As the iPhone 6 series hits store shelves and users’ pockets, professional opinions have been generally positive, if not breathlessly impressed. The overall reaction is probably best characterised as a “eh, they’re pretty good.”
Not, of course, that this has stopped anyone from devoting several thousand words at a time to saying so. In-depth reviews have been plentiful and extensive. Fine details have been pored over. Comparisons made. Phones fondled, pockets stuffed.
The lack of a strong reaction, either positive or negative, to the iPhone 6 series is largely due to the fact that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus don’t introduce a lot of revolutionary new features – there are hardware updates aplenty, of course, but they’re generally incremental upgrades, bringing Apple’s top-end devices into relative parity with the latest from Samsung, et al.
And of course, a lot of the reaction has been focused on the devices’ size. The iPhone 6 is Apple’s first foray into the big-phone territory dominated by Samsung and other Android OEMs, while the iPhone 6 Plus goes even further, into the world of the phablet. The size issue is particularly interesting to examine from a long-time iPhone user’s perspective, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes:
“I’m not yet completely sold on 4.7 inches as a replacement for 4.0 as the standard iPhone size, but give me a few more weeks and I suspect I will be. I love the old iPhone size so much, and I’ve spent so much time with it, that it’s going to take longer than a week to adjust to a new size – especially so when I spent half the week using the ginormous iPhone 6 Plus.”
Gruber and many others point out that Apple has introduced small but important tweaks designed to keep the larger screen size from being a headache for one-handed users – the ‘reachability’ feature lets users tap a control to move buttons and other screen items near the top of the display closer to the bottom, for example. The Daring Fireball blogger says that the 6 series is still not as easy to use single-handed as its predecessors, however.
Reviewers who were either neutral or positive on the size question, however, were more impressed by the 6 series. USA Today tech columnist Ed Baig was wowed by the iPhone 6 Plus’ display, construction and generally high level of polish:
“These are the phones Apple devotees have been waiting for: iPhones that measure up to what’s fast becoming the new normal – the large, modern smartphone display. Count me among those glad they’re here.”
Even more impressed than Baig was Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Topolsky, who said that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus “might be the best phones ever made. Period.” While he found the 6 Plus to be a bit too outsized for regular daily use – a not-uncommon point of view, it must be said – Topolsky praised the smaller model as being essentially the perfect size.
Other techie notables like Re/Code’s Walt Mossberg echoed much of this praise, saying that the iPhone 6 is “the best smartphone that money can buy.”
Macworld’s Jason Snell didn’t go quite that far, but he did emphasise that the big new iPhones instantly make Apple competitive with its most formidable rivals.
“Make no mistake: The most important new thing about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is their size. While their processors run faster and their cameras focus more exactingly, the real story is that these are larger phones with larger screens,” he wrote. “Samsung and other competitors have showed that there’s an audience for extra-large phones – and that’s now an audience that can buy an iPhone. That’s the whole point.”
With the exception of the new form factor, no other single feature of the new iPhones seemed to particularly wow multiple reviewers. David Pierce, of the Verge, summed up a common thread among many reviews by writing that ”everything is better, and nothing is different.”