How did the iPhone 6 cope on a trip up Kilimanjaro and around the Serengeti?

While trying to justify my $1000 purchase to my wife she challenged me, “what can it do that my iPhone 5s cannot?”. After some head scratching I responded that it has a better battery life and a better camera, infact I was going to prove it by making it the first iPhone 6 to go up to 19000 feet to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and capture some great photos on the way.

Our adventure started with the climb up Kilimanjaro 5895 metres, then on safari in the Serengeti and rounded off with 3 nights in Zanzibar. This post will showcase the best images taken with the iPhone 6 camera. The shots are untreated and uncompressed (so please allow some time for them to load).

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Zebra in the Serengeti – This image will be great once cropped

Battery Life

We left our hotel in Kilimanjaro on a Sunday morning, with the iPhone 6 fully charged. I turned the iPhone into flight mode but decided to keep the screen brightness on auto. I was expecting the battery life to fall quickly once I started taking photos but I was proved wrong. The iPhone 6 stayed on 100% for almost 2 days, by the time we made the summit on Thursday morning I still had 55% battery, when we returned to civilisation on Friday evening, the battery was on 25%. Considering the sub-zero conditions the battery life was better then expected, although I did keep the iPhone in my sleeping bag at night when the temperature really dropped.

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Day 1 of the Kilimanjaro trek – The canopy of the trees

iPhone 6 hardware Performance

The challenging part was having to remove my gloves when wanting to take a photograph. You have to press the Home Button then slide the screen with one finger to go straight to the Camera app. A combination of button presses, like a double click of the sleep/wake button would be really useful. This would make the device feel more like a camera, instead of a phone masquerading as a camera.

Another huge frustration was the new positioning of the sleep/wake button. I get that it is a subtle improvement for general use, but when you use the volume up button to capture the photo I almost always pressed the sleep/wake button by accident with my supporting thumb, resulting in a screen grab of my iPhone! Surely this could be rethought, perhaps if the volume down button was used to capture a photo it would help a little.

I used the leather case as supplied by Apple, no complaints here. It didn’t effect the operation of the iPhone and saved the day by absorbing a couple of drops.

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This is the top of Kilimanjaro at about 6am

Camera Performance

Firstly I do not really consider myself a photographer, however I appreciate a good picture and i’ve been using my Canon digital SLR for a few years (which ofcourse came on the trip in my wife’s bag, just incase!). Apple have developed the iPhone camera to be the quintessential point and shoot, even a novice should be able to pull off a good shot. All that the photographer needs to do is frame the shot and judge the best angle for lighting. The pictures included in this article are all untreated and un-cropped. I am looking forward to bringing these images into Photoshop for a few enhancements, then I will see how they look in print. I hope that you enjoy the photos and that you can appreciate that the iPhone 6 can now easily replace a “point and shoot” in even tough environments.

 

Below are more shots, all taken with standard settings on the iPhone 6. You can view the whole gallery here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk5ArGrk

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The Serengeti at sunrise

 
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A quick “selfie” at the top!

 
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At the Mweka gate on our final day at Kili

 

3 Comments

  1. Edward B

    Very useful article, specially since I’ve been considering either not touch my iPhone until the summit day (I will need some music for sure) and take 1-2 extra portable batteries for it.

    Would be interesting to know the use you gave to the phone during the trip since 75% use in 6 days seems like an awesome performance. Did you take dozens of pictures? Also did you use it for music or something else during those days?

    • Doug Loader

      I only used it for music on the summit day. I took about 30 pics over 5 days. Keep it in flight mode, & you should be good. But take a spare camera, just incase!

      • Edward B

        I ended up carrying an extra pair of lipstick batteries for the phone and I was able to use it for music listening a good part of the way up and all the way down!
        Thanks for the article man, the iPhone did proved to be an excellent device, no failures at all!

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