Why Doesn’t Mine Bend? and Other Complaints About the iPhone 6

iPhone comparison

I’ve been using the iPhone 6 for a week, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, I’m growing fonder. I’m using the “medium-sized” model – not the giant one, which I can’t imagine carrying. This is my fourth iPhone – I’ve been upgrading every two years since v3 (I’ve missed the “S” releases.) I still think the iPhone 5 is the best consumer electronics device I’ve owned – it struck a near-perfect balance between functionality and size.

I’m amused by the religious fervor of platform partisans.  I don’t care if Android has features the iPhone lacks, or that it had others first (or vice versa).  I’m interested in something that does what I want it to do, in a convenient shape at a price I can afford.  When the iPhone was first released I saw no reason to give up my Motorola Razr – it made and received voice calls, and it was tiny and tough.  Until I washed it.  By then, the App Store had taken off, and Apple was making progress in synchronizing contacts and calendars.  The iPhone made sense to me because I had a Mac at home, and I was fond of the iPod already.

Every version of the iPhone and its operating system has refined and tightened the product.  My family shares a calendar, and the integration continues to improve.  iOS and Mac work together amazingly well, to the point where I have seamless access to most of my files on every device I own – no configuration headaches, the synchronization is intelligent and just about real time.  The pictures I’ve taken lately with iPhone rival any of my previous stand-alone digital cameras, to the point where I don’t use them anymore, and probably won’t buy another.

The iPhone 6 has a motion co-processor (also available in the 5S, but new to me.)  This allows me to remove a device from my pocket, as I’ve used a pedometer for the past couple of years.  The extra screen size is a mixed blessing – while my aging eyes like the bigger fonts, the phone is more difficult to use with one hand.  My thumb gets fatigued traveling the greater distances, believe it or not.  I can’t keep a firm grip on the phone with just one hand, like I could with v5.  Still, Susan says she has always needed to use two hands, so this seems to be a problem only for people with medium-sized hands.  The new phone is definitely larger in my pocket, although I noticed that more at first than I do now.  It’s thinner, which helps.  And contrary to the experience of some, mine hasn’t bent yet.  Then again, I don’t wear jeans – all of my pants have loose pockets.  I remember past outrage has included the fact that keys and coins could scratch the iPhone’s screen; my front right pocket is reserved for just the phone.  I’d blame myself if keys scratched it, or if it bent.  (And damn – why can’t I use it in the shower?  WHAT is Apple thinking?)

The camera seems sharper and the software keeps getting better.  Par for the course with Apple, some apps have stopped working – they expect developers to adapt to their changes, rather than maintaining backward compatibility for everything.  This is a trade-off I can live with, and I can’t really complain when those obsolete apps probably cost me less than $5 all told, and worked well for several years.  The new shape feels very good in the hand, although it is a bit slippery and tends to drop out of one’s hand when setting it down.  I have to buy a new running belt because the 6 doesn’t fit in my old one.  Phone calls are clear and coming through fine.  The mute switch is a bit more prominent, so it’s getting toggled by accident in my pocket – this will probably embarrass me a few times in the coming months.

Bottom line – if you love the iPhone 5, I’d recommend getting a 5S, which is still available.  It will run iOS 8 (the most current) and has most of the bells and whistles.  The camera isn’t quite as good, there’s no barometer (if that’s important to you), and the processor is a step behind the latest models.  The big feature on the 6 is screen size, which is much better for reading.  Factor in the need to buy new cases/pouches, and resist the urge to bend it.  And if you want to try the Android – go for it, and let me know how it is (I haven’t used one.)  The more phones and manufacturers, the better for all of us.