My first 10 days with the iPhone 6+
Posted on October 1st, 2014
This is the first iPhone that I've bought on launch day. In fact I was able to get it within an hour of store opening due to the new reservation system. I've been using it a lot since I got it and here are some of my thoughts after my first 10 days of use.
This is my first Phablet. Prior to the 6+ I was firmly in the one-handed phone user camp and carried a 5S as my primary device. I divided my mobile use into quick and easy access on my phone with one hand, and heavier use with an iPad mini. This meant that under many circumstances I would try and carry both devices. The thought experiment with the 6+ was to try and get the largest phone that I could reasonably carry in my pocket to reduce the need to use a tablet.
I find that the 6+ fits in my pants pocket reasonably well and is not too cumbersome to carry. Although I do carry it in the front pocket, I don't usually leave it there when sitting for any length of time. I take it out of my pocket at my desk, in meetings, and also when I'm driving in the car. I do think that it is too long however when you compare it to other large phones on the market like the Samsung note. The 6+ is about half an inch longer than it really should be. This is most likely due to Apple trying to make it as thin as possible, but I think I'd rather trade a little thickness to make it shorter and more comfortable.
One handed use
Let's face it this phone is really too large to be used with one hand. Even though they have this new reachability feature (not to be confused with the development reachability API), you're really not going to be doing anything heavy with one hand. I have found that I can't really type comfortably with one hand on this device. In fact even when holding with two hands I can't easily tap things out with a single thumb. This is partially due to the fact that the additional width has altered the spacing between letters, rendering my years of muscle memory invalid. This will change with practice however. The biggest impact for me so far has been trying to do really quick and simple things in the car while driving. To compensate for this I am going to go back to a physical car dock for the phone, something I have not had to use in years. Currently I'm thinking that the benefits of the large screen outweigh the loss of one-handed convenience. Especially if this means I can carry only a single device for most of my use cases.
It's all about the screen
This new larger screen is absolutely wonderful. With updated apps you get a lot more information on the screen which makes your experience a lot less constrained than it feels on a smaller phone. In fact I've started to just think of this device more as a small tablet that a phone, which makes sense considering I don't actually use it as a phone very often. The larger screen makes doing some of my common tasks easier and more enjoyable such as web surfing, photo editing, and reading e-books. These are functions that would normally cause me to switch to the iPad mini. The included Apple apps all natively support this high-resolution and are really great to use. Web surfing on Safari is especially refreshing. The other major apps I use are all starting to get updated slowly as well. That is one of the great things about being on the Apple platform, app developers usually waste no time in supporting the latest devices. This is why Apple will be much more successful in this form factor than android phones makers. Even after all the time the Samsung galaxy note has been out, most Android apps do not support it natively and are just scaled up to fit the screen.
The updated version of iOS is helping to add a lot of enjoyment to this new device as well. The new sharing extensions are making it much easier to capture and save stuff in Evernote as well as to share things on services like tumbler. I find myself using the phone over a computer for many of my use cases. Action extensions promise to be even more powerful. As more and more apps start supporting action extensions I think this trend will continue. The new dictation feature which types as you speak works very well and can really help you enter large amounts of text (like this blog post for example). The new but obscure speak screen feature is really wonderful for having your phone read things to you in the car. It is much better than trying to use the voice over feature for that purpose.
So will this phone cause me to abandon my iPad mini use? Will I migrate back to a full-size iPad now for my occasional larger needs? I think it's too early to tell. I'm still in that new gadget honeymoon phase and I won't be able to know for sure what my usage habits will be until the novelty wears off. But so far it looks like I just might become a Phablet convert.