With the iPhone 5 Apple hinted that Android phones might be onto something with larger screens but wasn’t ready to admit that the iPhone needed more screen space in both directions. By 2014 the Phablet market that Samsung pioneered was extremely hot and iPhone users were asking for more screen space. Apple admitted defeat by introducing two form factors: the 4.7″ iPhone 6 and the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus.
The screens were larger in both vertical and horizontal directions, allowing yet another row of icons on the home screen and fancy iPad-like horizontal panel interfaces on the Plus. The case design was new, with smooth rounded sides and an all aluminum back with some ugly antenna lines running through them. NFC made its first appearance, enabling Apple Pay. The A8 was a bit faster than an A7 but not a huge improvement. The front and rear cameras used better sensors and the Plus model included optical image stabilization for the first time.
The 6 sold well due in part to the demand for larger devices, but it wasn’t without its issues. The strength and design of the casing and components was questioned during “Bendgate”, the Plus had camera problems, and touch screens were known to fail.
iPhone 6s (2015)
While not quite as revolutionary as the 5s, the 6s was pretty packed with new features and refinements. It maintained the same form factor as the 6 but added 7000 series aluminum from the Apple Watch as well as a new internal design to prevent it from bending unintentionally. It included Ion X Glass (also from the Apple Watch) to strengthen the display. It included the A9 chip, which was up to 70% faster than the A8. It was the first iPhone to include 2 GB RAM, doubling the amount of memory that was available previously. This made the entire experience more smooth, especially things like switching between multiple tabs in Safari.
It introduced the first megapixel bump to the iPhone in 4 years with an upgraded 12 MP camera that could record 4K video. It included second-generation TouchID which is so fast that it is almost instant. It also introduced Force Touch and the Taptic Engine which allow you to press hard on the screen to invoke certain actions such as previewing an image or accessing a context menu. It also secretly included a degree of increased water resistance due to the addition of seals around some of its components. Oh and I can’t forget that it also introduced Rose Gold to the iPhone.
The 6s was a great refinement of the 6, addressing many issues with it, packing more powerful components, and introducing new technology. My 6s is my current phone and has been quite the trooper. I can vouch for its strength. I keep nothing but a screen protector film on it and I’ve dropped it numerous times without issues. I’ve dropped it on the corners, the screen, on tar, wood, concrete. There are a few scuffs on the sides and a minor chip in the corner of the glass. It still runs well and does everything I need. I could easily use this phone for another year if I wanted to.
The iPhone 7 was an interesting release because it was the first time that Apple repeated the same form factor three times since the 3GS in 2009. While Apple said it was redesigned because they moved the antenna lines and made it waterproof, it was still the same exact size, shape, and configuration, it feel more like a 6ss.
Had the X not been introduced I would have happily purchased an 8 to enjoy the wide color gamut display with TrueTone, the super fast CPU, the stereo speakers, capacitive home button, optical image stabilization, wireless charging, and improved camera sensor. I would have been troubled though by the lack of dual cameras on the smaller model. I don’t want a bigger phone but I really, really like the idea of the dual cameras of the 7 Plus. Thankfully the X gives me that and a whole lot more.
I received my iPhone X on Wednesday, which is 1.5 weeks later than the release date, but a week and a half earlier than my original estimate. It’s a new paradigm but I’m ready to try it. I haven’t had it for long but hopefully I won’t encounter any green lines, try to use it in the cold, have GPS issues, or encounter anyone with a mask of my face. I’ll post my thoughts after I’ve spent more time with it.