Friday, November 21, 2014

Adventures in iPhone Land

PART 2 of a Multi-Part Effort

Adventures in iPhone Land

The iPhone 6 arrived via USPS on the afternoon of Tuesday, 18 November - which means I have had it for just under three days, and in that three days I have experienced much and have a lot to share...  Most of it good.

First Impressions
I have to admit that my first reaction upon opening the box was an eye-goggled jaw-dropped whaaa?!  The iPhone 6 Plus is HUGE.  Until the moment that I actually held it in my hands I did not truly understand the commend that my colleague Walt Mossberg made when he referred to the device as a Phablet - part phone, part Tablet.  

In almost every respect at least visually, the iPhone 6 Plus is indeed a Phablet.  But it is also a device that does not suffer from the downside of the Tablet or, interestingly enough, the wireless phone either.

What I mean by that is that where I tend to find Tablets ungainly and uncomfortable to use as a phone, the 6 Plus is actually comfortable in the hands, and easy to use as a phone.  

Note that while I was not aware that they had this feature until I actually experienced it - when you own an iPhone and an iPad, if both devices are turned on and logged into the same common WiFi network, when you receive a phone call on your iPhone it will forward the call to your iPad, so that you can take it there if that is more convenient.

And several times the iPad was closer to hand than the iPhone, and I took a few calls on it.  Even with the phone call on speaker and the device held comfortably in the hands the act of receiving a phone call via the Tablet was, to be accurate, uncomfortable.

That may be partly because it is an unusual experience, and partly due to the fact that taking a call under those circumstances leaves one at the mercy of the ambient noise in whatever environment they happen to be in at the time.  But either way, I don't recommend it.

A Question of Comfort?
While I had initial misgivings about opting for the iPhone 6 Plus once I experienced its over-sized footprint for myself, after just a few calls I have concluded that while there is a bit of getting used to to be experienced for me, personally, in the end I think I actually like the 6 Plus better than my old 4S.

Primarily I suspect that at least part of that inclination towards rapid acceptance is the fact that the 6 Plus is actually pretty close in terms of size to the sort of telephone handset I grew up using - that is to say the ear piece is just the right distance from the mic so that one is at the ear while the other is perfectly positioned before the lips.

Another strong factor for my ready acceptance is that we, as humans, tend to prefer what we know to something new.  And my comfort levels were never put to the test, because as soon as I turned on and properly charged the 6 Plus - or I should say while I waited for the 6 Plus to fully charge as per the instructions - more than a few minor matters were being attended to invisibly and behind the scenes.

While the new iPhone was charging, as I had followed the instructions with which it arrived and fully activated the device, adding my local WiFi security data, and authorizing the phone as my primary for both wireless service and iTunes, the following took place without my having to think about or actively manage them:
  • Contacts - the phone automatically - or perhaps automagically is a better phrase - reached out to the Cloud and grabbed my Contacts data and saved it to the new device.  In consequence of this, when I reached for the phone to make a call for the first time, rather than needing to look a number up on my old (and no longer connected to AT&T) device, the full Contacts were already present, so it was business as usual!
  • Weather and Other Data - while the phone did ask me to verify that I was, in fact, authorizing it to use my current location and the built-in location tracking features with which it comes as a standard feature - once I confirmed my permission for those, the new phone acted precisely as if it had been doing these things for me all along - or like my old phone basically.
  • Messages and Text - the conversations and the new additions to the same - for my ongoing set of personal and business interactions were simply there.  No need for me to seek them out; it was as if the phone knew what was important to me and made sure that that information and its associated data made the switch with my details, everything intact.
  • Important Dates and Appointments - all of the appointments on my calendar as well as the set of important dates that I had punched into my information management and productivity system three iPhones ago were just... There.
  • Images, Videos, and Backgrounds - all thanks to the Cloud present and accounted for.
  • The Apps I Use - note that I make a specific distinction here between the Apps that I actually use and the ones that happen to be on my phone because I had not gotten around to deleting them - and hey, the ones I actually used made the switch with me, without prompting, while the ones I did not - did not.
The important point to take away from all this is that I was not expecting it to be that easy.  In fact I was expecting to have to address and deal with all of this on my own, inconveniently, and over time.

The fact that none of that ended up being necessary is down to the genius of whoever came up with the programs that kick in when you upgrade phones.  Good on them!  Well done!

Second Impressions
Perhaps the most obvious point not in favor of this new and larger iPhone is the fact that pretty much all of the kit - with the exception of any Bluetooth kit - no longer works with my phone.

What that means is that some of it will have to be replaced.  In particular I will need to spend the time and the effort to seek out a MilSpec graded protective case for this bugger.  I will need to seek out and obtain a docking station for it because I use that particular connectivity convenience often in order to keep my phone and my notebook computer in-synch.

Having pointed that out though, it was very nice to be able to connect my earpiece and my over-the-ears headphones so that I could continue to use the stuff I am comfortable with and use often.

Big(ger) Screen Baby!
It is not that I am getting old, or that I have eyesight issues - but as one of the beats that I cover as a writer happens to be games journalism, and as mobile app/games play a significant part in that work that I do, the larger screen on the 6 Plus is a bloody beautiful thing.

Mark this down under the category of "you don't know what you are missing because you didn't know what you were missing" - but due to the manner in which mobile app/games of the city-building and grinder persuasion are built and played, it has been necessary for me to maintain multiple accounts and game sessions using different devices and log-ins.

I do that so that I can interact between the accounts using the multi-player side of the game play mechanics built into these games as a matter of convenience.  The increased screen size on the 6 Plus is so much bigger that I have not had a single missed - or incorrect - tap since I started using it!

That is a big deal, let me tell you.  Especially when you are playing a game like The Simpsons: Tapped Out in which you are making hundreds of taps and swipes in a single session!

So there you have it - in my opinion, for what that is worth - I find the new iPhone to be a major and easily experienced improvement over the iPhone 4S.  I suspect it is also an improvement over the iPhone 5 (all models) though having not used that generation at all, I really can't say with the sort of authoritative voice I usually use.

Keep an eye out for follow-on posts about this because I suspect, as I continue to use the 6 Plus, I will find other aspects and elements that I feel are worthy of comment.  And I shan't be shy in sharing those with you, I promise!

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The Technical Stuff...

Thanks to my trusty copy of Geekbench 3 (Version 3.2.2 for iOS), I was able to run the standard tests and here are the results:
Model: iPhone 6 Plus / Model ID: iPhone7,1
OS: iOS 8.1.1
Processor: Apple A8 @ 1.4 GHz 1 Processor, 2 Cores
Processor ID: ARM
Memory: 976 MB

L1 Instruction Cache: 64.0 KB
L1 Data Cache: 64.0 KB
L2 Cache: 1.00 MB
L3 Cache: 0.00 B
L4 Cache: 1.00 B

Processor Benchmarks Report

Single-Core Score:1620
Multi-Core Score:2907


AES Single-Core: 1127 (988.3 MB/sec)
AES Multi-Core: 2211 (1.89 GB/sec)
Twofish Single-Core: 1034 (58.1 MB/sec)
Twofish Multi-Core: 2077 (116.6 MB/sec)
SHA1 Single-Core: 4559 (494.9 MB/sec)
SHA1 Multi-Core:  8998 (976.7 MB/sec)
SHA2 Single-Core: 2542 (110.0 MB/sec)
SHA2 Multi-Core:  5063 (219.1 MB/sec)
BZip2 Compress Single-Core: 1292 (5.25 MB/sec)
BZip2 Compress Multi-Core: 2540 (10.3 MB/sec)
BZip2 Decompress Single-Core: 1544 (8.37 MB/sec)
BZip2 Decompress Multi-Core: 3069 (16.6 MB/sec)
JPEG Compress Single-Core: 1366 (19.0 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Compress Multi-Core: 2714 (37.8 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Decompress Single-Core: 1881 (46.5 Mpixels/sec)
JPEG Decompress Multi-Core: 3662 (90.5 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Compress Single-Core: 1581 (1.26 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Compress Multi-Core: 3137 (2.50 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Decompress Single-Core: 1490 (17.2 Mpixels/sec)
PNG Decompress Multi-Core: 2969 (34.2 Mpixels/sec)
Sobel Single-Core: 1936 (70.5 Mpixels/sec)
Sobel Multi-Core: 3748 (136.4 Mpixels/sec)
Lua Single-Core: 1666 (1.50 MB/sec)
Lua Multi-Core: 3283 (2.95 MB/sec)
Dijkstra Single-Core: 1540 (5.53 Mpairs/sec)
Dijkstra Multi-Core: 2655 (9.53 Mpairs/sec)

Single-Core Score:1574
Multi-Core Score:3103

BlackScholes Single-Core: 1746 (7.77 Mnodes/sec)
BlackScholes Multi-Core: 3461 (15.4 Mnodes/sec)
Mandelbrot Single-Core: 1146 (1.18 Gflops)
Mandelbrot Multi-Core: 2290 (2.35 Gflops)
Sharpen Filter Single-Core: 1326 (983.3 Mflops)
Sharpen Filter Multi-Core: 2604 (1.93 Gflops)
Blur Filter Single-Core: 1463 (1.39 Gflops)
Blur Filter Multi-Core: 2918 (2.78 Gflops)
SGEMM Single-Core: 1357 (3.80 Gflops)
SGEMM Multi-Core: 2648 (7.42 Gflops)
DGEMM Single-Core: 1270 (1.87 Gflops)
DGEMM Multi-Core: 2433 (3.58 Gflops)
SFFT Single-Core: 1662 (1.75 Gflops)
SFFT Multi-Core: 3284 (3.46 Gflops)
DFFT Single-Core: 1846 (1.68 Gflops)
DFFT Multi-Core: 3633 (3.31 Gflops)
N-Body Single-Core: 1969 (730.9 Kpairs/sec)
N-Body Multi-Core: 3896 (1.45 Mpairs/sec)
Ray Trace Single-Core: 2319 (2.73 Mpixels/sec)
Ray Trace Multi-Core: 4596 (5.42 Mpixels/sec)

Single-Core Score:1607
Multi-Core Score:1785

Stream Copy Single-Core: 2413 (9.63 GB/sec)
Stream Copy Multi-Core: 2411 (9.62 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Single-Core: 1452 (5.80 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Multi-Core: 1608 (6.42 GB/sec)
Stream Add Single-Core: 1361 (6.16 GB/sec)
Stream Add Multi-Core: 1590 (7.19 GB/sec)
Stream Triad Single-Core: 1401 (6.16 GB/sec)
Stream Scale Multi-Core: 1649 (7.25 GB/sec)

 Well there you have it - you compare the two - and granted they are actually separated by an entire generation... But still, whew!

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