I knew the iPhone 6 Plus was big going into this, so it should have come as no surprise as I opened the box. I just returned from the Apple Store, held one in my hand just moments before finalizing my purchase and even the package just made it into my cargo pants pocket. Yet, somehow I was still taken aback at the hugeness of this phone as I sit here at my desk staring at it. Thinking back to just moments ago, I guess I was so focused on my goal of getting in and out of the store as quickly as possible that I was oblivious to everything else. At this point all I can do is shake my head and smile as I’m thinking… Man… What in the world am I going to do with this thing? …And right here is exactly where I am going to leave that thought.
Since I am simply moving from one iPhone to another I am only focusing on the factors that impact my usage such as the display size, battery life and portability. These are the only things I need to decide on whether I’ll keep the 6 Plus or move over to the 6. So with that in mind let’s see how things work out.
30 Plus Days And A Few Thoughts
Aside from the obvious size of the 6 Plus what grabbed my attention next of course, was the screen. It’s big, it’s bright and it’s the one component of any smartphone you will spend the majority of your time interacting with the moment you turn it on. It’s also the only real proof that all the internal components are working together properly. This makes it in my opinion the most important piece of the device.
As I started using it, I found that it wasn’t the wider viewing angles of the new dual-domain in-plain switching (DD-IPS) panel or the sharper images and more fluidly rendered graphics of the 1920×1080 display that is downscaled from its native 2208×1242 resolution that had a major impact. While, those are all very important advancements in display technology it was actually the new polarizer that proved to be the most useful.
This ultra-thin layer of film that sits inconspicuously between the glass and LCD panels has but one purpose. To reduce the glare that obscures visual clarity. This goes completely unnoticed to the naked eye. Unfortunately, that is not the case when viewed through a pair of polarized sunglasses. What you would then see is a darkening or a slight colour skewing of the display when the phone was rotated from portrait to landscape. Forcing you to either keep the phone in portrait mode or remove your sunglasses. Neither of which was an ideal option. What good is having a great display when you can’t see it properly while wearing sunglasses. With the upgraded polarizer, the screen now remains clear regardless of phone’s orientation. Thereby eliminating a longstanding annoyance for myself and many users.
The next improvement incorporates two advancements in screen imaging. The first of these is the new bonding process that further reduces the gap between the LCD and the screen. Apple’s aggressive refinement of this process has continued to yield consistent results with every generation since its implementation with the iPhone 4. By bringing the LCD panel closer to the surface of the glass it produces a more vibrant screen with deeper blacks and better contrast.
The other advancement that comes into play is the use of an even thinner glass panel than what is in the iPhone 5s. This has two implications from my perspective. The first one is the reduction in the amount of glass between the LCD panel and your eyes. It further enhances the clarity of the LCD that is almost one with the glass itself. Much like when you remove an old screen protector. Although, it is super thin and clear you still can’t help but notice how much clearer and sharper the screen looks. The second is that it reduces the amount of glass between the LCD and your finger. I believe as time goes on this will have greater accessibility implications but I’ll have to save that thought for another time. Both improvements along with display advances I have not mentioned have aided Apple in creating a more visually pleasing and accurate display while still maintaining a high level of power efficiency.
But even with the inclusion of power efficient components like the aforementioned IPS display, A8 processor, M8 motion coprocessor and various others it doesn’t hurt to have a sizable power source inside. At 2915mAh the battery holds a considerable amount of power. To get a my own take on it, I waited to take advantage of a week and a half worth of training I was scheduled for. Doing nothing different than any other time attending these types of trainings, the 6 Plus remained on with the Notes application running to jot down important points as they were presented. Checking email, daily reminders, texting and making phone calls during breaks while keeping the backlight set at roughly 40% with both WiFi and Bluetooth left on. At the end of each 8 hour day there was no less than 65% of battery life remaining. On the days WiFi and Bluetooth were turned off there was a net gain of roughly 10% in battery life.
The only real battery hit happened while using the Maps application during my 45 minute drive home to keep abreast of traffic conditions. This amounted to about another 10% loss but left me enough power for the remainder of the evening. Even then it never dipping below 30% by the time I put it to charge to get ready for the next day. That’s not to bad in my opinion for a device that was on for the majority of the day.
I can probably count on one hand the amount of features that Apple has added to the iOS home screen over the years. The good thing about it is that the few features Apple has added are not simply for show. The latest on this short list for the 6 Plus (sorry iPhone 6 owners) is the addition of a new landscape view. Similar to the one on the iPad but rethought to take advantage of the screen size and some basic ergonomics. Unlike the iPad, when the 6 Plus is viewed in landscape mode the dock completely rotates along the side reorienting itself vertically to the right side of the screen. This just makes sense as you won’t have to take your hands off the phone and readjust your grip every time you need to open an application or folder in the dock.
Another logical improvement is the new dual-pane view found in applications like Calendar, Notes and Email that once again is similar to the iPad. Although, previous iPhones were capable of this it was only implemented on a very limited number of builtin applications and restricted to portrait mode. On the 6 Plus it is the opposite where just like the iPad it is system-wide and not confined to just one or two applications or portrait mode only. So opening the System application for example will now give you the list of categories on the left while displaying it’s sub-categories on the right.
This works quite well for me since there are days when the majority of my time at work can end up spent in the Email, Calendar and Notes applications and having the dual-pane view has proven to be very useful and more efficient. Email has been much easier to triage and manage since there is no need to jump back and forth between views and the Calendar now includes Day, Week, Month and Year views like the iPad version.
Then there’s the Notes Application. This is where for the most part landscape mode and dual-pane views don’t serve much of a purpose for me in particular. Here, simply having the larger 5.5″ screen has been the most useful. Typing for instance, one-handed as the 6 Plus just lays on the desk feels more natural as my fingers have just enough room to move about the screen without feeling cramped or uncomfortable. Working less like a phone and more like a tablet when I needed one but didn’t require a device as large as the iPad. Since the screen of the 6 Plus was big enough to get the job done it also eliminated the need to tote around another device.
Nearing the end of my personal check list but surely not the least important of things to think about is portability. Pockets pose an interesting dilemma because they aren’t necessarily tied to the size of the person or the style of clothing one wears. Simply put, you need either big pockets, a bag or a belt clip. No ifs ands or buts about it. And of course I can’t speak on portability without saying the 6 Plus is not a one-handed device by any means for the average sized individual. Measuring in at 6.22″ (158.1mm) x 3.06″ (77.8mm) this is a big device. While, it does have that reachability trick but it’s not a solution to holding it.
Some Final Words
There is a lot more to this smartphone that I have not covered but none of those features or functions as good as they are, where motivators in my decision making. With that said you can probably tell the past 30 plus days with the 6 Plus have been quite positive. The new polarizer for example has a direct affect on how much I use my iPhone outside and as of late it’s been a lot more. Although, my commutes are relatively short somewhere between 30 to 45 minutes, that time frame is the most important part of my daily usage. The 6 Plus worked well in every situation I’ve used it for and even a few that are normally better served by the iPad. Such as writing this review. The 5.5″ screen along with some OS enhancements like landscape mode and the dual-pane view has made the 6 Plus more of a convergence device than any iPhone before it. And due to its multi-purpose nature I have again returned to carrying one single device without feeling as if I’m comprising my needs. After taking all the these points into account with the addition of how comfortable I feel using the 6 Plus I can’t see myself going a 6 instead. Even so, there is no getting around the fact that this is one big smartphone. If that doesn’t bother you at all, then iPhone 6 Plus just might be the smartphone you’ve been waiting for.