In September, after spending two years with the iPhone 5, I decided to upgrade to Apple’s 4.7-inch iPhone 6. For almost two months, I’ve been using both of these iPhones on a daily basis in an effort to provide feedback to those thinking about a similar upgrade. Today, I want to offer an in depth iPhone 6 review from the eyes of an iPhone 5 user.
Rewind to September of 2012. At the time, I was using the iPhone 3GS as my daily driver. I didn’t like (and still don’t) the iPhone 4s’ design and I wanted an iPhone with 4G LTE data speeds, speeds that I had grown accustomed to after using various Android devices. iOS 5 also treated the iPhone 3GS pretty well so there was no need to make a move.
In September, I, like millions of other people, stayed up late to pre-order the iPhone 5. Several days later, the iPhone 5 arrived on my doorstep and for more than two years it was my primary smartphone. I take my phone everywhere. Concerts, vacation, meetings, you name it. The iPhone 5 was there with me every step of the way.
Fast forward to this past September. I had a decision to make. Stick with the iPhone 5 and its 4-inch Retina Display or make the move to the iPhone 6. It was a difficult decision given that the iPhone 5 should have at least one more iOS update left after iOS 9. Ultimately, I wound up replacing my iPhone 5 with the 4.7-inch model for reasons I will explain later.
There are plenty of iPhone 5 users still out there. And I know many of you are struggling with the same decision. Keep the iPhone 5 and wait or make the move to the iPhone 6. Every situation is going to be a little bit different but my hope is that this iPhone 6 review from me, an iPhone 5 user, will help push you over the fence one way or the other. Sometimes, people just need a little nudge.
This isn’t going to be a full iPhone 6 review. For those of you that want that, take a look at our full length iPhone 6 review. It will run down everything you need to know about the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. Instead, this is a collection of thoughts and a look at how the iPhone 6 compares to the iPhone 5 in a number of key areas including design, battery life and more.
iPhone 6 Display
Apple’s been trumpeting its Retina HD displays on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While the difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Plus display is striking, thanks to the resolution jump to 1080p, the difference between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 isn’t as noticeable. At least not to me.
If you’re thinking about making the jump up from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6 because content is going to look a whole lot better, settle down. There are certainly some smaller improvements, text for instance looks a lot cleaner, but it’s not a massive leap forward. Of course, given the quality of the Retina Display, that’s not really a bad thing.
What you really should focus on is the overall size of the display. One of the main reasons I upgraded from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6 was the increase in display size. The iPhone 5’s 4-inch Retina Display is small and as I started to grow more accustomed to larger Android phones, it started to shrink. It’s nice to be able to firmly grip the phone in one hand but the size is terrible for many of the activities I enjoy most on my phone. Things like gaming, browsing the web, using apps, reading, and watching sports highlights.
All of those things feel so much better on a 4.7-inch display. Games are much more fun due to the extra space. The web is big, bold and vibrant. Apps are bigger and far more accessible. Reading is far better on the iPhone 6. And watching videos isn’t the chore that it used to be. Of course, this bump in display size comes with a cost: Overall size.
iPhone 6 Design
The iPhone 6 is a much bigger phone than the iPhone 5. Don’t let the 4.7-inch mark fool you either. This is a massive phone, bigger than devices like the 5-inch Nexus 5. I’ll admit, the size difference has taken some getting used to. The iPhone 5 is much easier to hold and use with one hand. Several times, I’ve held the iPhone 6 at an odd angle with one hand and dropped it on the ground or on my face. Yes, I have dropped the iPhone 6 directly on my face in bed. And yes, it gave me a fat lip. I should note that I have large hands.
As for the design itself, I’m more partial to the iPhone 5. I never use cases on my iPhones and after two years, my iPhone 5 doesn’t look new but it doesn’t look like its been through a meat grinder either. I’ve dropped it numerous times on numerous surfaces and unless you look really close, it’s hard to notice the dings and scratches. For the record, I have the black iPhone 5.
It’s also much easier to hold. Yes, because of the size but also because of the material that Apple used. The iPhone 6, in addition to be larger, is also far more slippery. It’s already slipped out of my hands several times including once when I was holding it above my desk. My desk has a glass top and it fell about 10 inches or so. While the iPhone 5 design probably wouldn’t have shown much damage, my gray iPhone 6 has a noticeable ding on the side. My OCD can’t take it.
For me, the iPhone 6 is, by far, the biggest let down. I was never tempted to put a case on my iPhone 5. With the iPhone 6, I’ll probably end up covering up the metal with some sort of slim cover so it lasts longer than a few months.
Touch ID is also bigger than you think. I honestly can’t imagine not having it now. While it may not provide Fort Knox level security, it makes getting into iOS so much more efficient. It also makes downloading apps from the App Store so much easier. No more entering a password, just a simple thumb press. Touch ID, and Apple Pay, are only going to get better too.
iPhone 6 Speakers
I listen to a lot of music. I also watch a lot of video content on my iPhone. One area where the iPhone 5 doesn’t excel is sound. The speakers just aren’t very good and more importantly, they aren’t very loud. The iPhone 6 does not have this problem.
While it doesn’t have front-facing speakers, the iPhone 6’s speakers get the job done. Not only has it been able to replace my Bluetooth speakers but it’s also been great for games, movies, and videos. I don’t even have to pump it up to full volume to get a high quality experience. Even my audiophile girlfriend thinks they’re pretty good.
iPhone 6 Battery Life
This is another area where the iPhone 6 triumphs. While my iPhone 5 battery life has been pretty solid after the iOS 8 update, it simply cannot compare to the battery life that I get from the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 does a major better job of handling LTE data and when I use a combination of LTE and Wi-Fi, I get more than a full day of use out of the phone. That is to say that I don’t always have to put it on the charger before bed.
I can’t stress how much of a relief that is, especially when I go out without means to charge the phone. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a music festival. I was constantly messaging friends, shooting video and photos, and checking the schedule in an app. A year ago, I would have had to put my iPhone on Airplane Mode. With the iPhone 6, I think I dropped around 30% or so over the course of about five or six hours.
For me, it’s night and day. Mileage is going to vary of course but if you eliminate bad habits and take some of our advice, you have the potential to get more than a day’s worth of juice out of the iPhone 6. That’s something I’ve never been able to do with the iPhone 5.
iPhone 6 Camera
The camera is another reason why I decided to upgrade from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6. After two years, the iPhone 5 camera started to feel old. If you’ve used an iPhone 5s or any top of the line Android phone released in 2013 or 2014, you probably know what I’m talking about. The iPhone 5 camera isn’t optimal for low light environments like concerts and it doesn’t pick up sound well. Videos that sound garbled on the iPhone 5 sound crystal clear on the iPhone 6.
The iPhone 6’s camera is stunning. Not only has Apple loaded it up with useful software features, the sensor itself delivers beautiful shots both in great lighting and in poor lighting. I don’t consider myself a great photographer and the iPhone 6 makes it easy to get a great shot and I can now confidently share photos with friends.
I already mentioned Apple Pay, Apple’s new mobile payment service that’s available to iPhone 6 users thru the use of NFC. iPhone 5 users should be able to use it too though I believe you’ll need to buy an Apple Watch. I’ve used Apple Pay many times already and while it’s not the revolutionary product that Apple Store employees make it out to be, it’s a huge part of why I’m enjoying the move from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6.
Apple’s iOS 8 operating system also looks and feels better on the larger display. An extra row of apps on the home screen might not seem like much but it’s been very beneficial to a heavy app user like me. The larger screen is also much better for Apple’s new predictive keyboard. Typing in general feels a whole lot better on the iPhone 6. Apple’s core applications like Calendar work much better with a larger display.
iOS 8 is also much faster on the iPhone 6. That could have something to do with the A8 processor and 64-bit architecture the iPhone 6 has on board. The iPhone 5 and its aging A6 processor simply haven’t been able to handle the iOS 8 update, at least on my iPhone 5, and I’ve noticed a drop in performance after the arrival of iOS 8.1.
I value speed and fluidity and that’s something the iPhone 6 provides.
iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 5
While I’m not in love with the iPhone 6’s design, the other benefits outweigh those flaws. Over time, I’m going to slowly start phasing the iPhone 5 out of my daily routine and I doubt I ever look back. For me, the jump has been worth it and it’s reminiscent of how I felt after making the move from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 5. It’s big. And in my opinion, worth it.
I realize the move comes at a cost. I can’t recommend the 16GB iPhone 6, it’s too small, which means that you’re looking at shelling out $300 or more on a new phone. That, for many people, isn’t an easy move to make. Just know that you don’t have to make your move right now. In fact, it’s probably in your best interest to wait.
With Black Friday and the holidays coming up, you’re bound to find an iPhone 6 deal. If it were me, I’d pounce on it. The iPhone 6 is a better phone than the iPhone 5.