After months of speculation, plenty of leaks, and a launch that was plagued by a very iffy livestream, the iPhone 6 has gone on sale and is already setting records.
It’s the biggest overhaul the hardware has had in years, with a new design, bigger screen, and two – yes, two – sizes to choose from.
We’ll be reviewing the iPhone 6 Plus soon, but for now we’ve got the standard 6 in our sights.
Wondering if you should upgrade? Don’t decide until you’ve read our review.
Don't want to read all the way through our comprehensive text review? Head to the foot of the page where you'll find our bite-size iPhone 6 hands-on video.
First impressions and design
As we say, this year's hardware changes add up to the biggest rethink of the iPhone in a long time.
It’s an even bigger departure since Apple last enlarged the screen on the 4-inch iPhone 5.
The screen now stands 4.7 inches, which is the same size as the Nexus 4’s.
The iPhone 6 is taller than that handset though, and slightly narrower. It’s also amazingly slim – if you thought the iPhone 5S was thin, this will knock you bandy.
It measures just 6.9mm fat, which is down from 7.6mm on the 5S. It’s such a slim Jim that the camera lens protrudes from the back for the first time.
This svelte design has led some users to complain that the larger version bends too easily, but we’re happy to report that’s not a problem on the standard iPhone 6.
Even in our skinniest of jeans, the handset stayed straight as an arrow.
Indeed, build quality is reassuringly Apple. Its aluminium frame meets the screen to form what feels like one continuous surface.
The back isn’t a magnet for fingerprints like the 5C’s, though it does get a bit cold in chilly weather.
Apple has sanded off the straight edges of the 5S too. Now the whole handset feels curved like a capsule.
The volume buttons have been redesigned – they’re now long rather than round – and Apple has moved the power button from the top to the upper portion of the right edge.
It all makes for a device that’s suitably premium. As with previous iPhones, you’ll find yourself fondling it just because it feels nice.
iOS 8 comes as standard on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As is always the case, there have been a few teething problems. But let’s focus on what’s new.
There’s a new Photos app that makes it easier to find your snaps thanks to new search functions and smart albums that order your pics for you.
It also adds new editing tools, so you can make yourself – and everyone else of course – look better than ever.
You can now add your voice to a text message too, and send a live video of whatever’s in front of you.
There are new ways to respond to notifications, and for the first time, Apple has added predictive text.
It even recognises who you are and adjusts which words it predicts accordingly. (No swearing in a message to your mum, for example.)
Other welcome additions are the option to share what you’ve bought from iTunes, iBooks and the App Store with up to six people in your household, and work on any kind of file on all your iOS devices using iCloud Drive.
The Health app encourages you to live more healthily, and your handset is now more in sync with your Mac computer and iPad – start an email on one device, and you can finish it on another, for example.
So, plenty of new features to get your teeth into. And it’s packaged up with the same bright, colourful look of iOS 7.
But what about the handset itself? What does it bring to the table?
Plenty, thankfully. If you were worried the bigger screen could be an issue for those of us with smaller hands, rest assured Apple has thought of that.
Tap – don’t press – the home button twice in quick succession and you’ll start a feature called Reachability.
This shifts everything on the screen down a bit, so you can reach the uppermost part.
It’s little touches like this that set the handset apart.
The already awesome camera has also been spruced up, and now has a time-lapse mode.
This lets you make time-lapse films by keeping the phone in the same place while the sun sets, someone puts together a table, or whatever.
It’s a nifty addition, but for the best results you will have to film for hours. And use a tripod.
The camera also has a new sensor, faster autofocus, improved face detection, and now lets you control the exposure.
What else? Apple Pay lets you pay for things with your phone using NFC, but it’s not available yet. In Safari and Mail, you can swipe left or right to go back or forward respectively.
And you can view the home page zoomed in, so the icons appear larger.
All in all, it’s not short of features that make it a lot of fun to use.
You soon adjust to the bigger screen, and will wonder how you ever did without it.
The sleep/wake button is easy to reach too, being on the side instead of the top.
Reachability isn’t an ideal solution, as it adds a step that we’d rather not have.
After a couple of days, we found we were foregoing the double tap and were stretching for the top of the screen instead.
But Reachability is as good a solution as anyone’s come up with.
The slimmer profile is also a real boon. It means despite the bigger size, you barely notice the handset in your pocket.
The new features all work as advertised, and of course you’ve got all the bells and whistles from the iPhone 5S, such as a slow motion video mode on the video camera (though it’s been bumped up to 240fps instead of 120fps), and Touch ID, which lets you unlock the phone using your fingerprint.
Touch ID should really come into its own once Apple Pay launches in the UK, but we’ll have to wait for that.
The screen is typically gorgeous, with vibrant colours and sharp edges, though it’s not quite as stunning as the LG G3’s 2K display.
But thanks to iOS 8 Metal, games look better than ever. The water ripple effects on Pirates! is a sight to behold, while there’s not a hint of slowdown during frantic racers like Beach Buggy Racing.
As developers get more accustomed to Metal, we should see games look even more impressive.
The new A8 processor keeps things moving at quite a pace. To be honest, it doesn’t really feel any faster than the 5S. But then it doesn’t have to.
Battery life is also much improved, which is surprising, given that a big screen usually saps a phone of its juice pretty quickly.
With fairly intensive use, it lasted until lunchtime of the second day, which is the longest of any smartphone we’ve tested in a long time.
Apple has also added a handy battery monitor, which lets you see which apps are using the most power, and nix them.
So what about the downsides?
Well, we weren't so keen on the fact that the homescreen doesn’t switch to landscape when you turn the handset on its side, as it does on the iPhone 6 Plus.
It seems odd to only implement this feature on one of the new devices, but we suppose Apple must have a reason.
Because the speaker is on the bottom, it’s easy to cover it with your hand while you’re playing games too.
The effect is so bad, at first we thought the sound had cut out altogether.
The speaker does go nice and loud, but it’s not quite as bassy as the BoomSound speakers on the HTC One (M8).
The BoomSound ones are also front-facing, and less likely to be covered by your hand.
We found the back of the handset gets quite hot when you’ve been gaming for a while, too, just like the Sony Xperia Z2 did when filming in 4K. We’re sure it’s nothing to worry about, but we’d rather it didn’t.
Apple has done it again. The iPhone 6 is a beautifully designed and fantastically executed handset.
There are some niggles, and it certainly isn’t cheap. But it’s the best iPhone ever. What more do you need to know?