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Review: First impressions of the new iPhone 6

Michael deAgonia | Sept. 22, 2014

The biggest change, of course, is that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus features screen sizes much bigger than earlier iPhones. Picking which one is the right for you is the first decision iPhone buyers had to make this year. I chose the iPhone 6 because it's more portable.

My initial impression of the 4.7-in. screen: it's a great screen. The iPhone 6 display is larger than, but just as pixel-dense (326 pixels per inch) as the older iPhone 5/5C/5S, and the viewing angles are insane. While there is some slight shifting when viewing off center, colors retain a remarkable consistency — even at extreme angles. Apple calls these screens Retina HD displays — the 6 Plus packs 401 pixels per inch on its display — and the improvements are worthy of the new name.

The iPhone 6 doesn't have the most pixel-dense or largest screen out there, but what it does have won't bring in complaints from new owners. Images, text and videos are well saturated, sharp and bright.

How big is too big?

What may bring complaints, though, is the size of the display, which extends a tad beyond my limits of comfortable one-handed operation. I have already found myself shifting the iPhone 6 more often in hand to compensate for the larger size. And I have quickly learned to appreciate the new feature called Reachability, which lowers some of the interface closer to where your thumb is located when the Home button is touched twice. It's a smart and useful feature that goes a long way to reducing the amount of yoga your thumb must accomplish to reach the top-most interface elements and the Notification area.

I do enjoy the larger viewing area for reading, games and videos, though I wish the iPhone's frame had been shrunk a bit to hug the screen more. I'll also be glad when all third-party apps have been optimized for the larger sizes. As it stands, those apps that haven't yet been updated are scaled up to full screen, which is useful if you have poor vision, but results in a softer look and sometimes blurry interface elements. For those apps, the additional screen size is largely a waste until they're redesigned.

I've long been a fan of the iPhone 5 and 5S designs. Last year, I was keen to get the white/silver 5S because of the way the chamfered edges haloed light around the white-framed display (in concert with how light played off the metallic Touch ID ring). The look and overall design really appealed to me and pulled me away from my usual space gray/black models.

This year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus loses the reflective chamfered edges in favor of a sleek and thin pill-shaped profile, featuring a glass front that tapers into a smooth curve to meet the anodized aluminum body. On the Space Gray model, the entire front of the iPhone is cloaked in black, with components like the camera, sensors and even the display borders barely visible. The result is that the front of the new iPhone delivers a sleek, nearly unbroken black shine.

 

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