With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus finally hitting shelves tomorrow (September 19th) and excitement (and queues) already building, the world's tech reviewers who've been lucky enough to get their hands on the devices early have been giving their verdicts.
And it seems that the next stage in the evolution of Apple's flagship smartphone has been nothing short of a triumph, at least if the first feedback is anything to go by. While the devices don't feature any revolutionary new features, both models have wowed journalists with their slimmer design, bigger screens and better hardware. So here's what the experts have been saying about the gadgets.
Bigger really is better
The first thing that anyone notices about the new generation of iPhones is their significant size increase over previous models. The iPhone 6 gets a 4.7-inch screen as opposed to the previous 5s' tiny four-inch display, while its bigger brother's 5.5-inch screen brings it right up against the main Android rivals from the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG.
And this has gone down well with reviewers, with almost unanimous praise for the iPhone 6's display. However, when it comes to the iPhone 6 Plus, opinion was a little more mixed – as is always the case with phablet-sized phones, as some people will always find them a little unwieldy. But the general consensus was Apple has made the most of the extra space, while minimising the drawbacks.
The Telegraph noted that with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple has "come closest yet" to finding the right balance between size and usability with the ability to bring everything on the display to the bottom half of the screen by double-tapping the Home key, while the Guardian said choosing between the two sizes could be "surprisingly difficult".
Slimmer, lighter, smoother
Aside from the screen itself, the design of the phone also came in for praise. Apple has worked to make the iPhone 6 slimmer than its predecessor, while the fairly sharp edges that have been a feature of previous iPhones have also been rounded off – similar to the iPod touch and iPod – giving the phone a smoother, more pleasant feel in a user's hand.
The Independent commented: "These curvy edges also give the phone a friendlier, more intimate feel." It added these mean the phone is "a better fit in the hand than any Apple handset since the original iPhone".
Meanwhile, Macworld said that, as you'd expect from Apple, the build quality of the iPhone 6 is excellent. It observed that while some people will take some time to get used to the fact the sleep/wake button has been moved, its new position makes it easier to press without adjusting your grip or resorting to a second hand.
A sharper image
The updated camera has also been roundly praised. While it does mean there is a slight bulge on the back of the phone around the lens, the Guardian noted this is so slight that most users will barely notice it – and it is an acceptable trade-off for the vastly-improved image-capturing capabilities.
As well as the fact the camera offers more detailed images than previous versions, the iOS 8 update brings with it a range of new features, such as an exposure meter and time-lapse photography.
The Telegraph noted that on paper, the camera seems like the weak link in the iPhone 6's arsenal of features, as it lacks option such as optical zoom, 4K or the same resolution as many of its rivals. But that said, the publication noted it is still "the best camera of its class on the market" and "improvements in the iPhone 6 mean that it focuses faster, detects faces better and offers more controls than previously."
More power, longer lasting
The changes under the cover of the iPhone 6 may be less immediately obvious, but users are likely to notice the difference – particularly if they opt for the bigger iPhone 6 Plus. Engadget, for instance, found that while the iPhone 6 offered ten hours and 19 minutes of video playback before it was drained, the iPhone 6 Plus lasted almost 12 hours. It therefore noted: "With moderate to light usage, you should expect to see the Plus get roughly a day and a half, if not more."
Meanwhile, the new A8 processor also offers improvements over the previous model, though the Independent observed these can be quite subtle – if effective. the publication explained that while it may not immediately seem as if the phone is reacting faster than the 5s, it is actually doing more in the same amount of time – something app developers will no doubt look to take advantage of.
With a raft of five-star reviews already added to Apple's impressive collection, there's no doubt that anyone looking for the most advanced, up-to-date phone won't be disappointed with either the iPhone 6 or the 6 Plus. And with the devices already selling out, this success is set to be replicated in the sales figures.
For the last word, renowned Apple fan Stephen Fry summed it up, telling the Guardian that the firm has "produced two devices of absolutely exquisite dimensions, heft and feel" that represent "the best and most beautiful mobile telecom technology ever yet produced".