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Apple iPhone 6, bigger and better | REVIEW

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Apple iPhone 6, bigger and better | REVIEW

7 of 10
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Gaming

Gaming on the iPhone 6 is going to be a dream, thanks to the development of Metal. This new feature of iOS 8 will be unknown to most, but it strips out some of the work needed between any game and the phone’s hardware to make more powerful graphics which take less power from the device.

The results are really impressive, according to the demos I saw – however, the raw power of the new titles isn’t something I’ve been able to try out yet as they won’t be released until iOS 8 is released to the public, at which point I’ll update this review.

However, Apple’s been clever to offer its developers a stable platform to make games for, as it’s resulted in some very decent titles that look beautiful and play very well.

The increase in screen size might have been a worry for some, meaning their favourite games might not look as slick in the new, larger display sizes, but thanks to the upscaling things look just fine on the new screen sizes.

However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t get iPhone 6-optimised games – and with that extra raw power of the A8 chip, I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s on offer.

Real Racing 3 looks immense

Real Racing 3 looks immense

It’s an odd situation with gaming and power management though: Apple made a big song and dance about the fact the iPhone 6’s processor could manage to keep going at optimum performance, although I didn’t particularly notice it was any better than the Android contingent when playing higher-power games.

What I did see was the battery performance falling away badly when gaming on the iPhone 6 – as noted above – which makes it less of a strong machine for extended sessions.

This wouldn’t have been an issue a few years ago, but now the mobile phone is the primary device for casual gaming and is a billion-dollar industry – so the iPhone should be able to hold its own if you want to spend the entire commute to work destroying alien scum and then use it as an actual phone the rest of the day,

Media

The iPhone as a media device is still one of the best out there in terms of consistency for music and movies – simply because Apple’s heritage from the iPod still pours through the iPhone.

There are some quibbles – the fact that most video formats are not supported will forever rankle, despite the fact most are quickly becoming defunct – but overall it’s still one of the most well-equipped phones for entertainment on the go, thanks to the great media library available through iTunes.

Sound quality

The sound quality of the iPhone – providing you pair it with a better pair of buds than those you get in the box, which I still can’t even bring myself to use knowing they’re going to just fall out my oversized and useless ears – is still one of my favourite things about the phone.

It’s not the best out there in terms of support – both the LG G3 and Sony Xperia Z3 / Z3 Compact can play higher-res audio files, and the iPhone can’t, despite rumours Apple was about to add in 24-bit, 192KHz support – but when it comes to playback of your standard, CD-ripped or Spotify-downloaded tracks, there’s not much better to be had in terms of sound consistency.

The same can be said for video – the new screen technology certainly is an upgrade here, as the colours look richer and more vibrant than before. Say what you want about Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens on the Galaxy S5, Note 4 and Tab S, but they’re very, very good at giving users the widest range of colours and deep contrasts, and Apple seems to be trying to ape that to some degree here.

The contrast ratio seems to be similar to the iPhone 5S – which was good already – which means the more atmospheric films are easy to watch in the dark scenes. The screen size is still a little on the small side, but only if you’ve seen or used a bigger phone regularly.

Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable as a way of watching the football in the kitchen, with the resolution just about sharp enough to see what’s going on clearly, when the other half is watching Princess Bride in the living room despite promising she wouldn’t invite anyone around when the game was on.

The lock screen is also central to the media experience on the phone, with either on-board music or that streamed from Spotify given equal billing in terms of functionality. You can slide straight through tracks with ease, and with Control Center a pervasive option throughout the phone, you’ve always got an easy way to change songs there too.

Many have attacked Apple for not going down the widget route in the past – me included – but given many Android manufacturers are coming to the realisation that beyond music and a couple of other random apps, most just want to be able to change tunes rather than have an all-singing, all-dancing way of changing settings from the home screen.

The music player is great, but the lock screen is getting tired

The music player is great, but the lock screen is getting tired

However, I would like to point out that Apple needs to improve the lock screen in some ways when it comes to music presentation, as the method of showing the album art is getting a little old now. When you look at the full-screen experience Android has baked in by default, you feel like that’s more futuristic – I hope Apple can do something soon to make this look a little more amazing.

And of course, let’s not forget the important thing about how much stuff you can throw on there: the iPhone 6, like the 6 Plus, comes in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB flavours.

Given nearly 4GB amount of storage is instantly given to the OS (plus some loss for GB vs Gb debate), the 16GB option isn’t really going to satisfy everyone over a few years’ use, especially when photos and videos start to mount up. So the 64GB option, which is nice to see as a second tier without costing as much as it did last year, is really the one to go for.

I’ve been testing the 128GB iPhone 6, and even with everything turned up to maximum quality am struggling to fill it. It’s definitely a great ‘safety option’, but boy, is it expensive.

I’m still slightly flabbergasted that Apple is charging so much to upgrade the memory in the devices. £80 / $100 / AU$130 for a 48GB jump and then another £80 / $100 / AU$130 for further 64GB? But it’s only £75 / $105 / AU$135 to buy a 128GB microSD card?

While I want to point out it’s not as cut and dried as that (read our excellent feature on whether a microSD slot is really a good thing to find out more) there’s no doubt that the benefits of having onboard storage are not worth the extra £80 you need to pay to jump between models. So why charge so much, Apple?

 

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