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Introduction to the iPhone 6

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Jason R. Rich takes a look at what Apple’s iPhone 6 has to offer, and the features available exclusive to this iOS mobile device. He also focuses on whether or not users of older iPhone models (or other smartphones) should consider upgrading.
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Introduction to the iPhone 6

  • By: Jason R. Rich

In mid-September, Apple once again refreshed its lineup of smartphones with the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, while at the same time, introducing all iOS mobile device users to the iOS 8 operating system. It’s important to understand that the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus are all compatible with iOS 8, and can take advantage of the features and functions this operating system offers.

However, due to the more advanced technologies built into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, there are some iOS 8 features and functions that will only work on these newer smartphones. This enhanced functionality, including compatibility with the new Apple Pay feature, offers some compelling reasons for upgrading to one of the new iPhone models.

Beyond the enhanced ways the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can utilize iOS 8, the iPhone 6 differs from previously released iPhone models in several ways. For example, it operates using Apple’s A8 processor, which is considerably faster and more powerful than the A7 processor used by the previous generation iPhone 5s, for example.

How the iPhone 6 Measures Up to the Older iPhone 5s

When you place the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 side-by-side, you’ll immediately notice the size difference between the smartphones themselves and their touchscreens. The new iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit, Retina HD Multi-Touch display, which is .7-inches larger than the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. To accommodate this larger screen size, the device itself is also larger, and it weights slightly more than its predecessor, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: How the iPhone 6 measures up to the iPhone 5s






iPhone 5s




3.95 ounces

iPhone 6




4.55 ounces

While the iPhone 6 is physically a bit larger and slightly heavier than the iPhone 5s, it’s also thinner, which means that it will feel different when held in your hand. As a result on the larger display, more information can be shown on the screen. However, from within Settings, it’s possible to toggle between the Standard and Zoomed display option.

The Standard display option offered by the iPhone 6 (shown in Figure 1) allows iOS 8 and the apps you’re running on the smartphone to display more content on the screen. For example, the Home screen can display an extra row of app icons, allowing for up to 28 app icons to be displayed simultaneously, instead of the maximum of 24 app icons that can appear on older iPhone models.

Figure 1

Figure 1: The Standard display option shown on an iPhone 6 that’s running iOS 8.

The Zoomed display mode (shown in Figure 2), however, increases the size of some content displayed on the iPhone’s screen, and while utilizing all of the additional space, keeps what’s displayed on the screen consistent with what you’d otherwise see using the iPhone 5s. To toggle between these viewing modes, launch Settings, tap on the Display & Brightness option, and then tap on the View option.

Figure 2

Figure 2: The Zoomed display option increases the size of content displayed on the screen, but maintains the formatting that you’d see if you were using an older iPhone model with a smaller size display.

The iPhone 6 Offers a Slightly Different Design as Well

In addition to its larger size, one noticeable difference between the iPhone 6 and older iPhone models is the location of the single Power/Sleep/Wake button. Previously, this physical button was positioned near the top right corner of the smartphone. On the iPhone 6, you’ll find this button (which offers the same functionality as before) located on the top right side of the smartphone.

Repositioning the Power/Sleep/Wake button makes the iPhone 6 better suited for one-handed operation. However, depending on how you hold the device, when pressing the Power/Sleep/Wake button, it’s easy to accidentally and simultaneously press the Volume Up or Volume Down buttons that are located on the opposite side of the handset. Thus, for avid iPhone users, the new button placement may take some getting used to.

On the positive side, built into iOS 8 specifically for the newer iPhone models, is an easy way to adjust whatever is displayed on the screen so that it’s better formatted for one-handed operation. Basically, by lightly double-tapping on the Home button’s Touch ID sensor, iOS 8’s “Reachability” function kicks in, and everything on the display scrolls downward, allowing a user to easily reach whatever’s being displayed using a single hand.

When in Reachability mode, more up and down scrolling is required to access all of the screen’s content, but this can all be done with one hand, using a thumb, for example. Figure 3 shows the standard iPhone 6 display, while Figure 4 shows the same screen with the Reachability viewing mode activated.

Figure 3

Figure 3: The iPhone 6’s Standard display can showcase more content than the iPhone 5s.

Figure 4

Figure 4: To make on-screen content easier to access with one hand, double tap on the Home button to activate the Reachability feature so everything on the screen moves downward.

A Better Processor Means Enhanced Capabilities

Thanks to Apple’s proprietary A8 chip, the iPhone 6 is faster, and it offers more processing power than previous iPhone models. You’ll notice this when using the Camera app to take photos, for example, because in addition to having a slightly better display, the iPhone 6 can better utilize the device’s built in, rear-facing 8-megapixel iSight camera to capture more detailed and vibrant images. Plus, the autofocus sensor, high dynamic range (HDR) mode, face detection, and exposure control, for example, all function faster and more efficiently in a wider range of lighting situations, which results in capturing better images with less tinkering.

The iPhone 6 is also capable of capturing video (using the Camera app) at 1080p HD resolution, at 30 or 60 frames per second, compared to the iPhone 5s that’s only capable of capturing 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. Plus, when using the Slo-Mo video mode to capture slow motion video, this can now be done at 120 or 240 frames per second, while taking advantage of what Apple refers to as Cinematic Video Stabilization.

The improved processing speed and graphics display capabilities of the iPhone 6 will also be obvious when playing some of the newer games designed by third-party app developers, some of which have been optimized specifically for the new iPhone’s larger screen size and faster processing speeds. Not only can on-screen graphics and animations look more spectacular, the response time when interacting with high-action games is also dramatically improved.

When accessing the Internet via an LTE cellular data connection or Wi-Fi connection, you’ll also notice improved download speeds using the iPhone 6, which translates to a more efficient and enjoyable web surfing experience, with less wait time to access content.

iPhone 6 is Compatible with Apple Pay

At the same time Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it also showcased the Apple Watch for the first time (which will be released in early 2015, as a wearable device that’s compatible with the new smartphones), and also announced the pending launch of Apple Pay.

For anyone who uses credit or debit cards when shopping at retail stores or online, Apple has devised a more convenient, private, and secure way to make purchases.

Once credit or debit card information is securely stored within the iPhone 6 (or iPhone 6 Plus) using the Passbook app, a purchase can be made at a participating retailer simply by pressing the Touch ID sensor built into the smartphone, so your fingerprint can authorize the purchase and transfer of funds from your account to the vendor.

In order words, Apple Pay eliminates the need to manually enter a PIN code when using a debit card, or signing a credit card slip when using a credit card, since the transaction now happens digitally and more securely than ever. To make a payment, hold your iPhone 6 (or iPhone 6 Plus) up to the cash register’s new scanner, and press the Touch ID sensor on your phone.

What’s nice about Apple Pay is that your identity and your credit or debit card number is never revealed to the vendor. Apple, in conjunction with the major credit card companies, has devised a secure way to transfer information utilizing a unique Device Account Number and transaction-specific dynamic security code to process payments.

At launch, Apple Pay is being accepted by more than 220,000 retail stores and fast food establishments nationwide, including McDonalds, Subway, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Walgreens, Whole Foods Market, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Walt Disney World, and of course, Apple Stores.

As easy as Apple Pay is to use at traditional retail stores, it’s equally fast and convenient to use when making online purchases from participating websites. Because Apple Pay is being offered, at least initially, as a feature exclusively to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, this is a compelling reason for avid shoppers to upgrade their smartphone.

The iPhone 6 Comes in Several Hardware Configurations

Once you decide to upgrade to the iPhone 6, you’ll need to choose your smartphone’s casing color (silver, gold, or space gray), as well as the device’s internal storage capacity (16GB, 64GB, or 128GB). Keep in mind, it is not possible to upgrade a device’s capacity with more internal storage, so based upon how you’ll be using the device, make sure you’ll have adequate storage space for app-specific data, photos, documents, and files, as well as multimedia content (including music, TV shows, movies, and eBooks).

Your next decision involves choosing a cellular service provider. In the United States, AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint all offer the iPhone 6, starting at $199.00 (for the 16GB model), but require a two-year service contract. The subsidized pricing for the 64GB version of the iPhone 6 is $299.00, and the 128GB version is available for $399.00.

Several other wireless service providers, including T-Mobile, support the iPhone 6 with pay-as-you-go arrangements that require no long-term service agreement. However, you’ll need to purchase the iPhone 6 at its full price, which starts around $649.00 for the 16GB model.

Each cellular service provider offers a different lineup of monthly service plans that have a voice, data, and texting component, and each offers a different coverage map, so it’s important to choose a provider that offers the best coverage in your area at the most affordable pricing, based on how you’ll be using your iPhone 6.

iOS 8 and the new iPhones support calling features like Wi-Fi Calling and enhanced clarity when using a LTE (or LTE Plus) wireless network. Thus, choose a service provider that plans to support these features with the best coverage in your geographic area.

If you’re an existing AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, or Sprint customer, to check your upgrade eligibility, visit http://store.apple.com/us/buy-iphone/iphone6, and click on the Check Your Upgrade Eligibility option. For an additional monthly fee, AT&T Wireless, for example, offers the AT&T Next option that allows iPhone users to upgrade to a new model smartphone every 12 months (as opposed to every two years).

In conjunction with your new phone, seriously consider purchasing a protective case for the device, plus investing in AppleCare+ ($99.00), which includes in-person or telephone technical support, as well as free repairs on covered damage/accidents for two years. A $50.00 deductible for a damaged phone replacement may apply per incident. AppleCare+ does not, however, cover the loss or theft of the iPhone 6.

Final Thoughts…

For people still using an older iPhone model, such as the iPhone 4s or iPhone 5, upgrading to the iPhone 6 will dramatically improve your experience doing just about everything with your smartphone, so upgrading is a no-brainer. For iPhone 5s users, the iPhone 6 offers some advancements, and supports Apple Pay, but the improvements in functionality you’ll experience won’t be as dramatic. Yet, if you’re a dedicated Apple user, you’ll probably welcome the enhanced functionality once you get accustomed to the new size and weight of the iPhone 6.

As for making the decision between upgrading to the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus, it’s important to note that with the exception of the larger size (which includes a larger screen), these two devices are basically identical, so choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference.

That being said, if you’re already using an iPad mini in addition to the iPhone, you may want o stick with the smaller size of the iPhone 6 for its portability and convenience, and then utilize the Handoff feature of iOS 8 to take more advantage of your iPad mini. For example, it’s now possible to answer incoming calls to your iPhone from an iPad, thanks to the Handoff feature.

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