I’m sitting here alone and bored in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, twiddling my thumbs for something to do. In between catching up on episodes of Gotham, American Horror Story and Justified I have been using my new favourite bit of tech, my iPhone 6 Plus, almost non-stop.
I was inspired by reading Josh Ginter’s fantastic review on Tools and Toys to get my own review done. If you want a truly great read, I’d recommend heading to the link above. I have no doubts it’ll be the better choice read. If, on the other hand, you want an alternative view, please read on.
For the first time in, well, forever, we iPhone users had a tough choice to make when it came time to order our new phone. The biggest choice Apple has given us in the past is that of colour and capacity. Whichever you chose in these regards, you’d basically get the exact same experience. During Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch event, we were introduced to not one new iPhone, but two. We were given the choice of the 4.7” iPhone 6, or the monstrous 5.5” iPhone 6 Plus.
Until I saw this device I had maintained that the size of the iPhone 5 / 5s was ideal, and I’d not want a bigger device. I now need to eat my words, however. If you’re looking for the TL;DR version of this review, I can say that I absolutely love it.
As I said in my October Homescreen post, the iPhone 6 Plus appealed instantly, but I was very unsure which to go with. Early reports pointed to a greatly improved screen and battery life, but that size was just something else. After much back and forth, and hassle with various pre-orders and returns, I finally opted for a 64GB, Space Grey iPhone 6 Plus, and I’ve not looked back.
Firstly, I’m going to state the obvious, by saying this device is absolutely gorgeous. It feels fantastic in hand, and the fact it’s only 7.1mm deep actually makes it feel smaller in your hand than you’d think.
The thin, smooth device is actually a bit too thin in some ways. It feels extremely delicate and, because it doesn’t fit so snuggly into the palm of your hand like an iPhone 5 / 5s, I had fears of dropping the device whenever I used it without a case. I’ve never been a big fan of cases, and have always opted for a Snugg slip case. This time around, however, this felt far too risky to me, so I picked up one of the official leather Apple cases. It’s a nice item, and feels great. I feel a lot more comfortable using the phone with this case, even though it does hide a lot of the well designed body.
The cameras in the iPhone have always been a major draw for me, so I was keen to try out the upgrades in this area, and once again I was not disappointed. Bar the protruding camera lens (which you could always ‘fix’ if it bothers you that much) the camera is fantastic. There are very few physical improvements over the 5 / 5s camera, beyond Focus Pixels and Optical Image Stabilisation in the Plus only. There must be some trademark Apple magic going on from the software, however, as the camera feels noticeably better from where I’m looking. Here are a few test shots I took:
The image above is an un-edited, straight from the phone image taken in Bournemouth, Dorset.
The image above was taken in Covent Garden, London. This one was edited, this time using the seminal VSCOCam.
This is another direct from the camera un-edited photo, taken in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Along with the camera, the feature that really pulled me towards an iPhone 6 Plus was the promised battery life, and I was not disappointed. I have quite a long commute to work, and I had to charge every previous phone once I got to work, so I could make it back home. Thanks to the iPhone 6 Plus, however, this is now no longer required. I can easily get through a full day on a single charge now, and often well into the 2nd day. That's just unheard of in other models of iPhone. Yes, the phone is huge, but if the benefits you get from that size outweigh the possible downside of the size, you can't go far wrong.
A complaint from some Apple fans is that the iPhone 6 Plus is just too big to use comfortably with one hand. My question is: ’so?’ While Apple has tried to help those that need to use the phone with one hand, via Reachability, the iPhone 6 Plus is essentially meant to be used with two hands. I would often type using two hands on the 3.5” and 4” iPhones, so this isn’t an issue for me. If it is for you, however, perhaps this isn’t the device for you.
Another great feature of the Plus is it’s glorious ’Retina HD’ screen. By bumping the screen size up to 5.5”, Apple were able to include an almost painfully gorgeous 1920 x 1080 true HD screen. This thing makes games, movies and websites look even better than ever before. Those apps that have been updated for the larger screen size also look incredible, though the updates are coming through very slowly.
While not limited to the new iPhone models, there are some unique and specific iOS 8 points that only apply to these new models. I’m no app developer, so excuse my possible ignorance here, but I have been told updating an app for the new screen sizes is not a big task, yet it took the likes of Facebook and Instagram about a month to update their flagship apps. Google is still yet to update many of their main apps. This aside, those apps that have been updated look really nice on the huge new screen.
The few big name companies that have updated their apps have just released scaled up versions of the originals. Very few devs, so far, are taking the time to really re-assess their options and create an app accordingly. I do appreciate this takes time to do, however, so I’m excited to see what we get over the comings weeks and months. The increased screen size, mixed with Extensions and the like all go together to ensure the remainder of 2014 and into 2015 are going to be interesting times for iOS users.
One developer that has really embraced iOS 8 and the new iPhone screen sizes is Agile Tortoise with their excellent app Drafts 4. This was recently released as an iOS 8 only application, because it takes full advantage of Extensions and various other iOS 8 improvements. The app is also really, really, really ridiculously good looking.
All in all, the iPhone 6 Plus is, to me, the perfect combination of hardware and software. Something Apple has always expressed as something they pride themselves on. The OS upgrade this year has taken a lot of flack, but it’s far more stable than iOS 7 was before it, and I’m seeing very few issues personally.
Part of my plan with getting the iPhone 6 Plus I sold my Retina iPad Mini. The screen sizes were far too close together. Since doing so, however, I have been missing the larger screen. I have now gone and done something I promised myself I'd never do again. I have just ordered a big iPad, in the shape of the new iPad Air 2. I think the combination of an iPhone 6 Plus, along with an iPad Air 2, is quite the formidable pairing. When the Apple Watch also joins the family, I think I will have the perfect set.
The iPhone 6 Plus brings Apple’s best screen, camera, battery and (in my opinion) design along with OS features people have been asking for for years with custom keyboards, extensions and many other improvements. Like it or not, the future is big. You can choose to go big, or even bigger, or you can chose to go elsewhere, though you’ll be hard pressed to beat the beauty and efficiency of the iPhone 6 Plus.