I wasn't among those missing a larger screen. I liked how the iPhone 5s could be easily slipped into a pocket, but I did like the idea of the camera enhancements, the better screen resolution, and the NFC radio. I haven't bought every new iPhone, but almost -- I enjoy the thrill of the new and a fresh warranty.
I'm not a wait-in-line kind of guy, so I let the crowds thin out. Early this week I tried an AT&T store, but the wait was one hour and even though they had the phone I wanted, I just didn't want to stand there. The next day, after having dinner out, I spied a Best Buy store and took a chance. There was one person ahead of me, and she was almost done. They had the phone I wanted -- gold, 64GB -- so I started the process right away. About 20 minutes later I was done, and my new iPhone 6 was busy downloading contacts, apps, and more from iCloud.
The Bigger Screen
So how is it? Well, it seems a little big. I usually keep my phone in a shirt pocket or a side pocket. No, I don't plan on sitting on it and turning it into a flip phone. The screen is beautiful. Photos and videos never looked better, and the larger size screen is certainly good for sharing with friends. I was skeptical of the larger screen, and now I like it.
The placement of the sleep/wake switch threw me since it moved from the top to the side. It seems logical because the phone is taller, but if you are holding the phone a certain way and press the switch, you often wind up inadvertently squeezing the volume control on the other side. (I can hear the ghost of Steve Jobs telling me to "not hold it that way").
The camera is a winner -- a big winner. I expected more megapixels, but megapixels aren't everything. The quality of the camera is noticeably better than the one in my 5s, especially in low light. The optical quality seems also better, and recent independent tests seem to bear that out. Focusing is very fast with the new Focus Pixels feature, even in low light. 1080p HD at 60 fps is impressive too, and my HD test shots looked crisp, even holding up well on a big screen 46-inch flat panel TV via AirPlay. The camera lens protrudes slightly -- it's not elegant, but Apple made a quality over aesthetics decision and I'm on board with that.
Reports from the field on battery life are mixed. Some say it is better, and that the A8 processor draws less current. I'm not seeing an improvement. I don't think it is worse than the 5s, but the 5s wasn't all that good at battery life. I'm waiting for some decent battery cases to appear. They won't be pretty, but the phone has a better chance of making it a full day with my usage patterns. I'd hoped for better from the phone without external battery help. The iPhone 6 Plus battery life is much better. I'm jealous.
Operations seem a bit quicker on WiFi and LTE, so no complaints there.
Using the iPhone 6 as a Phone
The thing I do the least with the phone ... is use it as a phone. My biggest uses are email, keeping up with the news, and navigation. The phone sounds OK -- not appreciably better than the iPhone 5s -- but I did notice when using the iPhone that I had to line it up just right with my ear to get the loudest sound. If I moved a little bit up or down, the volume fell off rapidly. Mostly, I use the phone through my car Bluetooth system, but as a standalone phone I give it a C+/B-.
Is the iPhone 6 too big?
While I wasn't really interested in a bigger screen, I do find the larger screen seductive in actual use. Photos and text are clearer, and while I don't watch movies much on the phone, they certainly looked better on the bigger screen. The iPhone 6 Plus is just too big for me, so the iPhone 6 seems just about right. It's not big enough to have pocket fit issues but larger than the iPhone 5s, giving me the benefits that a slightly larger screen delivers. The Reachability feature does work, but in practice I found the extra tapping was more trouble than it is worth. The headphone jack is still on the bottom of the phone, and I really dislike that placement.
The final conclusion
So a happy choice? Yes. I like the phone and I'm glad I bought it. The market seems to be reacting positively to both new phones, even with the 'bendgate' silly hoopla and Apple dropping the ball on the iOS 8.0.1 update which was sloppy and embarrassing. It's been fixed now with 8.0.2.
Advice to Apple: Better battery life is needed, you should think again about button placement, and make sure the telephone features (speaker placement, audio quality) of the phone are as well planned as the camera.
Still, the iPhone 6 is an iconic product, the best mobile phone I've ever owned, and Apple still knows how to please and thrill its customers. The larger size is growing on me (pun alert) and Apple has worked hard and done well.