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iPhone 6: The little things make it a real star

Galen Gruman | Sept. 23, 2014
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 is not perfect, of course. There's one hardware change I'm not a huge fan of, and one change I wish Apple had made:

Apple moved the Sleep/Wake switch from the top of the iPhone to the right side, so you can reach it with your thumb when holding the device. But it means you can't quickly dismiss an incoming call during a meeting by double-pressing the button in your shirt pocket you have to pull the phone out of your pocket to dismiss the call. I've found no alternative quick-dismiss method on the iPhone 6 for those of us who carry our phones in our shirt pockets. Apple should add a timed option for Do No Disturb so that we can silence the phone in a meeting but not leave it silenced through forgetting to turn it back on, as is now required.

Apple did not move the audio jack to the top of the phone, where it's more convenient when carrying your iPhone in your shirt pocket (and where the iPhone 4 series had it, though not the iPhone 5 series). To listen to music while on the train or walking down the street, you have to put the iPhone in your pocket upside down to connect your earbuds which exposes the speaker and Lightning openings to the outside elements. OK, the goal is to avoid the lint in the bottom of our pockets — still.

Also, the sleeker new case is, well, slicker — making the iPhone 6 more likely to slip out of your grip than it should be, a little like last year's Moto X was. I had my iPhone 4 for nearly four years without needing a case or bumper to keep it secure in my hand, but I won't take that risk with the iPhone 6. I just need to find a bumper or case that doesn't hide or sully its beautiful design.

The software is what makes the iPhone 6 so compelling

But where the iPhone 6 really shines is in its iOS 8 software. The new OS is full of small but useful improvements, especially for business users, as I've described in my survey of its enhancements to email, contacts, calendars, and texting. But it also includes general improvements that make the iPhone 6 experience much more compelling.

Thank you for the new Middle-Aged view mode. A bigger screen still leaves text hard to read for many middle-aged folks like me. We want bigger pixels as much as we want more of them, so the iPhone 6 offers what I call Middle-Aged view mode (the real name is Zoomed view, available in the Display & Brightness pane in the Settings app), which makes everything bigger, essentially blowing up the iPhone 5s's screen into the larger physical size of the iPhone 6's screen. The graphics subsystem does the scaling, so there's no display lag as I found when Samsung tried a similar capability via software in its unwieldy Galaxy Note Pro 12 tablet earlier this year.


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