Monday, September 29, 2014

iPhone 6 PLUS versus HTC ONE (M8) preview

I finally got an iPhone 6 PLUS to go along with my HTC ONE(M8). This isn't meant to be a complete shoot-out. I'm just going to jot down some initial impressions. When I have more time, I may do a full write-up.

This might be an odd comparison since the HTC ONE M8 size is a closer match to the smaller 4.7" iPhone 6. However, because of the screen resolution, I think it is a better comparison to the 6 PLUS. The HTC ONE is straddled between both iPhones in terms of size.

Both are premium machined metal bodied made devices but I have to say the iPhone 6 feels really good in the hand. The HTC One is a bit fat in the middle. However, I'd say the HTC is a better one-handed phone to use.  Prior, I was carrying the iPhone 5 and HTC ONE. Back then, I thought the HTC ONE was huge with it's 5" screen but after a week with the iPhone 6 PLUS, the HTC ONE feels really small. I guess what I am saying is you will get acclimated to the size difference.

The feeling of smallness on the HTC ONE is probably attributed to the UI of Android and HTC Sense. Even though both are 1080p (1920x1080) resolution screens and both have the same physical resolution real estate, the iPhone 6 Plus simply shows more data. The fonts/typeface (even at the smallest settings), the title bars, menu bars are simply way to big on the HTC ONE (M8). Screen real estate is also affected by the Android virtual soft key buttons.

Here are some examples. These are the screenshots of the mail list of my Outlook account in landscape mode.

The same list in portrait mode.

And the contents of the same email newsletter. Note, I had the fullest zoom-out on both emails.

You can say this is the fault of HTC's mail client and their apps. Yes, that is possible. However, even compared to Google's native GMAIL client, the iOS email experience is a little bit better. The gesture selection is very intuitive when it comes to deleting, filing and archiving emails on iOS.

However, not everything is perfect in iOS. There are apps that still need to be optimized for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 PLUS. Legacy apps look blown up on the new iDevices. Case in point: Instagram and Facebook. These also suffer from overtly large UI elements. However, due to the volume of iPhone users, I'm pretty certain most apps will be upgraded soon enough. Twitter on iOS 8 looks very good.

Going back to iOS 8 after an absence is pretty good. I really missed the quality apps and I have to say, there are so many good iOS apps.

For example. SSH clients. This is what I use my phones for most of the time. To access remote UNIX/LINUX servers remotely.

Here is Cathode on iOS. A very cool and awesome SSH client.

Now compare it to what I've been using on Android for a while. JuiceSSH.

As you can see the HTC ONE (M8)'s UI is made smaller with status bars and the virtual soft keys.  I simply think screen real estate management can be better handled on Android.

Now what looks more fun to use? Both have SSH-Key authentication and virtual soft keys. If you don't want silly geeky fun of Cathode, there are countless other great iOS SSH client apps. There are also better MySQL Clients, RDP, VNC,etc on iOS.

First party apps are also a joy to use on the new iPhone.

Pages compared to Google Docs.


Compared to Google Docs.

Simply, there is still a lot of awkwardness and I can't pinpoint it on the HTC. Maybe it is the careful selection of typography that Apple spends details on.

Again, the use of real estate on web browsing also makes a big impact on user interaction and satisfaction.  I really like the feel and transitions of the full screen on Safari. I missed the tap to top for months and now I have it back with the iPhone 6.

By default, you don't get full screen on Android as the virtual keys take up space. However, there are 3rd party apps and full screen solutions on the Google Play Store (that don't seem to work quite well).

Again, I guess the point I am driving home with this comparison is that despite the fact both have the same screen resolution, the iPhone 6 Plus makes better use of it. As I said, the HTC ONE (M8) simply feels small now.

I really dig the landscape mode. Yes, I know I've been able to do it for years on Android with various launchers but it is really nice to use it on iOS. It makes having the Plus worth it for me over the standard iPhone 6. As most of my work revolves around emails, remote Linux server connectivity, and database work, I prefer the landscape orientation. I use my iPhone for work and now it is even a better tool at it.

There are also some other major differences. The iPhone 6's camera is simply awesome. I'm not going to go into detail here as you can read dozens of online reviews and analysis from such places as DxoMark. Simply, the iPhone 6 has a very good camera.
The HTC ONE M8 camera's IQ wasn't that bad. Not as bad as you would believe from Internet trolls. But the major problem with the HTC ONE isn't the picture quality, it was the physical construction. The iPhone 6 uses a sapphire coated lens whereas the HTC ONE uses some film coating which leads to scratches. Simply, it easily gets scratch and this really bothered me. I wrote about it here :

The scratched camera lens on the HTC is a common problem and it really pushed me away from using it for photography for months. For months, I carried my Fuji XF1 because I could not rely on the HTC.

Then there is the other issue with the HTC ONE (and Android in general). The SD card. I bought an  128GB microSD card and it was rendered useless as you can read here: .
Seriously, the idea of a removable SD card is a major selling point of the Android ecosystem and Google now has deemed it not worthy so they have been locking it down. For that reasons, I opted to get the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus. Considering the cost of an UHS-1 128GB micro SDXC card, the new Apple price tiering isn't so bad and actually worth it.

Then there is the issue of Linux compatibility. I could never get the HTC (or ANY Android device since the Galaxy Nexus) to properly mount in Debian based Linux. There were work-arounds and stuff like that but it never worked reliably. MTP Android and Linux is still an issue for me. The iPhones (and iOS devices in general) were always problem free for me. They simple mount on Linux and I can copy files easily to my apps. If I wanted to copy a 8GB MKV to a video player, it wasn't a big deal. This was all great until now. As of this writing, I can only mount iOS 8.0.2 and the iPhone 6 safe volume. This is the volume where you can pull images, PDFs,etc. At this time, I can't mount the other volume where I can drag and drop files for my 3rd party apps. So it isn't quite perfect right now but usually after a new iPhone introduction, the libimobile utilities are quickly updated.


It is pretty obvious that I am enjoying the iPhone 6 Plus. With the exception of the camera and sdcard issues on the HTC ONE, they're both good phones. I just think Apple did a really good job on this new iteration. I can see how it can capture sales. This is a solid release. When I have more details, I may go into some more comparisons.

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