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iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Bigger is in fact better (in the right hands)

Jason Snell | Sept. 18, 2014
When Apple released the first iPhone, its 3.5-inch touchscreen seemed huge compared to the displays of other phones. Nonetheless, competitors responded with even larger screens, trying to find areas where they could provide clear alternatives to Apple hardware. Consumers responded positively, so the competition started making even bigger phones.

But for all the features a large screen can bring, the fact is that its very hard for someone using the device one-handed to reach the top of that screen. Apples creative solution is a new feature called Reachability. Put simply, Reachability slides the top of the screen down to where your thumb can reach it. To activate Reachability, you tap twice on the home button (without pushingthe touch ID sensor can tell when youre just touching). Everything on the top half of the screen slides down, bringing it within reach.

Reachability isnt the most elegant concept Ive seen Apple develop, but it does make the size of these phones more manageable when youre using only one hand. After a few days, Reachability became something that I used without thinking, and it generally did what I needed it to. However, I did find it to be a bit inconsistent. The iPhone home screen doesnt slide all the way down, for instanceit scrolls the main icons down, leaving the dock and the top bar where they were. No other app interacts with Reachability in this way.

I also found that in some cases, the contents of the screen immediately snapped back to the top when I tapped something. In other cases, there was a pause of a second or so after a tap, enough time to tap something else, or scroll, or interact with the interface in other ways. I dont like this inconsistency, and in general I think it would be better if the iPhone always waited a second to make sure everythings done before turning off Reachability. Right now, I never really know whats going to happen when I tap something when in Reachability mode, and thats not good.

Sharper focus

Every new iPhone model generally brings an upgraded camera. This years models havent improved on the iPhone 5s in terms of megapixelsthese phones still have 8-megapixel camerasbut add a raft of new features intended to improve the photo- and video-taking experiences.

Focus is improved in several ways. Apple says that its added dedicated focus pixels to the camera, which help it autofocus faster. Face-detection algorithms have been improved. And there are improvements to autofocus performance on video. The focus behavior in video is the feature I noticed the mostvideo focus has never been really been one of the iPhones strong suits. But the focus in the test videos I shot with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were clear and smooth, never seeming robotic or jarring.

The super slow-mo feature means you can now shoot at 240 frames per second, allowing for smooth action that runs at one-eighth the speed of normal video. That feature, combined with improved video stabilization that makes videos feel surprisingly smooth, should make videos of skateboard tricks and swimming pool dives more impressive than ever before.

 

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