When it comes to the iPhone 6, one of the most immediate impressions will definitely be the industrial and material design. Going back to the launch of the original iPhone 5 one of the immediate impressions that we had was that the iPhone 5 felt incredibly light and thin. If nothing else, the same is true of the iPhone 6.

While the new iPhone 6 isn’t lighter than the iPhone 5, it feels incredibly thin compared to the iPhone 5s I had on hand for comparisons. In fact, the iPhone 6 feels a lot like the HTC 8X in terms of the thickness of the edge, but without the strongly sloped back to increase the size of the phone in the hand.

The size itself is also a key feature, and as I suspected the iPhone 6 feels very much like the One (M7) in size, which I still find to be a great fit and easily used with one hand. While it’s definitely possible for the iPhone 6 to be a bit bigger without being impossible to reasonably use with one hand, it manages to hit a good balance between ease of use with one hand and display size for media consumption.

Of course, the iPhone 6 Plus isn’t really easy to use with one hand, as just the 77.8mm width makes it difficult to reach across the display horizontally, much less from diagonally. It is definitely easy to hold with one hand though, and the rounded display feels great.

In terms of the design of the device, it’s clear that Apple had to break some trends that seemed to be present in previous iPhones. For one, the noticeable camera bump came from a need to maintain and/or improve camera quality while simultaneously driving down z-height overall, so there seems to have been an industrial design trade-off here for the sake of functionality. There’s also the relatively thick plastic lines which are a departure from previous designs but seem to be necessary for NFC capabilities. I’m personally unsure how I feel on these two design elements, but they may be an issue for some.

Looking past the size of the iPhone 6, there are a lot of noticeable subtle changes to the device compared to the iPhone 5s. In terms of low-hanging fruit, the side-mounted power button definitely helps with keeping a firm grip while turning on the phone, and I didn’t find any real issues when trying to turn the phone on or off. The slightly curved glass that helps to make for a smooth transition when swiping off the edge of the display is also a nice touch, although I’m concerned about the implications that this has for drop resilience and screen protectors. This is mostly based upon my past experience with such 2.5D displays, as traditional PET screen protectors generally don’t adhere properly to curved surfaces and Android phones with this type of cover glass tended to suffer from shattered displays more readily.

There are some changes that are subtle enough that I’m not sure if this is a product of production variance. In the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that I tried, I noticed that the home button seemed to be closer to the display when compared to the iPhone 5s, and that the feel of the button was a bit more positive, although the click is still relatively subdued compared to the volume and power buttons.

One of the highlight features of the iPhone 6 Plus is optical image stabilization, but it appears that it doesn’t run during preview so it was hard to see just how much accommodation the system has and how it works. Although the announcement seemed to suggest that the module moves vertically and horizontally, it seems more likely that we’re looking at a VCM that shifts the lenses around to compensate for horizontal and vertical motion.

Overall, it was rather hard to really notice any difference in responsiveness as the iPhone 5s almost never stuttered or hesitated in my experience. The iPhone 6 similarly had no such issues when casually trying various features but a full review may show that this changes when used in real world situations.

Unfortunately, many of the features that Apple has implemented in this latest iteration seem to follow the same pattern as they aren’t easily demonstrated. For example, seeing exactly what Apple means by dual domain pixels effectively requires a microscope to clearly see what Apple is talking about, and really seeing a difference in color shifting, along with improved maximum contrast requires a dark room with little stray light.

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  • zeagus - Thursday, September 11, 2014 - link

    Considering where the M7/M8 borrowed some of their design from, it's not exactly surprising.
  • kyuu - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    All-in-all, incredibly underwhelming. Pretty much every feature is catching up to the competition, except that the 6 still has a lower resolution screen than the current mid- to low-end standard of 720p, and doesn't even have OIS. And it still starts at 16GB of storage and has crazy mark-up for additional amounts. And, inexplicably, there isn't even a 32GB option.

    Personally, I also find the new design somewhere between "meh" and "kinda ugly". I'm not an iPhone fan in the first place, but I would never have said they weren't attractive phones. Until now. The thinness is completely "meh"; we're well past the point where making it thinner has any real benefit. It doesn't make it fit the hand better and it makes little difference in the pocket either. I also don't get the point of making it that thin and then having the camera module stick out like that.
  • kyuu - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    Correction: the screen on the 6 is actually just a tad higher than 720p. I was thinking of the 5's resolution and neglected to notice the bump to the incredibly oddball resolution. So it's merely roughly equivalent to the current mid- to low-end standard.
  • darkich - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    Completely agree
  • dmunsie - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    The 16GB starting point is weird, but I disagree about not having the 32GB model. For the same $100 jump in price that you paid to go from 16GB to 32GB on the iPhone 5S, you get 64GB instead. And the next $100 jump gets you 128GB. At least now the pricing points are more consistent than before.
  • kyuu - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    While it's certainly an improvement that $100 now gets you from 16GB to 64GB, they're still forcing you to spend $100 to upgrade. There should be an option to go to 32GB for $50, at the very least. 16GB is too little for a lot of people, but 64GB may be too much.

    The base model should have 32GB in the first place, honestly. They bill the iPhone as a premium product but then equip it with mid- to low-tier specs.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, September 11, 2014 - link

    Absolutely agree with this comment, but I was never the target audience for this device in the first place!
  • finbarqs - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    I like this price point. It's like a compromise between business and consumer-centric. With the 16gb are made for higher margins and people who just "want an iphone" it makes a whole lot of sense. And for people who Need the extra storage, they're actually getting rewarded for it, while they take a small profit margin hit. I guess it's Apple's way of "giving back" once you go higher. But they still want to retain the high margins of the 16gb. I'm betting statistically, 16GB iphones are the ones that probably make up > 50% of iphone sales.
  • kavanoz - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    I am not happy with the entry level staying at 16 GB. Apple probably knows how much storage most people are using. In this era, 16 GB is very easy to fill, but 32 GB seems to be the sweet spot for most people who don't have very high requirements. If they gave 32 GB as the starting point, most people would not need to go to next higher capacity and profits would be lower. For those people who need 32 GB, it won't make a huge difference to have 64 GB.
  • zeagus - Thursday, September 11, 2014 - link

    I suspect most people actually don't fill 16GB and it's probably also encouragement for those who would to bump up to the next level which is 2x what it was last year for the same money.

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