive
Here’s a few shots of this one on the phone for comparison. You can tell the difference here compared to the above Power Support Anti-Glare film in the cutting around the home button and earpiece/camera lens especially. I took closeups of this one on purpose. This is probably the best film coverage I’ve seen so far for this model, but still could be better. I didn’t remove the case to install it, since I did it quickly before I left for dinner, so I didn’t really get to “palm” the edges down as I normally would do. They’ll get better in a few days.
Bottom Line ::: This is a solid device, and for those who love the newest and best, or want a larger iPhone, it’s worth picking up and I am glad I did, despite the car-ma. I have already loaded it up two seasons of Golden Girls for my viewing pleasure…Thank you for being a friend!
Did you pick up a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus? What is your favorite feature? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!