iPhone 6

Review: Spigen Exact-Fit iPhone Case

A few months back I wrote up a review on the BookBook case for iPhone, and in that review I concluded that the case just wasn't quite right for me. It didn't fit well with how I used my iPhone. Since then I had to go out and find a case that did fit my needs. I really loved the slim case that came as part of the BookBook case, so I ended up searching for a slim case that was similar. I found one I really like...

I did quite a bit of searching and these were the features that I really wanted:

  • Slim case, needed to add almost no thickness to the phone
  • Slightly raised edges to the case to provide some drop protection to the screen
  • Didn't cover up the base of the phone (easy access to the lighting connector)
  • Provide more "grip" than the naked iPhone to keep the phone in my hand

You would think that the above criteria would describe a huge number of iPhone cases out there, but surprisingly that wasn't the case. There was always one of the features a given case would be missing. But I finally found a case that has all of these features, the Spigen Exact-Fit iPhone case. I bought the iPhone 6 Plus version, but there is also a version for the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6s, and for the iPhone 6s Plus. There is just enough of a thickness difference between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s that you will most likely need to get the correct case (this is a very tight fitting case with it being so thin).

I've been using this case for several months now and I love it! It is amazingly thin, feels great in the hand and provides that little bit of extra protection that I wanted. If there is one drawback to the case it would be the recessed mute switch and volume buttons. It does make it a little harder to access these buttons, but it also protects them in case of a drop. can't really complain too much there and honestly I don't access these buttons often enough for it to be an issue.

If you are looking for a very slim iPhone case you can't beat the price on these cases and based on my experience with the case I don't think you will be disappointed.

Apple iPhone Leather Case: 1st Blood

Well, I drew 1st blood on my iPhone 6 Apple Leather Case. It was bound to happen eventually and the inevitable happened yesterday. I was standing up doing some work with my laptop on top of my dresser in the bedroom and had been talking on the phone. The headphone cord caught on the metal pull on the dresser drawer so when I stepped back from the dresser just slightly I violently yanked the iPhone off of the dresser. My relatively new (work provided) iPhone 6 took a nasty plunge off my dresser. That wasn't the problem. The real problem was that on the way down the iPhone hit one of the metal pulls from the drawer. Luckily the impact was on the side of the iPhone just under the power button (and not on the screen) and the case absorbed the impact brilliantly. So how well does the Apple Leather iPhone case really protect the iPhone? You can see the impact and the damage in the images below:

When work gave me this iPhone 6 it came with a case. The case was quite protective and had a hard outer shell, but I wasn't so convinced that the case would be as protective as it seemed. You see, there are two ways a case can protect your iPhone:

  1. Protect it from general wear and tear
  2. Protect it from the impact from a fall

It was the protection from impact that was my concern. Often with these highly protective cases they actually make matters worse during an impact. When an object falls and impacts a hard surface the kinetic energy from that fall has to go somewhere. Just because a case seems like it is really protective doesn't mean it does a good job of absorbing that impact energy and safely distributing it around the phone. If the case takes that impact energy and funnels it directly into specific points on the phone it can actually focus the energy and cause more damage than if the phone didn't have a case at all. That is why I went with the iPhone 6 Apple Leather Case. Based on how well it took this fall from my dresser and the impact with the metal drawer pull I think this was a wise decision. The soft leather case absorbed the impact and there was absolutely no damage to the phone itself. The other plus to having a leather case like this is that even now that the case has a ding in it, the damaged area is not sharp or uncomfortable to the touch. The great thing about leather is that more wear it has the better it looks and this kind of damage is no exception. So now instead of having a scuffed looking case I have an nice "weathered" looking leather case...an iPhone case with some character.

Review: Apple Leather iPhone 6 Case

This is quite unusual for me. I bought my shiny new iPhone 6 and I immediately went out and covered it up with a case. I have used my last 2 iPhones without cases. My last iPhone, the iPhone 5s, I used with Wally wallet adhesive but it provided no real protection. I just like the both the look and feel of the iPhone enough that I didn't want to taint that with a case. So why did I change my mind with the iPhone 6?

Why a Case?

I bought a case right away because this is the first iPhone I have owned that felt like it could easily slip out of my hands. In fact, on my first day in the office after buying the iPhone a co-worker dropped my iPhone (it's ok, THE IPHONE WAS NOT DAMAGED). But this event confirmed my initial thoughts with the phone...it is so thin and light and in combination with the brushed aluminum it is just too darn easy to drop. That's probably the single most important feature of the Wally that I liked on my iPhone 5s, the leather feel on the back of the phone was just tactile enough that I wasn't going to lose my grip on the phone. So why didn't I just get the Wally again for the iPhone 6? Just like in my post talking about whether to buy the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, the size of the iPhone 6 is noticeably larger in my pocket. I was worried that the extra thickness of the Wally combined with the extra surface area of the iPhone 6 would make it look and feel like I was carry around a small paperback book in my front pocket. So I opted to go with the most minimalist case I could find but still have a little bit of extra protection. Who better to make a case that wouldn't take away from the appeal of the iPhone 6 design than Apple?

Thoughts on the case

So I got the blue leather Apple case for my iPhone 6. I went with leather because of how much I like the soft feel of leather with the Wally. The first thing I noticed with the Apple case was that the leather was much stiffer and not as soft as the Wally. The Apple leather felt more like a semi-hard plastic case with grain printed onto it. At least that was my first reaction. After using the case for a while I realized that the leather was more like the rugged leather used in really high-end handbags or cowboy boots. It was pretty thick and durable and was slicker than most leather. This "slickness" is actually a really nice feature. Think about it. You just got this bigger phone and you now have to slip it in and out of your pockets. I think Apple hit a really good balance with this case. It seems to be just "grippy" enough to keep you from dropping it but slick enough that you can easily slide it into your pockets. I also put my iPhone into a vent holder in my car. Despite the iPhone 6 being wider than my previous iPhone 5s it still easily fit into my Kenu holder. Note that there is a new version of the Kenu Airframe car AC vent holder called the Kenu Airframe+ that accomodates wider smartphones (over 4 inches in diagonal). The Apple case with the iPhone 6 does not require the larger Kenu Airframe+, but the iPhone 6 with a larger case or the iPhone 6 Plus might.

The case itself is very easy to install, it very snugly snaps right onto the iPhone. Both volume buttons and the power button are covered with buttons built into the case and they work just as well as the original buttons. The silent on/off switch is now inset slightly into the case making a bit trickier to turn on and off (especially one-handed), but I don't consider this too big of a deal. I really like the way the case hugs the iPhone 6. It just barely comes above the surface of the glass such that if you were to drop in the case would hit the floor before the glass would, even if you dopped it face down. The bottom of the Apple case is cutout so that the headphone jack, mic, lightning connector port and the speaker are all exposed. This makes it really handy for accessing this things but you are trading a little bit of protection for that convenience.

Bottom line...if you are looking for a minimalist case that is as close to carrying around a naked iPhone as you can get then this is the case for you. It gives you that little bit of extra grip and protection but it still feels like an iPhone 6 in the hand.

iPhone 6: Zoomed Mode or Standard?

One of the 1st decisions you will have to make about your new iPhone 6 is whether you want it to run in "Zoomed" mode or "Standard" mode. As I'm sure you have heard by now, the iPhone 6 is larger than the iPhone 5 and 5s and the iPhone 6 Plus is even bigger than the iPhone 6:

  • iPhone 5: 4"
  • iPhone 5s: 4"
  • iPhone 6: 4.7"
  • iPhone 6 Plus: 5.5"

(measured across the diagonal of the screen)

So you have a choice between these 2 display modes. What are they exactly? The "Standard" display mode displays text and application icons at the exact same size as they were displayed on the smaller 4 inch screen of the iPhone 5 and 5s (and even the older 3.5" screens of the the other iPhone 4s and older models). So if you choose the "Standard" mode for the display on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus you now have extra space. This extra space means an extra row of icons on the iPhone 6 and an extra 2 rows of icons on the iPhone 6 Plus. That is standard display mode, same relative size of everything on the screen as you had on previous iPhones. They do look smaller though because the phone is bigger (its a relative thing).

The other display mode option is the "Zoomed" mode. In this mode iOS increases the size of the text and the application icons making icons a little easier to touch with your fingers on the screen and text a little bit easier to read (for those of us with aging eyes this is kinda handy). So, if you choose the "Zoomed" mode on the iPhone 6 you end up with the same number or application icons on the home screen as you had on the iPhone 5 and 5s, but the icons are larger and so is the text. The larger display and graphical elements throughout the operating system are all larger when you choose the "Zoomed" display mode.

So which one should you choose? This is totally a personal preference call. When I bought my iPhone 6 at the AT&T store the clerk who setup my phone told me he was setting it up with the display mode as "Zoomed", but he told me how to change it back to standard if I wanted. I have left it in the "Zoomed" mode ever since. I did try out the "Standard" mode a few times, but for me I would rather be able to quickly tap on an application icon on the go and know I'll hit it the 1st time rather than be able to squeeze a few more applications on my home screen. I also appreciate the User Interface (UI) elements being larger as well as the larger text. My close-up eyesight is not as good as it used to be so I can use all the help I can get.

Below is a comparison of the "Zoomed" mode view of my iPhone 6 home screen (on the left) and the "Standard" mode (on the right).

It's not a huge difference, but I just like the look of the "Zoomed" mode so I'm sticking with it. You will also notice in my screen shots below that I have filled the top row of my home screen with folders. I did this because I wanted my most used and generally quickly accessed applications at the lower right of my home screen. iOS only lets you have applications at the bottom of the screen if you fill the entire screen with applications. So I decided to replace my upper row of icons with folders and move my most often used apps in the lower right-hand corner (apps like the camera app, messages, OmniFocus and FitBit). Why did I choose folders for the top row instead of just keeping the least used apps at the top? I can't access the top row of the iPhone 6 with my thumb while holding the phone one-handed. I have relatively normal-sized hands but pretty short fingers. These are folders that are important, but when I use the apps in these folders I am generally doing so when I have more than a few seconds to use my phone so I am able to do so with both hands. 16 applications on the home screen is plenty for me, in fact the 4 apps I mentioned above (as well as the 4 in my dock) are the ones I use 90% of the time anyway.

It is interesting to note that Stephen Hackett over at 512 pixels took the opposite approach from mine. He left the bottom row of his home screen empty because he likes a little "breathing room." Yet more proof that it is simply a matter of personal preference. You can see Stephen Hackett's home screen over at Mac Sparky.com.

Returning the iPhone 6 Plus

I wrote a post last week about choosing between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Not to hold you in suspense any longer, I chose the smaller of the two (the iPhone 6 with the 4.7 inch screen). Since I wrote that post I have read and heard a lot of commentary about the iPhone 6 Plus. I am convinced that Apple is going to see a rather large return rate on the iPhone 6 Plus. This won't be because it is a bad device, but because people chose the device for the wrong reasons. What do I mean by this?

  • Bigger is not always better
  • It's not always about which device has the most features or best specs
  • Apple can't design a user interface that fixes the fact that a 5.5 inch phone is physically a very large device

So much of the discussion I have seen and heard focuses on the bigger and higher pixel density screen of the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 plus also has mechanical image stabilization and some "hybrid" display options (dual pane views within apps) that take advantage of the larger screen. And of course last but not least...longer battery life. Of course it has longer battery life, the device is considerably larger so even with drawing more power for the larger display there is enough extra size on the battery that it has a lot more "juice" than the 4.7 inch version. My point to all of this is that most people that struggled with this decision were already iPhone users. iPhone users have not really had a choice up until this point with respect to screen size, so by default iPhone users were not "gigantiphone" or "phablet" users. If a larger device were that important than they would opt to get something other than an iPhone. I am concerned that a large number of people are going to put their trust in Apple and decide that bigger is better and pull the trigger on the iPhone 6 Plus. Many of these people are going to realize that Apple designed the iPhone 6 Plus as a device for users that want a large phone, not for the average iPhone user that just thinks having a larger display would be nice. Apple can't fix the fact that you know have to lug around a very large device. They can optimize the user interface to take advantage of the larger screen and they can even add features that allow you to do most functions with a single hand. But the one thing they can't design away is awkwardness of carrying around a small tablet-sized device in your pocket.

My favorite feature of the iPhone is that it is the device that I ALWAYS have with me. That feature would be significantly compromised (based on how I personally use the phone) if I were to go with a 5.5 inch phone. I could see myself taking it out of my pocket while sitting at my desk for a long period of time (just purely for comfort) and then leaving my desk and forgetting to take it with me. I also tend to leave my iPhone in my pants or shorts pocket even when I am at home. With a bigger phone I think I would offload it to a counter as soon as I got home, which means if I wanted to quickly check something or enter something and I was on the couch the device would now be across the room and not with me.

I'm not ready to give up my favorite feature just yet for a few extra "specs" and a larger screen.

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