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iPhone 6 deep-dive review: A major new step in design and performance

Michael deAgonia | Oct. 2, 2014
Apple's latest smartphone offers great hardware, but like all current iPhones, has been hurt by annoying iOS 8 glitches.

iPhone 6
Credit: Apple

Let's be honest: the past few weeks haven't exactly been the easiest for Apple. From the glitchy livestream during its product announcement to the problematic preorder launch of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, to the public-relations headache-inducing "Bendgate," to the outright catastrophic iOS 8.0.1 software update (which was nearly immediately pulled and replaced days later with an 8.0.2 update), the last few weeks could have gone much smoother for the California-based company.

But that hasn't stopped iPhone fans from going after the new devices. The iPhone 6 (with a 4.7-in. display) and the iPhone 6 Plus (with a 5.5-in display) both feature sleeker case designs (in silver, gold or gray), a second-generation 64-bit chipset, updated camera systems and several other notable improvements. The new iPhones support faster LTE (up to 150Mbps), Voice over LTE (VoLTE), low-energy Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

Prices for this year's models are in line with last year's, but storage capacities have been tweaked. If you're going for a subsidized service plan with a two-year contract, the iPhone 6 costs $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 64GB model and $399 for the 128GB model. The iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $299 for a 16GB model, $399 for a 64GB model and $499 for a 128GB model. The new lineup drops the iPhone 5S to $99 and $149 (with 16GB and 32GB of storage, respectively), while the 5C is being offered for free. Unlocked prices are much higher, starting at $649 for the iPhone 6 and $749 for the Plus.

As usual, the iPhone comes with a minimal set of accessories. In the box you'll find a set of Apple ear buds with built-in mic and audio controls, a USB/Lightning cable, a wall plug, a set of Apple logo stickers and very sparse documentation.

Of the two models, I chose the iPhone 6, and so this review is of the smaller 4.7-in. model. (If you're still trying to figure out which one is best for you, I recently wrote a piece that may help.) I've since spent over ten days with it -- including using it during a camping trip, where the iPhone tracked our progress during a hike to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Form-factor and display
At first glance, the iPhone 6 is very much an iPhone: There's the glass-covered front with the display framed in white or black and the obligatory Home button, which also doubles as the Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

However, the feel is certainly different. The back of the device is crafted from anodized aluminum; the chamfered edges introduced with the iPhone 4 have been replaced with smoother and sleeker curves that call back to the original iPhone design. With the exception of the rectangular display beneath the subtly curved glass front, all of the hard angles have been softened -- which felt great in my hand while simultaneously provoking me to grip it tighter than previous models. (And no, I didn't experience any of the warping that was part of "Bendgate.")

 

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