This old-generation iPhone 6 is showing its age – get the 6S or the SE instead.
iPhone 6 review: : iOS
Note, since our original review the iPhone 6 now runs on Apple’s much newer iOS 12.
Apple shipped the iPhone 6 with its latest operating system, iOS 8, although it has since upgraded it to iOS 8.3. While this latest point release introduces many new bug fixes and minor tweaks, it also introduces one important new feature: Wi-Fi calling. Available on EE in the UK and some other networks around the world, Wi-Fi calling lets you make and receive calls and text messages over the internet rather than the usual phone network.
It’s completely seamless in the way it works and the only thing you notice when you’re on a network is that your phone switches carrier to say Wi-Fi calling at the top of the screen. It’s a brilliant way to eliminate cellular dead spots and means that as long as you’re on a decent internet connection you can stay in touch. Call quality is very good and every bit as good as over the standard phone network.
There are a few downsides, though. First, you can’t use the technology to get cheaper roaming cost. Secondly, until voice-over-LTE is implemented, your phone can’t seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi calling and the mobile network, which can lead to calls dropping out. Finally, turning this feature on disables Continuity phone calls, which is the technology that lets you answer and make calls from your other Apple devices that are on the same network. Check out our guide on enabling and disabling Wi-Fi calling for the full details on how to deal with this.
Otherwise, in terms of features, the new version of iOS is a big step forward for the company. Our full iOS 8.3 review goes into more detail, but the short of it is that the new OS now makes working with multiple Apple devices even easier. It’s also a much more open OS, letting you install your own keyboards and add widgets to the Notification screen.
As the iPhone 6 doesn’t have the screen size and resolution of the Plus, you don’t get the landscape home screen mode, or landscape apps, such as mail. Instead, you get the same portrait mode as with the iPhone 5S. However, the extra screen resolution gives you one more row of icons to play with, although you can set the screen to scale to have exactly the same view as you did on the iPhone 5S.
With a slightly larger screen, it’s not always possible to reach the top of the display one-handed with this phone. To counter this Apple has introduced Reachability, which you use by double-tapping (not clicking) the TouchID button. This shifts the screen downwards, so that the top appears halfway down the display, letting you reach it easily. Although it looks a little odd, as the top of the display is left blank, Reachability works well enough and makes the iPhone 6 easier to use one-handed.
One downside of the higher screen resolution is that lots of developers need to update their apps to use the iPhone 6’s higher resolution, as many old apps look a little low-res at the moment. We imagine that this process will take a few months to complete, just as when the iPhone 5S was launched and apps had to be made taller in order to fill the entire screen.
iPhone 6 review: Virtual keyboard
Put the phone into landscape mode and you get the new keyboard, which uses the extra screen width to add additional buttons, including cursor keys and a button to wipe out all of the text you’ve entered.
This keyboard uses Apple’s QuickType technology, which gives you optional words and phrases as you start to type. It’s a big improvement over the old autocorrect system and we found that it increased our typing speed and accuracy. Of course, as we mentioned before, if there’s a third-party keyboard that you’d rather install, such as the excellent SwiftKey, you can now do so.
iPhone 6 review: TouchID
TouchID is back for the iPhone 6, as a way to secure your phone with a fingerprint. It works really well and you only have to hold your finger on the button, rather than swiping across it. With iOS 8 Apple has finally opened up the system to third-party developers. While support was slow in the beginning, we’re starting to see more and more people using the Touch ID. We have to say that this move from Apple is brilliant, as it saves having to enter long and complex passwords.
iPhone 6 review: NFC and Apple Pay
TouchID is also designed to be used with the new Apple Pay system, which will let you buy goods using contactless payment in stores using the phone’s NFC chip, as well as for online transactions. At the moment, Apple Pay is only available in the US, although the technology will be coming to the UK at some, as yet declared, point. As such we couldn’t test these features, but we’ll update this review when the system is made available.