Myke Hurley from Relay.fm has been the subject of light hearted discussions recently in regard to trying to convince his colleagues and friends that the bigger of the two new iPhones – the 6 Plus is the better iPhone to go for due to its superior screen, battery life etc.
I found two recent responses from Marco Arment and Jason Snell to be interesting.
What’s better about the 6 Plus
- Battery life: In my use, I’d estimate that it lasted about 50–75% longer than the iPhone 6, which is usually the difference between sometimes needing to charge it mid-day and reliably being able to last all day even in heavy usage.
- Camera: The 6 Plus’ image stabilizer is a minor difference outdoors, but a noticeable difference indoors when it can select a lower ISO, resulting in less noise.
- Typing: For whatever reason, the keyboard size on the 6 Plus (in portrait orientation) fits me better than the 6, resulting in far fewer errors. I’m already typing more accurately on the 6 Plus than I ever could on the 6.
- Screen space: It’s nice when reading books, reading web pages, and showing photos. But the additional screen space is a relatively minor benefit to me overall, as most iPhone software doesn’t make good use of it.
I think we can all agree with these above points but you would expect that from a physically larger device.
Being accustomed to the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus doesn’t feel as huge as it did when it first launched and we were all accustomed to the 4-inch iPhone 5/5S. It stopped feeling huge in my hands within the first few hours of use.
The 6 Plus is indeed worse than the 6 for one-handed use, but not by nearly as much as I expected — both are poorly suited to it.
The 6 Plus also shares the 6’s unfortunate sleep/wake-button placement opposite the volume-up button, which I presume is a victory of visual symmetry over usability. Many months into ownership, I still sometimes accidentally hit both buttons.
I too still find myself suffering from muscle memory of when the sleep/wake button was at the top on the previous models.
Grip is about the same, too. Both lack side-grippability and feel precariously slippery when used without a case, even though I’ve never needed a case for any previous iPhones. The case-edge design (on both models) is so poor that I was very uncomfortable using the iPhone 6 until I got Apple’s leather case a few weeks later. Unsurprisingly, I have the exact same opinion about the 6 Plus: it’s too slippery without a case, but feels great with the Apple leather case.
I don’t find the iPhone 6 design slippery at all but I agree that a case would make it a better grip in the hand. I don’t agree that the case-edge design is poor – industrial design at its best – smoother, thinner, less jarring.
A common theme among other reviews is that the 6 Plus is a “different kind of device” that inspires a different usage pattern, more like a tiny iPad than a large iPhone, with more two-handed and/or landscape-orientation usage. I haven’t found this to be the case. Maybe that’s because I’ve never been a heavy iPad user, but the 6 Plus doesn’t feel like an iPad or a new kind of device at all to me — it just feels like a huge iPhone.
In fact, the iPad-crossover enhancements mostly annoy me, and I’d disable them if I could. The iPad-style treatment of split-view apps and slide-up modal views in landscape orientation feels cramped and hacky at best — it just feels like a too-small iPad, rather than a too-large iPhone. I’m also constantly rotating the home screen unintentionally, requiring me to use portrait lock regularly for the first time.
Much like Jason Snell alluded to last year, you shouldn’t expect to come close to replicating the iPad experience on the 6 Plus – it’s a good idea but it has not been executed throughly enough to take advantage of the 6 Plus’s bigger screen yet – maybe iOS 9 will see some refinement in this area.
Marco finishes his article by suggesting he will move to the 6 Plus to take advantage of the bigger features even though he laments the current design of both models.
I really did appreciate the iPhone 6 Plus’s longer battery life. The longer life is noticeable, and was much appreciated as I was wandering around London. And I got used to the size of the device in my pocket in no time, but beyond that, I have to say I’m hard pressed to find anything I prefer about the iPhone 6 Plus over my iPhone 6. Yes, the screen is larger, but I didn’t ever feel that I was seeing more of the world by viewing an extra tweet in Twitterrific or a little bit more territory in Maps.
The extra screen is clearly going to be an advantage in apps that show video, photos or games – there will be a clear benefit there but I agree some apps like Twitter or Maps won’t be advantageous.
When I returned to my iPhone 6 upon landing back in the U.S., I felt instantly more comfortable when holding the smaller phone. During my two weeks with the 6 Plus, I had taken to cradling it with two hands whenever possible. I use my iPhone 6 with a single hand all the time, but that’s much harder for me to do with the 6 Plus—I could barely stretch my thumb across the 6 Plus screen to the bottom right corner, let alone reach items at the top of the screen. And I kept feeling like I was about to drop the phone as I continually moved it in my hand in order to tap the right part of the screen
People with large hands (or who rely less on one-handed operation) might have a very different experience, but for me it was just too big a device, with not enough functional gain elsewhere. I’m back to the iPhone 6 now and not missing the big guy at all. I don’t disapprove of people who prefer the 6 Plus to the 6—and I know a bunch of my colleagues are definitely rethinking their choices—but I’m afraid I won’t be joining the club.
For a pocket device which is where the iPhone is targeted at, one handed use is essential for me. In my tests with the 6 Plus, for all the good of reachability – it’s definitely a two-handed device. Each device whether it’s the Watch, iPad, iPhone, MacBook – no matter how portable these devices are, I believe they are still designed for a typical use case within the mobile category so the iPhone will always be the quick pocketable device to be used one handed and that is where the iPhone 6 and not the iPhone 6 Plus excels.
Myke’s Relay.fm colleague Stephen Hackett recently wrote on his site that what helped him sway towards the 6 Plus was the notion of purchasing the Apple Watch so he wouldn’t have to rely on pulling the 6 Plus out of his pocket for most of the time. Although I see some logic to this I am odds with this when I think off the dependency of having to carry a paired iPhone with the Apple Watch on you and perhaps not fully knowing through experience of exactly how our iPhone use will decrease if at all. Once we have spent some time carrying the iPhone and Apple Watch together will we know if the 6 Plus’s larger size be an issue.