Apple iPhone 6 Review (2015): We re-review the iPhone 6 one year after its launch to see if the most talked about smartphone of the last 12 months still holds up.
2014 was a big year for the iPhone, not just in sales, but also in Apple’s decision to finally produce larger-screened devices in the 6 and 6 Plus. The 5.5-inch Plus was unquestionably a phablet (the company’s first), but the 6 with its 4.7-inch display, fell in at the smaller end of the flagship smartphone scale.
As with most iPhone users, ours has lived in one case or another case for most of its life thus far. Apple’s first-party leather offering was its primary getup, but it has changed outfits a few other of times; once to leverage Tylt’s battery case, once for Olloclip’s case and lens system and once when it took a trip to Thailand and lived inside a Griffin Survivor case, which protected it from sand and sea.
Owning an iPhone 6 is a double-edged sword when it comes to cosmetics. On the one hand Apple has created a beautifully light, slim metal-bodied handset, with a pillowed glass display and a minimalist design. On the other it’s made such a finely crafted smartphone that even the smallest scuff or scratch could ruin the otherwise flawless (antenna lines notwithstanding) aesthetics. The silver lining is that with such a vibrant accessory market, there will always be a case or protector to suit your tastes.
Going big also meant the iPhone’s display got a welcome resolution bump to counter the increase in size. The Retina HD panel seriously blew us away when we first encountered it thanks to its low reflectivity, outstanding viewing angles, vibrancy and brightness. After heavy use, it’s only lost a touch of its lustre, which is only really apparent when you place it alongside the new iPhone 6s, which boasts a screen that’s both the same size and resolution.
Based on Apple’s definition of its Retina displays, it only saw fit to instil the 6 Plus with Full HD resolution. In practice this poses little problem for the 6, but with the increasing number of rival smartphones with 2K and even 4K displays, there is a notable disparity in fine detail and clarity when comparing images on the iPhone 6 to such rival devices.
iOS 8, which the iPhone 6 packed at launch, was more of a refinement over iOS 7 – the most significant change in the aesthetics and design since the mobile operating systems birth. It made the whole experience more glanceable and convenient. Ahead of its successor’s launch, iOS 9 has arrived to revitalise that same experience, and although the additions seem small, it gives the 6 a fresh feel in day-to-day use.
iOS also benefits by being the favoured platform for developers, who typically launch their apps into Apple’s mobile ecosystem first, before expanding to Android and beyond. iPhone 6 users won’t miss out on any significant software benefits right now, with the exception of the new gestures brought in with the 3D Touch display technology exclusive to the iPhone 6s.
For those who like to tinker, even this shortcoming can be overcome by way of software tweaks that emulate the 3D Touch experience through the Cydia store (however this requires jailbreaking, which goes against Apple’s terms of service).
Apple’s second-generation 64-bit chip resides inside the iPhone 6 and it still packs plenty of punch. Side by side comparisons with the A9 processor in the newer iPhone 6s show negligible speed improvements throughout general UI navigation and whilst we’ve seen a few app crashes or moments of lag here and there, it still performs as a flagship should, even when loaded up with third-party apps, media and other data.
Battery life still lasts around a day depending on usage and for those concerned about the longer-term, ensure that you fully power your phone down (full to empty, without charging) at least once a month to properly cycle the battery and give it the best chance for greater longevity.
Since the company really started putting effort into it, the iPhone’s camera has become a serious force to contend with in an already competitive space. The 6 debuted new focus pixel technology, which made one of the camera’s best features, it’s super-fast shutter, even more effective at capturing a good shot.
For what is right now, one of the most ubiquitous cameras on the planet, it has aged gracefully, but the cracks are undoubtedly starting to show one year later. Its resolution is its biggest weakness, with 8-megapixels doling out far less detail than most other rival devices can muster (the same goes for the 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera too).
Improvements in the software over the past year have given a touch more control to the user, but omissions like 4K and manual control age the imaging abilities of the 6 more than they need. All this said, it still takes great shots in most conditions with little effort and it’s one of only a handful of devices capable of capturing 240fps video.
In the world of flagship smartphones, iPhones hold greater longevity than most, at least from a software standpoint. Each new iteration addresses at least one key shortcoming of its predecessor, which in the case of the 6 was remedying the iPhone 5s’s paltry battery performance. In much the same way the 6s narrows the gap in imaging that is most apparent on the last year’s iPhone.
If you’re already rocking a 6, we’d suggest you sit tight, there seems little reason to upgrade to the 6s, with 3D Touch being in its infancy still and for those who are getting itchy feet, a powerful Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 family would offer a more notable improvement in hardware.
Otherwise the iPhone 6 is still a great phone with a year or two of relevance left in it and more, depending on how those inaccessible batteries hold out.