Home > Uncategorized > Quick Review: So, How Do You Like Your New Phone?

Quick Review: So, How Do You Like Your New Phone?

So, a week ago, I got an iPhone 6, and since then, I’ve gotten this question a lot. Some initial thoughts/reactions:

I’m going to come right out and say it: it’s just a little bit too big. I wasn’t unhappy with the size of the 5 I upgraded from and was not one of those people clamoring for a bigger phone. In fact, I had some misgivings about the larger size. Overall I don’t hate it or anything, but it’s just a little bit bigger than I would have liked. If Apple could have figured out some way to split the difference between the 5 series and this, I think that would have been fine. The fact that it’s so thin does help offset the overall size, but I don’t have particularly large hands and I use my phone one-handed pretty often, and it’s just a smidge too big at times. The double-tap on the home button (not a double press, but a really light double-tap) to scroll the top of the display down so you can reach it one-handed is something, but just doesn’t seem like quite enough of a solution.

The one real up side to the larger phone is the increase in the number of apps that appear on the first page of home. I do like that a lot, but otherwise I’d actually like it to be just a bit smaller. I could not imagine getting a 6+, but I would guess that the people who are interested in such a thing have a somewhat different usage profile. (I already have, and love, my full-sized iPad, and I’m not really in the market for a middle-sized device. I kind of don’t get the iPad Mini, either, but again, I’m not the target user.)

Favorite Features
The top of the list is Touch ID, no contest. This is not a new feature on the iPhone, but it’s a new feature for me, since I’m coming from a 5, not a 5S. I simply love this. I understand it’s not 100% secure, but neither is a 4-digit PIN, and this is probably at least as good as that, which is what I had before. I know I can use a longer PIN, but my threat model is not a dedicated hacker, but rather me leaving my phone somewhere and a casual passerby picking it up. Touch ID is so fast and so easy. This totally rocks.

My second favorite thing is the better camera. I’m not really much of a photographer, but it’s always nice to be able to not think about it and just have the thing take better pictures. And this camera seems to do better for me, and I’m not even trying to do crazy awesome stuff like in Iceland.

The other thing I love is that it’s blazing fast. The 5 was no slouch and I wasn’t actually unhappy with the speed and itching to move up to a faster phone (I had that in spades when I replaced my first iPhone, a 3G), but this thing just screams—everything is just so responsive. I find the whole “oh, everything on the iPhone 6 has been available on Android for a year now” thing really annoying. Tell me, which Android phone benchmarked like this a year ago? And still has decent battery life? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Dumb lazy argument is dumb and lazy.

Next is the motion co-processor. I’ve never invested in a FitBit or anything, but now that we have a dog I go for a decent walk every day and it’s interesting to see the step count. Again, not new to the 6, but not something that was available on the 5, and I like it.

Oh, and one more win for Apple on this is the increase in storage. The mid-priced phone (which is what I usually get) went up from 32G to 64G, which is awesome. I was really pushing on the 32G on my 5, and it’s nice to have some breathing room.

The Display
The screen is truly excellent. The screen on my 5 was perfectly good, but this seems even better. I didn’t go with a 6+, which I’ve heard has an even better screen, but this one still seems great. Of course, it’s also bigger, but I’ve already covered that. The thing about the bigger and even higher-quality display is that I find myself slightly less drawn off the phone to do reading-based tasks, which is really what my iPad is for—serious reading. I never, for instance, read books on my phone. Now I might. The only down side here is that apps that haven’t been updated for the new screen size look a little clunky—the text looks huge on these. I’m sure most of them will sort it out relatively soon.

Battery Life
No contest that this is much better than on my 5. Battery life on the 5 was always decent, but nothing great, and so far the 6 just blows it away. In normal usage so far, I’ve never even come close to needing to charge it during the day. (I charge my phone every night while I’m asleep.) I didn’t often need to charge the 5 before the end of the day, either, but I don’t think I’ve even gotten the battery down below half. Very nice work. I guess this is the other upside for the larger form factor—space for a bigger battery.

iOS 8
Technically, iOS 8 is not really an iPhone 6 feature in that I had already installed it on my 5 and my iPad the day before I got my 6, but the 6 requires it and so I kind of think of it that way. So far, it just doesn’t seem that much different than iOS 7 (which I thought was a very mixed bag vs. iOS 6—some things got better, but some got worse). HealthKit isn’t really active yet (oops), other than the basics (although as I mentioned, I like the step tracking).

So far there aren’t enough extensions for that to be a big deal, though I am tickled to see PCalc in the “today” view. This will probably pick up as more apps are updated for iOS 8. I think photo editing on-camera via extensions is probably going to be a big deal.

The predictive keyboard is actually pretty nice. It’s not always accurate, of course, but where I find it particularly shines is when it correctly predicts words that have punctuation (for example, “we’ll”) in them, because punctuation sucks on a mobile keyboard. I haven’t tried any of the third-party swipe-based keyboards yet, and I’m not sure that I will because I don’t often type anything substantial with one finger, and as John Gruber observed, I’m not sure how much that’ll do for two-thumb typing. Plus, given the larger form factor, I think I’m even more likely to two-thumb type than before. We’ll see.

The tweaks to Messages and Mail are all nice, but not anything major. Family Sharing and Continuity are not things I can use because my Macs aren’t on Yosemite yet and the rest of my family isn’t on iOS 8 yet. Continuity seems cool, though, but we’ll have to see how it really plays out—the devil is in the details, and I haven’t yet gotten to play in the details.

The place where I think Apple really blew it is with iCloud Drive. I’m going to just come out and say it: Apple is generally not good at the whole cloud thing. I used to think Apple should have worked harder to buy Dropbox because of how awesome Dropbox is, but now I’m really glad they didn’t—I think Apple probably would have screwed it up. Anyway, when you install iOS 8 for the first time, it prompts you for whether or not you want to upgrade your iCloud account to iCloud Drive. The idea of iCloud Drive isn’t exactly new for Apple (remember iDisk?), and the warning it gives you is pretty tame, but in fact if you agree to “upgrade” to iCloud Drive, it effectively hoses your iCloud storage if you access iCloud from a Mac that isn’t running Yosemite. Since Yosemite isn’t actually released yet, this is a really bad idea. As an added bonus, this “upgrade” isn’t undo-able. Ugh. Would it really have been that hard for Apple to have put in another layer of warning that said something like “You should only do this if you run Yosemite on your Mac” and defaulting to “no, don’t upgrade” rather than defaulting to “upgrade?” Any decent UX person knows that users frequently don’t read warnings very carefully and that the default should never be to mess up something that already works.

So, while I find the new larger form-factor not quite ideal and iOS 8 to be a mixed bag, on the whole I’m pretty happy with the new phone. I’m pretty inelastic on this, because I use my phone constantly (usually not as an actual phone, of course), so I’m bad with concepts like “is it worth the $300?” but on balance I certainly don’t regret the purchase.

Background Notes
I’m on the every-other-year plan with the iPhone. I didn’t get the original but have stuck to that plan otherwise, so I have had a 3G, a 4, and a 5 previous to this. I’ve never had an “S” model (3GS, 4S, 5S), but my wife is on the every-other-year plan on the “S” cycle, but she started later, so she used to have a 4S and now has a 5S. So I’ve at least fiddled with every model except for the original and the 3GS.

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  1. 2015.01.11 at 19:33

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