This year's new iPhone models will hit stores tomorrow. Pre-orders of the devices have already broken Apple's previous records, meaning sales are likely to set new records as well. The only question remaining is, given the relatively incremental improvements seen in this year's model, is the iPhone still the best smartphone on the market?
Looking at those pre-order figures, it's clear that Apple fans have already made their decision. However, millions of consumers are now carrying around devices manufactured by Apple's closest competitor, Samsung. With this context, the Wall Street Journal's new review of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus directly compares the devices to Samsung's Galaxy S5.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) September 17, 2014
The Journal begins its review by addressing the most obvious change the iPhone 6's have brought Apple fans - larger screen sizes. Though Steve Jobs may have once criticized the usability of larger smartphones, it's clear now that consumers do want larger displays.
The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch 1334 x 750 resolution display that, while smaller than the Galaxy S5's 5.1-inch display, places the device firmly into a size category comparable to high-end smartphones from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and LG. The iPhone 6 Plus tops the Galaxy S5 with a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution screen, though it doesn't quite hit the Galaxy Note 4's massive 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 resolution display.
The Journal's review also claims that the new iPhones have better cameras than the Galaxy S5, despite providing only 8MP images compared to the Galaxy's 16MP camera. Once again it appears that by focusing on quality lenses and sensors Apple's smartphones remain some of the best picture-taking devices on the market.
One area that the new iPhones don't quite match the competition is battery life. The Journal's tests showed that the iPhone 6's battery can only power the phone at full brightness as long as the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 6 Plus suffers from the same issue, with its battery lasting only 15 percent longer than the iPhone 6. The Galaxy S5's battery beat both devices in Journal tests, lasting as much as 50 percent as long as the iPhone 6's battery.
In a turnabout that could only happen in the fast-moving tech world, Apple seems to have taken cues from Samsung (such as the power button being moved to the side) in designing the iPhone 6. Apple fans will still argue the iPhone 6 is the best smartphone in the world, but one thing is now clear: smartphone designs are becoming homogenized and the iPhone is beginning to look more like Apple's past than its future.