My first impressions weren’t wrong. After using the iPhone 6 day in, day out for six weeks, I’ve concluded that it isn’t the right smartphone for me. And even though Apple’s doing everything it can to stop me downgrading, I ordered an iPhone 5s. It’s still a step up from the iPhone 5, which I carried around with me for two years. Anyway, let me set out my reasons for shunning Apple’s latest generation of phones.
I never was a fan of Apple’s decision to expand the iPhone’s screen when the iPhone 5 came out. The iPhone 4 fitted into my hand perfectly. Even so, in time I got used to the increased length of the iPhone 5. But after six weeks of using the iPhone 6 all the time, its larger screen size of 4.7 inches still feels awkward. Being nearly a centimeter wider and 1.4 centimeters longer, it makes one-handed operation almost impossible. Lowering the entire screen so that I can reach the top of it with my thumb (‘Reachability’) by double-tapping on the home button is little more than a gimmick. For me, manufacturers should concentrate on smartphones being easy to hold and easy to use in everyday life instead of focusing on aspects like Retina HD displays, contrast ratio or screen size.
Moreover, the design of the iPhone 6 doesn’t have any haptic advantages. Although the new iPhone is 0.7 millimeters thinner than its predecessor and just 6.9 millimeters thick, its wider dimensions and rounded edges make it harder to hold. The iPhone 6 simply doesn’t sit well in my hand. If I’m paying €700 upwards for a phone, I don’t want to worry that it might slip out of my fingers every time I use it. Those with the same problem can of course buy one of Apple’s silicone cases to slip over the frame.
iPhone 5s: Hardly technically inferior
The iPhone 6 obviously has a few technical advantages over the iPhone 5s: an A8 processor instead of the A7, a better co-processor chip, continuous autofocus, HDR for video, a continuous shooting camera, and of course NFC. But since benchmark comparisons indicate that the parameters of the two models aren’t that far apart after all, downgrading isn’t going to worry me. And I don’t expect app updates over the coming months to bring about a significant drop in performance either. Moreover, there’s not much difference between the iPhone 5s and 6 regarding battery life; only the iPhone 6 Plus lasts significantly longer on a single charge.
One snag about downgrading is that with Apple phasing out the iPhone 5s, it’s more or less only available with just 16 or 32 gigabytes. Deutsche Telekom still has a few 64GB models left in stock, but only with a gold finish. Surely it would make more sense for Apple to offer a more balanced range with all the current configurations permanently available so that customers can choose the best iPhone for their needs. In my case, there’s nothing for it but to wave goodbye to 64 gigabytes on the iPhone 6 and put up with half the memory on an iPhone 5s in space grey.
iPhone 6: Design not well thought out
Much has been written in recent weeks about #bendgate following reports that the chassis of the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus was susceptible to bending under pressure. The media and Apple critics had a field day as they tore the company apart – rather unfairly, as it happened, for Apple obligingly replaced all the bent phones without a murmur. For a moment, I thought my iPhone 6 had been afflicted by bendgate, too. Whenever it lies on a flat surface, I can rock it back and forth along the diagonal. But this isn’t because the chassis is bent – it’s simply due to the protruding camera lens, a solution for which Apple won’t be collecting any design awards. Moreover, the plastic frames disrupting the aluminum surface of the rear look cheap and uncharacteristic for Apple. The fourth and fifth generations have far neater designs, another factor encouraging my downgrade decision. By the way, I must say I preferred the silver frame of the iPhone 4 to the color-anodized, dent-prone iPhone 5.
Another design-related disadvantage is the power switch’s move from the top of the phone to the right-hand side, causing problems in connection with the position of the volume controls on the left. Annoyingly, when you position the iPhone to play videos and deliberately keep the volume control at the top, it’s all too easy to accidentally activate the off switch and close the app when pressing the volume-up button.
A necessary decision
Admittedly, it wasn’t an easy decision for me. Ever since the first iPhone came out, I’ve got into the habit of upgrading to Apple’s latest model every two years. But that was when iPhones were regarded as state of the art and Apple was known for planning everything down to the very last detail before going into production. Now that’s all changed. True, this small disappointment isn’t enough to undermine Apple’s whole ecosystem of hardware and software, but the iPhone 6 just doesn’t give me any relevant added value. On the contrary, it’s actually forcing me to downgrade.
I’m hence all the more curious to find out how Apple develops its product line over the next two years. What changes lie in store when the sixth generation is updated, in all likelihood in 2015? Will 4.7 inches becomes the minimum size for the iPhone? Apparently Steve Jobs intended to implement this size back in 2010 – but the technology wasn’t ready yet. Then again, I’ve not found myself wanting a larger display when using the keyboard, watching videos or reading e-books. Of course, that’s not to say that a 5-inch screen will be too big for many users and applications.
The limited memory configurations available for the iPhone 5s reveal that its days are numbered. It’s quite clear that in the long run, this model won’t be able to keep up with growing demands and will be axed. From the customers’ viewpoint, it would be far better for Apple to continue developing the iPhone in all three screen sizes, with the standard and plus versions always augmented by a mini-iPhone. This would ensure a broad market for Apple Corp. – and not surrender this welcome variety to the competition.