We have come a long way

by Volker Weber

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You probably have read lots of iPhone reviews and I am going to spare you another one. What you see above is an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPhone. They are both from Apple, and they both represent the state of the art, one in 2007, the other in 2014. There have been phones with more features than the original iPhone in 2007, which was dwarfed in any conceivable way by a 3.5G Nokia N95, one of the best phones ever made. And it still won through simplicity.

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We have had a couple of iterations. From the top: original iPhone, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. I spare you the ugly 3G/S.

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iPhones have grown from holding a 3.5" and 4" screen to 4.7" and 5.5". People like large phones, since the displays are more enjoyable the larger they are. I will not be surprised by 13" tablets.

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Ever since the iPhone 4S came with an 8 MP camera, I left my point&shoot camera behind. And they keep getting better without participating in the pixel race. This alone shows how smart Apple is. There is always a trade-off between camera size, sensor size and phone thinness. Apple solves this by letting the camera lens stick out from the back of the phone. Without large embellishments, just the lens. There are two areas where Lumia is significantly better: low light, and sound recording. Other than that, I am quite happy with an iPhone camera.

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Which leads us to the all important question: do you want one? And if, which one? If you are holding an iPhone 5 or 5S in your hand, you most likely will not want one unless you are still paying phones through outrageous monthly service fees. If you have an iPhone 4S, you will find that upgrading to iOS 8 is just too much for it.

Both new iPhones feel really nice in your hand. The sharp edges introduced in the iPhone 4 and later those in the iPhone 5 are gone. You see the difference in size between the iPhone 5S and the 6, but you don't feel it much. If you want something like your previous iPhone, only better, get the 6. Within a few days, you will still marvel at the display. But you will quickly forget that this is new.

If you want to take it up a notch, get the 6 Plus. For me it was never a question. I have used a Lumia 1520 and loved it. Big is good. While both machines are nearly identical, your most important upgrade is a huge battery. The screen is technically somewhat better, and the camera has optical image stabilization, given you sharper photos. But the battery makes the difference.

There are other great smartphones out there, but if money is not an issue, then you want the big one.

Comments

I upgraded from a 4S to the 6, and I’m very happy with it: a lovely device, and I find that I don’t need the Nexus 7 for reading on the train any more (I leave that for reading at home). The step up from a 4S is really noticeable in every way. I especially enjoy having somewhat rounder edges again :-)

Ben Poole, 2014-09-27

I'm hoping my 6+ shows up in a couple of weeks or so. I'm not in a rush to get it, so I went ahead and took the shipping option. But I am looking forward to the larger screen size.

Thomas Duff, 2014-09-27

After one week working with the 6+, decided to give it away.
Why? For work it´s fantastic. But there is a life after work, where it´s hard to handle such big phone. This may not apply to others, but for me it´s unhandy e.g. seat in a restaurant and always have the phone on the table because it does not fit your trouser pocket or similar. And i don´t like to use more than one, as someone do. So the 6+ it´s on its way back, changing into the "small" sized one.

Just a personal point of view, of course.

Ingo Harpel, 2014-09-27

I have been testing both the 6 and the Plus for a week now. The 6 arrived first. Maybe there is a bias. But to me the 6 appears much more elegant.
Both tested in the corresponding Apple leather case.

Apart from this aesthetic bit my impressions are

6 winning over the 6 Plus:
- bigger screen while noticeably slimmer than the 5s.
- zoom of legacy apps is less blurry

Plus winning over the 6:
- even better camera, visibly better low light performance
- much better screen at native resolution
- louder speaker
- can still be handled, still fits front + rear pockets. Not as bad as expected.
- battery can last longer BUT

My general beef with the Plus
- Plus battery ran down to 35% at around 5pm after 1hr navigation, 2hrs of Kindle reading, 1hr web on LTE, some hours idle with very bad reception 2G/3G/LTE. Would not have lasted the day without recharge.
- legacy apps make it look "like a phone for old people" (Nilay Patel)
- landscape mode not that useful so far - and boy, is it buggy.
- the Plus has a lot of potential for new and additional uses but it is not there yet, even the OS is not really ready for landscape and the additional pixels.

Not liking these bits of the 6:
- screen size / resolution. It has the same size as the Nexus 5. But the N5 from last year has a 1080p 5' screen, while the 6 just has a 4.7"@750p screen.
- No optical OIS.

I like both and I am having a hard time deciding which one to send back.

Tobias Hauser, 2014-09-27

My 4S runs just OK with 8.02. A bit slower, but still usable.

Juergen Eichholz, 2014-09-28

Ingo raises a good point.

Volker (and others of course), how do you normally carry a bigger phone? I find the meager 4.5' of the Nokia 925 already challenges the size of my trouser pockets

Pedro Quaresma, 2014-09-28

My trouser pockets are simply larger than your trouser pockets. Whatever the ladies tell you, size does matter. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2014-09-28

On a more serious note, iPhone 6 is almost a cm longer than 925 while being 3 mm slimmer:

Lumia 925 is 129 mm x 70.6 mm x 8.5 mm at 139 g
Phone 6 is 138.1 mm x 67.0 mm x 6.9 mm at 129 g

The Lumia 1520 is bigger in any dimension but it's screen is also larger:

Lumia 1520 is 160 mm x 84 mm x 8.4 mm at 209 g
iPhone 6+ is 158.1 mm x 77.8 mm x 7.1 mm at 179 g

I would gather that size wise you have no difficulties going from Lumia to iPhone and back in each category.

Volker Weber, 2014-09-28

The iPhone 6-size is perfect. However, there is one killer-argument in favour of the 6 Plus: battery. All iPhones suck regarding battery time. Only the 6 Plus will survive one day of regular use including push mail etc. Some Apple apps like calendar and mail take advantage of the big screen. Regarding third party apps, Windows Phone scales better for bigger screens and sharper resolutions. On iOS 8 a lot of apps just seem "blown up"-versions of the normal iPhone screen. Also the Lumia 1520 (bigger screen) and LG G3 (same screen, but smaller cabinet) have smaller bezels.

Christian Just, 2014-09-28

I had upgraded my iPhone 4s to iOS 8 because I wanted to use the new Keyboard and iCloud drive. But after that the battery lastet only 3-4 hours and the iPhone became very warm. In the battery Display I saw that the mail app uses most of the battery power and after 3 days the Exchange connector had consumed all of my monthly free mobile traffic (750 MB). So I think there must be something wrong there. Since the iPhone also became slower I reinstalled it with 7.1.2 and anything is fine again. I will not try to upgrade it to iOS 8 any more. Since yesterday Apple doesn´t allow to downgrade to iOS 7.1.2 any more. So my 4s will stay on iOS 7.

Franz Mattes, 2014-09-29

Good decision. Whatever Apple considers as the entry level to an upgrade should remain on the old systems. I have once ruined an iPhone 3G by upgrading so this has not changed at all.

Volker Weber, 2014-09-29

Thanks for the dimensions. I wouldn't dream of downgrading from a Lumia to an iPhone though ;)

Pedro Quaresma, 2014-09-29

Pedro, I don't suggest you should. And it's not a downgrade. The iPhone is really nice, as is the Lumia. The Lumia is just a lot more affordable.

Volker Weber, 2014-09-29

More affordable, that's the point.

In Germany you can buy the Lumia 1520 for €379.-. A comparable iphone 6+ (64GB) costs €899.-. Thats far more than twice as much.

Roland Dressler, 2014-09-29

Let's not forget that the 1520 started at 899 € as well. And if you spent that kind of money, you cannot recover it, if one can buy a new one for 379 €. The iPhone holds its value much better.

Volker Weber, 2014-09-29

Never experienced the Lumia sound but I was positively surprised how much better the microphone of the iPhone 6 is compared to my old iPhone 5.

We do a lot of videos during dance practice - which means sound coming from speakers somewere in a large room. With the "5" I had to up the volume a lot if I wanted decent sound on the video. With the "6" the normal sound level is way enough for a very good sound experience with our videos.

Harald Gaerttner, 2014-09-29

There is a HUGE difference between Lumia and iPhone. The Lumia does full Dolby Surround and directional recording with four microphones. And it's good for up to 140 dB without distortion.

Volker Weber, 2014-09-29

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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