Apple

A mini review of the iPhone 6 Plus

Jordan Golson shares his thoughts on the (gigantic) iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 Plus
Image: CNET

After using the iPhone 6 Plus as my full-time phone for a week, I definitely understand the appeal of huge phablets. I played with the 5.1" Samsung Galaxy S 5 earlier this year and enjoyed the large screen, but as a hardcore iOS user, I couldn't fully appreciate the phone until it had iOS installed.

First off, what a screen. Apple's team has really knocked it out of the park with this one. Packing a 1920 x 1080 display at 401 ppi, pixels are impossible to see by my eyes, and text and video look incredible.

Apps that have been redesigned to fully support the 5.5-inch screen of the iPhone 6 Plus are great, and the extra real estate really comes in handy when browsing the web, sending emails, or using Twitter. Unfortunately, at this early point, most apps haven't yet been updated for it, reminding me of when the iPhone 4 was first released with its Retina display, or when the iPhone 5 came around, running apps in a letterboxed form.

These days, apps basically run in a mildly enlarged form, with everything (including menu bars and the keyboard) made slightly bigger to fill the screen. It's a mild annoyance, but if prior iOS changes are any indication, developers will be quick to take advantage of the new space and abandoned apps will be few and far between.

Since I got the phone, I haven't used my iPad mini nearly as much, and I hope developers of iPad apps will consider moving their apps onto the larger screen of the iPhone 6 Plus. It's much closer to the iPad as far as screen real estate goes (and how it feels to use) than it is to an iPhone.

Holding the phone does make you look a little foolish, as — it should be said — does holding the iPhone 6. I work at home and make most of my phone calls with a hands-free headset, but those who make calls when they're out and about should be aware that they will be holding a large thing to their head. That's the cost of doing business, I'm afraid.

Battery life is excellent, and charging the phone with an iPad charger does seem to fill the battery bar more quickly than the included charger, but I have not done any scientific tests.

Using Touch ID in lieu of entering passwords is an incredible feature that needs to make its way into every app that asks for a password more than once, as well as the iPad (coming next month), and the Mac (not sure about this one). Biometric authentication is the future and the iPhone 6 implementation of Touch ID seems to be much faster and more accurate than the version that was in the iPhone 5s. We don't know what Apple did to improve things, but recognitions have been flawless for me — 100% accuracy. Well done.

The camera on the iPhone 6 is excellent but I'll leave it to others, including Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photojournalist Todd Heisler, to critique it more closely.

I have large hands and I'm a big guy. I didn't find the 6 Plus to be particularly unwieldy, and I've only dropped the phone once — onto my face when holding it over me in bed, and my wife thought it would be funny to bump my hand. OK, it was funny. Still, if you have small hands, the iPhone 6 is probably the better purchase unless you really like holding things with both hands.

I didn't find typing one handed to be particularly onerous, though it does take some time to get used to the wider keyboard after 6 years using iPhone keyboards that were all the same width.

My iPhone 6 Plus is the 128 GB model, excessive for most people, but it's nice to have the option of extra space. My recommendation to almost everyone is for the 64 GB iPhone 6, not the 6 Plus. Like a Chevy Suburban, it's larger than necessary for most people — but again, it's nice to have the option of a larger screen. We'll see whether I go for the 4.7" or the 5.5" phone when I buy the iPhone 6s (or whatever it's called) a year from now.

My other advice for potential smartphone buyers is to pick up whatever the latest model is, especially if it just launched. Though you can save as much as several hundred dollars buying the older iPhone 5s or 5c, the amount of money saved will pale in comparison to the amount spent on actual cellular plans over the two to three years that most people will own their smartphone.

The newest phone will be faster, have more features, and run the latest software for longer, plus it doesn't cost much more money. Get the 64 GB iPhone 6 (in whatever color you wish) and don't look back.

Do you plan to take Jordan Golson's advice and purchase the iPhone 6? Why or why not? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

About Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

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