Apple vs the rest: how the iPhone 6 stacks up on paper

Apple’s iPhone 6 has been a long time coming, so how does it stack up to what’s out at the moment? We’ll look at the pieces of the puzzle and tell you.

Design and build

We’ll start with the area Apple knows best because seriously, Apple dominates here, and early reports are very, very good.

A brief talk with our very own Valens Quinn who was at the event tells me that Apple is unsurprisingly onto a winner at least as to how the new iPhone was designed, with a return to sleek and subtle curves, soft metal touches, and a look that will make the new iPhone come off like an oversized iPod Touch.

Materials used in the new phone’s construction are all premium, with metal and glass all the way, making its competition a little bit scattered.

Currently, the only smartphones released in Australia that use premium materials like this include models made by HTC, Huawei, and Sony, with this year’s and last year’s HTC One handsets set out in aluminium, particularly the new One M8 which has a body made mostly of aluminium; the Sony Xperia¬†Z2 with a glass body and aluminium frame; and Huawei’s very recent Ascend P7 with aluminium and glass itself.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and LG’s G3 are both mostly plastic, but Samsung will have metal in its upcoming Galaxy Note 4, which was just announced last week.

We’ll go out on a limb and suggest the Apple build quality will probably trump most of its competitors, as Apple tends to be perfectionists in this area, so it’s unlikely to release anything that hasn’t been tested to death in its labs.

But design and build aren’t the only areas Apple has to compete in…

Processor

Processor is another area, and while Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 currently leads the benchmarks for flagship phones, Apple will be going with the latest version of its iPhone processors, with the 64-bit A8 ready for action.

We’re told it’s around 25 percent faster than the A7 in the iPhone 5S, and around 50 percent faster than the graphics in that phone, while also being more energy efficient.

It’s also still 64-bit, something virtually no Android phone has, though we’re told that will be coming to phones running Google’s operating system later in the year or early next year. HTC has one on the way, we’re told, and that means other manufacturers can’t be far behind.

Processor architecture is just one part of the equation, with software being the other part, and outside of a few games, there is very little taking advantage of that 64-bit architecture on the iPhone, so until more apps come along designed to take advantage of it, this doesn’t mean as much as you’d think.

Display

Over to the screen, and for once, Apple’s job in playing catch-up hasn’t paid off in the way people expected.

On the one side, the Retina HD screen of the iPhone 6 at least matches up with Apple’s whole Retina philosophy that 300 pixels per inch is all you really need, with a custom panel displaying 1334×750 at 4.7 inches the likes of which we’ve never seen.

While this is a high definition panel, this does keep the Retina philosophy in tact, with an identical 326 pixels per inch in play.

Over on the iPhone 6 Plus, however, it appears Apple has more or less taken the Full HD panel idea from other phone makers and just thrown it onto a bigger iPhone 6, a move which does bring with it a higher pixel per inch count, but one that doesn’t quite match up with its regular 326ppi outlook.

We’re sure both panels are great, but we can’t help but wonder why Apple didn’t just bother putting at least Full HD screens in both instead of a custom resolution in the iPhone 6, especially if 4.7 inch Full HD displays aren’t anything new or unheard of.

Also of note is that Apple’s screen resolution and pixel count now puts it behind what Samsung’s upcoming Note 4 offers, and what Oppo and LG currently offer, with 2560×1440 panels coming from these rivals, all of which boast higher pixel per inch numbers which will look even sharper again.

That said, there’s more to a screen than merely pixels, and we’re sure Apple will have some special sauce in there making the new fandangled Retina screens all they can be.

Water-proofing

Protection from the elements is one of those things we’re beginning to expect from a phone these days.

We have a degree of scratch protection on our phones in the form of solid and mineral resistant glass, so why not the rest of the phone?

In this year’s phones, we’ve seen both the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2 provide water and dust resistance, so what about the iPhone?

Unfortunately, water and dust proofing appears to be a feature neither the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have, giving case makers like Belkin, Otterbox, iLuv, and countless others the means to make a bit of cash from people who need that level of resistance.

We’d have like to have seen a degree of resistance, though, maybe some IP65 or 67 certification here. But no. Maybe next time.

The water resistance of the Sony Xperia Z2 isn't something the new iPhone has.