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Hands-on: New iPhones pack big features in thin package

Dan Moren | Sept. 10, 2014
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the biggest iPhones Apple's ever made. Dan Moren goes hands on with the newest smartphones on the block.

Thin, still in
Like Lucy pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown, every year we think the iPhone can't get any thinner-and every year we're wrong. The iPhone 6 shaves off another 10 percent of the iPhone 5s's obscenely thick 0.30 inches. (At a bloated 0.28 inches, the iPhone 6 Plus is ever so slightly thicker.) Certainly the increased height and length of both phones allows Apple to move around components in a way that allows them to reduce the thickness.

iPhone 6
SERENITY CALDWELL. The rear-facing camera on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus protrudes slightly.

There is, however, one casualty: the rear-facing iSight camera. Even with a quick glance at the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you'll see that the camera lens protrudes slightly from the back. Is it noticeable? Certainly. I didn't get a chance to put the new phones down on a hard, flat surface-Apple cleverly had them all resting on soft mats-but I imagine that it won't sit evenly on its back. That's an un-Apple like move, but it's not without precedent. (Remember the recessed headphone jack on the original iPhone?) But it does in some ways mar the iPhone's otherwise sleek profile.

Despite the slight difference in thickness and weight, I found the differences between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to be mostly unnoticeable; the latter is far more distinctive for its extra mass than its weight.

Look, ma, one hand!
Speaking of that extra mass, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus does present some...challenges in one-handed use. Even someone with a moderately large hand will have trouble getting his or her thumb all the way to the top far corner of the display. When Apple first demoed iOS 8 back in June, it showed off some controls that were clearly harbingers of the larger displays to come, such as the tap-and-hold audio and video controls in Messages. These are easy to navigate with just a thumb-though, depending on whether you're right- or left-handed, one may be harder to get to than the other.

iPhone 6
SERENITY CALDWELL. A double-tap on the Home button invokes Reachability.

But Apple's also added a new feature to address these problems on both the 6 and 6 Plus, dubbed Reachability. A double-tap on the Home button (note, not the double-click that brings up the multitasking interface) simply slides down the entire interface to about a third of the screen, letting you quickly access the interface without having to strain. The interface is fully functional-you can even tap the iPhone's status bar to jump back to the top of a webpage, for example. A double-tap of the Home button returns everything to normal.

 

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