Vacationing with the 6P - does it pass the Disney crucible?

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LeoRex

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Having bought the 6P back in December, I had really put it through most of its paces by now... but I always knew there would be a major gauntlet on the horizon; my family's vacation in Walt Disney World in Orlando FL... 9 full days of House of Mouse. Anyone whose been to WDW can attest, that place is kind of the smartphone version of Navy SEAL Hell Week. You get a perfect storm of spotty network connections (WiFi and mobile), heavy camera use in often not-so-ideal lighting and lots of gaming to keep the kids in line while suffering through long waits.

So off we went, with my new RavPower 20Kmah charging pack in tow... there to do some in-air refueling for both my 6P and my wife's G4. She had the advantage of a removable battery and cradle, which I can charge on the fly with the pack. And to add a bit of cross platform info, my wife's cousin (who was also along) had his new iPhone 6S.

Now, I typically run some heavily modified software; custom ROMs, kernels, etc. But the last time I wanted to deal with is running into an unstable phone... With my wife standing there, telling me to snap a picture, if I said "Sorry, honey, I need to flash an old version of my kernel"... that wouldn't have flown. So my 6P was pretty much stock, only rooted. And it was steady and ready the entire trip, short of one brief period where I got the 'could not connect to camera' error. No other FCs, random reboots, weird laggy derping fits, etc.

Battery performance

This is probably the single most important stat when it comes to vacations. You are usually away from outlets for long periods of time and even if you do find one, you most likely can't stay very long. A good, high capacity, high-speed battery pack is a must. Luckily, that RavPower has a USB-C port, and my wife's G4 has the cradled spare, so we were in good shape. And I was glad I had that spare for her G4 as I was quite surprised at how voracious an appetite that thing had for a charge. We both started the day with a full charge and by the time I slapped it on the pack for a top-off charge around dinner (with my battery still in the 40-50% range so it was mostly for piece of mind), most of the time I had already swapped out a heavily depleted G4 battery... twice. I can say with confidence that I could have easily made it through an entire day on a single charge with my 6P without playing any battery-saving tricks, like popping it in airplane mode early and often. I've never been able to do that with any phone I'd brought along.

And its not like Doze was a factor, we were constantly on the move, so it never had time to settle down for a nap. So it's mostly all hardware based power consumption.... screen and radios... I know from other testing that the 6P has excellent radio reception and power management. I was able to better signals than my wife's G4 or the 6S and when things got really bad, it used less power as it struggled to stay in contact with Mother Tower.

Oh, the iPhone? It was used sparingly as my wife's cousin never brought a cable to the parks and he said it wouldn't last the day if he used it too much.

Camera performance

I came away quite impressed with the pictures from my 6P. Outside, during the day (i.e. good lighting), there really wasn't that big a difference between it, the G4 and the 6S. All took good, high quality pictures. But at night, and inside attractions (where it's often dark), the difference here was pretty striking... The 6P pretty much kicked sand in the face of both the G4 and 6S and stole their girlfriends. Time after time, it took better, more detailed pictures with much better color and dynamic range...and the gap widened if I used HDR+.

Here is one example from Fantasmic, a nighttime show. The 6P shot (top, not HDR+) at 1/40s and ISO200 where the G4 (bottom) was at 1/30s and ISO900 and were taken at almost the exact same time (she was about 6 people to my left, hence the difference in angle). I did nothing to these pictures other than cropping and re-sizing them to post better. The G4 is brighter, but gets there by overexposing the shot. And the much higher ISO setting results in a lot more noise popping up. And one final note... the 6P shot was a one time deal. I launched the app via the double-tap on the power button and took a single picture. My wife took a good half dozen or more shots in succession and I picked the best one of the lot (most were much worse).

6P Fant.jpg
notice how clearly you can see Minnie and her red polka dotted bow and dress above...
G4 Fant.jpg

When it came to video, much has been said about the 6P's lack of OIS, instead choosing the electronic stability option. I took a fair number of videos and the optical vs electronic never really mattered much. My videos didn't come out all shaky or frantic. One thing I did notice is that OIS on the G4 tends to create a bit of a wobble/jello effect on some videos (which vanished if you zoomed in a smidge, odd). To be honest, looking at the videos we both took, both came out good.

Now, one criticism I often hear is that the 6P is slow to take shots and that it fails miserably for those who need to get off a quick shot. I took a ton of quick point n' shoot pictures and I really had no issues with the speed. The double tap shortcut didn't work every time, but it was pretty reliable once I got used to the right timing. I also did not lose any pictures (which I have also heard at times). Lastly, there was that one instance where I got the 'cannot connect to camera' error when quick launching... took a little bit for that to clear. But with close to 600 pictures and videos taking over a 9 day span, 1 momentary derp.... not worried. And I found my wife complaining on a few occasions about slugging 'shutter' times with her G4.... when it got dark/inside, she said it sometime got slow to focus and the shutter delay got quite long. It got to the point where she would ask me to take pictures she would have otherwise took herself.

Final Thoughts

I guess to say the 6P passed the test is a bit of an understatement. It not only passed, it barely broke a sweat in the process. I could have squeezed a good 12 hour day before the empty light would have come on, which is outstanding given the conditions. It took great pictures in near every imaginable condition and it did so with little to no fuss. It basically handled everything thrown at it with grace and precision. So anyone out there curious about how well it will handle itself, particularly parents, I can tell you that this thing's ready to rock and roll...

P.S. If anyone's interested, I'll post more pictures in the thread. And if you have any specific questions, ask away.
 

queenren

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I'm glad you mentioned that lack of a shutter lag and being able to get a quick shot. I was worried about this coming from an iPhone 6s Plus. But the 6P is just as fast to me and it takes better pics than the 6s Plus - especially with low light.
 

LeoRex

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What carrier are you on? Any connectivity/network issues?

T-Mobile. My wife too... Cousin is AT&T I think.

Connectivity issues in Disney is a mixed bag. Outside, you'll get good service on most carriers, but bandwidth is HORRID. Remember that you are sharing a relatively limited number of towers with tens of thousands of other devices, many of which are being actively used (long waits = lots of people killing time)... And inside many rides and attractions, signals degrade quickly.

Disney has wifi hotspots most everywhere on property, but you're sharing that with everyone. And those go in and out often as well.

So basically you are really working the radios... Hard.... And the 6P had been the first phone that I've used there that didn't have their radios burn though juice like a '70 Cuda. As an aside, I've become quite impressed with the job both Huawei and Qualcomm have done with the radios.
 

LeoRex

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I'm glad you mentioned that lack of a shutter lag and being able to get a quick shot.

Yeah.. With the double tap launch, I'd grab my phone and tap and by the time I got to eye level, it's ready to go. And it focused fast and snapped off a pic quickly.

I also used HDR+ most of the time, day and night. The lag there isn't all that bad on the newer versions of the Google Camera... And I've used HDR+ since it first appeared on the Nexus 5, so I have a good feel when to toggle it, which is easy with the new on-screen toggle.

I haven't used Auto-HDR much yet, no particular reason, just not familiar to the scenarios that it triggers. And I've found that even in bright shots, HDR+ adds value... And there, shutter lag is pretty much non-existent with HDR+.
 

MizWylie

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I had a really good experience overall when I visited Super Bowl City and the Embarcadero/Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco last month. I took my phone off the charger at 9:30 in the morning and was at about 20% at 1:30 in the morning after snapping, texting, Yelping, Maps, and posting to FB.

Keeping in mind that I'm an amateur when it comes to cameras in general, I'm a point and click gal.

Also, Verizon had tripled the service/coverage for the Bay area for the Super Bowl so I never had less than full service the whole visit. It was so dang awesome. I'm from Montana, we still suffer from black holes in service.

Thanks for your awesome review!!

Posted from the 6P of Aluminum Doom
 

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MizWylie

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And these two. All different conditions.

Posted from the 6P of Aluminum Doom
 

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isdaako

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Great write up. Guess I don't know much about WDW, but nine days? I'd no idea there was that much amusement there.
 

LeoRex

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Great write up. Guess I don't know much about WDW, but nine days? I'd no idea there was that much amusement there.
Well, four big parks, it can take a lot of time. We used to go for a week, then my mother in law noticed that per-day prices (room, tickets) drop to next to nothing after day 7... So it grew.

So being that long, the fewer things to juggle, the better. This is the first phone that's required no special handling. I used to use automation apps to toggle stuff to conserve power, stuff like that.

Oh, I do give a little credit to the RavPower pack though. It had more than enough capacity for several full charges, and it charges as fast as the stock brick. I had an older 5K pack that was only the standard charging speed and while better than nothing, it was a stop-gap.

During the afternoons and evenings, people wandering around looking for outlets was a common site, and they are few and far between outside of your hotel room. 'My phone's dead' was as commonly overheard as 'Let's get ice cream'. A high capacity, fast/quick charging battery pack is a crucial these days as sunscreen.
 

Golfdriver97

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smartphone version of Navy SEAL Hell Week
This probably is the one situation that would strain any device. Especially the towers being as overloaded as they are, weak signals, etc.

I was last in Orlando in 2003, sadly, I can't relate much. The closest thing I can compare to is being around the Mall of America near Christmas, and that can get pretty taxing for a cell to hold onto a strained tower.
 
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