Long lines outside the Apple & Verizon stores. Pre-Orders on the Verizon Wireless website. Social media hype.
These are just a few of the signs that a new iPhone is getting ready to hit the market. Are you guilty of partaking? Do you love every minute of it? I have to admit that I’ve never been one of those individuals. As much as I love technology and the latest wireless devices, I can’t bring myself to wait in long lines or get caught up in the hype of it all. Not sure why, I guess I’m just not wired that way. Now, you want to talk about waiting in line for a concert or a one-in-a-lifetime experience… that I’m game for. But that’s a story for another time.
Regardless of whether I can relate to the “iPhonatics” or not – the truth is that these devices always cause a huge scene. They are dubbed as the coolest thing ever and then obsolete in a matter of months. I think that’s why I’ve never understood why everyone gets so excited… they know it’s only a temporary high and that they’ll be craving the next best thing a few weeks later. But hey, for now, the iPhone 6 is the greatest thing in wireless!
…Or is it? In this edition of Track Tech, I take a look at the great features of the iPhone 6 and give honest feedback.
MAKING IT YOURS & MAKING IT WORK TO FULL POTENTIAL
So you’re in line and the doors open and it’s finally YOUR turn to purchase the iPhone 6. But hold on, it’s not as easy as “I’ll take one, to go!” You have decisions to make first… the iPhone 6 comes in multiple colors. And surprisingly, the signature white is not an option! You can go with the storm grey, the stunning silver or the glamorous gold! The latter of the three is what I had the privilege of using over the past month. Normally, I would not go for something in gold. I wear silver jewelry and it’s just my preference when it comes to metallic. However, this gold iPhone had a sense of prestige… class… status.
Once you’ve made a decision on the color, you need to decide how you will pay for this awesome phone. While the full retail price tag is $649.99, you can get a great deal through Verizon Wireless by either activating the phone with a 2-year contract ($199.99) or getting set up on the Verizon Edge plan which allows you to make monthly payments of $27.08 for 24 months in addition to your wireless plan cost and therefore keeping you out of a set contract. This way you can change/upgrade your device at your discretion once you’ve completed at least 30 days with the device and 75% of your payments. Bonus: if you are on the MORE Everything plan, you could be receiving a wireless plan monthly discount based on your data option! (Please note these prices are for a 16GB iPhone 6)
The other great thing about having an iPhone 6 powered by Verizon Wireless is that it is XLTE Ready! This means that the bandwidth is doubled on the already amazing 4G LTE network in large cities nationwide. Having consistent and reliable coverage is crucial to getting the most out of your smartphone or wireless device.
That’s it! You’re ready to rock with your new iPhone 6. This was my first time using an iOS device so I didn’t really know what to expect. I found set up to be relatively simple. I was able to get the phone running and set to my preferences over a lunch break at Panera bread! I found over the next few weeks that there was one thing I didn’t have to think about too much with the iPhone 6… the battery. This is usually something we have to watch with phones – making sure we plug it in in the car, or on the nightstand every night before we go to bed – but with the iPhone 6 there were actually a few nights I missed and I was still able to use the phone when & how I needed it during the next day without worry. I liked being able to set the icon to actually show the percentage of battery remaining. The iPhone 6 has a standby time of up to 250 hours and an active usage time of up to 14 hours, so it was definitely able to keep up with me… and that is a feat in and of itself!
Power-Saving Tip: Double-clicking home button brings up all apps currently open, swiping up will close them and allow them to still update but it will save battery life.
AESTHETICS, PHOTO & VIDEO CAPTURES
I never found the look of the iPhone particularly attractive in past models – it didn’t look like a natural fit for the hands with its deep body and box-y corners. The 6’s revamped look makes it sleek and comfortable. There were isolated occurrences where the body almost felt too slick and wouldn’t always stay in my hand the way I wanted it too. I was nervous about dropping it so I rarely used it on a whim or as normally as I would in crowded situations unless I had both hands free. I think having a case with a gripping texture would alleviate this concern. There are a ton of great iPhone 6 case options available on Verizon Wireless. My personal pick would be the LifeProof fre. I like that it has the grip plus it’s waterproof which protects it from unintentional drops, rain, and snow. With the unpredictable nature of my day-to-day agenda and living in the Midwest… the more protection for my device, the better! Even though the slimness and sleekness of the iPhone 6 didn’t make it a simple “grab in a bind” device for me personally, the 4.7 retina HD display and 64-bit desktop-class screen features made it pretty amazing to look at and work with – whether I was updating a social media site, playing a game, reviewing photos or checking my calendar and to-do lists for the day.
Speaking of the camera – it contains focus pixels and it’s called the iSight camera, which is very clever marketing but I don’t feel it lived up to capturing TRUE eyesight. The iPhone 6 camera is 8MP which is pretty standard for smartphones, but many manufacturers (LG, Nokia & Samsung) have been making their standard camera at least double that quality. The iPhone photos were very good in full lighting and relatively decent in darker situations as long as you were close enough to your subject for the flash to reach them; or far enough back to get a “full view” where extreme detail and a flash were not necessary for the composition.
The video feature is a different story. Video capture and the audio particularly, were impressive all around. Having the iPhone allowed me to document what was probably the coolest live-concert moment in all of my concert-going-life. I was taking video of a new song that one of my favorite bands, The Kin, was performing live in Columbus, Ohio when the lead singer came down into the crowd, grabbed my hand, had me sing into the mic with him and then kissed me on the forehead! It was such a surreal moment and I cannot TELL you how many times I have watched and showed that video since that night. Having that forever means the world to me. I was astounded by how clear the singing, crowd chants and music itself were captured and equalized by the iPhone. It sounded and looked just as it did in the moment. The 1080 HD video with continuous autofocusing is what allowed such a clean and detailed capture. I have tried to video concert moments with other phones & cameras in the past but stopped bothering because of the lack of quality. Glad I tried again with the iPhone!
FUNctional fact: On other smartphones, the photos you take, videos you take, photos you download or edit and photos you grid are all spread across multiple folders and this can be frustrating when trying to figure out the chronological order of things or when uploading photos to a laptop or tablet for organization or sharing. The iPhone stores all photos and videos in a single folder regardless of how you obtained it, which app you took it with or downloaded it from, or if you edited it. I absolutely loved this feature because I didn’t miss any photos or videos when uploading to my home device!
PURCHASING VALIDATION AND OVERALL SECURITY
While I loved the security that the Touch ID fingerprint sensor (on the home button) guaranteed me, I didn’t like that it was necessary for every single purchase through the Apple Store. I was unclear on why entering a password, or in this case my fingerprint, was needed on every single free app download. Apps with a price associated with them, I could understand and definitely think it makes sense to verify identity on those, but for free apps? I saw this as slight overkill. Since we are discussing measures for security, one thing that did not make sense to me was that while the lock screen required my Touch ID or passcode to be entered to access the phone, it did not require that knowledge to turn the phone off. I noticed this one day and it kind of bothered me that anyone could turn my phone off and I would not be the wiser until I went to check it – this makes no sense to me. If you’re going to protect the phone from being accessed by strangers, than that protection should absolutely extend to the option of powering down the device.
WHAT’S THAT VOICE?
Siri. Oh, Siri. He was a lot of fun to get in verbal disputes with, but I did not find myself in need of his assistance all that often. Yes, I am saying HIM, because I opted to give my Siri a male voice. You can do that, you know. Just head to Settings > General > Siri > Voice Gender > and choose Male or Female. You can further customize by following that same map but in the Siri menu, choose from a variety of Languages. My chosen Siri Language was “English (United Kingdom)”, because what girl doesn’t love an accent? When I did need him to look up a phone number, or argue with me pointlessly because I needed a good laugh, he was easy to reach – by either holding the home button down until I heard the beep or by activating the “Hey Siri” feature by enabling it in Siri Settings. Keep in mind, even when enabled, the “Hey Siri” prompt is only responsive when the iPhone 6 is plugged into a power source.
PERSONALIZATION AND LACK THEREOF
Pre-Installed App Highlight: I enjoyed using Passport for my loyalty cards and event tickets when able, but I was bummed by how many things I thought would be compatible with this app but were not. I had a bit of difficulty getting some items into Passport and then when I wanted to delete others I could not figure out how to get rid of them. This seems like a really cool feature but needs to be better integrated with more apps and programs.
While Siri allowed for quite a bit of personalization, not everything on the iPhone 6 offered that. The homescreens barely allowed any customization. Icons all have to be in a left-to-right and top-to-bottom order. No room for free placement on any given screen. This proved aggravating if you changed your homescreen wallpaper to a personal photo or friends or family – no way to avoid certain faces being “app-ed over”. I did like the ability to make smaller groups of apps on the pages though and the fact that they could be renamed whatever the user wanted. For example, I made “Google” one of my app groups – it held Google +, Ok Google, Google Maps, Hangouts & Chrome. I liked this aspect of organization and made a few other groupings such as “Entertainment” and “Office” to keep similar apps together. I downloaded the Google Maps and Chrome apps the first day I set up my iPhone. I did this out of habit because I use both so often on Android demos and on my Windows laptop at home. Given that preference, I was intrigued by how much I ended up liking the pre-loaded Maps app on the iPhone and the Safari app for internet use… in all honesty, I liked them even more than the Google counterparts. I used the iOS apps far more than the Google apps when it came to these two options. They seemed cleaner and more efficient when I compared them back to back – iOS versions were more business, straight to the point while Google versions seemed more fun and visually enticing. Given that I am usually in a “get-to-the-point” mode when mapping something or needing info from the web, I am confident in saying that that was why these particular iOS apps grew on me.
I want to qualify the significance of all that for a moment and explain that if I had to pick, I’d probably say I was a Google Girl from the word Go and have loved getting experience using the Android OS since starting this partnership with Verizon Wireless. I should also explain that I have been (since 2008) and continue to be a loyal Blackberry user to this very day. There is something additive and incomparable about a physical QWERTY that this busy 32-year-old just can’t live without, logically. I’ve also had experience with the Windows OS in smartphone version, and found it to have its own unique features but still some work to be done in order to create a smoother interface. Using the iPhone 6 was my first foray into iOS, if you don’t include iTunes. That said, I was very curious to see what the big “hub-bub” was about the iPhone and the operating system itself. I have to say that while I see why many appreciate the stream-lined appearance and functionality of syncing their iEverything… as someone who hasn’t drank any one specific OS kool-aid, I can’t sit here and say that it blew me away. And trust me, I know that’s what you expect to read about iOS… and I say that because that’s usually all I have ever heard, as an “outsider” clutching on to my Blackberry Bold Touch.
I feel like that is what makes me a fair reviewer – when you read my excitement over a device or an OS, it is genuine. No one is telling me how to react, how to interpret, or how to deliver my experience. I love technology and I appreciate it in all its forms and the constantly evolving nature which it drives and the advancements that it produces. Android, RIM, Blackberry10, Windows, iOS… they all have their place with strengths and weaknesses to highlight and improve upon. I also believe that this lack of a monopoly on handheld technology is what continues to inspire bigger and better technology. Competition is what drives so much of our world and competition exists as a dynamic component in sports, marketing, and healthcare. Everything that we view in our modern world as “making strides” or “impressive progression” has that key element of competition. Organizations are always introducing new aspects to their field in order to make the competition tighter or closer – racing is a fantastic example of this. Take a look at IndyCar Series (open-wheel racing sponsored by Verizon itself): Multiple engine manufacturers, numerous teams, crews and engineers producing different set ups for the cars based on track, driver, weather, and a multitude of other factors that I can’t even begin to imagine and now in 2015, the introduction of aero kits to further add to the competitiveness of this sport. Heck, their partnership with the series led to a new slogan: Verizon & IndyCar: Driving Technology. How perfect…
Without pushing one another to be the best, develop further and strive for the next big breakthrough, where would we be? Certainly not at the level we are today and definitely not with the unquenched thirst for knowledge that we have grown accustomed to in 2014. Given all of that, and then some, I can’t tell you that the iPhone 6 and iOS are the best technology on the market, but I can tell you that they are memorable, extremely impressive and I was pleasantly surprised with this device. Oh, and while it did not convert me to being an Apple-aholic , I have to at least admit that yes… iGet it now.
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