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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.

Touch ID is a little faster at recognizing your fingerprint. This is a good thing, what with iOS 8 now allowing third-party applications to use the Touch ID results for authentication. (Your fingerprint data never leaves the device; anything that uses Touch ID receives the result of the scan as a yes or no, and nothing else.)

The iPhone 6 also includes a new sensor called a barometer. This gauges air pressure so the iPhone knows when you change elevation; useful for fitness fans trying to get a more accurate picture of workouts. The Health app tracks these changes in elevation under the Flights Climbed dashboard widget.

There is the inclusion of NFC for a new initiative called Apple Pay, but I can't comment because I've yet to use it; an update to enable this will be out some time in October.

Battery life
According to Apple the iPhone 6 will get about 11 hours of use when browsing the Web using Wi-Fi and 10 hours when using a cellular connection. HD video is supposed to last up to 11 hours, while audio playback will net you 50 hours.

During a day of normal usage, the battery life of my iPhone 7 lasted on average about two or three hours longer than the 5S. For example, during a recent four-hour flight, I was able to write much of this review on my iPhone using a Bluetooth keyboard at the same time I streamed music to a set of Bluetooth headphones. Even though I started with a 28% battery, the phone lasted the entire flight.

(If you are looking for the best battery life on an iPhone, you might want to take a look at the iPhone 6 Plus, which claims up to 12 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and 14 hours of video playback.)

Dealing with iOS 8
Unfortunately, the iPhone as it ships now has one major weakness: iOS 8. When I wrote Computerworld's review of iOS 8, I really liked the features, the feel and the overall design -- but, frankly, in its current form (version 8.0.2), it's buggy and makes iPhones sometimes perform unreliably. I've had apps just stop accepting touch input without cause, and the only way those apps responded again is if I quit out of the app and restarted it.

Other problems include random iCloud password prompts, crashes that bring up the Apple logo and several other minor, yet completely annoying, software glitches. A bug that actually deletes iWork documents from iCloud Drive made me pull my documents from iCloud -- which isn't a ringing endorsement of Apple's services.

I mentioned several times in my iOS 8 review that the software contained some lingering issues, but that they could be gotten around. However, after a few weeks of using the final build and after speaking to colleagues and friends (as well as receiving email complaints and requests for help), it's clear that the bugs are more numerous than I originally thought. Making matters worse, days after the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 were released to the eager public, Apple engineers let loose an update to iOS 8 (version 8.0.1) that disabled Touch ID and cellular connectivity on the new phones.

 

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