Nicholas Stehle is Vice President for Operations at The Martin Organization. He used to run IT for a billion dollar company. We run an exclusively Mac shop, so he’s clearly the go-to guy on all things Apple. — RDM


 

by Nicholas Stehle
October 1, 2014

Nicholas StehleAS A “MAC GUY”, MANY have asked me about the iPhone 6/6 Plus. Since I’ve found myself typing the same email many times over, to help you (and prevent tendonitis) here are my thoughts:

Firstly, I purchased the iPhone 6 Plus. It is almost exactly the same size as the Galaxy Note, and a monstrosity. I bought it for three reasons: (1) The large screen makes it easier for me to remote control computers and servers, which I only do rarely, but when it happens it needs to happen quickly. That means I can’t afford to be scrolling around the screen on a small phone to see critical elements. This is why I’ve carried an iPad or a laptop for years. (2) Better battery life. I’ve used every iPhone model, the Samsung Galaxy S4, and a host of Windows phones . . . this 6+ is the first one I’ve ever owned that gets through my 18-hour day. It has NFC, and I don’t care. ApplePay may really work out, but for now I’m sticking to paper and plastic.

I did get a case because its smooth lines and large size make the 6 Plus easy to drop. The case made it easier to hold and harder to break. It’s still a two-hands-needed phone, and there’s no getting away from that. Frankly, I find the phablet form factor unhandy in that regard, but not enough to discourage me from using it (see my reasons for buying above). Now, that having been said: Apple did try to optimize iOS to help you out a bit, and a nice double-tap on the bottom button slides the top menus down to the middle of the phone, giving you access to it if your hand is positioned near the bottom. Still, if one-handed use is critical to you, you’re going to want the iPhone 6 and not the iPhone 6 Plus.

No, mine doesn’t bend. I had it in my pants pocket for several days before I bought the case, and the metal exterior didn’t warp. You might notice in that YouTube video, the guy’s hands were shaking as he applied force to one localized area to make it bend. I distinctly remember doing that very thing to old smartphones from other manufacturers in the past before recycling them. A small percentage might bend— and if that happens, Apple has already said they will replace it. This isn’t a big deal. But mine doesn’t bend, and Consumer Reports used science instead of a lynch mob to prove that “bendgate” is a bunch of nonsense.

Most of the third party apps aren’t yet optimized: some upscaled apps are okay, while others look blurry. It’ll take a few weeks or even months before all the major apps have been updated. Apple’s own apps look beautiful, and the horizontal views are great for blowing through emails and text messages on the go or out of the office.

Secondly, I think the iPhone 6 is the best form factor yet from Apple. Although still very, very thin, there is no real risk of bending. The battery life is a little more standard for smartphones, but you can still use it one-handed (though just barely, and people with small hands may prefer the 5C or 5S).

Both the 6 and 6 Plus have amazing cameras and gorgeous screens — the 6 Plus being slightly better in low light situations or with a fast-moving subject. It compares in quality to my friend’s Nokia Lumia 1520 with several times the megapixels. It’s becoming clear that at this point lens quality and focus, aperture, and stabilization techniques are far more important than the number of megapixels. I think I’ve seen all the awful pics I can stand from cameras with 12 or more megapixels.

The processor is incredibly fast. There’s no question that the 6 is faster than the 5S, although it’s not as huge of a jump in terms of real world performance as we saw from the 4S to the 5.

In terms of build quality, the first release is always the more groundbreaking device, followed by refinements in the ’S’ model. For this reason, the 5S is a better quality phone and will continue to be for the next year when a 6S/6S Plus (or whatever they call it) is released in September 2015.  It will probably have the same form factor with slightly different metal alloys, button designs, etc,  and of course, some spec bumps. Remember the past to predict the future:

1. iPhone: 2G original iPhone, sort of their “pilot” product.

2. iPhone 3G: first 3G-capable iPhone, totally new design w/ curved plastic back;

iPhone 3GS perfected this design with a better camera and better battery life.

3. iPhone 4: totally new design, straight edges, glass back.

iPhone 4S: refined that same design, much faster, fixed antenna issues with the new external antenna bands.

4. iPhone 5: new design, slightly larger form factor, metal back, much faster, LTE capable.

iPhone 5S: same design, faster, more LTE bands, space gray option instead of flawed anodized look that scratched easily, for those who prefer black.

5. iPhone 6/6+: totally new design, again.

So you can see how Apple does things. If you want perfection, stick with your 5S (if you have one) or try to get on the S-track, wherein you are due for your two year upgrade when the second iteration of the phone comes out.

A few parting thoughts on iOS 8 (which came out at roughly the same time as the iPhone 6/6 Plus):

1. It adds most of the functionality that Android phones had that we might want, e.g. customizable keyboards and plugins for the lock screen.

2. Third party apps are a bit unstable. For this reason, most business users should wait a few months before buying the 6/6+, if they can, until app designers upgrade their apps to work better with iOS. The 6 comes with iOS 8 preinstalled.

3. The Settings app is starting to get a bit crowded. It is still easier to navigate than a Samsung device (oh my gosh) but the similarities worry me. Apple is going to want to find a neater, more intuitive way to have all those settings available to the user in the next version of iOS.

— Nicholas Stehle is Vice President for Operations at The Martin Organization.