Well, I Switched to the iPhone 6 Plus

My Relay FM co-founder Myke Hurley bought a 6 Plus back in the fall, and ever since, has praised the device for its superior screen, camera and battery life. It replaced his iPad mini and iPhone 5S both in one fell swoop. He’s been badgering me and many others for months about the superiority of the iPhone 6 Plus. I was excited to see if he was off his rocker or not.

Last month, I spent about two weeks with a loaner iPhone 6 Plus. Last week, after being back with the 6 for about 10 days, I purchased a larger phone for myself, throwing caution to the wind with a mid-cycle purchase.[1]

The first few days with a 6 Plus are awkward, even coming from the iPhone 6. I’ve dropped it a few times, and have learned that one-handed use while walking is a terrible idea for me.

In my review of the 6, I wrote:

I have fairly normal sized hands, but I can’t use the iPhone 6 the way I did my previous devices. I can hold it as I held my old phones, cradled in my right hand, but to hit targets with my thumb, I have to let the iPhone rock forward in to my thumb, which is going to end badly for everyone when I inevitably drop it. I’ve been using it two handed more than I thought I would, and have moved my most-used apps down a row so they are easier to tap if I’m walking, but my thumb hasn’t gotten used to stretching so far. I’m not sure where I’ll end up long-term, but right now, my iPhone just feels awkward at times. I’ve wondered more than once if going to the 6 Plus would force the issue in such a way that I wouldn’t be tempted to hold and use the new iPhone like the old ones.

Turns out, Younger Stephen knows what he’s talking about. The Plus is such a different device that my brain and hands treat it differently. I use it with two hands, and even turn it to landscape, which is a first for me in the nearly 8 years[2] of owning an iPhone.

In short, the iPhone 6 Plus feels much more like a pocket computer than a smartphone.

Losing one-handed operation isn’t as big of a deal in practice as I thought it would be. In fact, it may be for the best. I’m much less tempted to pull my iPhone out while riding an elevator or walking down the street, and I think that’s a good thing. After all, the Apple Watch seems to be built around that very idea.

While Scott Forstall and Jony Ive may have been excited that the original iPad would conform to the user — you could hold it in any orientation and the software just knew what to do — I’ve come to conform to the iPhone 6 Plus, and I don’t mind a bit.

The difference between a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen is bigger than it looks on paper. Side-by-side with the 6, the 6 Plus is way bigger. This means iOS can show more content at once. Games are more immersive and video is just all-around better.

The 6 Plus’ battery life is pretty incredible. While the differences between it and the 6’s battery life depend on the task at hand, I’m consistently able to last a day and a half if not longer on this thing without a charge. My 6 needed a charge every night, no matter what.

Likewise, the 6 Plus camera is also a step from its smaller cousin’s. The low-light performance is crazy good, thanks to the optical image stabilization found only on the larger phone.

Not everyone agrees that the 6 Plus is the way to go. Here’s Jason Snell, who recently used the 5.5-inch phone on a trip to England:

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.

His pocket point is an interesting one. I wear jeans every day of the week, and have gotten used to making sure it’s slid to one side when I sit down. If I am wearing a suit, it goes in my breast jacket pocket, as I’ve always done. That said, I’ll be glad to mow the grass with just an Apple Watch on soon, as opposed to having a big-ass piece of glass banging around in my basketball shorts.

I also don’t know where to put the 6 Plus in my car. I’m currently stashing it upside down in a cup holder as the old spot — resting in the leather around the parking brake — is too short for it’s longer frame.[3]

But now that I’ve gotten used to it, the situational weirdness that arises carrying such a big phone is well-worth it to me. The screen is great, the camera is sweet and the battery life is a game-changer.

Myke was right.

  1. I think the kids call this lifestyle “YOLO.”  ↩

  2. Holy crap, how has it been that long?  ↩

  3. It’s probably for the best; I bent my first iPhone 6 when I pulled up the parking brake in a hurry, trapping my phone between the console and the handle. Whoops.  ↩