Design — 6 min read
Two weeks with the iPhone 6 Plus
I’ve been using my new iPhone 6 Plus for about two weeks now. I’ve had a lot of people asking me about it, so I figured I’d write out a review.
I previously had an iPhone 5, and other than cracking my screen about two months before the new release, I loved it. The battery life left a little bit to be desired, but I always feel that way about a device at the end of a two year contract cycle and after several new OS versions. When the new phones were announced the big question was—do I go for the iPhone 6 or the 6 Plus?
The reason for upgrading to the iPhone 6 Plus
I expected the 6 was already going to feel giant compared to the 5 series, which meant the Plus was going to seem massive. However, after Matt decided he was getting the 6 (and we knew we’d need a test device for the 3X resolution), I figured I’d pull the trigger on the iPhone 6 Plus. If I hated it, I’d just return it. No big deal. I also justified my decision because I was thinking I could eliminate the use of my iPad Mini.
I play a lot of games like Clash of Clans and it helps to have a bigger screen. If you’ve ever tried to execute an attack from your iPhone 4 or 5, you know what I’m talking about. It’s painfully small and it’s easy to make mistakes.
I was thinking that the larger, higher resolution screen would eliminate that problem for me and allow me to do things that my iPad couldn’t do—like make calls or surf the web when a WiFi signal wasn’t available. For the record, I don’t think the 6 Plus will truly cannibalize iPad usage for most people, especially those with larger iPads. It’s still a great device to let your kids watch movies and play games on, to view recipes while you’re cooking, etc. I think it does however make the iPad Mini market less desirable.
After using the iPhone 6 Plus for two weeks, I love it. Yes, it did seem really big at first, but you get over that within a day or two. Then when you see someone with a 5 or *gasp* a 4, they look ridiculously small. It makes those phones, which were great phones, look extremely outdated. It’s hard to explain because I’ve never had that kind of an experience with a new release of an iPhone before. I could see moving down to a 6 if you used the 6 Plus and thought it was too big, but there is no way after a few days using either of the 6’s you could go back down to a 5/5S.
I think for most people the iPhone 6 is going to be the play, especially those upgrading from a 4 series. Also, if you wear tight fitting pants, you’re probably going to want the smaller of the two phones. However, if you can palm or almost palm a basketball, I’d highly recommend going with 6 Plus. And if you’re a gamer or watch a lot of video, I think it’s the perfect device.
I haven’t noticed that much of a difference between the camera and video on the 6 compared to the 6 Plus, but they both are amazing. The battery life so far has been stellar. On a full charge I was able to go about 17 hours before I needed to plug it back in. That was with heavy use throughout the day using apps, texting, talking, and playing games.
I’m a two thumb typer and typing on it in portrait feels so much better than typing on the 5. Keys are easier to hit as well. If you do a lot of one handed typing, neither of these phones are going to be ideal for you. I can still type with one hand on the 6 Plus, you just have to adjust how you hold it.
On the iPhone 5 you’d wrap your fingers around the outer edge of the phone and rested the phone on your pinky as you typed with your thumb. On the iPhone 6 Plus you instead have to rest the phone on your fingers, where they are flat behind the device, so your thumb can reach the keys on the far left. It seems unstable at first, but the material they used on the back of the device was a great choice. I can rest the phone on my fingers and tilt my hand on an angle and it doesn’t slip. I have to get my hand pretty close to vertical before the device has any chance of sliding off.
The form factor
I’ve heard a lot of talk about people hating the form factor and that Steve Jobs would’ve hated these new phones. I’m not buying that. I think there are some flaws, but I don’t think Steve would have a problem with a larger iPhone or this form factor. The things that are possible now with our phones have changed so much since the release of the first iPhone, it had to get bigger. Not to mention, increased sales of large phones are hard to ignore.
I love the feel of the curved edges on either side of the screen. Because the device is larger I find myself using more of a 90 degree scrolling motion, with my thumb in the bottom center and rotating up and towards the outer edge. When you do that, the curved edge feels perfect. It’s going to be hard for me to put a case on this as a result. One knock that I had on the iPhone 6 after I felt it was that it seemed too light. I always hated how light a lot of the Samsung phones were because they felt cheap. I have a theory that engineers at Apple designed this form factor for the iPhone 6 Plus, then scaled it back to arrive at the 6. Which is why the 6 Plus seems better weighted and balanced, despite the larger size. And everyone was tripping about the protruding camera lens, but I haven’t noticed a single issue with it on the 6 Plus. The power button being moved to the side takes a little bit of getting used to, but there have been plenty of times that I’ve been glad they moved it given how big the 6 Plus is.
When someone sees me with the Plus, the first thing I’m always asked is, have you had any problems with it bending? No, nor do I expect to. Any thin device can be bent if you apply enough pressure to it. My MacBook Air’s screen would snap in two if I tried to bend it. So what? I don’t put my phone in my back pocket and then sit on it. And given the size of the phone you’d be even less likely to forget it’s back there. Kudos to the Samsung PR machine though because they definitely got that concern in everyone’s heads. However, in the real world where the rest of us live, it’s a non-issue.
But the iPhone 6 Plus isn’t perfect…
The 6 Plus is not without it’s flaws though. While the thinness is great when you’re holding the device, it is much harder to pick up off a flat surface than the 5 was. I keep my phone on vibrate a vast majority of the time, but the vibrate on the 6 Plus is extremely loud and jarring. I don’t know if it’s because the device is so thin or what, but it defeats the purpose of it being subtle. I had to record a custom vibration where the burst was extremely short to cut down on the volume.
The landscape keyboard on the 6 Plus is crap. Extra junk is added on either side of the keyboard, which changes the location of commonly used functions and makes the letter keys smaller and harder to hit. I understand that just using the standard keyboard and stretching the keys would’ve looked terrible, but this solution doesn’t work either. However, because typing is so much improved in portrait, I don’t find I need to use it.
All in all, I’m real happy with my decision and I’m excited to see what app developers can do once they start updating their apps for the iPhone 6 Plus. I’d highly recommend giving the larger size a try and after a couple weeks, I think you’ll wonder how you got along without it.