Picking Between the 6 and 6 Plus

Until a few months ago, as an iPhone user getting the new iPhone has been pretty easy. There’s only been one. This year Apple, for the first time, released two different iPhones in the same cycle. (I’m not forgetting the 5C. That just doesn’t count.) Now there’s choice. Specifically, a big one and a bigger one.

For some reason, this choice of iPhone really threw me for a loop. I was pretty torn about the that beautiful big 6 Plus screen and increased battery life versus the problems that come with carrying a phone bigger than a Pop Tart. I purchased the 6 Plus with the idea that I may end up turning it back in for the smaller one. Indeed, that is exactly what happened. I used the 6 Plus for a little over a week before exchanging it for the 6, which I’ve also now had for a week.

I’ve been living out this first world problem all over the Internet so I thought it was at least worth writing the epilogue. 

6 Plus Praise

I liked the big screen 6 Plus quite a lot. That extra screen real estate came in handy. I spend quite a lot of time reading PDF documents. Using the 6 Plus I was able, for the first time, to read PDFs on my phone. That is pretty handy considering my phone is always with me. The 6 Plus optimized applications have not rolled out yet but I suspect they are coming and in the next year, smart developers are going to jump in with both feet. Productivity apps (which are my particular weakness) stand to improve the most with this extra screen space.

The battery life was also a marked improvement. I spent the day at Disneyland with my family shortly after getting the 6 Plus. The Sparks family makes regular trips to Disneyland and we usually carry an external battery in our bag because Disneyland is hell on phone batteries. While there, I took pictures, fiddled with Twitter, and did the other things I usually do on a phone at Disneyland. When we returned to the car, I looked at my battery to see that I still had half a charge. That has never happened to me with any prior iPhone. Not once. There is a lot to like about the big phone.

6 Plus Problems

I did have problems though. The phone fit easily in the pockets of my various pants, jeans, and shorts. I never felt it was at risk of falling out. I’ve always carried my iPhone in my front left pocket. That’s my iPhone pocket. Keys and other bits and bobs don’t go there. The 6 Plus in my front left pocket always made its presence known. Taking a walk with it in my dress slacks, it would audibly smack against the front of my thigh. Sitting down at a restaurant, I could feel the pressure of the pocket and leg against the phone. I never experienced these issues with prior iPhones.

Another problem I never overcame in a week of usage is the delicate nature of the big phone. It is large and thin with lots of curvy bits. Handing it to my wife to take a picture felt more like transferring nitroglycerine than sharing a phone. It just felt like I needed to be very careful every time I handled the beautiful beast. Some people on Twitter suggested I put on a case but that just makes the phone bigger.

I understood the 6 Plus is a two-handed phone but it doesn’t really sink in until you face it directly. At one point I was expecting an important text. My phone buzzed in my pocket and I knew that was it. It took me too long to get out of my pocket and the message was gone by the time I could see the screen. I was holding a briefcase in my other hand and tried, very carefully, to unlock the phone one-handed. I couldn’t without balancing it on just a few fingers and risking dropping it. I think I could have handled the “big in pocket” problem. The “can’t get at my message one handed” problem, however, was my own personal deal killer for the 6 Plus.

A Little Perspective

The Apple Store is pretty nice about these things and they swapped me to the smaller phone without trouble. I held off on this post because I wanted some context for the smaller phone too. In general, I also really dig the 6. I can check messages one handed. It is easier to handle and not as large in my pocket. 

Having spent time with both phones, I’m still not entirely clear which phone I liked better but the 6 feels right for me, at least for now. If the Apple Watch delivers and I can get that important message on my wrist, I may find a little bigger phone makes more sense in the future. (In other words, I get to deal with this all over again next year about this time.) One point in all of this that I find interesting is the unusual amount of angst I’ve had over this decision. I’ve never had a problem picking iPad or Mac screen sizes. The new phones, however, really threw me for a loop. I think there is something to all this talk about the personal nature of these small electronics.

No Guidance Here

If you are reading this post for guidance as to which phone you should buy, I can’t help you. Nobody can. They are both great phones. There is no magic formula that will tell you which is right for you. One is more portable and the other has a bigger screen and more battery life. Pick your poison.