A Month with the iPhone 6+

This article first appeared in Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 10: Habits & Rituals

My Initial reaction to iPhone 6 launch left me indifferent. I wasn’t convinced that phablet would do a thing for me, or help me improve my productivity. On top of that I viewed large phones as user unfriendly, because they are an ugly brick, difficult to hold and talk into.

Quite honestly, I still have the same feeling about it. It took me a whole month to upgrade from iPhone 5s, and when I finally did, it was more out of urgency. iPhone update happened during my visit to Chicago, and I got it off of Craigslist. The main reason behind this upgrade was because I already sold my iPhone 5s, and I wanted to upgrade to iPhone 6, however there were none in stores, and the only legit Craigslist seller was the guy with iPhone 6+ and was willing to travel 30+ miles to deliver it. In that name, thanks for your effort Ben, really appreciate it!

First impression in person

The design behind the device is not typical Apple design. My friends suggested that it looks like Samsung, but I didn’t quite see it as such; Call me biased. But there is something inherently non-Apple about the iPhone 6 re-design. Still, I feel it is much better than IBM-looking Galaxy phones that remind me of business and corporate environments.

Round edges looked weird at first sight, and not fully pleasing for me visually, as it doesn’t give that slick sharpness of previous generations. Beside visuals, the smoothness of the round edges increases the comfort when you are holding the phone and in return improves your experience with it. Kinda reminds me why the iPhone 5 and 5s were getting all those weird scratch marks from carrying around in your pocket. I don’t believe we will have the same problem to that extent with iPhone 6+ or 6.

With all the sliding gestures that you perform with iOS8, this proves to be a good design choice, one that you will appreciate every time you make a swiping gesture. Maybe not so much visually, not at least until you get used to it. But as I’ve been using it for a while, I’ve been getting used to the design, and I started to appreciate the fact that this is not a phone.

Why is iPhone 6+ a bad phone, and why it doesn’t matter

But my positive verdict doesn’t come as a praise to iPhone 6+ as a phone; Because of its size it simply can’t be considered as one. Although I have big hands, I’ve found myself struggling with it. When it comes to single-handed use, it’s not fully possible, not even with “Reach” functionality. I can only imagine what kind of horrendous phone experience would come to a person with smaller hands. If we observe iPhone 6+ as a phone, it is a complete failure. However if we observe it as a mini-tablet, it is one astonishing win of a device, that needs to be observed as a completely separate category.

iPhone 6+ as my main device

My iPhone has always been my most used device, but it has never been a “main” device per se. The reason behind this was mainly storage. Because of it, more functions and data were saved on the laptop, and it was only natural that it took priority. Now with the bigger screen and more storage (128 gb model), I’ve noticed that once I have my most important content available offline, I will start observing it as a main device. Finally I believe that my 15-inch Mac is bringing only the features to the table and feels like a second class citizen, losing the throne of being the most personal device.

Battery Life – Almost Like A Tablet

The biggest reason why I opted in for the 6+ instead of a 6 was in fact battery life. This battery lasts me 60% of the day, but be mindful I am using it for the most of the time. I can get 8 hours of “Screen On” time on Wi-Fi and 7 hours of “Screen On” time on LTE. Now I can get some actual work done on a single charge, without panicking that I will run dry. However this battery life is still not good enough. I wish that the phone was tiny bit thicker and heavier, but that it lasted me the whole day.

But this battery comes at a price, as it really takes much longer to fully charge a phone! The biggest advantage of iPhone 5, 5s, was that charging was definitively a breeze. 10 minutes on the phone could get you more than 10% of battery. With iPhone 6+ you will wait for every single percent. Charging is slower, and you can feel it.

These flaws still leave me craving for an additional mobile device, as I am not a fan of lugging batteries and cords around. Either way, tablet feels more like a complementary device to the phone, than other way around. But at the end of the day, neither are good enough to operate independently on their own.

Phablet as a writing device

My biggest peeve I had with the new iPhone was a doubt over being able to use it for typing. How will I be able to reach a phone so huge? In the beginning it was a bit difficult to get used to the fact that I can’t do things with one hand. But than I gave this iPhone quite some time to get to know it.

As more and more apps incorporated the new keyboard layout into their horizontal modes, I began to wonder: is this an ultimate tablet device? A tablet that is always with me. This whole article has been fully written on iPhone 6+.

The effect of screen size was completely unpredictable. The fact remains that I don’t like iPhone 6+ as a phone, and if only thing I needed was the phone, I probably wouldn’t even consider it.

The Display

Apart from the known size factor, this is a full HD display. Something I’ve never considered was that higher pixel density does in fact feel different, despite the fact that Apple claims it doesn’t. 400 PPI makes it a device that has a highest pixels per inch out of all of my devices. Also feel that luminosity gives it a slight edge that reminds me of Samsung AMOLED displays, whose brightness I’ve always enjoyed.

Even though specs wise Galaxy Note 4 might have higher resolution on the similar sized screen, I feel that the differences that we can notice with our eyes are negligible.

Larger screen also has a deep impact on entertainment, as Watching YouTube videos, iTunes movies and other recorded content is significantly improved experience.

The Camera – Blurring The Difference Between The Amateur Photographer and the pro

The camera came as the biggest surprise, as it turns out, that phone powered with the bigger screen, not only shoots better images, it is also much better at displaying them, and giving you a better control at editing.

This being the third iPhone in a row that I’ve upgraded to, I can admit that the significance of the upgrade is higher than the difference I used to enjoyed moving from iPhone 5 to iPhone 5s. This is most obvious in the quality of the night shots.

Never before have I thought that smartphone cameras will narrow down so much on the professional level grade cameras, but we are slowly facing this reality. Think that Apple is very aware that the quality of the photos is one of the most important things when it comes to our smartphones, and the gap increased.

The number of megapixels doesn’t matter anymore. The most important factor is the actual quality itself. With the advent of night shots to a whole new level, we are now capable of shooting high quality photos in almost every dark lightning situation. However I feel that we are one or two iPhone generations away from flawless night shots. For those of us who can’t wait, iPhone 6+ will make this waiting time manageable.

The progress with the camera is hitting all-new levels. The only thing that prevents me from saying that iPhone is a professional photography device is the fact that it doesn’t have optical zoom. In a year or two I predict that there will be optical zoom in pretty much every higher end smartphone out there, enabling us to achieve even more with our pocket held devices.

How iPhone 6+ impacts productivity

With battery running longer, screen being bigger, and horizontal mode changing the game, iPhone 6+ feels like a pocket computer. My general feeling is that I am making fewer compromises in order to enable my mobile workflow.

Final Verdict – Is iPhone 6+ for you?

In the end, all I can say is that iPhone 6+ is the best iPad I’ve ever had. It gives me much needed mobility, coupled with better battery life, and better display. Now I can leave my iPad at home, worrying a bit less about the battery, and enjoying a bit more my reading on the go.

Do you really need iPhone 6+? This might be the question for people who already own a high-end phone like iPhone 5 or 5s. In order to answer this question, I would like you to ask yourself a few things:

1. Are you a photography freak, who enjoys higher-end images?
2. Do you spend more than 5 hours on your phone without making a phone call?
3. Do you need more storage?
4. Are you ready to try out something new?
5. Can you deal with the device that is not intended for single-handed use?

If you’ve answered Yes to all of the previous questions upgrading to the iPhone 6+ is nota difficult choice. Personally I’ve had my own doubts before upgrading.

I wasn’t a photography freak.
I didn’t need more storage, as I’ve had 64 gigabytes on my previous phone.
I wasn’t sure that I was ready to try out something new.
And eventually I wasn’t fully comfortable that I can’t fully manipulate it with one hand.

When I went through these issues and adopted to the new reality, I became very comfortable with the new device. I’ve noticed some of my friends like David Sparks, asking the question do they miss the iPhone 6+, after moving to iPhone 6, and they said yes. On the opposite spectrum, I was asking myself: “Do I miss the phone?”, and my internal answer was one resolute: No.