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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  • dingodingaling - Thursday, October 2, 2014 - link

    1. Is there circumstantial evidence to suggest that AnandTech are Apple Stooges?

    Yes, absolutely. The founder and owner of the site works for Apple and so does one of their long term “reporters”.

    2. Were AnandTech motivated to be Apple Stooges?

    Yes, absolutely.

    AnandTech are a commercial website, funded by advertising dollars. It is in their interests to drive up traffic and views of their site.

    They know that:

    a. iPhone users trawl every site that says anything in advance of an iPhone launch to pick up rumours, and after the launch to view “reviews” that help them avoid cognitive dissonance.
    b. Apple punish negative reviews by withdrawing access to review devices and invitations to events. http://www.cultofmac.com/255618/how-apples-blackli...
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/apple-prs-dirty-li...
    c. Being punished like this will impact them severely from a commercial perspective. They are therefore commercially incentivised to have positive reviews.

    3. What means could they use to be Apple Stooges?

    Given we know they are motivated and incentivised to give Apple products good reviews, we can analyse how they do it. This can be in 5 basic ways:

    a. Use the Apple provided product, not one they brought off the shelf, meaning Apple can tune that one device for tests;
    b. Cherry pick tests where the Apple product will do well, and ignore those that they don’t;
    c. Carefully select the “comparison” devices, ignoring any that make Apple devices look bad;
    d. Make up tests where they think they need to cover up a hole, but ensure that no one else knows how the test works so they can’t repeat it, and
    e. Make “mistakes” occasionally and assume no one will notice.

    4. Is there evidence to suggest they are using these methods?
    a. Use the Apple provided product, not one brought from a store randomly.

    Yes we know they do this, and they admit it. Also looking at the Display tests there is evidence to suggest that the Apple provided product was tuned. They themselves had to admit their suspicions.

    b. Cherry picking tests.

    Yes, they do this.

    3DMark Ice Storm

    “On the synthetic benchmark 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, the iPhone 6 Plus scored 16,965. While that's well above the category average of 13,401, it fell below its Android competition. The S5 blew past with a score of 18,204, as did the HTC One M8 (20,640), the LG G3 (17,548), the OnePlus One (18,399) and the Note 3 (18,321)”

    http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/smartphones/apple...

    CNet finds similar results

    <image001.jpg>

    http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-iphone-6/

    An example from Arstechnica

    <image002.png>

    More results at:

    http://results.rightware.com/basemark_x/all-all-ph...

    The Stooges select some of their tests (“Basemark X) but not others – why is that??

    c. Carefully select the “comparison” devices, ignoring any that make Apple devices look bad;

    Yes, they do this.

    For the display, the comparisons for max brightness is missing phones for example the Note III which Tom’s hardware measure at 555 Nits. Why the missing phones?? Surely the Stooges have tested these.

    One of the missing phones is the Note IV which displaymate tested and rated as the best Smartphone display – and their testing includes both iBends.

    “The Best Performing Smartphone or Phablet Display that we have ever tested.”

    http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_Note4_ShootOut_1...

    http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_Note4_ShootOut_1...

    Suspicious that its missing!

    For contrast where are phones like the Galaxy S5? This comparison shows that the S5 has amazing contrast.http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Apple-iPhone-6-v...

    d. Make up tests where they think they need to cover up a hole, but ensure that no one else knows how the test works so they can’t repeat it

    Yes, they do this.

    For battery Life their test is simply wacko – the only site that has the iBends winning battery life tests and probably due to the rigged nature of the “web browsing” test.

    http://gfxbench.com/result.jsp?benchmark=gfx30&...

    Tom’s hardware has also has completely different results to the Stooges for battery life and web-browsing http://www.tomsguide.com/us/iphone-6-battery-life,...

    Phonearena also have ‘web browsing’ tests that show the iBends aren’t great

    http://www.phonearena.com/news/All-bow-to-the-new-...

    Arstechnica also found the Ibend battery life to be average.

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/09/iphone-6-and-...

    e. Make “mistakes” occasionally and assume no one will notice.

    Yes, they do this.

    Sunspider

    The iBend6+ has better measurements than on Tom’s Hardware.

    Geekbench 3

    The iBend6+ has worse scores on Tom’s hardware than the Galaxy S5 and Note III.

    GFXBench 3.0 Manhatten Offscreen

    Stooges are rating the IBend6 and iBend6+ higher than GFXBench themselves have tested it at.

    http://gfxbench.com/result.jsp

    http://laptopmag.com/reviews/smartphones/apple-iph...

    The measurement for the iBend6+ is different on Tom’s hardware (its better!), but also different for all the other phones.

    More “mistakes” for the colour temperature and gray scale accuracy are completely different in that test as well.

    .http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Apple-iPhone-6-v...
    Reply
  • vFunct - Thursday, October 2, 2014 - link

    Give it up.

    Your Android phones area garbage. They're fake iPhones. Apple invented the modern smartphone, and all the innovations like Retina displays. Android keeps trying to copy Apple, but they're never as good or as fast.

    Why get a fake iPhone when you can get a real iPhone instead?

    Fake iPhones are terrible. Get a real iPhone instead.
    Reply
  • KuyaMarkEduard - Sunday, October 5, 2014 - link

    Hello Dingodingaling. Are you certain that this practice of Apple is still existing even today, as we speak?

    ""Apple PR's dirty little secret:

    Summary: Apple PR maintains a blacklist of journalists that it refuses to talk to. This includes any media outlet that posts anything even remotely negative or heaven help you, a rumor.

    Apple's public relations department is notoriously tight-lipped and only responds to a limited subset of the mainstream media, and usually only the outlets that write positive things about its products.

    If you dare to write an unflattering piece about Apple or -- heaven forbid -- post a rumor you're almost guaranteed to lose your access to Apple. I know this firsthand because I'm the poster child of Apple's PR blacklist. (I was part of a precedent-setting legal case with Apple in 2005, which I won on appeal in 2007 -- thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.)

    Say what you will about my work, but I call 'em like I see 'em.

    I write good things about Apple, I write bad things about Apple and I also publish rumors when I believe that they're credible or plausible. I write about things that I find interesting and about topics that will benefit my readers. Sometimes Apple likes what I write other times it doesn't. Apple and I have classic love/hate relationship.

    But one thing's for sure, I'm not an Apple cheerleader. If like reading puff pieces about Apple there are a number of websites and blogs that will gladly oblige. Or heck, just dial up apple.com/pr.

    Case in point: On February 7 when Arun Thampi posted on his blog that Path was sneakily uploading iPhone user's address books to its server -- without permission -- I called and emailed Apple. Apple didn't reply. Then and I blogged about it.

    On February 8 when Dustin Curtis blogged that Apple makes a standard practice of approving apps that upload the entire contents of your iOS address book to developer’s servers I again called and emailed Apple. Apple didn't reply. Then I blogged about it.

    Later. Rinse. Repeat.

    Then I got an idea. Since Apple PR never responds to my voicemails or emails, maybe they'd respond to the guys that do have access. So I contacted several prominent Apple pundits (who shall remain nameless) that are known for their access to Apple (some of whom get replies from Apple "every time") and I asked them to enquire about Apple's stance on enforcing its policy on address book uploads.

    And you know what? None of them would do it.

    (Update: ironically there's a couple of exclusive stories out today about Mac OS 10.8/Mountain Lion which certain members of the Mac Illuminati had access to a week early.)

    Why? They'd probably say that Apple wouldn't comment. But someone's got to ask if they expect Apple to reply. I mean come on! Apple's not going to press release its shady developers that steal your contacts.

    The fact of the matter is that most journos with access to Apple are afraid of losing it. They're afraid of asking the tough questions. They're afraid of getting blacklisted. Like me.

    So then I contacted the Wall Street Journal.

    There's a prominent columnist at WSJ that has lots of access to Apple. Arguably the most access to Apple. Apple loves the Journal. Apple sends controlled leaks to the Journal. Apple gives unreleased product to the Journal. Surely, Apple would have to respond to the Journal. Right?

    Well guess what? Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr replied to AllThings today about the issue of developers stealing your contacts without permission. (More on that later)

    Gee? I wonder why?

    I'll tell you: AllThingsD is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company Inc., which is a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network (which includes WSJ.com, MarketWatch, Barron's, and SmartMoney).

    It's simple really. Apple needs the Journal. The Journal doesn't need Apple. And the Journal's not afraid of getting on Apple's PR blacklist -- because it would never happen.

    Other wags with access, but without the clout of the Journal are probably afraid of getting blacklisted if they probe around too much -- or ask the tough questions.

    My point is that if Apple PR actually read blogs and responded to queries from bloggers things like Address-gate might not explode into giant issues that end up in the Wall Street Journal. Apple could have nipped it in the bud a week sooner by simply replying to my email or voicemail with something to the effect of "yes, we're aware of the issue and we're looking into it."

    Instead, Apple makes a conscious point of ignoring certain journalists hoping that unsavory issues like Address-gate blow over and that no one will notice. Well guess what, I'm persistent. And if Apple doesn't reply, I'll contact the people that I know at the Journal -- or my Congressman.

    And before you cry "sour grapes!" consider this. I've been blacklisted by Apple for over 10 years. I never get invited, I never get replies. I'm long over it. This doesn't have anything to do with me. It's about you and your privacy. I called and emailed Apple PR because I care about my (and your) private contacts and I wanted to know why Apple isn't enforcing its own privacy policies.

    If you don't care about developers stealing your contacts, that's fine. But I do.""

    Because if so, with the iBend issue, how can now then we be assured that each and every-time Apple will say a thing about the issue, will always be true, and not fabricated?

    This is indeed, an eye-opener to all the Serious tech-readers out-there…, …Of-course, this does-not include the Fanboys.
    Reply
  • EricGee - Friday, October 3, 2014 - link

    If both new iPhone editions are virtually the same phone, why doesn't the 6 also have landscape view. Both these devices should have an iPad GUI. Landscape view is the most ergonomic position. Having to switch grips from portrait to landscape increases the chance for accidental drops. Landscape also decreases the likelihood for cumulative trauma which include carpal tunnel and digititis. In short, it's just easier to navigate your phone seamlessly by keeping it in your preferred orientation. Lastly, it's sad that I'm waiting for a jailbreak. My plan is not to jailbreak. But if Apple developers can't be aware to what the mass looks for in functionality, jailbreaking may be the only answer. If you would reference Infinidock, this app allows for multiple icons to be docked. Not just four icons. Making these small additions to the user interface would vastly improve the users experience. If developers aren't willing to make such adjustments, then I suggest allowing open code for Cydia jailbreak developers that will allow for users to freely mod our devices.

    Believe it or not, the ability to freely mod our phones to the users preference is what separates the iPhone and Android users. Hence the jailbreak... Don't patronize your loyal consumers by making such availability this coming S model.
    Reply
  • James Wimberley - Friday, October 3, 2014 - link

    Anand team: Please consider adding ruggedness tests for mobile devices. Desktops spend their lives in sheltered environments, with a few heatwaves and power cuts and surges. Laptops are occasionally dropped. But tablets and smartphones are constantly being dropped, put in linty pockets, exposed to rain and coffee, bent, scratched, and connected to low-quality chargers. If you a ea SEAL, you need a different order of ruggedness, like the Toughbook. But normal consumer use is still quite deamnding. Reply
  • e34v8 - Friday, October 3, 2014 - link

    I have three main complains here.
    The is the screen resolution. We all know 326 ppi is far, far from enough. I have always been able to see aliasing on iPhone screens (never on my Nexus 5) and aside form that, the image is just not that clear and sharp as on a good 1080p screen. Maybe the 6+ will offer great viewing experience.
    The second complain is size. Yes, I think that Apple is making the right move with bigger screen size. Better late than never. The 4.7" are not the ideal size for me, but this is a major improvement. But wtf were Apple thinking, when they made a 4.7" phone, with the dimensions of a 5 or a 5.2"phone? Why? Apple customers value compactness. Just compare it with an old 4.7" phone like the Optimus G - 131.9mm vs 138.1mm .
    And last, but not least - 1gb of ram. Are Apple so greedy? This is typical planned obsolescence. I still can't believe it. 64 bit SoC and a gig of ram...

    The lack of OIS or wireless charging is also not good.

    This phone should cost a lot less.
    Reply
  • blackcrayon - Friday, October 3, 2014 - link

    "We all know 326 ppi is far, far from enough" - Stopped reading there. It's enough for the vast majority of people, and is certainly a better idea than making a 500 ppi phone that lags. Reply
  • e34v8 - Saturday, October 4, 2014 - link

    Well, that's your problem. You should read someone's comment, before you reply.

    I agree with you. I also hate phones that lag, stutter or miss frames in the UI. That is the reason I do not like Samsung and their Touch Wiz. But that's not the case with my Nexus 5. It's totally stock, but believe me, it's blazing fast and smooth. And it still manages to have a gorgeous 455 ppi screen.

    Anyway, there is no such thing as a perfect phone, but Apple could have offered much more, having in mind that it's a flagship expensive device.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, October 6, 2014 - link

    1) Your eyesight is superior, most aren't nearly as good as yours.
    2) The Optimus G is 8.45mm thick vs the 6.9mm of the iPhone 6
    3) You talk about typical planned obsolescence, yet in the same breath rave about the Nexus 5. The Galaxy Nexus from 2011 won't see either the 2013 KitKat nor the 2014 Android L, whilst the 2011 iPhone 4S saw both the 2013 iOS 7 and the 2014 iOS 8. I would expect a 2014 iPhone 6 to see at least iOS 11, and still be usable! What do you think your 2013 Nexus 5 will see?
    4) OIS isn't that important, especially when it already has one of the best cameras in the industry
    5) This phone already sold out. Costing less is probably the last thing it needs. Ordered on Sept 20th and expect to see my phone in October 20th.
    Reply
  • e34v8 - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    The fact that my eyesight is or isn't superior does not change the facts. Ignoring or denying something, without any arguments is not productive. You say that OIS is not important and that's it. Why? I can tell you, I'm never going to buy a phone without OIS again. It's much easier for me to catch perfectly focused shots and shoot steady videos.

    Anyway, everyone has their own view on things. I think Apple are capable of making a better phone - with thin bezels, full HD screen, more than 1 gig of ram, bigger battery... but they chose not to. I'm not some fanboy that will blindly ignore faults. The iPhone 4 was my last iPhone. I'll continue to wait for something from Apple that's worth the money.
    Reply

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