With every launch of the iPhone, Apple seems to have everything to lose and not much to gain. Apple’s iPhone line accounts for the majority of profits in the smartphone space, and as the smartphone market marches towards maturity it seems inevitable that companies like Xiaomi will be able to deliver largely similar experiences at much lower prices. The same once happened with Apple in the days of the PC industry where Apple approached irrelevance. Yet generation after generation, Apple seems to be able to hold on to a majority of profit share, and they’ve managed to tenaciously hold on to their first-mover advantage.

This brings us to the iPhone 6. This is now the eighth generation of the iPhone, and the fifth generation of the iPhone’s industrial and material design. We should note right now that this review is specifically for the iPhone 6; for the iPhone 6 Plus, please see our iPhone 6 Plus companion review. At this point, it’s not really possible to revolutionize the smartphone, and on the surface, the iPhone 6 seems to be directly inspired by the iPod Touch. However, instead of the chamfered edge where the display meets the metal unibody we see a continuous curve from the sloping glass to the metal unibody that looks and feels great. While the M8 was one of the best phones for in-hand feel, the iPhone 6 goes a step further due to the reduced weight and rounded side. I've always felt like the HTC 8X had one of the most compelling shapes for a phone, and the incredibly thin feel of the iPhone 6 definitely reminds me of that.

Along the left side, we see the standard volume buttons and mute switch that continue to have the same solid feel and clean clicking action. As I discuss in the iPhone 6 Plus review, going by Consumer Reports' data it seems that there is a weak point near the bottom of the volume rocker, although it's far less likely to be an issue on the iPhone 6 due to its smaller size. Along the top, there isn’t a power button because it’s been moved to the right side of the phone so there’s nothing notable on the top.

On the right side, we see the previously mentioned power button and also the SIM tray, which is ejected by inserting a pin into the eject hole. Similarly to the volume buttons, the power button has a solid feel that gives a distinct click when triggered and continues to be quite unique when compared to phones other than recent iPhones.

The bottom has the Lightning connector, speaker, a microphone, and 3.5mm headset jack. The placement and design of all these elements are largely similar if not shared directly with the iPod Touch.

The back of the phone continues to share elements from the iPod Touch. The camera, microphone, and LED flash are almost identical in their appearance, even down to the camera hump’s design. The LED flash does look different to accommodate the second amber flash, but the shape is identical. The only real difference is that the antennas of the iPhone 6 are the metal pieces on the top and bottom, with the associated plastic lines instead of a plastic RF window.

The front of the phone is decidedly more similar to the iPhone 5s though, with the Touch ID home button. While the earpiece hasn’t moved, it seems that the front facing camera has been moved back to the left side of the earpiece, and the sensors for light and proximity are now above the earpiece. For the most part, there’s not much to comment on here but after using the iPhone 6 for an extended amount of time I’m definitely sure that the home button is relatively closer to the surface of the display glass than before. In addition, the home button has a dramatically improved feel, with short travel, clean actuation, and a reassuring click in most cases.

Overall, while I was undecided at the launch of the iPhone 6 I definitely think the look of the new iPhone has grown on me. The camera hump’s accent serves as an interesting design touch, and the feel of the design is definitely much more comfortable and ergonomic than before. I’m not really sure that the extra reduction in thickness was necessary, but it does make for a better first impression. In the launch article I was a bit surprised that Apple chose to have a camera hump but given the fact that the iPod Touch has the same design it seems that there is precedent for such a move. I personally feel that the design wouldn’t be worse by increasing thickness to eliminate the hump and improve battery life as a result.

Apple has also introduced a new silicone case, which brings a lower price point than the leather cases. Surprisingly, this is a rather high quality case, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t carry any of the issues that silicone cases traditionally have. There’s a nice lip to make sure that the display glass doesn’t touch a surface if the phone is put face down, and the material doesn’t seem to stretch or attract pocket lint the way most silicone cases do.

There’s definitely a lot more to talk about though, and to get a sense of the major differences I’ve put together our usual spec table below.

  Apple iPhone 5s Apple iPhone 6 Apple iPhone 6 Plus
SoC Apple A7 Apple A8 Apple A8
Display 4-inch 1136 x 640 LCD 4.7-inch 1334 x 750 LCD 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 LCD
WiFi 2.4/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n, BT 4.0 2.4/5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, single stream, BT 4.0, NFC
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/64GB/128GB 16GB/64GB/128GB
I/O Lightning connector, 3.5mm headset
Size / Mass 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm, 112 grams 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm, 129 grams 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm, 172 grams
Camera 8MP iSight with 1.5µm pixels Rear Facing + True Tone Flash
1.2MP f/2.4 Front Facing
8MP iSight with 1.5µm pixels Rear Facing + True Tone Flash
1.2MP f/2.2 Front Facing
8MP iSight with 1.5µm pixels Rear Facing + True Tone Flash + OIS
1.2MP f/2.2 Front Facing
Price $99 (16GB), $149 (32GB) on 2 year contract $199 (16GB), $299 (64GB), $399 (128GB) on 2 year contract $299 (16GB), $399 (64GB), $499 (128GB) on 2 year contract

As you can see, this is a major release even at a high level. While the design might take some inspiration from the iPod Touch, the hardware is a completely different beast. There’s a new SoC, the A8; the iPhone 6 also includes a bigger and better display, newer WiFi module, bigger battery, and a better camera. Of course, there’s a lot more to the story of the iPhone 6 than a spec sheet. The first major difference that we’ll talk about is the SoC.

A8: Apple’s First 20nm SoC
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  • Caliko - Tuesday, October 06, 2015 - link

    A good phone runs its own OS.

    You and that moron don't understand HD so your obsession is invalid.
    Reply
  • echtogammut - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    He isn't wrong about anything he said, but I just can't imagine getting worked up enough to say it. As a current Apple user/developer, I have every Apple product. I like their stuff, but I can't say I am obsessed about it. I also have a lot of the competing products, so I am constantly toying with all of them. When my current iPhone breaks, I will probably replace it with a Sony Xperia Z3 compact, because it looks like a perfect phone for me. I am not interested in a bigger phone and I would like something that is waterproof, because I run or ride a rain, sleet or shine. I personally think Apple is falling behind in the world of business and multi-use devices. I am seeing a lot of customers whom I developed business apps for iOS coming back and wanting to move to Microsoft or Android platforms because the devices are more powerful and offer more robust features. Reply
  • GerryS - Wednesday, October 01, 2014 - link

    I agree. He makes some good points, though most of them are seriously overstated. For most users (yes, nearly everyone in my experience) a "pretty dang good" display is about as good as we can be bothered to look for. I actually like the display on my iPhone 4s. I've never had a complaint, except that it is small, so I got an iPad.

    See, I don't actually like it that Apple went for big phones. I carry my phone in my pants pocket. The 6 might be about the limit of the size phone I want. If I could get an updated 4s with the processor and other basic features of the 6, that's what I'd buy.

    So, for most consumers, we want something that works. I had 4 Android phones before Verizon got the iPhone. I liked them pretty well, but they kept breaking. I went to Apple for dependability, and have not been disappointed. I've only had a couple of problems (even with my jailbreaks), and they've always been easy to fix.

    I do like it when Apple leads the way, but it would be silly to expect them to have all of the advances. So many people compare the iPhones to Android phones, listing all of the things that came out first or "better" on Android phones. They seem to forget that there are dozens of companies making Android phones. The best of them have only one or tow innovations at a time - about the same as Apple manages. Apple continues to be one of the leaders, as long as you compare them to one company at a time.

    If you want the universe of advances coming from Android manufacturers, then go buy an Android. We really won't hold it against you. For me, I like my iPhone and iPad. My wife has Android (at my recommendation) because we could get some features that were important to her.
    Reply
  • Actius - Wednesday, October 01, 2014 - link

    Lol, he is wrong about his engine analogy! Seriously, none of that makes any sense. Haha, and what's a "V8 compressor"? My goodness...people shouldn't talk about things they really don't know. Just reading that was cringe worthy. Reply
  • sigmatau - Thursday, October 02, 2014 - link

    I'm going to guess you are not so dense as to be picking at the spelling but instead don't know what is a v8 Kompressor. Not only one of the best engines that Mercedes made, but also award winning by 3rd parties. Reply
  • techconc - Thursday, October 02, 2014 - link

    Actually, he is either wrong or extremely misguided in almost everything he's said. Feel free to pick your argument of choice. He starts off by saying how the iPhone 6 launch was disastrous. As compared to what? What other vendor will sell 10 million devices on a launch weekend? Even for Apple, it broke their own previous records. I'm genuinely grateful for people that prove they're an idiot right up front. It lets me know I can either skip the rest of the post or read on for purely amusement purposes.
    That's just the conceptual part of the post. His technical observations were equally misguided. Especially with regard to screen quality, etc. Clearly he didn't bother reading the Anandtech review he's commenting on.
    Reply
  • shm224 - Thursday, October 02, 2014 - link

    @techconc: Sure, what other products you know starts to bend, or totally crap out after the first buggy update, or even have features withdrawn due to more bugs all within the first week of release? Reply
  • akdj - Friday, October 03, 2014 - link

    Really? You're still convinced the iPhone (6 OR 6+) actually and easily 'bends' in the first week? Buggy update? The one available for about two hours that few downloaded and within ten hours of pulling it a fixed update was released? Features withdrawn? I'm intrigued ..as an owner and realist like techconc, the person you responded to... I've GOT to know!
    I'm patiently awaiting my pair of 6+s for my wife and I. We just returned from the mall and the Apple Store specifically playing for almost two hours with them. I built a two minute movie and. Rendered in 1080p in about 35/40 seconds, air dropped to myself. Un. Believable phone. It's. Amazing
    We ordered launch day through our business representative. Lol. Silly me. Ship date estimate is pretty specific, actually a bit ambiguous with the latest update. 11/2-11/28/14:-)
    Oh well. Plenty of time to allow developers to continue updating their apps.
    Between my Air, rMBP 15" and the iPhone 5s /6+, my business of 27 years has been revolutionized. Literally, over the past half decade, as a pilot and sound/video producer...weight savings alone are enough to double our profits. And ½ our setup snd break down times. Even my 'flight bag' of nearly fifty pounds isn't necessary. With three retina minis in the cockpit for redundancy, the 'paper' is still there, but unnecessary any more for updates to plates and Jep charts, winds aloft and weather/traffic ...even diversion airports, filing my flight plan and telling me how thirsty she is! Fuel calculated, with a GPS dongle a tenth the price and 100 fold quicker to lock n track than avionics just a half decade ago provide incredible accuracy. ADSB and TCAS (3D terrain, weather and other traffic/with their specific info; altitude, speed, heading, and Xspnder --- TCAS, a warning system that 'tells you what to do' in conjunction with other planes fitted with the system including all commercial traffic and many GA pilots with ILS certifications ...Alaska can get nasty quick and having to 'duck down' these two systems alone are incredible and 'reasonably priced' advancements!).
    I'm not sure there's a place in my life iOS has t changed. As a father, business owner and operator, little league and wrestling coach, and pilot...each iteration has improved signficantly enough in 'most situations' to justify yearly updates for me. iPhones hold their value. Until the 4s, AT&T was generous and 'allowed' a 12 month subsidized update. With the business I also provide 17 full time employee iPhones so we've been lucky enough to 'recoup' some of the money spent each update
    I just sold an employee's iPhone 5, 32GB AT&T with a cracked screen, scratched to hell and working perfectly. With excellent battery health and perfect camera lens (only scratch-less area of the phone!) for $235 to a local repair guy. He saw me in the mall with the Gazelle box (more than a hundred bucks less) on my way to the USPS. Asked what I was sending. Told him. Showed him a 'picture' or seven before I unboxed it, but he was adamant ...he was able to shine it up with his pieces n parts for $45 or less! Told me it would cost a customer about $210 to do the work but parts were 20% the cost ...labor and time is the price. From there he was confident he could sell it for $325-350 at his kiosk within 24 hours.
    My son has had his fifth generation iPod touch for two years. He's nine. No scratches. No scuffs. Clean a booger or twelve off once a week but other than that, it's completely 'perfect'. These iPhones are built damn near the same. Sleek, thin and well balanced ...no bugs, incredibly quick and unless you're a dumbass and put your $800 pocket computer in your rear pocket of your jeans and SIT on it, you're an idiot ...and you've got to be SIGNIFICANTLY overweight AND hit the precise angle in order to 'mash' 100 pounds of pressure to a 'single point'/torque.
    Can you bend em? Yep. It's been proven and EVERY piece of proof we've seen visually demonstrates the incredible amount of force necessary and in such a way not indicative of daily use or situations a consumer would find themselves in 99.9% of the time.
    Don't. Be. Silly. I respond not only to you but to all those talking like you. Until you've used one. Felt one. Actually spent time with it, it's difficult to understand.
    These are absolute and unequivably the BEST two phones on the maket at this time. With the best and most abundant apps/software optimized to its specs. Support to back it up. And resale value when Ya get bored and ready for a new one. You'll recover your 'down payment' plus fifty percent in many cases ...if you take care of it. Seemingly, they're even more valuable than a same year flagship Samsung Note 2, as I wasn't able to get more than $125 for that joke. Note 3 got it right. But it took twice the cores, clocked at twice the speed with three times the memory ( ⅔ to ¾ of which is in use even without an app running! I've got one though and don't take me wrong, I love it) to get 'close' to the GUI fluency of the iPhone & iOS
    That's. SAD. That's. Buggy. I'd much rather have a phone that bends with a hundred pounds of torque in a certain and specific area than I would gambling I'll get an update, deal with carriers and OEM bloat and shitty aesthetics and design. Lack of support or resale, lack of apps and software ...& the apps and software in parity are incredibly more enjoyable and stable on iOS. I like my Note for browsing and the SPen. I think an active digitizer would put the six plus over the top but as it is, it's perfect.
    Indeed, I'll continue using (& owning) my N3. But I'm not the least bit compelled with the '4' and its 2540 display. While I'm sure there's noticeable and 'obvious' benefits to having 550/600+ PPI ...I'll warn ya when you're 38-42, speaking from experience...you'll need 'cheaters';) ...like our ears, our eyes deteriorate as well ...the elasticity of our lens and ability to change and 'maintain' up close focus just ...goes away! Hence the incredible benefits I've found witg the HiDPI display technology. 3D? Good riddance! It was a joy to see 4k/Ultra HD and even examples of 5/6 & 8K motion display AND capture gear instead of dumbass glasses and crappy off center viewing with limited content.

    Apple lead the way and destroyed multi billion dollar monsters in the industry with the iPhone. They then changed consumer display technology's availability. HiDPI and increased resolution is awesome. But to a certain point. Your 1080p 65" LED LCD IPS or AMOLED TV in the living room at 10-12 feet or typical viewing distances is around 100ppi. Quadrupling the resolution (4k) while not exactly linear, will amount to approximately an increase of 100%. To 200ppi. Not four foukd as you may think.
    The 'new' ipad(3)/4 -- iPhone 4 -- the rMBPs --- ALL Game Changing home runs. Putting a certain 'joy' back into 'work' again. With SUCH an accurate palate and the ability of OS X'es scaling of the UI (& third party apps the same ...utilizing pixel for pixel when necessary or quadrupling for the GUI simultaneously and without 'glitches' or latency is a marvel in engineering. Coupled with the IrisPro 5200/750m and PCIe SSD at a TB with read and write speeds exceeding a Gb/s, Thunderbolt 2 and its 'one' cable capabilities and abilities to run multiple 4K displays ...shoot man. Seems like yesterday I was hunting the wax pencils and cutting my fingers slicing tape ...now it's immediate and fast as hell in a four pound package at a dozen times the resolution.

    Times are good if you're an Apple user. And thats JUST the hardware!

    OS X and iOS's march to marriage is incredible. Continuity and Handoff. Air drop between iOS and OS X, as well ...the aggregation and integration between the devices you're using is revolutionary. Period. Only Windows has the power and support vertically and horizontally to compete with what Apple's doing. Vertical & Horizontal backbones.

    No one that needs to 'work' is buying a Chromebook

    J
    Reply
  • elajt_1 - Friday, October 03, 2014 - link

    This must've been the longest and weirdest Iphone ad I've ever read. ;-) Reply
  • techconc - Monday, October 06, 2014 - link

    @shm224 - I now know several people with iPhone 6 and 6+ devices that keep them in their pockets. They all seem to agree that there is no merit to this "bend gate" nonsense. While nobody doubts that these phones can bend under a certain amount of pressure (90 lbs. according to Consumer Reports), from a practical matter, it's a non-issue. Further, I find it rather interesting that phones such as the HTC One which bend under significantly less pressure (70 lbs.) don't receive the same sort of media attention.
    As for the 8.0.1 update, yup, Apple screwed that up. Fortunately, for Apple, the update was pulled after about an hour. It's also fortunate that in only affected some phones and only for the over the air update as opposed to the iTunes update. To your point, no, this typically isn't an issue for other phones... then again, neither are regular updates.
    Reply

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