“Craftmanship. The perfect smartphone, with a perfect operating system, with elegant design. The best phone out there.”
That was the response of someone when I asked how they thought Tim Cook would answer the question “Why does the iPhone 6 cost so much more than the rest of the competitor phones?”.
I feel it would be pretty close to the mark.
It’s a more in-depth answer than ‘the Apple logo on the back’ which a lot of people assume is the reason you’ve got to pay more for an iPhone. That answer would explain why Apple thinks it can charge more for the phone, but doesn’t go any way to explaining what it really is that means it feels the need to raise the price so.
In fact, price was the main thing that played on my mind throughout my time with the new devices.
However, before I give my thoughts on that, let’s first take a look at what makes this phone special: an improved design, a better camera, an upgraded battery.
A faster CPU, better graphical power, stronger health sensors and a slicker and more intuitive UI. This is a big jump for Apple, and one that makes this a very impressive phone indeed.
But is that worth the extra money?
A lot of people still think it’s acceptable to compare phones based on a spec sheet. It’s not. It’s about the experience, the relationship one has with a phone day after day, and that’s something Apple has nailed year after year: the feeling you get when you first pick one up.
The design of the iPhone 6 is brilliant. It feels like a potted down version of the iPad Air, which itself was one of the best-designed bits of tech I’ve ever held. I’m not a fan of the plastic strips on the top and bottom of the phone – I’d have preferred these to be blocks of colour – but that aside, it feels great in the palm.
The battery life upgrade is a real plus too. Yes, it falls a little under hard use, but the main problem with the 5S was the fact the phone would be useless by the end of the working day even when not put under a lot of strain – that problem seems to have been resolved.
The camera quietly impresses, and the new modes are helpful at times, if not always useful. While it irritates that there’s no 16:9 mode for snapping, the results are still almost always something I’d want to share.
The iPhone 6 is a sensational handset, but not flawless. There are two issues that have to be raised.
The first is the screen. It’s a tricky one, as it could sound like I’m being rather hypocritical given my point about not basing a feeling about a phone on a spec sheet.
But the lower-res screen is noticeable next to most other Full HD phones in the iPhone 6’s class. Sure, day to day you won’t notice the fuzzier text, the slightly rougher pictures, but given you’ll be paying more for an iPhone than any other device on the market (bar some hyper-powerful phablets) I can’t condone Apple not working out a way to get a Full HD display on this phone.
It’s not like it’s new technology either: the HTC One M7 had a similarly sized display 18 months ago and it was Full HD. It looked great back then, so why has Apple not managed the same thing now?
I can’t think it’s to do with battery life, but if it is, then the phone should have been made thicker. 6.9mm with the rounded back feels nice in the hand, but a mm or two thicker wouldn’t have gone amiss if the thing I was looking at had a better display on.
And secondly, there’s the issue of price. Again. The Apple iPhone 6 is still too expensive for me.
Every year I get to this point in the review of that year’s iPhone and wonder: ‘Am I’m missing something? Should I be giving the iPhone a pass when castigating Android or Windows Phones for the same thing?’
But I can’t find a tangible reason for the extra cost. We’re not talking a single pound / dollar or two, it’s a big difference in price on contract. The materials used are premium, yes, but not necessarily making the best design out there.
The iCloud drive stuff is good, the operating system is sleek, but there’s nothing here (beyond the phone being a very good all-rounder) that gives me a quick answer when someone asks me ‘Why is the iPhone more expensive?’
To me, that’s a problem and one I can’t just ignore because ‘people’ will pay it. Were there nothing else wrong here, then perhaps it could be glossed over, giving the choice to the buyer, but as the phone isn’t market leading in a number of ways, the price rankles heavily.
When I first picked up the iPhone 6, I thought this was going to be a hard review to write. Had Apple just changed the shape but kept the same inherent problems? Was there really enough new to make it a phone that really helped the company leap forward?
The answer is: the Apple iPhone 6 is a brilliant phone. It’s the first time I’d even consider using an iPhone as my daily device, thanks to the larger screen, better keyboard and most importantly upgraded battery life.
However, the price is still tremendously off-putting and the screen, while perfectly fine (and sometimes impressive) in day to day use will still irritate me, knowing that I’ve not got the best experience for my money.
But that’s the only bugbear I have with the Apple iPhone 6. It feels amazing in the hand. Apple has somehow made a phone too thin and turned it into a positive. The operating system is smarter and more intuitive than ever, and that’s without even factoring in the strong ecosystem of apps and media that Apple users get.
We’ll ignore the Trojan Horsing of the U2 album for now.
I promised I wouldn’t say the iPhone 6 is the best iPhone Apple has ever made, and thankfully I don’t have to. I used that phrase for the 5S, as there wasn’t a lot else that was worthy of a headline statement.
So while the iPhone 6 might not be the most powerful, most attractive, best at photography or best for battery life, Apple has put it all together in a way that, if you can forgive the price (and that’s a big if), offers a phone that should be at the sharp end of your consideration for your next smartphone.