Sunday 15 December 2019

Video: Adrian Weckler explains why Apple's iPhone 6 is a game changer

Phones go on sale from Friday September 26

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

There are two things that strike you when holding the iPhone 6 for the first time.

The large screen size -- especially for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus -- is obviously the dominant feature. But the rounded edges of the phone also have considerable impact.

Apple says that it made this way because it just makes it more comfortable to hold, for a large-screen device. With both devices now in my reviewer hands, I can can see the company's point.

For anyone used to handling standard 5-inch phones from Samsung, Sony or HTC, there is nothing startling about the size of the iPhone 6's screen.

But what is clear is that this is the iPhone upgrade that many people have been waiting on for a long time. Indeed, many have argued that the key thing holding iPhones from totally dominating the high end smartphone market was a device with a large screen.

Having played around with both devices, neither the iPhone 6 nor the iPhone 6 Plus disappoint: both are fairly immaculately presented devices that compensate for their lartger size with a super slim, light body.

Tim Cook of Apple with U2
Tim Cook of Apple with U2
Apple CEO Tim Cook embraces Bono of U2 during an Apple event announcing the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch
The iPhone 6
Adrian Weckler with the new iPhone

In fact, despite being almost exactly the same weight as Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 (a device I have been partial to due to its screen size and power), the 6 Plus is considerably slimmer at 7mm than the Note 4, which is 9mm in depth. For anyone who carries phones around in their jeans or jacket pockets, this makes a considerable difference.

In fairness, not everyone loves supersize phones. So what about people who have small hands? The iPhone 6 Plus tries to address this by including a feature called "reachability". This allows you to double tap the screen to shift the top part down. It mitigartes the extra size somewhat (but only somewhat) for those who find it a problem.

Battery life is improved over the iPhone 5S, but only by about 20pc for most functions.

The phone has a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip designed mainly to take advantage of Apple Pay, the company's new digital payments service (which won't be available in Ireland until well into next year).

It's also preloaded with iOS 8, which means that it has a host of new features for smart lifestyle and health apps.

There's a lot more power under the hood, thanks to Apple's 64-bit A8 chip. It's a shame that it doesn't have 'sapphire' toughened glass, but that will probably be added in the next update.

One of the key features for me is the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus. I've tinkered around with it for a while and it is genuinely impressive. This is mainly down to its inclusion of optical stabilisation, which helps photo-taking in low light. I'll report a lot more on this in a future review.

The big issue here is likely to be supply. Apple sold 10m iPhone 6 units in its opening weekend of sales, bringing in over €7bn in 72 hours.

And herein lies the rub; Irish mobile phone operators say they will be unable to satisfy demand for the iPhone 6 when it is launched here on Friday. Vodafone, Meteor and 3 Ireland have all said that supply of both versions of Apple's new handset will almost certainly not meet demand.

The operators say that they are already preparing back order lists which could see delays of up to six weeks.

Mobile operators are the only retail source outside Apple's own online retail store to receive significant supplies of the phone with many alternative vendors, including several Apple reseller shops in Ireland, missing out on the first batch of iPhone 6 units.

A small number will be available to those purchasing from Apple's Irish online store, which will accept orders from midnight on Thursday.

The phones go on sale here from Friday next (September 26).

Bought outright, the iPhone 6 starts at €700 for a 16GB model while the larger iPhone 6 Plus costs €800 for a 16GB model.

However, operators subsidise the handsets, spreading the cost of the phone (mostly) over 24 monthly payments.

Excluding plans which restrict users to very low data rates, the cheapest outright deal over 24 months for a 16GB iPhone 6 model is €1,145 from 3 Ireland. This is based on an upfront charge of €229 and 24 monthly payments of €40,66. The plan offers 15GB of monthly data and 350 so-called ‘flexi-units’, made up of call minutes and texts. However, it does not include free access to voice messages.

The next best offer for a 16GB iPhone 6 is €1,325 from Meteor. This is based on an upfront charge of €149 and 24 monthly payments of €49. The plan offers just 6GB of monthly data, although Meteor says that buying it through its website will result in more monthly data.

And the cheapest data-centric iPhone 6 deal with Vodafone costs €1,470. This is based on an upfront cost of €150 and 24 monthly payments of €55. The deal only offers 3GB of monthly data.

The most expensive operator deal for any of the new iPhones is €2,269 from Vodafone. This is the cost of buying the 128GB version of the iPhone 6 Plus (which costs €1,000 without any contract). Vodafone’s €2,269 is based on an upfront cost of €249 and 24 monthly payments of €80.) It only includes 7GB of monthly data, although a choice of Sky Sports Mobile or Spotify Premium is also offered.

This is the first time that Irish operators have not offered any of the upgraded iPhone handsets “from free”, indicating a shift in pricing strategies as markets tighten.

Online Editors

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