iPhone 6 and 6 Plus reviews: Apple phones finally on sale

Analysts call it Apple's 'biggest launch ever' as thousands queue up for new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

LAST UPDATED AT 15:00 ON Fri 19 Sep 2014

Apple fans braved the thunder, lightning and rain to queue up outside Apple stores in England this morning as the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus finally went on sale.

Around 1,000 people lined up outside the Covent Garden store waiting for the doors to open at 8am, despite the fact that Apple has been offering online pre-orders and an in-store reservation option.

A similar number of people were queuing in Manchester to be among the first to get their hands on the new devices, with some people sleeping on the pavement overnight.

Analysts have called it Apple's biggest launch ever, reports the Daily Telegraph. In Japan, Apple fans waited in line for nearly two weeks, with employees cheering and exchanging high-fives with the first customers that entered the store.

In Australia, one teenager camped outside his local Apple store in Perth so he would be at the front of the queue – only to drop his new phone as he was interviewed live on television.

A record four million orders were placed for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the first 24 hours after the Apple Store's virtual shelves were stocked last Friday.

Deliveries of the two new phones, which have 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, were expected to begin today, although The Times says some customers will have to wait for their new handsets.

"Customers who ordered the iPhone 6 in advance have been warned that they might not receive their handset until next month because of high demand," the paper reports.

The new device represents the most substantial upgrade and redesign of Apple's flagship phone for several years.

Even though extensive leaks of photographs and video had removed any element of surprise from the big reveal, most early reviewers have heaped praise on both the iPhone 6 and its bigger brother, the 6 Plus.

Stephen Fry is among the critics to praise the new iPhone 6, describing the device as the "most exquisite mobile ever made".

In a review for The Guardian, the actor calls the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus "utterly gorgeous objects in the hand and to the eye".

After playing with both devices for a week, Fry says he cannot decide which he would keep and confidently predicts that the phones "will prove through sales, as I believe them to be, the best and most beautiful mobile telecom technology ever yet produced".

The phones are larger but slimmer, and present a softer, rounder profile than their sharp-edged predecessors.

"The wafer-like metal design and curved lines feel, in many ways, like previous iPod Touch models and a little like the iPad," says CNET. "The metal HTC One M8 feels bulky by comparison."

Investors reacted coolly to the new phones, sending Apple shares down by 0.38 per cent by the end of the launch event, but among Apple fans – and the tech press assembled in California – there was no such moderation.

"Apple's Tim Cook told the whooping crowds at the Flint Center in Cupertino that the new iPhone 6 is 'the most beautiful phone ever made'," writes Matt Warman in the Daily Telegraph. "I'm trying hard to be objective, but I think he’s right."

Prices will start at £539 in the UK, for a 16GB iPhone 6 with no contract, rising to £789 for a 128GB iPhone Plus.

The iPhone 6 at a glance:

  • It will come in two screen sizes, 4.7 inches for the iPhone 6 and 5.5 inches for the iPhone 6 Plus. That compares with the four-inch screen of the iPhone 5S.
  • The frame of the iPhone 6 will be 6.9mm thick, and the iPhone 6 Plus 7.1mm thick. 
  • The design is a departure from recent models, with rounded sides replacing the sharp-edged, flat-sided iPhone 5S. 
  • The iPhone 6 screen resolution will be 1,334x750 pixels, which Apple describes as Retina HD; the iPhone 6 Plus will feature a full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels
  • The screen will be protected by ion-strengthened glass (but not the much-discussed sapphire crystal)
  • The iPhone 6 has improved camera specs. Although the sensor remains at eight megapixels, a new focusing and exposure system should improve image quality. The iPhone 6 Plus also has optical image stabilisation.
  • Both models can take slow-motion video at 240 frames per second. 
  • The larger screens will allow multi-tasking, allowing the user to see an email inbox and message at the same time, for example. The app dock can also be moved to the side of the screen, instead of the bottom.
  • As expected, the handsets will come a Health app that will integrate with Nike's fitness app.
  • They will also include a built-in barometer.
  • Both iPhones will be available from 19 September in the UK,
  • British prices are yet to be confirmed, but the Daily Telegraph says the iPhone 6 will cost £539 for the 16GB model, £619 for 64GB and £699 for 128GB.
  • The iPhone 6 Plus will cost £619 for the 16GB model, £699 for 64GB and £789 for 128GB, the paper says.
iPhone 6 design

The revamped design met with near unanimous praise. "The first thing I noticed was that it feels a lot thinner than the 5s and 5c, and its rounded edges suggest you're holding a very small iPad mini rather than a larger iPhone," writes Nate Lanxon, the editor of Wired.co.uk. "The chassis has a satisfying curvature as the rear shell folds around to the front, and meets the glass of the display in a way that feels nearly seamless."

Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch says the overall sense he had of the iPhone 6 Plus was one of "extreme high quality", which he says cannot be said for the rest of the "phablet" field. "Apple has managed to make the very first well-designed smartphone of epic scale," he says, "regardless of your thoughts on the merit of the category as a whole."

Larger screens

Wired is also impressed by the sharpness of the "Retina HD" screens on both phones, but particularly the larger model. "The 6 Plus's pixels are so tiny they're hard to see no matter how close you get your face," he says. 

As well as raising the pixel count, Apple has improved the displays in other ways too, says The Times. "The screens are brighter, have crisper colours and are covered by stronger glass," the paper says. "They have also been designed for easier navigation using one hand."

However, there was no sign of the super-tough sapphire crystal screens, which some commentators had expected to see in the new phone. The camera also remained at eight megapixels, but reviewers were impressed with the improved functionality it offered.

Improved camera

"The main improvement seems to be the Focus Pixel feature, which is Apple's take on phase-detection autofocus," reports Engadget. What that means is that if you're training the camera on something in the foreground and it moves away from you, the lens will refocus automatically.

"This was demonstrated in Apple's stage presentation," Wired's reviewer says, "and I was pleased to see it works exactly as well when I tested it."

The new operating system, iOS8, also allows for greater camera control. "Until now the only way to adjust the exposure of a photo before taking a shot was to tap on the screen to tell your device from where to take the exposure reading," says the BBC's Mark Blank-Settle. "In iOS 8 the camera lets you adjust the exposure much more precisely: tapping on the screen now brings up an icon of the sun and, by moving a slider up and down, the image will get brighter or darker."

Stephen Fry points out that there is also full HD video allowing "a devastatingly cool 720p slowmo that will make Matrix directors of us all".

Battery life

If technology journalists had any complaints, they focused on doubts about the battery.

"Both iPhones will be powered a new A8 processor that is 25 per cent faster than the previous iPhone and 50 per cent more power efficient for increased battery life," The Guardian reports. 

But on stage, Apple had only promised that battery life would be at least equal to its current models – which are frequently criticised for their lack of power reserves.

"Take your phone out for a busy day of GPSing, mobile browsing, texting on the go and whatnot, and you can drain an iPhone to zero in just a couple of hours," writes Forbes's Mark Rogowsky. And Apple "basically told the world that experience will be the same with the iPhone 6".

He blames the company for prioritising form over function, leaving limited room for the battery by cramming all the components into a slim frame with rounded edges.

In The Independent, David Phelan says: "The more the phone does, the more we make it do, so even an improved battery is falling short by lunchtime."

But this doesn't put Phelan off the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus overall. "In the world of smartphones, this is the biggest leap forward yet," he says. "It offers a staggeringly better version of an already winning phone. Honestly? I'd give it six stars if I could."

 

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus deals: the best offers on the market

16 September

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are now available for pre-order, with deliveries scheduled to begin on Friday.

Demand is expected to be strong - Apple says it took a record four million orders on the first day the two models were available - and pricing is far from straightforward. Here is our selection of the best deals available for the two new handsets: 

iPhone 6 deals: with no contract

The simplest way to buy an iPhone 6, if the most expensive in the short term, is to buy the handset outright and then shop around for a cheap SIM-only contract. This approach is likely to cost you less in the long-term, with the break-even point likely to be around the two-year mark, depending on which contract you choose.

  • iPhone 6
  • 16GB: £539
  • 64GB: £619
  • 128GB: £699
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • 16GB: £619
  • 64GB: £699
  • 128GB: £789
iPhone 6 deals with free handset

The following deals will let you get your hands on an iPhone 6 without paying anything up front.

  • 16GB iPhone 6
  • Vodafone
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 4GB of 4G data
  • Upfront cost: None
  • Monthly cost: £43.50
  • Contract length: 2 years
  • 16GB iPhone 6
  • O2
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 5GB of 4G data
  • Upfront cost: None
  • Monthly cost: £48
  • Contract length: 2 years
  • 128GB iPhone 6
  • O2
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 5GB of 4G data
  • Upfront cost: None
  • Monthly cost: £53
  • Contract length: 2 years
iPhone 6 deals with unlimited data

Heavy users of data, or those who don't want to worry about limits, may want to consider this well-priced option from Three. 

  • 16GB iPhone 6
  • Three
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: unlimited 4G
  • Upfront cost: £99
  • Monthly cost: £45
  • Contract length: 2 years
iPhone 6 deals with low monthly costs

If you plan to use your phone primarily on wi-fi, this plan will keep monthly fees to a minimum

  • 16GB iPhone 6
  • Vodafone
  • Minutes: 100
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 100MB of 3G data
  • Upfront cost: £249
  • Monthly cost: £26.50
  • Contract length: 2 years
iPhone 6 deals which include a free handset

The larger of the two new iPhones can also be had for no upfront fee, but you'll pay more in monthly instalments

  • 16GB iPhone 6 Plus
  • EE
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 5GB of 4G data
  • Upfront cost: None
  • Monthly cost: £45.99
  • Contract length: 2 years
  • 16GB iPhone 6
  • Vodafone
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 4GB of 4G data
  • Upfront cost: None
  • Monthly cost: £48.50
  • Contract length: 2 years
iPhone 6 Plus deals with big data allowances

It's harder to find unlimited data plans for the 5.5-inch iPhone plus, but the 20GB option below should satisfy all but the hungriest web user.

  • 16GB iPhone 6 Plus
  • EE
  • Minutes: unlimited
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 20GB of 4G data
  • Upfront cost: None
  • Monthly cost: £53.99
  • Contract length: 2 years
iPhone 6 Plus deals with low monthly costs

If you plan to use your phone primarily on wi-fi, this plan will keep monthly fees to a minimum.

  • 16GB iPhone 6 Plus
  • Vodafone
  • Minutes: 100
  • Texts: unlimited
  • Data: 100MB of 3G data
  • Upfront cost: £249
  • Monthly cost: £31.50
  • Contract length: 2 years

Live: Apple launches iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

9 September

7.20pm: Tim Cook returns to the stage to walk us through the next revelation of the evening, the Apple Watch.

6.55pm: Apple confirms that it will be introducing a payments system that will work in 220,000 locations around the world including, naturally, Apple Stores. The system works in partnership with American Express, Mastercard and Visa, and allows users to pay for goods by holding the iPhone 6 against a reader, as if it were a contactless payment card. Transactions are authorised using the phone's fingerprint reader. "Cashiers don't see your name, your card number or your security code," Forbes reports.

6.30pm: In a flurry of superlatives, the Apple demonstrator says the iPhone 6 will be larger, thinner and faster than its predecessor. But the promise on battery life - that it will be equal or better - dashes hopes of a big leap forward on that front.

6.15pm: The Daily Telegraph reports that "these phones are thinner than anything Apple has ever made: 6.9 mm"

6.10pm: Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, arrives on stage a little late, but he breaks with company tradition and goes straight to the big news: Apple is launching two new phones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Cook's predecessor, Steve Jobs, always started with routine announcements and saved the biggest unveiling until last.

Does Apple slow old iPhones before a new release?

 

  

More on the iPhone 6

How iPayments could replace credit cardsWill iPhone 6 come with scratchless sapphire screen?iPhone 6: Factory explosion may delay launch iPhone 6: super-slim battery to power 7mm iPhone iPhone 6: sapphire crystal screen resists knife attack - video iPhone 6 smart security identifies 'safe zones' iPhone 6 'leaked' by Taiwanese pop star New iPhone software raises hopes of extended battery life iPhone 6 will launch in September, says Deutsche Telekom iPhone 6: Siri gets smarter and iOS Map is back from the dead iPhone 6 to get super-sharp 'triple-resolution' screen

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Disqus - noscript

I don't ever have a problem with battery life, my phone last all day and even in to another without having to charge it, The LG G2

Yeah, some android phones are great, some android phones are awful.. but if battery life matters to you, at least you have a choice in android.

With the iphone, terrible battery life is your only choice.

And the new IOS 6 is ugly as can be

the new IOS 6? come on its going to be 8 now! Which planet are u in?

The planet of big thumbs, typo

Actually the galaxy s4 already has the health monitoring app, it didn't start with the S5. It's great and I use it all the time to track my weight, my calories intake, my work out sessions and see how many steps I took. It also follows your path when you go for a run and keeps track of distance and time, while providing you with a soundtrack of the music stored on your phone. I don't even know why iphone is so proud to announce that it is finally getting a health app... If anything, it only brings further attention to the fact that the company is not innovating fast enough. Same thing with NFL (come on!!), camera, maps, widgets, and battery life. I was considering getting an iPhone 6 to switch things up a bit at the end of my contract (used to have one way back in the days), until all the news came out about it and I realized that iPhone is only trying to play catch up to its competitors. On my way to ATT to look at the phones that are already out AND are already better than the Iphone 6.

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