As is the case with the display, the iPhone 6’s internal specs don’t look particularly special on paper, but leave a great impression in reality. The device comes with Apple’s dual-core, 1.4 GHz A8 processor, aided by a quad-core PowerVR GX6450 graphic processor (which is actually the successor of the same GPU from iPhone 5s, but has been adjusted for the new, more demanding resolution.) All of that is joined by a lone GB of RAM.
It sounds middling, but after a short while with the iPhone 6, it becomes clear that – probably due to the closeness and optimization of iOS 8 more than the chipset itself – this phone is exceedingly smooth in performing most tasks, with minimal stuttering and stunningly fast speeds at times. Loading and switching between apps, playing through games, downloading video clips, and similarly demanding tasks present no problem for the iPhone 6. It’s also amongst the fastest phones in existence when it comes to web browsing performance. The updated hardware certainly does its job, but the crispness of everything here really hammer home the idea that specs don’t matter so much when a phone lives in such harmony with its software.
The only major complaint here is with Apple’s decision to offer only 16 GB of storage on the cheapest version of the device. Models with 64 GB and 128 GB of memory are available, but there isn’t a 32 GB one. With the growing size of today’s apps (especially with games), the amount of HD photos and videos most people tend to have on their phones, and iOS upgrades that require several GB of space, 16 GB is pointlessly low for a phone that can’t be expanded with microSD cards. A default 32 GB option would’ve been much more appealing; as it is now, you’ll either have to conserve your room or shell out an extra $100 for a more reasonable amount of space.
In contrast to the rest of the phone’s performance, the iPhone 6’s battery is rather disappointing. It’s a relatively tiny 1810 mAh pack, which helps keep the phone thin but struggles to maintain its meatier new display for lengthier periods of time. After several sessions making phone calls, playing videos, browsing the web, shooting photos, using the GPS, and the like, we found that the battery will die out before the end of the evening on a typical day. Unlike the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6 needs to be recharged every night — and if you are planning on using it more intensely, perhaps even more frequently.
Perhaps design elegance was more important for Apple, but some slimness could have been sacrificed to improve the phone’s longevity. It’s not outright bad by any means, but as it is now, the battery life here is a slight downgrade from that of the iPhone 5s. Even worse is that it’s non-removable, meaning that it should only degrade over time.
The newest iPhone runs with the newest version of iOS, per usual, and for the most part iOS 8 is the same here as it is on any other Apple device. However, the iPhone 6 does give the option of ‘lowering’ the upper half of the display’s contents to the bottom half (via a double tap of the home button), making content more accessible for one-handed use on the larger screen. This is an exceptionally practical solution for everyday usage, and should come in handy for younger users or those with smaller hands.
As far as iOS 8’s other novelties go, a new “Handoff” feature enables you to start one task (like editing a document or browsing the web) on one Apple device (with iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite) and finish it on another – a nifty tool that helps Apple further the kind of cross-compatibility found in Microsoft or Google’s ecosystems. Apple Pay is also going to be supported; it only just launched today, but if it gets the kind of widespread retail support Apple claims it will, it could very well become the first mobile payments system to capitalize on the tech’s potential. Family Sharing is another useful feature, as it allows family members to share the same apps through a single Apple ID, with just one of them serving as a group administrator for authorizing app purchases. One objection, though, is with iCloud, as the cloud storage locker only comes with a paltry 5 GB of free space.
It’s the same old tune with the iPhone 6’s 8-megapixel main camera: It isn’t going to win the resolution war, but it doesn’t have to, because it still produces consistently high-quality images. Apple’s cameras have been fast and accurate for years now, and nothing’s changed about the basics here. In general, shots taken with the iPhone 6’s unit are amongst the sharpest you can find on a smartphone, with precise exposure, accurate colors, very little noise, and surprisingly high amounts of detail for a camera with a mid-range resolution.
What is new and improved, though, is a new phase-detection autofocus system, which allows the camera to adjust its focus and clarify your shots faster, even when capturing moving objects or low-light surroundings. Also, while the iPhone 6 is unfortunately deprived of the optical image stabilization of the 6 Plus, the digital stabilization system here still takes great photos at night.
The front-facing camera, on the other hand, is mostly lackluster. At a time where an increasing number of rival manufacturers are giving more love to their selfie cams, the iPhone 6 is stuck with a mere 1.2-megapixel unit with an f/2.2 aperture (down from an f/2.4). Its results are mildly sharper than before, but it isn’t enough of a step forward for it to stand on the same ground as Android’s best front-facers. Apple made sure it improved upon previous iPhones in this regard, but it didn’t go any farther than that.