After months of rumors, speculation, and opinions from the community, Apple finally introduced their latest iteration in the iPhone line – the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. The new, larger smartphones have a completely refined design, making the recently current iPhone 5s already look small and outdated beside it.
Resulting from concern over losing the ability to use an iPhone with one hand, Apple has worked to make special accommodations for their larger devices, both in hardware and software advancements, which seem to do an excellent job helping to make the iPhone 6 and, particularly the iPhone 6 Plus, more easily managed with only one hand.
The aesthetic transformation Apple has brought to its most lucrative product is advertised as seamless, a wrap-around body style in which the edges of the screen curve to meet the edges of the bezel. The sides of the device itself also slope around, making its rounded edge remarkably more gentle than the squared perimeters of previous generations.
Because of the larger sizes of both iPhones, Apple advertises the rounded extremities of its devices as making them easier to hold despite their increased girth, which gives the new design a practical aspect as well as a wonderfully artistic one. The curvature of the screen to meet the rim of the device also has its own functional application – making iOS’s edge swipe gestures easier and more fluid – while adding a unique, visually pleasing quality.
Along the sides of the device itself are the mute switch, volume buttons, and power button, with the latter two having been redesigned or relocated since the previous generation. Volume buttons on the iPhone 6 now recede slightly into the side of the device, removing its footprint while still making them easy to locate by touch and maintaining strong tactile feedback. The power button has migrated to the right side of the device in an effort to make sleeping and waking the larger devices an easier task.
While keeping the same three colors – Gold, Silver, and Space Gray – as its last generation of iPhones, Apple has managed to make even the back of the iPhone 6 look vastly different. On the top and bottom of the back are lines that stretch across the surface of the device and curve around the upper or lower edge. These vary in color, with each one matching its device but with a slightly darker tint, the only exception being the bands around the gold iPhone 6, which are white. The faces of all devices have remained the same colors as their ancestors, with Gold and Silver having a white front plant, and Space Gray’s being black.
Although the bottom and top bezel of the iPhone 6 have retained their traditional colors, they have shortened in height, making more room for the screen and decreasing the amount of useless space. This truncation also works to make the device more manageable in the hand, as it shortens what would be an even taller screen. The display itself is labeled Retina HD by Apple, and is designed with more advanced technologies than a typical Retina display, making text sharper and colors more vivid.
Also to the advantage of users accustomed to the smaller iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are outfitted with a thinner design than ever. Slimming down to 6.9mm and 7.1mm respectively, the trimmed depth is said to make the larger device easier and more comfortable to hold in hand, despite being wider and taller.
In addition to building a thinner form factor and rounded chamfers, Apple granted iOS 8 some special features designed specifically for the larger screens. The first of these is the ability to double-touch the home button to slide the screen down so that the top half fills the bottom half, making it much easier to tap a point in the upper portion of an app. Apple calls this Reachability, and it is invoked not by double-pressing the home button, but by simply double-touching it, an action that is recognized by the Touch ID sensor.
The second feature, exclusive to the iPhone 6 Plus and likely to entice many to upgrade because of it, displays compatible apps in two panes when the device is in landscape mode, similar to the way an iPad handles apps. With this ability, the iPhone 6 Plus functions like a typical iPhone in portrait, but turns into a small iPad in landscape, making it one of the truest “phablets” on the market. Also found in landscape mode is a keyboard with additional keys for punctuation, including a period, question mark, and others, as well as copy, paste, and undo buttons, which take advantage of the extra screen real estate to help make the iPhone 6 Plus a work-oriented device.
Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are made from anodized aluminum and stainless steel, with ion-strengthened glass screens. Every part of the devices are meticulously designed, with great attention to detail and beauty, as is Apple’s tradition.
Despite customer woes that a larger screen would be exceedingly difficult to sustain and navigate with one hand, Apple has taken several steps to curb this concern, both in special software accommodations and hardware designs, easing the jump from 3.5 or 4 inches to 4.7 or 5.5 inches for many users. While some users will always find both devices, and particularly the larger iPhone 6 Plus, to still be very difficult to use single-handedly, Apple has done their best to help in this area.
The sloping edges cause the device to look gentle and inviting to hold and contribute greatly to the device’s distinct look, making it considerably different from any recent iPhones, but still familiar. Although the iPhone 6 is similar to the original iPhone or the iPhone 3GS in some areas of design, it’s made with much higher quality materials, showing just how far the iPhone line has come in the past seven years.