After spending a good deal of time with the iPhone 6 Plus, I feel confident enough to point out its pros and cons. Hopefully you’ll find this list useful when making a decision regarding a smartphone purchase.
Pictured above: iPhone 6 and big brother/sister iPhone 6 Plus
- Perhaps the best feature of the phone is the superior antenna, thanks in part to the larger size of the phone and technological improvements by Apple like support for 802.11ac. If you used a 5s or smaller device you have likely experienced the challenge of seeing a WiFi signal but not being able to connect with it in a meaningful way. In other words, the phone is receiving a signal from an access point but doesn’t have a strong enough signal to establish a connection of any value. The challenge of course is in such a situation, your phone’s broadband stops working as it favors WiFi over cellular. As a result, the user is forced to turn off WiFi or go into settings and “forget” the network in question. Sometimes, there are multiple networks which are related and cause the same problem but repeatedly. For example, OptimumWiFi and CableWiFi. This means from practical experience you could spend a few minutes dealing with connectivity issues at a traffic light instead of doing what you were hoping to do. The good news is the iPhone 6 Plus has a far better antenna and this hasn’t happened to me nearly as often in the areas where the 5s suffered from this issue.
- Next up is better battery life. You can easily get a full day and perhaps two of use if you manage your settings properly. I’ve had a few days where I used less than 30% of the battery during the day. Many moderate users of the 5s can’t even get a day of use out of their phones so this is a huge improvement. Personally, to save battery, I don’t use the Auto-Brightness setting, I turn the brightness down as low as I can stand and I do not use push email.
- Screen size is amazing. In portrait mode you can type comfortably and see lots of screen at the same time. I found I had to type in landscape on the 5s but not with the 6 Plus. In other words, the wider screen is comfortable enough to type on without turning the phone. In fact I haven’t yet gotten used to typing in landscape on this device. It may be too big actually. Moreover, in portrait mode, you can see enough of the screen above the keyboard to allow you to even write long posts or articles like this one. After using the device for about a week, picking up a 5s will seem like you borrowed a child’s toy. This is likely why those Android users think they are superior. It’s worth pointing out the screen may be as large as the one in a premium car, making things like phone-based GPS much more enjoyable.
- In fact, you can easily opt-out of the navigation package on your next car and not even feel like you have sacrificed anything.
- All apps look good on this screen. I have read reports which complained about the form factor of this device and how some apps haven’t been able to adapt to this new resolution. Either I am not using the right apps or the speed of app updates has been quite rapid. Most likely, a bit of both.
- Speaker placement means that gaming may present a challenge if you aren’t using a wireless headset. The issue is the phone is so big you hold it in your hands in such a way that your palm covers the speaker. If you try to leave a gap, your thumb can’t easily reach the center of the screen. Again, this depends on the size of your hands.
- Speaking of which, this is not a one-handed device. You simply cannot access the entire screen with just five digits unless your hands are huge. Couple this with a slippery feel and you will clutch your phone like it’s a newborn child covered in baby oil. On the flipside, you get a user-experience which is more like a tablet or desktop. For example, you can text in landscape mode while seeing messages from multiple users coming in on the left panel. Moreover, you can see documents far more easily than on the 5s… I have already approved a marketing postcard on the phone while I was walking in the hallway of a conference. I likely would never have done this with the 5s.
- Productivity is greatly increased with the 6 Plus over the 5 as you no longer need to save emails for when you get to a larger screen. You can comfortably absorb much more content thanks to not only the new screen but Apple’s attention to detail in providing an excellent reader option in Safari. While I have duplicated this functionality on a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 using Firefox, Apple’s reader is far better.
- Kids will tell you it bends in your pocket. I was at a function with my kids recently and virtually every one of their schoolmates that saw me using the device (ages 9-13) told me with the confidence of a Hollywood actor preaching politics that the phone will bend in my pocket. When I countered that it will not, they told me with even greater confidence (is that even possible?) that it will heat up and then bend eventually. Some of the gained productivity from this device will undoubtedly be zapped in this way. Perhaps it’s better to just agree and thank them for sharing the immense amount of wisdom they’ve no-doubt gained from spending countless hours on Instagram and Facebook.
- Driving is dangerous with the iPhone 6 Plus because if you are used to a one-handed phone, you will find yourself reaching for the top of the screen by sliding the phone in your hand. You will undoubtedly take your focus off the road because you’ll find you’ll need to balance the device to keep it from falling. To make access easier, you can gently double-touch the home button to bring the items on the top-half of the screen within reach but for some reason, I haven’t gotten used to doing this myself. Hopefully I will catch on soon or just use the phone in the car less or rely on speech-recognition.
- It’s worth mentioning speech recognition is now far better. This isn’t unique to the 6 Plus. iOS 8 improved this function on the 5s and other devices as well. The point is, you can now use speech as an input device and experience greater accuracy. It’s by no means perfect but it’s far better than it was.
- The phone is slippery. It isn’t terrible but I feel like it could fall out of my hands. Still, it feels good to hold. I believe a thin silicone case might help without adding too much bulk. I ordered one and will report back if it makes a big difference.
- It is an Android rip-off. Apple was at one-time suing Samsung into oblivion because they claimed they were copied. They likely buried the hatchet when they realized the impending iPhone 6 Plus was a Galaxy Note 2 clone. Specifically, the screen size
is the same but the phone is a bit taller and thinner.
- You can drain the battery and heat the device nicely by simultaneously using FaceTime and a graphic-intensive game like Modern Combat 5 on maximum screen brightness. In other words, even though battery life is tremendous, you can cut into it significantly with the right GPU-intensive apps.
- iPad use will be reduced. If you have any-sized tablet, you will take it with you less as a result of this device. I have an informal rule – if I am going to be sitting for more than 15 minutes, I’ll take the iPad or Surface Pro 3. Otherwise the phone works great. This really is an iPad mini killer.
- The camera is better than the 5s but only fanatics will notice a difference.
- Consider getting more memory than you thought you would need as higher resolution images supporting Retina HD means larger file sizes. Also, more screen real-estate means you will benefit from many more applications than you might have used on a smaller phone.
- I still stand by my comments that the Super-AMOLED screen technology on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge is superior to the 6 or 6 Plus LCDs. If you want to learn more, here is a great source. If you aren’t absolutely convinced you need an Apple device, consider the Note Edge as it is a really innovative phone as you can swipe the side of it to do amazing things like see news, weather and messages – while still doing something else on the main screen. Once developers start to innovate, we will likely all be amazed. Apple may even be forced to copy some more.
- I am still struggling to find a suitable case for this device for running. I do not want an armband – I prefer something which goes around the waist. I have tried one featured on another news site but am so unimpressed, I don’t even want to write about it. Tune Belt has been around long enough to supply great running cases for Sony Walkmans. They are soon going to bring a case for iPhone 6 Plus to market. It may be a great option. They say they have an armband solution now if you’re interested.
- If however you are 100% in the Apple camp, the 6 Plus is an amazing device. It gives you “fits in most pockets” portability with tablet functionality and one-day-plus battery life. I have written two blog entries on the phone already and this post began life on the iPhone – using Microsoft Word and OneDrive. There has been much talk of how smartphones are replacing computers for common activities – this is the first Apple phone which in my opinion allows you to do the majority of things a PC can do. I still am waiting for iOS to get better at selecting text. Android has a way to go in this arena as well. This minor quibble aside, you will lose some one-handed functionality for sure but will more than make up for it with the increased productivity you get using two hands.