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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  • Toss3 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Just because some people question the integrity of a website claiming to do objective measurements of a device's performance, doesn't mean that they are idiots. Quite the opposite in fact. It would be great if Anand changed the way they do their battery measurements (they do not reflect reality, and aren't comparable to other sites' results (should already be enough for them to question the way they do it)), and also dropped the browser benchmarks from the CPU performance section (browser performance != cpu performance, unless both phones are running the exact same version of the browser on the same platform (we know that chrome on iOS isn't the same as Chrome on android etc.)). And measuring the display brightness when setting the brightness manually also isn't ideal, as Samsung limits the peak brightness on their devices for those occasions, which means that the true peak is a lot higher (setting the brightness to automatic solves this issue(think quite a few people prefer auto to manual)). Reply
  • Toss3 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Forgot to add that it would be great if they included a reference for the photo and video comparisons (D800 + color correction). There's also a big discrepancy between the time the photos were taken (around 8pm for all androids and 10pm for the iPhones (why is that?)). Reply
  • tralalalalalala40 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    To make it harder for the iphones under lower lighting to make the test more fair to droid phones. Reply
  • Toss3 - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    Lighting conditions should always be equal for all devices, and sometimes 10pm can be brighter than 8pm. Reply
  • tralalalalalala40 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Samsung has to limit the brightness or else the pentile pixels will burn out quickly...

    How should they do the battery measurements? Apple has the most efficient SOCs and are destroying default QComm chips everyone is using.
    Reply
  • Toss3 - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    Automatic brightness and normal usage would be best (playing a game for 2h - calling someone for 1h - browsing the web for 1h - installing 30apps, etc.). Being on both wifi and lte throughout the day. Reply
  • Toss3 - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - link

    And the Exynos 5433 would like to disagree - currently on the launch firmware and already outscoring everything else (Geekbench scores over 1300/4300 and gfxbenchmark/sunspider numbers that match those of the iPhone 6). The 3DMark numbers are also higher than those of the iPhone 6. Reply
  • taehoon - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    I want to know iphone6/6+ NAND performance test is based on 64 or 128GB.
    Because It is extremely higher than any other devices
    Reply
  • Toss3 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    Why are you still running browser benchmarks when testing the CPU? You'd think that a site like Anandtech would know better (the difference between Samsung's own browser and Chrome is huge http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=557... How about running something like 3D Mark's physics benchmark instead? Basemark is a lot better than browser-based ones, but do we know if the benchmark performs equally on both platforms. Reply
  • tralalalalalala40 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    People commonly use the web browser on the device to browse the internet with their phone. Their other tests cover the 3D physics (which the iphone doesn't excel at, since most if the users of this phone aren't simulating physics problems).

    iPhone 6 is destroying the competition at the moment, samsung just dropped 10% in profits, they have to go back to making RAM, this might be their last high end phone release on android, they need to move to tizen.
    Reply

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