Whenever someone sees me with my iPhone 6 Plus, I get the same three questions, right off the bat.
First, some variant “Oh, is that the big one?”
Then, with a smirk, they ask, “Does it fit in your pocket?”
“Yes, it fits in my pocket just fine.”
And then they follow up with, “Does it bend?”
“No, it doesn’t bend.”
Once they’ve gotten these three questions off their chest, we can actually have a conversation about the benefits and trade offs for the phone.
I like the iPhone 6 Plus, and I am glad I got it. The bigger screen has really changed how I use the device, and I think that is worth it. At the same time, it involves some compromises. I’m okay making them, but I don’t think it’s the decision for everybody.
So, to start with, why did I get the iPhone 6 Plus in the first place? To be honest, I hemmed and hawed quite a bit about which model to get. I printed out the paper cut outs to compare the 5S, 6, and 6 Plus. I tried out a colleague’s Galaxy Note 2, which also has a 5.5 inch screen. I could see that my thumb wouldn’t be able to reach all of the corners, but in practice how big a problem would that be?
In the end, I settled on the larger one because it has optical image stabilization and better battery life. I know it’s silly, but it would bother me to know there is an iPhone out there with features I do not have.
The trade-off between the two phones comes down to “bigger screen” versus “one-handed use”.
The bigger screen really has a lot of benefits. The 6 Plus crosses a boundary of size that makes the device useable for a much wider range of tasks. You can really see large chunks of web pages and take actions. I easily filled out an online donation form without hesitation on the iPhone 6 Plus, including entering the address and credit card information. On my previous iPhone 5S, I would have made an online payment like this only under duress.
Checking work email, reviewing documents, and searching for information online is quite pleasant on the larger screen. My iPad Mini had been my go-to device in the past for these tasks, but I hardly use it anymore now.
But there are definite tradeoffs. The device is frankly hard to use one-handed. The double-tap feature Apple added to bring down the top of the screen is useful, but I still can’t reach the left-hand side. I installed a special one-handed keyboard, but unfortunately the button to switch keyboards is at the extreme left edge. I have a devil of a time switching it on unless I use my other hand.
You can type and manipulate the phone one handed, but it is awkward. To reach the left edge of the keyboard, you have to hold the phone quite low down, off of its center of gravity. When you are straining to reach the edge, you don’t hold the phone as tightly, and you worry it will slip out of my grasp.
One thing that has helped a lot is getting a case. I bought the blue silicone case from Apple. It’s a bit more “grippy”, making me less concerned about the phone slipping out of my hand when it is off balance.
One thing that doesn’t bother me at all is using the big phone as a phone. For years now I have been using a bluetooth headset, so I never actually need to hold it up to my ear.
But despite the awkwardness, the reality is that most of the time I have both hands available for the phone. The bigger screen has enabled me to be far more productive on the go and has actually made a real change about how I use the phone.
For hardcore users like myself, I think it’s worth the tradeoff. For casual users (like my wife), I would stick with the iPhone 6.