My biggest complaint about the Apple iPhone during my previous brief periods of ownership was that the screen was too small to use.
Specifically, I couldn’t type on the crowded buttons without a substantial error rate that was frequently exacerbated by Apple’s idiosyncratic auto-correct feature. Worse, the tiny screen made reading Websites and other online information nearly impossible for me.
But when Apple announced the new 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 6, I was heartened. While seven-tenths of an inch might not sound like much, it brought it much closer to the size of the screen on the BlackBerry Z30 that I’d tried out a few weeks earlier and liked.
Unfortunately, even with its ability to run some Android apps, the Z30 was just too limited to handle the functions I needed, so I took a chance and ordered the iPhone 6 from T-Mobile. I avoided the iPhone 6 Plus because it’s too big to fit into my pockets.
The T-Mobile version of the iPhone 6 has a few capabilities that are important. The most important are WiFi Calling, HD Voice and Voice over LTE (VoLTE). While some other carriers are promising these features sometime in 2015, T-Mobile has them available now. But perhaps more important, I’m located in an area near Washington, D.C., where T-Mobile is the only reliable carrier. Being able to actually make phone calls is an important feature for a phone.
Once I received and unpacked the iPhone 6, the improvement in size was obvious. I didn’t need to squint to read the screen, and the screen was big enough to reduce the error rate when I typed.
Even better, Apple has gone to great lengths to improve one-handed use, a feature that was once the province of BlackBerry. Apple makes one-handed operation even easier by sliding the screen down so that it’s within easy reach of your thumb when you do a quick double-tap on the home button.
One-handed operation is also made easier by the rounded shape of the edges of the iPhone 6 and by its thin 6.9mm profile. Apple’s now-familiar fingerprint sensor also accommodates one-handed use by allowing your thumb to activate the sensor even if it’s at a different angle from what you used when you first set it up.
The fingerprint reader will actually work with any of your fingers. You get to choose when you set up the phone for the first time. During the setup process, iOS asks you to place your chosen finger on the sensor in several different angles so that it can get the whole thing.
I used my thumb, figuring that this would be the most useful, which it turned out to be. But when I performed the setup, I used a different orientation than what I use when unlocking the phone in daily use. It still works fine.
Apple iPhone 6 Shows Why Even Small Gains in Screen Size Matter
Just to make sure that the sensor didn’t work with any fingerprint, I had family members and friends try to unlock the phone with the fingerprint sensor. They couldn’t.
However, there is one potential problem when setting up a new iPhone 6 if you’ve already turned on two-step verification in iCloud and the iTunes Store. You will need to be able to receive a text message with a verification code during the process. But if you’re setting up the phone, you won’t also be able to receive text messages. When I had this problem, I visited the local Apple Store, but the staff there was unsure of how to solve the problem.
So here are the solutions. You can make sure you have your recovery code handy because you’ll need it. Or you can hold off activating your cell service on the iPhone 6 until after you’ve set it up so you can get the verification code by text message on your old phone. The other choice is to turn off two-step verification while you set up your phone, then turn it back on once you’ve moved past that point.
In daily use, I found that the iPhone 6 is a substantial improvement over the iPhone 5S. The larger screen makes a huge difference. Plus, the iPhone 6 is faster, and it communicates faster because it will work with 802.11ac on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and it’ll work with faster forms of LTE.
The new screen features 1,334 by 750 pixels, but the pixel density remains the same as the iPhone 5. There are just more of them. The IPS (in-plane switching) screen worked well in sunlight. The light sensor reduces brightness nicely, but sometimes the screen got too dim, a condition that’s easy to correct.
Likely the auto-dim is set that way to increase battery life. While Apple lists the battery life of the iPhone 6 to be only slightly longer than the iPhone 5, I found it to be much better in daily use. The iPhone 5S that I had most recently would frequently need a little charging time in the afternoon. The iPhone 6 lasts all day and still has about 30 percent charge when I plug it in for the night.
Despite the warnings and the hype, my iPhone 6 did not bend. Most of those reports were about the iPhone 6 Plus anyway, and the iPhone 6 feels substantial in any case. Of course, I also learned long ago not to sit on my phone, so perhaps that reduced the chance of bending.
Overall, I’m pleased enough with this iteration of the iPhone that I spent the extra money and bought the 64-gigabyte version of the Space Gray device. For once, this is an iPhone that’s good enough to keep.