The iPhone 6 Plus is perhaps the hottest and most controversial gadget on the market today. Whether its popularity is due to actual demand or Apple’s own hype/supply constraint is difficult to say, but nonetheless it’s a topic that a lot of people are very interested in. Because of this, I’ve decided to write up my own review of the iPhone 6 Plus after using it non-stop for a solid week. You might be wondering why I’m using an iPhone, especially since I famously declared I was ditching iOS for Android last year. Well, in short, I gave Android a shot, hated it, and then patiently waited for Apple to give me the device I’d been waiting for. Whether or not that device is the iPhone 6 Plus, well, you’ll have to read the rest of the article and surmise that for yourself.
What Model Did I Choose?
Like millions of other people, I waited up until 3AM EDT on September 12th to preorder my shiny new iPhone. At the time I was on vacation with my wife (who has a strict no device/internet policy when we’re away together), however I was able to persuade her to allow me to use the hotel lobby computer just this once (and after I agreed to buy her a phone too). As the clock struck 3AM I was feverishly clicking refresh on both the Apple and Verizon websites. Luckily Verizon went live well before the Apple online store and I was able to breeze through checkout with relative ease.
I had debated long and hard about the choice of iPhone that I was going to make, and up until the very last moment had decided on a 64GB Space Gray iPhone 6 Plus. However, just as I was about to click “add to cart” something in the back of my mind told me to bite the bullet and go for the 128GB model… so I did. That’s right, I’m that guy. I got the biggest and baddest iPhone they make, and I make no apologies for that. This will allow me to store all of my music locally on my device and still have plenty of space for photos, videos, and maybe a movie or two. After all, my plan for this device is for it to semi-replace my iPad, right? So, naturally I’m going to need to maximize its capabilities.
Why Did You Need the Big One?
This is the question I get asked all the time. Why did I need to get the bigger iPhone? The answer is much more complicated than you might think. On the surface it looks like I went for the most expensive iPhone on the lot simply because I could and because I wanted the biggest and the best. While I’m sure vanity played its own special role in my decision, the real reason I went for the bigger iPhone has nothing to do with the iPhone at all. For the past 4 years I’ve struggled to find a place in my life for the iPad. Everybody seems to love their iPad, and I wanted to love mine just as much as they did, but I just couldn’t get into it. For me, the iPad was always a large iPhone that could almost be a laptop, rather than a unique device that had its own special use case. Seeing that I already had a phone and a laptop, you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm.
Yes, there are some instances when the iPad comes in handy. I like to use it during meetings to take notes. I enjoy watching movies with it on an airplane. I’ve even grown fond of using it as a digital sketch pad. Those fringe use cases aren’t enough to keep me using it on a daily basis though. As I sit here and type this blog post, I can’t even tell you where my iPad is or the last time I used it. That’s the problem.
My hope is that the iPhone 6 Plus becomes that hybrid device that I’ve been looking for. I want something that is part phone/part tablet that will act as an intermediary between me and my desktop Mac. I think the 6 Plus is on the fast track to becoming that, but I’ll reserve that judgement for when the full suite of Continuity features go live this Fall with the release of Yosemite.
How Big is it… Really?
Well, it’s pretty damn big. It’s definitely the biggest phone I’ve ever owned or picked up for that matter. That being said, I don’t think it’s too big. The phone actually fits well in my hand and also in my pockets. Now, let’s pause for a moment and discuss pockets. As you know, there have been reports of people bending their iPhone 6 Plus units by simply wearing them in the front pocket of their jeans. What the reports fail to mention (I’m guessing) is that the people who are bending these phones are the kind of people who shop at babyGap and think that “the tighter the pants, the hipper the dude” is an actual mantra worth having nowadays. I, on the other hand, wear normal pants. Just plain, simple, normal, fit-the-way-they’re-supposed-to pants. Therefore the iPhone 6 Plus is in no danger of bending, warping, or otherwise disfiguring itself while on my person. Here are some comparison photos of the 6 Plus for you to get an idea of just how big it really is.
How Thin is It?
This thing is thin. There’s not much else to say about it. For comparison, I’ll show you this model vs the original iPhone from 2007. Remember how svelte and awesome that thing was? Yeah, it now looks like a bulbous hunk of ugly next to the iPhone 6 Plus. All kidding aside, the thinness of the device is grossly overshadowed by the width/height of the device. All-in-all it doesn’t feel any thinner in my hand than an iPhone 5 or 5S did.
Do You Like the New Design?
When I first saw the design of the iPhone 6 leak online I was a little skeptical as to whether or not I’d like it. The antenna lines in particular were off-putting to me. Once you have the device in your hands, however, there’s no denying that this is a thing of beauty. I don’t care about the lines on the back at all now. The curved glass on the front of the device coupled with the smoother edges make this thing an absolute joy to hold in your hands. The iPhone 5/5S felt very boxy and utilitarian to me. This is like it was molded out of a butter or something (seriously, it’s slippery). I’m still on the fence about the color choices that Apple offers, but as per usual I went with the Space Gray model because it is the only one that offers a black front bezel. I actually prefer the silver back casing, but the white face is distracting for me and I’m always afraid of potential yellowing over time.
Using the Phone One Handed
Ok, if you’re Andre the Giant, you can use the 6 Plus one handed with very little issue, I’m assuming. Me? I’m not Andre the Giant, but I’m certainly not an infant either, and I simply can’t do normal tasks one handed like I used to with my old iPhone 5. That being said, I don’t think that this device is meant to be used one handed in the first place. There’s a reason the term phablet was coined a few years ago. These devices are indeed a new class of device that are meant to accomplish the tasks of two very distinct devices (phones and tablets), and I believe they should be treated as such. I understand that logic and habitual tendencies will tell you to use this device one handed, and you’re certainly welcome to try, but I think you’ll be sorely disappointed when/if you do.
There is a “feature” on the 6 Plus called Reachability, which allows you to double tap (not click) the home button on the device and have the screen shimmy down to (what Apple considers) a more reachable position. While this certainly does increase the one-handedness of the device, it’s still a painful reminder of just how big this thing really is. Not to mention the fact that it is totally counter-intuitive to what we’ve been taught to use the home button for all these years.
How’s That Big Screen Treating Ya?
The screen is the best part of the 6 Plus for me. I’m in awe of how beautiful it is and how bright and crisp everything looks on it. The unfortunate thing is that most developers aren’t taking full advantage of the real estate on the 6 Plus, but that’s more of a knock on Apple for keeping the thing a secret than it is a knock on the device itself. I can honestly say it is far more enjoyable to work and play on the iPhone 6 Plus than it was to do either on my iPhone 5 or my iPad Air.
Wait a minute… Did you just say that you like using the iPhone 6 Plus more than you do your iPad Air? Yep. For instance, when I’m in bed at night, it can be a real pain to hold up an iPad for any length of time. The iPhone 6 Plus is as light as a feather and still gives me plenty of screen to watch Netflix, play Threes, or read/write emails. It’s perfect!
How Long Does the Battery Last?
While it’s still very early on, and iPhone batteries tend to fade out progressively over time, as of now the battery life is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! With my iPhone 5 I had to scramble to find a charger at least two to three times per day. As I’m typing this post it’s been nearly 20 hours since my last full charge on my iPhone 6 Plus, and my battery is holding strong at 39%. Your mileage, of course, will vary depending on how you use your device and the strength of your wireless signal(s), but if you’re looking for the end-all-be-all in terms of iPhone battery life, the 6 Plus is it.
Tell Us About the Camera
Ah yes, the single differentiating factor (other than size) between the 6 and the 6 Plus. While I haven’t had a chance to fully field test the iPhone 6 Plus camera (I’m saving that for my upcoming trips to New York), I can safely say that the camera is pretty awesome on this device. I was never disappointed by my iPhone 5 camera though, so it’s tough for me to say that this camera is that much of a leap forward. I’ll have more to report on this after I put it through its paces in a few weeks, but in the meantime here are a few shots I’ve taken thus far with the 6 Plus.
Is it Faster than the iPhone 5/5S?
I never owned a 5S, so I can’t speak to that, but this device is definitely faster than my old iPhone 5, especially when it comes to running iOS 8. I haven’t done any benchmark tests, but everyday use just feels zippier on the 6 Plus. I’ve noticed that video playback seems smoother, app switching is definitely faster, and even processing photo edits is a breeze on this thing. Overall it’s a definite speed upgrade from just about any previous model iPhone, I think.
How do You Like Touch ID?
Touch ID was the biggest selling point for the iPhone 5S, but at the time I just didn’t get it. Now that I actually have Touch ID, I’m amazed at how I ever lived without it. The fact that I no longer have to enter in my passcode to unlock my phone or enter in my Apple ID to make a purchase on the App Store is fantastic! I’m also madly in love with the fact that other applications can now take advantage of Touch ID. I am a big 1Password user, and I now have the ability to unlock 1Password and authenticate within it using Touch ID… Score! Amazon is another app that takes advantage of Touch ID. I can now make purchases and authenticate my Amazon credentials with the tap of my finger. That’s both awesome and dangerous at the very same time. Impulse buys, anyone?
What are Your Thoughts on iOS 8?
If you’ve been using iOS 7, you’re not going to be blown away by a lot in iOS 8. Yes, there are some new apps and features, but for the most part it’s the same iOS you’ve loved (or hated) for the last year or so. The Health app is the most interesting new app for me, but until the other apps I use (Nike+) start integrating with it, I see it more as just a novelty at the moment.
The one feature I was actually looking forward to in iOS 8, however, turned out to be a huge disappointment. Family Sharing has long been a problem with iOS devices. In that I mean it was difficult to share an iTunes/App library with your family. Then iOS 8 introduced iCloud Family Share plans. However I was very disappointed to learn that while I can share things like photos, calendars, and even app purchases with my iCloud family plan, I’m unable to share iCloud storage. While I’m sure they’ll add this eventually, not having this is a huge let down for me.
Did You Buy a Case?
You bet I did! No, I’m not worried about bending this thing, but I am terrified of dropping it! The iPhone 6 Plus is a big, slim, slick device. I don’t mean slick as in the aesthetics, either. The phone is slippery, and thus in need of a case, in my opinion. I went with the Apple branded silicone case for the iPhone 6, mostly because it was the only one available for sale in the Apple Store that day that I happened to walk in. I do have a few other cases on order from various vendors, but they’re all running behind due to the immense popularity of these new devices, so I’m still waiting.
The Apple case is very nice, adds a lot of grip, and not a lot of bulk to your iPhone 6 Plus. The case offers all-around protection except for the bottom of the device, which is left inexplicably open and susceptible to drop damage. The grippiness of the case doesn’t impede normal in-and-out of pocket operation, again presuming you’re wearing normal pants, which was a surprise for me given the size of the device. The case costs a bit more ($39) but that is par for the course when you’re dealing with Apple products, I guess.
Did You Buy a Screen Protector?
Normally I don’t buy screen protectors, but this time I did, and I’ll tell you why. My iPhone 5 was the first iPhone I owned that actually got a scratch on the screen. Considering I’ve owned every generation of iPhone prior to that, I consider that a big win. What this told me was that I was becoming increasingly more comfortable treating my iPhone as more of a utility than a luxury item, and thus I needed something to protect my new one because I’m sure it’ll meet the same fate as its predecessor.
As you can see from the photos above, the screen protector I purchased does not go edge-to-edge on the new curved glass screen of the iPhone 6 Plus. At first this may seem as though the product is inferior or otherwise flawed in its design. But if you think about it curved edges are always hard to cover, especially when talking about using a thin, sticky film of some kind. Therefore it makes sense that screen protector manufacturers would stop short of the curves. I chose the Zagg Invisible Shield Glass for my screen protector, and WOW, what an amazing fit and finish this thing has. The film itself is made of glass and it’s super thin, so it’s next to impossible to tell the difference between it and the native surface of the iPhone. The glass model isn’t cheap ($35) but I figure that’s worth it for the piece of mind (and lifetime guarantee) that it affords me.
The “new device smell” hasn’t even faded off of my iPhone 6 Plus yet, so it’s tough for me to give a serious yay or nay as to whether or not this device is a home run for Apple. I think for customers who want and need a big phone, this is going to be a very attractive option, but I also think that over time that demographic may be much smaller than originally anticipated. I’ve already made the decision to stick with my 6 Plus, and I’ll probably stick with this size iPhone going forward (providing they continue to make them). As I continue to test the device and figure out exactly how it fits into my daily routine(s) I’ll write some more posts. Until then, thanks for reading!