iPhone 6 review: Is this the most desirable smartphone in the world?

iPhone 6I don’t think many people would disagree that Apple creates some of the most beautifully-made products in their range of mobile devices.

None currently is more desirable than the iPhone, a smartphone that is held in high esteem by the millions of people around the world who have used one or more of the evolving models since the first-generation device was launched in 2007.

The iPhone and Apple’s iOS operating system, together with smartphones running Google’s Android operating system, collectively accounted for over 96 percent of global smartphone shipments in August 2014, according to IDC, a market intelligence firm. Such a metric has been so for a significant period of time. Windows Phone, Blackberry and others are mere blips by comparison.

It’s an impressive market position for iOS and Android devices.

What’s probably more impressive to note is that smartphones that run iOS – ie, iPhones – are made only by one manufacturer: Apple. On the other hand, Android-powered smartphones – think of dominant player Samsung’s Galaxy range, for instance – are made by ten different companies.

Such light analysis of the smartphone market and where the iPhone sits in it runs through my mind when thinking of the latest generation of the iPhone launched in early September – the iPhone 6.

I was fortunate to be able to examine an iPhone 6 up close up a few weeks ago for this review thanks to mobile operator Three UK.

In the few days I had to get to know the iPhone 6 – it arrived on the day when the fiasco of Apple’s iOS 8.0.1 upgrade began – I focused mostly on the device itself rather than the apps you can run on it. As an ex-iPhone user (I was a firm iPhone fanboy with an iPhone 3G many years ago) and now a firm Android user with my current Galaxy S4, I was interested in what this latest generation of iPhone looked like and how it performed, and how it compared to my own experiences with my Galaxy S4.

In a nutshell, these are key specs that most people might ask about when considering an iPhone 6:

  • Overall size: 138.1mm high x 67mm wide x 6.9 mm thick (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches).
  • Display: 4.7 inches (diagonal) Retina HD display, 750 x 1334 pixels – bigger than any previous iPhone model.
  • Processor: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, plus M8 motion coprocessor.
  • Internal memory: 16Gb (the model I reviewed); other capacities: 64Gb, 128Gb.
  • External memory: None (and no capability for any, eg, SD cards), in common with all Apple mobile devices.
  • Cameras: 2 – primary (rear) 8 megapixels; FaceTime (front) 1.2 megapixels.
  • Video: 1080p HD video recording (30 fps or 60 fps), Slo-mo video (120 fps or 240 fps), time-lapse video.
  • Cellular and wireless connectivity: 3G, LTE 4G (depending on model and plan with mobile operator); 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC.
  • Battery: 14 hours talktime on 3G; 10 hours online (internet) use; up to 10 days (150 hours) standby time.
  • Sensors include: Touch ID for optional secure sign-in to the device and to your Apple account using your fingerprint (first introduced in 2013 with the iPhone 5S).
  • SIM card type: Nano-SIM. iPhone 6 is not compatible with micro-SIMs and other card types used in iPhone models earlier than the iPhone 5S.
  • Colours: Space Grey (the colour of my review unit), silver and gold.

Would my getting to know the iPhone 6 in a short space of time make me desire one?

Here’s a concise overview of my impressions of the iPhone 6 with photos, and with my conclusions at the end.

[Read more…]

The Apple iOS debacle and PR consequences

iOS 8.0.1 downloading

Whether you’re an iPhone user or not, you can’t have missed the headlines in recent days reporting on the fiasco resulting from Apple’s botched operating system update 8.0.1 for iPhones and iPads, released on September 24.

For the first time in some years, I have an iPhone courtesy of Arena Media, mobile operator Three UK‘s media agency, who sent me an iPhone 6 for review (that review is coming soon) which arrived on the 24th – the day of the 8.0.1 software update.

And so I did: allowed the iPhone to install the update. And, as you do, I tweeted that.

In pretty short order, I started getting tweets from Twitter friends about the problems with the update.

Sure enough, the iPhone 6 had lost its ability to make or receive phone calls and text messages, the problem at the heart of the matter, one that seemed to  affect only the two newest iPhones, the 6 and 6 Plus.

So for the past 36 hours or so, along with thousands of other iPhone 6 users, I’ve had a smartphone with no ability to use it as a phone. Luckily, in my case, it isn’t my primary phone and it otherwise functioned just fine including connectivity via wifi. And so I was able to kick its tyres, as it were, during the Simply SMiLE conference in London yesterday, using many of its features.

And what about fixing the botched update? How hard was Apple on the case?

I imagine this was being treated with the utmost importance by Apple. I visualized their engineers working round the clock to get a fix done in the shortest time possible.  And I guess the shortest time possible was the 36 hours or so from 8.0.1 to the 8.0.2 fix that I saw appear in my iPhone 6 early this morning UK time.

ios802update

iOS 8.0.2 Learn More

And once the installation reached a successful completion, the iPhone 6 had its cellular capability restored and the fixes mentioned in the ‘Learn More’ text applied.

iOS 8.0.2 up to date

And all’s well that ends well, right? Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief. No doubt by this time next week, all this will be just a bad memory, a little one at that (although #BendGate is still ‘an issue’).

And what of Apple the company, one that is the maker of probably the most desirable tech gadgets on the mass market today? Has something gone a bit wrong there where we’ve seen a succession of missteps in recent months: the current issues with the iOS fiasco, for example, and celebrity nude pics in the iCloud a month or so ago?

I expect Apple will continue to feature high up in lists of the world’s best brands. I imagine the rosy glow of success will continue to embrace the company once more news and information emerge about Apple Watch and its launch next year.

So events such as I’ve mentioned may be just a blip on the PR radar to Apple, ones relatively easy to consider and address purely as issues to manage.

Yet I think such events have tarnished Apple’s reputation somewhat. The share price has fallen. The gloss has dimmed a bit on a company which has often in the past said that they make technology that just works.

Not this time, Mr Cook!

Apple share price

I believe there is a cumulative effect over time where things like this add up to a negative sum when it comes to trust and reputation. And, eventually, that will impact you, your products and services and your market position. Not to mention shareholder value.

Not a good place to be, Apple.

Hard to ignore the iPhone 4 design flaw

The influential US consumer advocacy magazine Consumer Reports released a report about the new iPhone 4 yesterday with the bottom-line conclusion: “We can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”

The magazine, which has more than 7 million subscribers and an annual testing budget of about $21 million, tested the iPhone 4 to see whether reports of poor cellular reception in certain conditions – as in, incorrectly holding the phone in your hand – were to do with a fault in the phone or not.

Consumer Reports’ video report makes it pretty clear – it looks like it’s a fault in the phone.

Full story – Lab tests: Why Consumer Reports can’t recommend the iPhone 4.

Art on the go

If you’re an art lover who owns an iPhone or iPod Touch, you will rejoice today as you can visit the Musée du Louvre in Paris right on your device, wherever you happen to be.

The museum just launched an iPhone app that offers a glimpse into the rich works of art and other treasures you find in the museum galleries in Paris.

louvre-iphone

Get to know the Mona Lisa. Explore the works of Tintoretto, Titian and others of the Renaissance period. Tour the museum through a collection of videos. Get information about opening hours so you can plan a real-world visit.

This English-language app – not yet mentioned anywhere on the Louvre’s website – is available free (App Store link), is a delight and is very well produced.

Even if art’s not your thing, you’ll enjoy a tour of the museum and learn a little history.

nationalgallery-iphone One other art app I’ve had on my iPhone for the past few months is Love Art, an excellent pay-for app (£1.79 in the UK App Store) produced by Antenna Audio for the National Gallery, London.

This is in another league compared to the Louvre’s app as its various sections are more deep audio-visual tours of the content you want to explore.

And what content! Over three hours of video and audio, in fact, covering such a range of all you would find in the gallery if you visited.

Rembrandt is here as is Van Gogh, complete with detailed commentaries and visuals on their major works. You can watch or listen to compelling content on other masters whose works are displayed in the gallery including Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Renoir.

Delightful tools, ones that add real value to your mobile experience.

Now if only there were an app for other iconic museums and galleries. Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, for instance.

Oh, wait…

vangogh-iphone

Antenna Audio again. Nice work!

Is your iPhone with OS 3.1 crashing too?

Apple released an updated version 3.1 of the operating system for iPhone two weeks ago which brings some great new functionality.

It also brings some not-so-great instability and bugs, it seems, certainly what I’ve experienced a couple of times since that OS upgrade.

os31jangles

After my iPhone just totally died for a while this evening, I tweeted the comment above – and just look at what others said:

os31dicknieuwenhuis

os31lfmolivieira

os31eddm

[Read more…]

Share your iPhone app recommendations with Appsfire

appsfirelogo One of the great things about iPhone apps is telling everyone about the ones you like as well as discovering what your friends like.

Here’s a new service that lets you use email and social media to share your recommendations in a way that’s far more useful and effective than simply talking or tweeting about an app and linking to its website or iTunes location.

Appsfire does it better. You run a little program on your PC or Mac which scans what iPhone apps you have installed. Then, you go to your private area on the Appsfire website, select the apps presented as icons on a mock-up iPhone you want to ‘fave’, and choose how you want to share.

appsfirefaves In my first go with Appsfire, I chose to create the widget you see (screenshot) here. [Later update: the widget has some odd behaviour so I’ve removed it and replaced it with the screenshot you now see. Click on the screenshot, or here, to go to the webpage at Appsfire with the widget.]

The widget itself is dynamic – you can click on any icon and it will take you to that app’s place in the App Store on iTunes where you can download and install it there and then (and if an app requires you to purchase it, you can do that). Use the scroll bar to see more.

You can also share the widget via social networks (currently, Twitter, Facebook and Delicious and as a link to the webpage.) and email. I tried that with Facebook, clicking the link in my private page. Nothing seemed to happen, though, and I don’t know if anything appeared on Facebook: nothing’s in my profile (the app didn’t ask me to login to Facebook so no surprise) and I see nothing in the Appsfire Facebook page.

Appsfire is in beta. That’s apparent to me as the apps you see in the widget aren’t all the ones I count as faves. No FT app, for instance. Nor Sky News or WSJ. Appsfire didn’t index those and quite a few more. (The email I received from Appsfire did say the Windows version might be a little flaky at the moment.)

Still, it’s early days and no doubt improvements will come. I especially would like to be able to run my ‘recommendations engine’ right from the iPhone rather than from my PC (and that’s in the pipeline).

Incidentally, if you hover your mouse over the links to the apps I just mentioned, you’ll  note they’re short URLs rather than the lengthy ones typical of iTunes App Store links.

appfirelink

That’s a good demo of Appfire’s Link Maker service which shortens iTunes links. Useful – 22 characters instead of the 80 in a typical iTunes link.

Appsfire has a video on youTube that shows you what their service can do for you. ReadWriteWeb has a good review including an interview with Appsfire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon.

I think Appsfire has a great deal of promise in how it (is planned to) connect you easily with your community on your social networks. Worth asking for a beta invitation.