So I ended up caving and buying an iPhone 6+ while I was visiting my sister in NYC. I've spent about a month with it now and figured I'd jot down my impressions, coming from a similarly sized Windows Phone device (Lumia 1520). It's been a net positive experience with a few small (and large) drawbacks. I definitely do not regret the purchase, I also don't know what 2015 will hold for me. It depends a lot on Microsoft's flagship plans and Windows 10.
Why I caved
I'd been thinking about getting back to the iPhone for a while. I'm a pretty loyal company guy, though. I like to use what we make and I like to send feedback and I like to support our ecosystem and developers and stuff. I also actually think Windows Phone is a fucking awesome product. There's a lot of great, honest reviews about it that really do talk about some of the good and the bad. That said, after about a week in NYC I decided to wander over to the Apple Store and grab a 6+ since they were in stock. Here, in no particular order, is my rationale for changing:
- Dating applications. As a newly single person the quality dating stuff is really being made exclusively for iPhone and usually Android. The general ecosystem as well. Coffee Meets Bagel, okcupid, tinder, and the halo apps like snapchat (yeah, really) and instagram either don't exist or don't work on as well on WP. Sucks.
- iMessage. There's a real social stigma around folks with iPhones in terms of who is blue (iMessage user) vs. green. There are also real advantages to iMessage that shouldn't be overlooked, as compared to texting. I don't think it's actually as good as (e.g.) WhatsApp but people still give you funny looks in the US when you suggest WhatsApp. That sucks because they make a great product and it's a shame more people don't use it. Their cross-platform commitment is terrific.
- Gaming. I like games, I really like mobile games, and some standout stuff is only available on iOS. iOS is still the mobile gaming platform of choice. They get games nobody else gets. Some of them are outright tremendous.
- Higher quality applications. I should say that I rarely used truly bad apps on WP. I'm sure they exist. I've also found some pretty rancid stuff on iOS that clearly hasn't been touched in two or three years, but on the whole the big stuff is updated more frequently and is built more capably.
- Apple Pay. I wanted to try it, mostly.
- It's not like I was going to use Android.
What I like
I'm pretty fond of this slab of phone. There's a lot of goodness here. It's a little slimmer and lighter than my 1520, with the same impeccable build quality. The screen and camera are both very good (though the camera is not as good as the 1520's 20MP monster). It absolutely nails the table stakes for a flagship. Setting the unibody Lumias aside (which are beautiful) I won't be caught dead holding a crappy plastic phone. Sorry Samsung.
So again, listing away, here are some of my favorite things:
1. TouchID is super. fucking. awesome. Pay integrates, unlocking is faster, and applications like lastpass and the store use it to great effect.
2. Mobile websites work a little bit better. This is a marginal edge given WP8.1 dev channel's changes to the UA in IE. This wasn't the giant leap I expected, to be honest, but some stuff does end up a bit better.
3. More applications. See above.
4. Excellent notification center. WP's is coming along but to be honest I prefer the touches in iOS a bit more. I suspect to see some good stuff in Windows 10 if the technical previews are any indication. I also want to extend a shout-out to the customizable lock-screen actions. They are broadly very nice.
5. Pretty good multitasking. I like that you can see suspended/tombstoned apps in iOS. It's a tad jarring to see apps un-suspend at odd times but I'll discuss that further down.
What I miss
Even after a month I find myself pining for a lot of the features on my 1520. If there was a credible iOS or Android emulator on Windows Phone I'd have this 6+ on craigslist in a heartbeat.
- Better accessibility features. Windows Phone does a much better job overall of handling features for people with low vision. The screen magnifier is superior, the text settings apply more broadly and are more friendly, and the browser is a LOT nicer there as well. More on that....
- Mobile IE's user interface. Overall it's just better. I loathe the tab experience in Safari. I don't have more words for it. Mobile IE's reading view also provides white text on a black background which is basically heaven for people who are photosensitive and don't want to stare into a bright white light. This is probably the biggest crime in mobile Safari, by my estimation.
- The keyboard. Swype isn't even close to as good as the Windows Phone keyboard, and the stock keyboard is straight fucking garbage. The predictive text sucks, the swiping gestures are unreliable, it's just a mess. My mistake rate is anecdatally 2-3x higher on iOS because of these crummy keyboards.
- The homescreen. Take your red number bubbles and fuck right off. Tiles make better use of available screen real estate and provide immense user value that iOS simply can't match. Also the whole paging through icons things has a distinct 1987 DOS graphical shell feeling to it, vs. the smooth vertical scrolling on the Windows Phone homescreen.
- Having 2GB of RAM. In particular Safari is a pig and will kill off almost every other app I'm using as soon as I have a couple tabs open. Doubling the RAM would go an incredibly long way to alleviating this pain, and it's something I wish Apple had done for the 6+.
- Tweetium. The stock Twitter client on Windows Phone just isn't there. To be honest neither is the stock Twitter app on iOS. I don't want your embedded browser. I want better fonts. I want the UI of Tweetium.