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Thread: Our Apple iPhone 6 review

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    Our Apple iPhone 6 review

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    I just reviewed the iPhone 6 Plus, now itís time to check out its smaller brother the iPhone 6. Iím assuming youíve already read my 6 Plus review. If you havenít already, please check it out now because Iíll be referring to it throughout the review. While most of this review is new, the 6 and 6 Plus are very similar phones so a few passages have been lifted from the Plus review.

    Should I keep my iPhone 5s?

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    If youíre coming from a 5s, then you might be intimidated by the jump up to the Plus. After all, going from 4 to 5.5Ē is a big difference. While the difference between a 4Ē and the 6ís 4.7Ē is also quite large, 4.7Ē is a happy medium.

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    Like the 5s, the 6 can be used with one hand though itís a bit trickier.

    If we look beyond size, the 6 brings some other improvements like a slightly better camera, a better screen, a tiny bit more performance which you probably wonít notice, the availability of a 128GB variant that costs roughly what the 64GB 5s did last year, support for LTE Band 7 (up to 150Mbps) and slightly better battery life.

    What about the iPhone 6 Plus?

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    The 6 Plus has 4 points which make it better than the 6. First and foremost is the larger display. Thereís a big jump when you go from 4.7Ē to 5.5Ē.

    Remember; gaming, surfing the web, looking at pictures, reading email are all better on a bigger screen.

    The 6 Plus display is also sharper but most people wonít notice this.

    You also get an optically stabilized lens with the 6 Plus and in case youíre wondering; yes it does make a difference.

    Battery life on the 6 Plus is also superior, or at least it should be. My 6 Plus has some problems so I havenít been able to get a real handle on this.

    So, while you get a bigger, sharper display, better camera and more battery life on the Plus, you have to sacrifice some portability.

    The Plus is a massive phone. In the quest to make it as thin as a Kate Moss, Apple has given the 6 Plus the footprint of a Sumo Wrestler.

    Now youíre probably wondering about the 6 Plus and whatís been dubbed ďBendgateĒ. Some people have stuffed the 6 Plus in the pant pockets and after sitting down for a few hours, have found that it has been bent out of shape.

    Hereís my take. Did the 6 Plus bend because itís poorly made with the strength of a wet noodle? No.

    The problem with the 6 Plus, is that itís too long. Itís so long that when people put it in their pant pockets itís subject to greater twisting and bending forces than other, shorter phones.

    Think about it, imagine you put a toothpick in your pocket - chances are that it will be fine even if you spend the whole day sitting because itís short. Now take a thicker, stronger toothpick that is twice as long and put it in your pant pocket. Itís going to get bent out of shape because the length causes it to be subjected to more forces.

    Anyways, the 6 is a much shorter phone. Even if itís actually weaker (I have no idea one way or the other), it wonít be subject to the same level of forces that the 6 Plus will be. This makes it a much more pocket-friendly phone.

    What size do I need?

    Like the Plus, the 6 is available in 16, 64 and 128GB sizes. If youíre a casual user who plans on snapping a few pictures, download the Facebook app and making some calls, then 16GB is enough.

    However, power users should avoid the 16GB version at all costs - youíll be constantly running out of storage. When iOS 7 came out, I couldnít install it because I needed more than 5GB of free space.

    Out of the box, the 16GB iPhone 6 has around 14.7GB of usable space. If Apple releases a new version of iOS, how much free space will it need? It will drive you nuts because youíll be constantly performing memory management to free up space.

    Instead, consider the 64GB version. The jump from 16GB to 64GB is so big that I think most people donít really need to consider the 128GB version.

    What about an Android Phone?

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    One of the phones I carry around is a Samsung Galaxy S5. Its 5.1Ē screen makes it a direct competitor to the iPhone 6ís 4.7Ē.

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    First off, if you have $100ís worth of iPhone apps and movies, own an Apple TV, iPad and other Apple products then thereís a big financial incentive to stay. If thatís the case then you should stay put.

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    However, if youíre like me, and just like iPhones but nothing else that Apple offers then check out Android.

    Spec-for-spec, theyíre quite close. I guess you could say that the Samsung Galaxy S5ís 5.1Ē 1920x1080 display has a lot more resolution than the 6ís 1344x750 but to be honest, in everyday usage, the difference is minimal.

    Camera-wise theyíre also close. Iíd say the 6 is better in this regard but the S5 camera is also outstanding.

    The S5 pulls ahead with a louder earpiece and speakerphone. As far as LTE bands go the 6 has more but again, the difference to most users is minimal.

    You do get more storage options with the 6 but then again, you can add memory cards to the S5. Memory cards are a much cheaper way to add storage. I will say though that the flash memory used in memory cards is usually much lower quality than what youíll find inside a phone. Memory cards are usually slower and less durable so while itís cheaper, in a way youíre getting less.

    Hardware-wise, theyíre so close it really boils down to an iOS vs Android thing. Android is now a really mature ecosystem and you just might like it.

    Android also offers more freedom. You can root your phone and install apps that Google doesnít want you to install. Itís also easier to get media onto an Android phone.

    One other thing to think about is that there are many lower cost options on Android. Be it a Nexus 5 with a 5Ē screen for ~$350 (screen isnít as nice, camera is terrible), or a $420 OnePlus (much bigger, hardware isnít as nice but itís close enough), or a used Android Flagship (used HTC One M8 for $425 anyone?).

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    Is paying that much more for an iPhone 6 worth it?

    Body:

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    If youíre wondering what the 6 feels like, the sides are rounded as are the edges of the display which helps to make it feel thinner than it actually is. It reminds me more of an iPod Touch than an iPhone because of the sides.

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    It shares the same styling as the Plus so you get the rounded sides and glass I already mentioned along with buttons and switches reminiscent of the iPad Mini and iPad Airís.

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    The back is all metal again, just like the original iPhone. I donít know about you but the antenna stripes on the back of the 6 look better than they do the Plus. Then again, maybe the stripes look best in space gray.

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    Iím a little disappointed the 6ís camera also sticks out like the Plusí. To be fair, many other phones have camera bulges. Off the top of my head the GS5, Note 3, Nexus 5 all have camera bulges. The again, the bulge really ruins the 6ís lines. I guess if it you, you can always pick up a case. When you do that, the bulge goes away. Is it Appleís way of forcing more people to buy their pricey leather cases? Hmmm...

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    Bottom: headphone jack, microphone, lightning connector, speaker

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    Left: silent mode switch, volume buttons

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    Top: nothing to se

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    Right: nano SIM slot, power button

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    Back: camera, flash

    Display:

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    Compared to the 5s, the 6ís display is improved in a few areas: While the viewing angles are unchanged, the off-angle contrast and brightness are much improved plus there is far less colour shift.

    Another area of improvement are the deep black levels. Theyíre so deep that sometimes I wonder if the 6 has a Super AMOLED display. In fact, theyíre so dark that if you get the 6 in Space Gray, the black bezel actually compliments the screen instead of drawing attention to it.

    Anyways, the deep blacks make the 6ís colours pop more plus youíll swear that itís brighter than the 5s even though itís actually not.

    You get a 1334x750 display which I think is the only device on the market with this odd resolution. The fact that itís 4.7Ē in size partially explains where Apple got the 6ís resolution. 1334x750 on a 4.7Ē display yields a pixel density of 326ppi which is identical to the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 5c and iPod Touch. While itís not any sharper than those devices, we tend to hold large displays further from our eyes so in that sense, small text might look better on the 6ís display than it does on the 5s.

    Compared to the Plus, the 6ís display looks identical, only itís smaller and has a slightly lower pixel density. The Plusí has got 401ppi. Practically speaking, while there is a difference between 326ppi and 401ppi, itís not that noticeable. The only time I see it is if youíre viewing text that is so small you can barely read it or when you hold the display really close to your face.

    Camera:

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    The big difference between the 6 and the Plus is that the later comes with optical image stabilization (OIS). That means itís able to physically move the sensor to try to counter any shaking. Other then that, I think both have the same imaging sensor.

    The OIS allows the Plus to use slower shutter speeds and lower ISO which gives you cleaner images. Indeed, in my testing, all else being equal, the Plus usually has better looking pictures in low light. I should mention though that the Plus seems to cap the ISO at 500 whereas the 6 can go up to ISO 2000. What this means is that they effectively have the same low light performance in terms of what they can capture in low light - only the Plusís pictures will always be cleaner looking.

    Still, even without OIS, the 6 takes really great pictures. Itís a very versatile camera; indoors itís a fantastic low-light performer. Itís capable of handling a wide variety of situations like when you have a very bright background (ie: when youíre indoors and standing in front of a window).

    8 megapixels doesnít sound like much but the 6 really makes the most of them.

    I initially thought that the 5s has a less noisy imaging sensor than the 6. However, after comparing the pictures more carefully, the 5s pictures are usually more soft with slightly less detail. This means that the 5s actually has a noisier sensor which requires more aggressive noise reduction which also removes some detail.

    One really awesome feature about the 6 is that its auto-HDR function works really well. Whatís so great about it is that a) it only turns on when itís appropriate b) it takes pictures so quickly most of the time you donít even notice it. While it is an HDR feature, it doesnít take pictures that have that unrealistic HDR look to them. The 6ís HDRís look more realistic.

    Another nice feature is that you can now set the exposure. Just tap to focus and then slide your finger up or down to raise (make the picture brighter) or lower the exposure.

    Video quality is excellent. The microphone does a really great job.

    Thereís a high frame rate mode which you can use to slow things down. There are 2 options; 120 and 240 frames per second. These are great for recording car tire burnouts, kids jumping around, analyzing golf swings, etc. Super slow videos are recorded at 1280x720. Watch out, you need a lot of light to record at high frame rates so you probably wonít be using them much at night.

    Besides slowing things down, you can also speed things up by only recording video every couple of seconds so that everything looks really fast. If you use this youíll probably want to mount your 6 on a tripod (youíll need a tripod adapter first).

    Software:

    In my Plus review, I mentioned that I found it to be extremely buggy. While I do have the occasional problem with the 6, overall it has been much more reliable. It doesnít crash multiple times an hour and while some apps donít work with it (some blame falls on the devs but most of the blame is on Apple), itís been much more pleasant to use. I suspect my Plus might be a lemon because it still crashes all the time even after the iOS 8.0.2 update.

    iOS 8 brings some new features to the table. You can read about all of them on Appleís site but the ones I notice most are that now the gallery shows the location as text when you look at your pictures - it only took Apple 2 or 3 years to copy that feature from Samsung.

    You can also view when you received a text message by swiping it. Itís a small feature but it makes a big difference.

    When you double press the home button, you can see your favorite contacts in addition to being able to switch apps.

    Thereís now support for 3rd party keyboards plus the built-in one now shows suggestions on top of it (only took Apple a few years to steal that). You can also write by tracing the keyboard (just like the original Samsung Galaxy S from almost 5 years ago). I donít know about you but the stock Apple keyboard is already outstanding.

    iOS 8 also adds a couple of features to help the Plus play more nicely with other Apple devices but to be honest, while Iím a big iPhone fan I donít use a Mac or iPad so I didnít try them.

    Performance:

    In the past, each new generation of iPhone would bring huge speed improvements to the table. Iím talking 100% faster. So I was a little surprised when Apple claimed that the 6 is only 25% faster. If we were talking about the mature PC market, a 25% increase in speed would be huge, but in mobile which is still moving incredibly fast, only 25% faster is a bit of a shock.

    Letís look at some numbers. Peacekeeper is a benchmark that runs inside a browser. Since all it needs is a browser, itís able to run on virtually any platform. For this test, Iím running it in Googleís Chrome browser on both iOS and Android devices:

    This is where the 6 and even the 5s do best, easily beating the Android devices.



    To test graphics I used 3D Mark as well as GFX Bench 3.0. Both of these are available on iOS and Android.

    The problem with 3D Mark is that on higher-end devices, the scores are usually limited by their vsync (they donít normally allow the device to render more than 60 frames per second). So for the on-screen tests, 3D Mark will only say the test is maxed out since many devices are capable of rendering the sequences at more than 60 frames per second. So, the only 3D Mark test that will yield a score is the unlimited Ice Storm one which runs off screen.



    Iím not a fan of off-screen tests because the way I see it, when you play a game, itís usually at the deviceís native resolution or lower. So, what is the point of posting benchmarks that are run at higher than native resolution? When you do that, itís not indicative of what the deviceís gaming performance is actually like.

    Some people think that itís a good way to compare graphics processors across different platforms but I disagree. Since mobile devices need to balance performance with battery life, a well designed phone will have just the right amount of resources to run games at itís native resolution. If itís also able to run games at double the resolution then all that extra performance is wasted.

    Anyways, the 3D Mark scores seem to show that the chasm that used to separate iOS devices and Android devices is now gone.

    GFX Bench is a test which is demanding enough that we can compare on-screen scores. The scores from this test are more indicative of the Plusí real gaming performance.



    Check it out; while the 6 and 6 Plus have different screen resolutions, they have almost the same on-screen performance. Now we have the other half of the story as to where Apple came up with the 6ís odd 1344x750 resolution. Not only does 1344x750 yeild a ppi of 326 on a 4.7Ē screen but itís basically half the resolution of the Plusí 1920x1080 display.

    iPhone 6 1344x750 = 1,008,000 total pixels
    iPhone 6 Plus 1920x1080 = 2,073,600 total pixels
    Now when it comes to 3D graphics, you can usually tackle scenes in a very parallel manner. Instead of just having one graphics core, typically you have multiple ones. So, if you increase the resolution, you can just throw more cores at it (Iím over-simplifying).

    Since the 6 Plus has twice the resolution of the 6, Apple just need to add twice as many graphics cores to provide the same performance. Assuming there are no performance bottlenecks, this would seem to be the case with the 6 having identical scores in GFX Bench.

    However, the 3D Mark unlimited scores I included earlier seems to tell a different story. Both are run off-screen at the same resolution yet they have identical scores instead of the 6 Plus having double the performance. Iím not sure what to make of this.

    Finally, if youíre just want to compare numbers, I included Basemark OS II, another cross platform benchmark. I wanted to also use Antutu but I couldnít get it to run on any of my iPhones.



    Indeed, while the 6 maintains Appleís lead in the performance department, the difference between it and Android is now much smaller. Is this a sign that things have reached a level of maturity and that we shouldnít expect any more big performance leaps going forward?

    Anyways, on paper, the new 6 is faster than the 5s, however, practically speaking, it doesnít feel any faster than my 5s. I didnít time it but I put both the 6 and 5s next to each other, and tried different tasks on each that I want to run as fast as possible. For example, I tried launching the cameras on each simultaneously and guess what, they both finished at the same time.

    Next, I tried launching some games and guess what, theyíre more or less the same here too.

    The only time I saw a difference is when I rebooted both the 6 and the 5s simultaneously. The 6 is able to boot up 2 seconds faster.

    As a Phone:

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    The 6 Plus supports 16 different LTE bands which is pretty astonishing. Do you remember a simpler time when all we had was 4 GSM bands? Despite having support for so many bands, the 6 Plus doesnít support all the LTE bands currently in use here. While the only Canadian LTE frequency the 5s supported was just Band 4 (AWS), the 6 Plus adds support for Band 7 (2600Mhz) plus itís a Cat 4 device. Band 7 coupled with Cat 4 is what many Android users have been using since the Galaxy Note 3/Sony Xperia Z1 last year to get download speeds of up to 150Mbps. Now, a year later, iPhone users can do this too.

    Band 7 support is a real treat because Rogers has it deployed across most of their LTE network. In case youíre wondering, Bell has it too albeit in a few spots.

    As far as support for 700Mhz support in Canada goes, the 6 Plus supports bands 13, 14 and 17 but not 12.

    What does this mean? First off, Band 12 consists of 3 blocks of spectrum called A, B and C. B and C are also part of Band 17 (which makes it a subset of Band 12).

    So,12 is A B & C while 17 is B & C. That means there is no support Block ďAĒ.

    While all of the big 3 own spectrum in Block ďAĒ, it mainly affects Rogers because they own Block ďAĒ in Southern Ontario, BC, Alberta and Southern Quebec (Toronto, Vancouver, Alberta and Montreal). Anyways, this isnít a big deal since Block A isnít widely deployed. Thanks to HC - NO ďiĒ for clearing that up.

    Sound quality, is about the same as the 5s (average) as is the maximum earpiece volume (average). Speakerphone volume is also unchanged (average).

    RF performance also seems unchanged. I guess Apple figures that the 5s is good enough and spent their time working on adding support for as many LTE bands as possible instead.

    Battery life is slightly better than my 5s. Since my Plus is probably a lemon I never really got a feel for itís true battery life so I canít compare it with the 6.

    Media Capabilities:

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    In my Plus review, I praised the built-in speaker for itís power and range. Since I was expecting the 6 to be just as good I was a little let down. While the 6ís speaker isnít quite as powerful and its range falls short of the Plusí, itís still decent when you consider that the 6 is a phone.

    The 6ís headphone amp is just like the Plus. Itís one of the most powerful ones out there and sounds great. The 5s has tighter, punchier bass but the 6 seems to have deeper bass and slightly more reverb. Is this a result of the Beats acquisition?

    Connectivity:

    • WiFi 802.11AC (only 1x1 stream)
    • dual band WiFi
    • NFC (only for Apple Pay which isnít available in Canada yet)
    • LTE support for bands 1 (2100 MHz), 2 (1900 MHz), 3 (1800 MHz), 4 (AWS), 5 (850 MHz), 7 (2600 MHz), 8 (900 MHz), 13 (700c MHz), 17 (700b MHz), 18 (800 MHz), 19 (800 MHz), 20 (800 DD), 25 (1900 MHz), 26 (800 MHz), 28 (700 APT MHz), 29 (700 DE MHz)
    • LTE Cat 4 (up to 150Mbps)
    • Bluetooth 4.0


    Conclusion:

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    Iíll be honest, between the Apple iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus I would pick the Plus every time. I donít wear super tight jeans so I can fit it in my pocket without worrying.

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    I also like that the 6 Plus has a nice thick bezel so that I can sort of use it with one hand. That and I donít mind paying $100 more to get the bigger screen, better speaker, stabilized camera and longer battery life.

    I will say though that the most important thing to consider between the 6 and the 6 Plus is whether you can handle the size. The problem is that you canít really tell unless you use them for a few days. When I first started using the 6 Plus I hated the size but it grew on me.

    So, which one you choose is a very personal decision.

    Iíll give it 4 1/4 (thatís like 4 Howies plus an arm and a leg) Howies out of 5.

    Pros:
    • Screen
    • Camera
    • Powerful headphone amp
    • Available with up to 128GB storage


    Cons:
    • Expensive
    • RF performance hasnít improved
    • Maximum earpiece volume hasnít improved
    • Speakerphone volume hasnít improved
    Last edited by howard; 09-30-2014 at 07:16 AM.

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    While I wanted to like the 6, it just didn't do it: weak speakerphone (as you noted), battery life is dismal where I went from full charge at bedtime to waking up with 40% remaining, and the camera seems like a step backwards with weak depth of field and muted colors. Comparing the camera to the HTC One M8 or even the Samsung Galaxy 4 or 5, the iphone seems to struggle in any light. I returned it the following day. I still have the 4S and see no performance improvement (especially in the camera) with this 6. Not impressed and it actually feels cheap in hand. I was expecting more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimxx200 View Post
    While I wanted to like the 6, it just didn't do it: weak speakerphone (as you noted), battery life is dismal where I went from full charge at bedtime to waking up with 40% remaining, and the camera seems like a step backwards with weak depth of field and muted colors. Comparing the camera to the HTC One M8 or even the Samsung Galaxy 4 or 5, the iphone seems to struggle in any light. I returned it the following day. I still have the 4S and see no performance improvement (especially in the camera) with this 6. Not impressed and it actually feels cheap in hand. I was expecting more.
    Interesting take on the camera. I haven't tried it myself, but the review at dxolabs sure seems to disagree. They claim, of all the camera phones they've tested, the 6 and 6+ "set the gold standard". They're pretty well respected in the field.
    http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles/Apple...-image-quality
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  4. #4
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    Howard by this : " OnePlus (much bigger, hardware isn’t as nice but it’s close enough)"
    Do you mean materials used to make the phone, or processor,Ram, Etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ijcy View Post
    Howard by this : " OnePlus (much bigger, hardware isn’t as nice but it’s close enough)"
    Do you mean materials used to make the phone, or processor,Ram, Etc.
    I was referring to the display and the camera.

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    Great review, I enjoy reading all these review of the new products. If it was me, I'd just get the 6 instead of the Plus. Plus while it's nicer but it's just too big. However, I'd be just as happy with a 5.

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    I really can't wait to have my own iphone 6!!!

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    I really like my iPhone 6. I thought about the iPhone 6 + ,too. Granted, I would never put it in my back pocket but having it easily accessible made it very important. I put it in my jacket pocket or bag.
    As for the battery problem, one thing I learned from having an iPad and a 4s, it's really a good idea to quit [swipe up all] of the programs I'm not if I'm not using them. Also, if the battery is down to 30%, I just plug it in over night.
    I think the camera is quite good. I take a lot of still shots for reference. Haven't tried the slow motion or time lapsed yet. Recording Voice memos is good, too.

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    I recently upgraded to an iPhone 6 Plus. For the past 5 years I've had an HTC Touch Pro 2 and mainly used it to tether my laptop and iPad 2.

    I really like this phone and to me it is just the right size and has really became an iPad replacement for me.

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    Great review. I hope you put in the same time and effort for the next iPhone as it was very detailed.


    via the HoFo App on the iPhone 6 Plus powered by the nation's fastest 4G LTE network, T-Mobile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesluke View Post
    What about the recent news about iPhone 6 that it often hangs ??
    iPhone Application Development Karachi
    Hangs? What is that?

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    Great Review. I thought I was going to be stuck on Androids but the iphone 6 looks pretty cool.

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    I've been testing Howard's iPhone 6 over the weekend and I have to agree with all of his assessments, though with no experience with the iPhone 5, I can't comment one way or another on what improved and what didn't. I can only compare the hardware to other devices I've tested recently.

    Clearly the iPhone 6 is a very powerful piece of hardware, and this is particularly evident in it's graphics performance (for example, when rendering complex video data in real-time, such as you see with Apple Maps in its simulated 3D satellite mode, or during the playback of HD videos). I suppose that having half as many pixels to deal with as a typical 1920 x 1080 device helps, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

    The camera was nice, but I found it annoying that there was no 16:9 aspect ratio when taking pictures. If you want 16:9 pictures, you have to post-process them using the built-in picture editor. I switched to 16:9 pictures on ALL of my cameras earlier this year, because I now view pretty well all of them on my TV, which not surprisingly has a 16:9 aspect ratio. The camera's low-light performance was admirable, but not the best I've seen. The camera app seems to come up short on manual settings. It was about as close to a point-and-shoot as you can get on a smartphone.

    The video recording prowess of the phone was, on the other hand, surprisingly good. It shot great 30 fps videos, and it managed 120 fps and 240 fps slow-motion better than any smartphone I've thus far tested.

    I couldn't comment on the phone's usefulness as a phone, because I didn't have a functioning Nano SIM, however, I don't personally use the native phone part of my cell phone anyway. Instead I'm a VoIP.ms subscriber and I used a VoIP softphone on my Android device as my full-time phone.

    I installed Zoiper onto the iPhone 6 (the same app I used on my Android phone) and I performed all phone and speakerphone tests with that. The earpiece has a nice rich sound, but as Howard mentioned when commenting on native phone performance, the earpiece and speakerphone volumes were just average, though the built-in speaker has a nice tonal quality to it.

    The big disappointment when using a softphone on the iPhone is the inability to integrate it into the OS. On Android, I can make Zoiper into the primary phone provider, which means all incoming calls are handled through the operating system just like a regular phone call. On the iPhone, if a call comes in when the phone is locked I must first tap on the notification, then unlock the phone (which is fortunately not that difficult with the fingerprint reader), and then instruct Zoiper to answer.

    This may not sound like much, but it's annoyingly complex compared to simply swiping the screen as you would a native call. Outgoing calls must be made through the app, which is a pest because none of the shortcuts for making calls works through a third-party app. However, it works MILES BETTER than it does on Windows Phone 8, where it's pretty much unusable, except for outgoing calls. You can get by using a third-party VoIP app as your primary on the iPhone, but you'll need to downgrade your expectations a little.

    I'll comment on more once I'd had a chance to play with a few more features.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Punter View Post
    I've been testing Howard's iPhone 6 over the weekend and I have to agree with all of his assessments, though with no experience with the iPhone 5, I can't comment one way or another on what improved and what didn't. I can only compare the hardware to other devices I've tested recently.

    Clearly the iPhone 6 is a very powerful piece of hardware, and this is particularly evident in it's graphics performance (for example, when rendering complex video data in real-time, such as you see with Apple Maps in its simulated 3D satellite mode, or during the playback of HD videos). I suppose that having half as many pixels to deal with as a typical 1920 x 1080 device helps, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

    The camera was nice, but I found it annoying that there was no 16:9 aspect ratio when taking pictures. If you want 16:9 pictures, you have to post-process them using the built-in picture editor. I switched to 16:9 pictures on ALL of my cameras earlier this year, because I now view pretty well all of them on my TV, which not surprisingly has a 16:9 aspect ratio. The camera's low-light performance was admirable, but not the best I've seen. The camera app seems to come up short on manual settings. It was about as close to a point-and-shoot as you can get on a smartphone.

    The video recording prowess of the phone was, on the other hand, surprisingly good. It shot great 30 fps videos, and it managed 120 fps and 240 fps slow-motion better than any smartphone I've thus far tested.

    I couldn't comment on the phone's usefulness as a phone, because I didn't have a functioning Nano SIM, however, I don't personally use the native phone part of my cell phone anyway. Instead I'm a VoIP.ms subscriber and I used a VoIP softphone on my Android device as my full-time phone.

    I installed Zoiper onto the iPhone 6 (the same app I used on my Android phone) and I performed all phone and speakerphone tests with that. The earpiece has a nice rich sound, but as Howard mentioned when commenting on native phone performance, the earpiece and speakerphone volumes were just average, though the built-in speaker has a nice tonal quality to it.

    The big disappointment when using a softphone on the iPhone is the inability to integrate it into the OS. On Android, I can make Zoiper into the primary phone provider, which means all incoming calls are handled through the operating system just like a regular phone call. On the iPhone, if a call comes in when the phone is locked I must first tap on the notification, then unlock the phone (which is fortunately not that difficult with the fingerprint reader), and then instruct Zoiper to answer.

    This may not sound like much, but it's annoyingly complex compared to simply swiping the screen as you would a native call. Outgoing calls must be made through the app, which is a pest because none of the shortcuts for making calls works through a third-party app. However, it works MILES BETTER than it does on Windows Phone 8, where it's pretty much unusable, except for outgoing calls. You can get by using a third-party VoIP app as your primary on the iPhone, but you'll need to downgrade your expectations a little.

    I'll comment on more once I'd had a chance to play with a few more features.
    Steve, did you try tapping and holding the screen to lock focus with the camera? And did you try adjusting the exposure after tapping to focus?

  15. #15
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    Yes I did do both of those things, and having that small adjustment is definitely a nice touch. However, that seems to be the extent of control you have over the picture, which prompted my comment on it being a point-and-shoot camera. I guess Apple's philosophy with the camera is KISS (keep it simple stupid). Clearly this seems to suit millions of dedicated iPhone fans, and so I guess they weren't wrong about this. However, I've always maintained (as a software developer) that you can always implement a normal/expert mode to cover both ends of the usage spectrum. Stripping something of functionality in the name of keeping it simple just doesn't sit well with me.

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