Apple’s iPhone 6 sports a 4.7 inch screen. The display on the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5 inches across the diagonal. That’s just 20mm more and yet, in use, the difference between the iPhones is huge. It’s almost as if you are looking at two separate device classes.
While the iPhone 6 feels like a regular smartphone, the 6 Plus feels more like a small iPad.
I’m not comfortable with the term phablet used by others to describe this class of device. Even so, between 4.7 and 5.5 inches there’s a point where user behaviour flips from smartphone to something else.
The sound of one hand phoning
My working theory is you reach this point when you move from largely one-handed operation to where you need a second hand. It could be something else, like the amount of information displayed on a single screen.
We have to take care with any discussion of Apple products which revolve around ideas like feel or perception. There’s always a danger the famous reality distortion field is in operation.
Moving from the iPhone 5S to the 6 feels like a natural step. The iPhone 6 screen is 18mm larger across the diagonal. In proportional terms that’s as big a jump as the 20mm leap from iPhone 6 to 6 Plus.
The display goes from 1,136×640 to 1,334×750 pixels. That’s 40 percent more screen. I can work the iPhone 5S with just one of my medium-sized hands. The iPhone 6 is more of a challenge, sometimes I need to use a second hand.
Even so, the iPhone 6 never stops feeling like a smartphone. It’s thin and light. In my pocket there’s no noticeable difference between the 6 and the iPhone 5S. It’s the obvious choice for most iPhone upgraders.
Too big for everyday use
To me the iPhone 6 Plus feels just a tad too big for everyday comfort even if it is still a beautiful device.
While I’ve seen no sign of the phone bending, it doesn’t fit comfortable in my jeans pocket. That’s doubly so when driving and it’s near impossible to get the phone out in a hurry if someone calls — even if I’ve parked the car.
On the other hand, it’s comfortable in my suit jacket pocket. And the bigger screen is better when I’m driving to an unknown address and need to read a map.
There’s a little more to the iPhone 6 Plus than a bigger screen and more pixels. It has great battery life — I get two days on a single charge. The 6 Plus call quality is good, better than earlier iPhones although this also applies to the 6.
Those extra pixels are a big deal. The iPhone 6 Plus has 1920×1080, roughly two million pixels compared with one million on the iPhone 6. Picture quality is excellent. Although you can watch TV on an iPhone 6, there’s a noticeable quality jump when you move to the 6 Plus.
Both phones are gorgeous. They are well made. The design is beautiful. You’ll get immediate access to the best applications and content. Apple’s services are good, even if they are not always to everyone’s taste.
For my money the iPhone 6 is the finest smartphone currently available. I recommend it for anyone planning to upgrade from an earlier iPhone. It’s also a good choice for someone coming to iPhone from Android, Blackberry or Windows Phones. That’s especially true if you thought earlier iPhone screens were too small.
While the iPhone 6 Plus is also a good choice, you have to be aware of what you are signing up for. It’s a big beast and that makes it harder to live with than the 6. If a big screen is important, buy it. If you want to watch video on your phone, choose the 6 Plus. Otherwise, save a few dollars and buy the iPhone 6 instead.