TIME FindTheBest

3 Categories Where the iPhone 6 Falls Short

Last week, we crowned the iPhone 6 the best smartphone on the market…at least for now. With a mix of strong expert reviews, solid benchmark scores and a host of new features, Apple’s latest handset just nudged its way past the LG G3, HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5 to claim smartphone supremacy.

But the iPhone’s success comes more from the sum of its parts than from any individual category. The phone doesn’t have the best display. It’s not as light as some competitors. And it certainly doesn’t have the best battery life.

So if you care most about a beautiful screen or a full charge, you can do a lot better than the latest iPhone. We looked at three key categories to see how the iPhone 6 stacks up to its closest competitors stat by stat, feature by feature. Let’s take a look, starting with the iPhone’s biggest weakness.

Battery Life

Battery life has always been tricky to measure objectively, particularly in smartphones. The most popular metric is talk time, but these figures are often fudged by the manufacturers, who can manipulate testing conditions to produce the numbers they want for marketing materials.

And even when you consider third-party reviews—which often feature practical battery comparisons based on day-to-day use—they still rely on the reviewer’s hometown cell towers and personal use habits.

A better metric for a fair comparison is battery capacity. Measured in milliamp hours (mAh), it’s the amount of electric charge the device can deliver—or in consumer terms, it defines how much “juice” there is to go around.

There’s just one problem with this measurement: It doesn’t account for screen size. A smartphone’s screen is a giant power hog: the bigger the screen, the more battery capacity it’ll need to get through the day. This means that a 5.5-inch phablet will die a lot faster than a 4-inch iPhone, even if they have an identical battery capacity.

With this in mind, we’ve plotted screen size against battery capacity to account for differences in smartphone screen size. In the plot below, handsets above the blue line will tend to have worse batteries than average, while phones below the blue line will tend to have better batteries than average.

Predictably, the iPhone 6 sits above the line in the worse battery zone: that 1,810 mAh of capacity simply isn’t enough for its 4.7-inch screen. Despite incremental improvements over the 5s, the iPhone 6 still holds less juice than a glass of Sunny D.

The comparison in the chart isn’t perfect. Specifically, a phone’s pixel density will affect battery life as well, where a more crisp display will drain battery faster. Still, using the above plot, we can see that the DROID MAXX, HTC Butterfly S and several Sony phones—not the iPhone 6—have the industry’s best screen size to battery capacity ratio.

Display

In 2010, Apple set the new standard for display sharpness with the “Retina” iPhone 4. For its time, 326 pixels per inch (PPI) was one small step for screen sharpness and one giant leap for blood-shot eyes.

Four years later, Apple hasn’t budged. The iPhone 6’s display is no crisper than its 4-year-old predecessor, while Samsung, HTC and LG have jumped ahead, pushing their PPIs into the 400s and 500s. You might argue that the human eye can’t discern anything over 300 PPI anyway, but take one look at the LG G3 and you might just change your mind. Apple apologists have also pointed to battery life—more pixels means faster battery drain—but it’s a tough argument to buy when phones like the HTC One (M8) both looks sharper and runs longer than the iPhone on a single charge.

The chart below lists the sharpest screens in 2014. Note that the iPhone 6 is on the far right, at #33 overall for the year.

To its credit, the iPhone 6 Plus fares a bit better than its smaller brother in both display sharpness and battery life—it’s tied for the 23rd sharpest display in 2014. Regardless, if you want a world-class display, grab an LG G3 or a Galaxy Note 4 instead.

Weight

So even if the iPhone 6 remains a stubborn 326 PPI and blows through battery life, it’s at least the thinnest, lightest device for its size, right? Not quite. At 129 grams, the iPhone 6 is quite light, but it’s only the 9th lightest 2014 phone (in the 4.6- to 5-inch range), trailing handsets like the LG G2 Mini, LG Optimus L90 and Huawei Ascend P7.

For a fair weight comparison of all 2014 phones, however, we’d want to factor in screen size, just like we did with battery life—in other words, ounces of weight per inch of screen real estate. Using this measurement, the iPhone 6 is only the 22nd lightest phone in 2014, at 27 ounces per inch (the BLU Life Play S leads all 2014 phones, at 23 ounces per inch).

And even if you look at only the best-reviewed phones of the year (i.e. the ones you’d really consider buying), the iPhone 6 is heavier, by the inch, than five other handsets, including the Huawei Ascend P7, LG Optimus L90, LG Lucid 3, Sony Xperia T3 and LG’s latest flagship, the G3. The iPhone 6 may be light, but for now, LG’s top devices are lighter.

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

MONEY Shopping

New Tool Tells Shoppers Whether the iPhone They’re About to Buy Was Stolen

dusting for fingerprints
iStock

Worried that Craigslist iPhone might have been stolen? Now there's a way to know.

Buying used electronics has always been tricky. On the one hand, the prices are lower and platforms like Craigslist make shopping a breeze. On the other hand, you run the risk of buying a device that doesn’t work perfectly. And then there’s always the chance you could end up buying a stolen a thief — a risk that’s especially acute when purchasing a used iPhone. A full half of robberies in San Francisco were smartphone related, and similar patterns have emerged in other major cities.

Luckily for honest buyers, and anyone who doesn’t want their own iDevice nabbed, Apple has a released a tool to identify whether or not a given iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device is stolen. The website, which does not require a login, asks users to enter the serial number of their prospective purchase, and will then reveal whether the phone in question has an activation lock in place. If it does, that means either that the phone was stolen or the person selling it hasn’t correctly reset their device. Either way, it’s not a phone you want to buy.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 10.20.41 AM
You shouldn’t buy a phone if its activation lock is on.

 

The activation lock is relatively new to iOS, and works by preventing anyone from resetting an iPhone without the owner’s Apple ID and password. The feature was introduced in iOS 7 and turned on automatically in iOS 8, making it harder for criminals to sell their ill-gotten merchandise. PC World notes San Francisco iPhone thefts dropped by 38% in the six months after activation lock first launched.

However, hackers have recently succeeded in circumventing the lock, making it more likely that second-hand shoppers could accidently end up with a pilfered product. Now, when you see a deal that looks too good (or too shady) to be true, you’ll be able to confirm those suspicions.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 1

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. More face time, less screen time: To survive adolescence, kids need to put down their phones and practice interacting with each other.

By Cory Turner at National Public Radio

2. History texts may perpetuate stereotypes and deepen ethnic divides. The History Project is fighting bias with facts.

By the creators of the History Project

3. “Controlling wheat brings power.” Islamic State has carefully targeted farms and mills to tighten their grip in Iraq.

By Maggie Fick in Reuters

4. Because of innovative provisions in the $17 billion settlement facing Bank of America for its role in the housing crisis, families could get genuine much-needed relief.

By Ellen Seidman at the Urban Institute

5. The nation’s largest pension fund just pulled out of hedge funds, choosing transparency and accountability instead.

By Dean Baker at Al Jazeera America

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Smartphones

See Which Parts of the Country Have the Most iPhone Users

The coasts are iPhone zones, while the country's heartland is Android central

Ever wonder if you live in iPhone country or Android country? Wonder no more: The blue areas of this map shows you the parts of the country where people are most likely to own an iPhone, whereas red areas denote Android fandoms.

iPhone strongholds bracket the east and west coasts and grow patchy towards the nation’s interior. States like Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans leaning heavily Android outside major cities, whereas California, New York and New Jersey have heavy iPhone-using populations.

But the most intriguing differences emerge along county lines, where wealthier counties appear to have true blue iPhone fans while low income counties are relative deserts. Zoom into New York City, for example, and the Bronx stands out as an island of red in a sea of blue.

Of course, this is only a proxy measure of ownership, but other proxies, such as this map of tweets traced to various smartphone brands, tell a similar tale of two cities, where the haves tend to have iPhones, and the have nots opt for other, likely cheaper phone brands.

TIME bendgate

Apple Responds to ‘Bendgate,’ Says Bent iPhones Are Rare

Apple Responds to ‘Bendgate’

Apple responded Thursday to claims that its new iPhone 6 Plus is bendable. The hashtag #Bendgate as well as an Unbox Therapy video of a user bending his phone went viral within a few days of the iPhone 6 Plus’s release last week, and customers were not happy about it.

Apple said that with normal use a bend in the phone is rare, and that the numbers of users that have reported bent phones is extremely low; only 9 so far. Apple has publicly displayed the rigorous tests that phones undergo before being released to consumers, and has announced that some bent phones will be eligible for replacement.

An Apple rep added that the company is “looking into this with an insane amount of detail.”

TIME devices

Here’s How Much It Costs To Charge An iPhone 6

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus retail sales begin in Spain
A customer shows the new products of Apple, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, at an Apple Store in Madrid, Spain, on September 26, 2014. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Charging the phone is 14 times less expensive than charging a laptop

Purchasing an iPhone 6 will set you back anywhere from $200 to $650, depending on which model you buy and whether you’re due for an upgrade. But after you’ve settled that bill, you will only pay $0.47 a year to charge it, according to a new study from Outlier.

The study measured how much energy it takes to charge the Apple device, about 10.5 watt hours of electricity, and estimated that the average phone-owner would charge up once each day. While the Plus takes more energy to charge, it has a longer battery life and needs to be charged less frequently.

A laptop requires about 14 times the electricity used by and iPhone 6, according to the study.

TIME Companies

Apple Has an iPhone Headache, but It Won’t Last Long

Apple's stock is recovering after it took a sub-100 dip on reports of a faulty software update and bendable hardware

Updated Saturay 9/27

After launching two new iPhones and a new mobile operating system, iOS 8, last week, Apple had a rough few days. Sure, it sold a record 10 million of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models over the weekend, setting them up to be its most successful phones ever. But no company can escape the headaches that come with almost every new launch, and Apple had three problems marring an otherwise spectacular introduction.

First, iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system, inexplicably launched late last week without promised apps that used a health and fitness feature called HealthKit. Then, early this week, reports flew around social media and tech blogs showing the iPhone 6 Plus, the big 5.5-in. granddaddy of the two iPhone 6 models, was easy to bend — some people claimed the phone bent when sitting in their pockets for extended periods, others bent the phones on purpose to prove it was possible, and everybody loved calling the whole thing “bendgazi.” Finally, Apple rolled out an iOS 8 update Wednesday intended to fix that HealthKit problem and other minor issues, only to quickly pull it after users complained the update had caused their iPhones to lose the ability to make phone calls.

“We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can,” an Apple spokesperson told several tech blogs in a rare public statement about the iOS 8 update problems. Several days later, Apple rolled out iOS 8.0.2, which took care of the bugs iOS 8.0.1 was supposed to fix, plus patched up the brand new bugs that update introduced. Apple later said only about 40,000 of the millions of iPhones out there in the world were affected by the iOS 8 update problems. Still, the company apologized “for the great inconvenience experienced by users” related to the issue.

While initially mum on the bending issue, late this week Apple said only a small handful of iPhone users formally complained about bent devices. Still, in a rare move, it decided to lift the veil on on its testing process, showing the world the rigorous quality control testing it conducts on every new device. That’s the latest sign the typically tight-lipped Apple is opening up: Apple also recently directly addressed an iCloud security flaw that led to the exposure of celebrities’ nude photos. Those minor moves toward transparency show an Apple that’s taking a different tack from years prior — back in 2010, late CEO Steve Jobs infamously made a nonapology apology for an iPhone 4 problem that prevented the device from making calls when it was held a certain way. While Apple acknowledged the issue and sent customers a special “bumper” case to fix it, Jobs still said the problem had been “blown so out of proportion it’s incredible.” That’s not the kind of language we’re hearing from the company under Cook, who also issued a public apology after the company replaced the widely-liked Google Maps app with its own Apple Maps back in 2012, a move met with much scorn from users and tech writers.

Even still , Apple investors initially balked at the news of the update problems and bending issues, sending the company’s stock dipping below $98 by Thursday’s closing bell. That’s a decent little dip for the world’s most cash-rich company, but there isn’t much reason to fret. Apple is still selling its new iPhones hand over fist, and it appears poised to sell its upcoming Apple Watch hand over wrist in just a few months. The company may have a little headache now, but it’s got plenty of aspirin in the medicine cabinet. Indeed, by the end of the day Friday, it seemed Wall Street got over it: Apple climbed nearly 3% on the week’s last day of trading action, ending back above $100.

MONEY

10 Smart New Uses for Your Old iPhone

old iphones hanging
If all else fails, tap your crafty side. Obsolete old phones + twine = wind chimes! Jeffrey Coolidge—Getty Images

Don't let it take up space in a landfill or gather dust in a desk drawer. With a few free or cheap apps, you can give your out-of-date iPhone a second life.

With about 10 million new iPhone 6s ordered in the initial days on the market, a whole lot of old iPhones are destined for the scrap heap.

Sure, you could sell, donate, or recycle your old iPhone, but you probably will not. And there are better things to do with it.

One creative example: At the Missouri University of Science and Technology, a biology class is making old iPhones into microscopes. Using less than $10 worth of supplies, the old phones are mounted onto a lens and can magnify an object to 175 times its size.

Even an old phone with a cracked screen can be repurposed, says Josh Smith, editor of GottaBeMobile.com. “You’re only really limited by your imagination,” Smith says.

Here are 10 smart—and cheap—uses for old iPhones.

1. Clock

Set your old phone on a dock or a stand and use a clock app. With Standard Time ($3.99), you will have a timepiece unlike any other.

With this app, your clock is a non-stop time lapse video of construction workers switching out pieces of lumber to shape the actual time. “It’s mesmerizing,” says Shawn Roberts, 47, an Oakland, Calif., marketing executive.

You can also set up flexible alarms and get the phone to play soothing white noise as you go to sleep. Set it close enough to the bed, and it can be a sleep tracker, too, with an app like SleepBot (free).

2. Music for your car

Take your music library on the road. Some cars come equipped with docking ports for iPhones and have dashboard screens so you can navigate your musical options hands-free. Or you can just use the cigarette lighter for power.

3. Remote control

Televisions, speakers, and other devices now have apps that allow users to make their iPhones into sleek remotes.

Carm Lyman, 42, of Napa, Calif., converted his iPhone 4 into a remote for his household sound system after his iPhone 5 arrived. Lyman can control the audio levels and activate speakers in various parts of his home as well as access different music services.

4. Surveillance system

Apps can convert an old iPhone that has access to WiFi into a surveillance camera and motion detector. Presence, which is a free app, provides a live stream from the area you want to monitor. You can set it up to record video clips when it detects motion, too.

If you buy a robotic viewing stand for about $100, you can move the camera 360 degrees rather than stick with a stationary view.

5. Cookbook

No need to go through recipe books or hunt around for other devices when you have a kitchen iPhone. Download a cookbook app, such as My Recipe Book (99¢) or Big Oven (free), and just leave the device on the kitchen counter. It takes up almost no space and will hold far more recipes than any book.

6. Extra storage

Need a place to store old photos and music or other files? Turn your old phone into a storage drive using a free app like USB & Wi-Fi Flash Drive.

7. Voice recorder

Why buy a digital voice recorder when you have a retired iPhone? Using any of several free apps, including Voice Recorder and Voice Record Pro, you will have a designated memo recorder or a device to record interviews and speeches.

8. Document scanner

Genius Scan and Doc Scan are two apps that will turn an iPhone into a handy portable scanner that you can use for work, school reports, genealogical research, or recording receipts. And they will not cost you a penny.

For $20 and up, you can buy a stand that makes your iPhone into a stationary scanner.

9. Baby monitor

Sure, you can spend $100 or more on a baby monitor, or you can just set your old iPhone up to watch streaming video of your baby as well as hear and even talk to him or her.

Cloud Baby Monitor ($3.99) also allows parents to receive the signal on a wireless network or on WiFi so they do not have to be within a certain number of feet of the monitor.

10. Vehicle Tracker

Whether you need to find your car if it is stolen, record where you have traveled, or spy on your teenage driver, the built-in GPS in your phone can be used as a tracking device. An app like InstaMapper ($2.99) lets you watch the vehicle in real-time and have a record of it.

Of course, you may end up taking the simple path of letting a child use your old iPhone as an iPod Touch. Keep in mind that the phone can still dial 911, even if it does not have cellular service, Smith says.

You can also use your old phone as a back-up in case your new model suffers irreparable harm. That said, the battery of a phone that sits in a drawer unused could drain to the point where it is no longer viable.

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