The iPhone 6 is the first major redesign of the Apple iPhone since 2010's iPhone 4. The design is new, with the aluminum side band gone and the glass and aluminum halves directly welded for a sleeker, less-industrial look. The iPhone 6 is also bigger, a long-desired improvement in screen real estate. That's normal change in the smartphone world.
The iPhone 6's hardware is (mostly) excellent
I really like the iPhone 6 as a device.
First, the iPhone 6 is simply a pleasure to hold. The wraparound aluminum is almost velvety, and the glass front melds seamlessly into it. The screen is bright and colorful, without crossing the line into garish as some Android phones do (Galaxy S5, I'm talking to you). There are a few other nice-feeling smartphones, like the HTC One M8, but the iPhone 6 is a cut above.
Under the hood are Apple's new chips: the A8 processor and M8 motion coprocessor, as well as a souped-up graphics subsystem. The iPhone 6 has as much power as some PCs, and you can feel the better performance.
The screen is brilliant and bright, moreso than Apple's previous iPhones, whose images were crisp and true but a bit subdued. In the iPhone 6, Apple has increased brightness without making the colors artificially garish, in that unnatural, pumped-up "Miami Vice" style that Samsung favors. It works great for navigation while driving with the new Siri hands-free mode (yes, Apple Maps is a lot better now).
Apple says the iPhone 6's viewing angle is wider — well, yes and no. It's a tad wider than my iPhone 4's viewing angle, but not meaningfully more. What's different: At an extreme viewing angle, the iPhone 6 retains most of its brightness and color accuracy, whereas older iPhones dimmed and the colors shifted darker at wide viewing angles.
The iPhone 6's cameras have been upgraded. They're basically as good as SLRs and camcorders, but that's par for the course in high-end smartphones. One interesting change Apple made is adding support for high-FPS, slo-mo video capture, a trick sure to be popular. In my tests, it worked great in natural light but not in artificial lighting, such as a room illuminated by halogen or LEDs. (I don't have standard incandescent or fluorescent lighting to test under.) At least in LED- and halogen-lit spaces, I got a very unpleasant strobe effect when shooting in slo-mo.
The other big internal change is support for NFC (near-field communications) that will enable contactless mobile payments in the forthcoming Apple Pay service. Apple Pay doesn't work yet an iOS 8 update planned for October is required, as are Apple Pay-compatible sales terminals in stores so I could not test it. NFC may have other uses in the future, but for now Apple is tying it to Apple Pay to ensure security.
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