29 Sep My first week with an iPhone 6 Plus
I may be slightly late to the iPhone 6 Plus review game but this is because I missed the pre-launch rush to pre order. My iPhone arrived last week and I thought I would do this blog post from a practicality aspect based on my first impressions after having the phone for a week.
I got the phone as an upgrade from my old iPhone 5 which was suffering from a rather severe battery fault (I could easily discharge the phone within an hour without trying.) I consider myself a “heavy user” with a few games installed that I check regularly and a Facebook and Tumblr addiction.
Size and app-scaling
When I ordered the phone I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the size. My first impressions were very much “wow that’s bigger than I expected” and with the #bendgate scandal fresh in my mind I ordered a case and made a mental note to not put the phone in trouser pocket until it arrived. This worked out ok for the first couple of days, I had a pocket on my bag that could, just, fit the phone and at work it sat on my desk. The issue I had with the size arose when I tried to put the iPhone in my hoodie pocket. Where my iPhone 5 would comfortably sit in my pocket the 6 hangs quite loosely, I had situations where I was very conscious of needing to hold the phone or risk it falling out as I walked around or got in and out of the car.
The other size issue I had as I started to use the phone was one of scaling. While many app developers have optimised apps for iOS8 many are yet to take advantage of the 6 Plus’ high resolution and ability to switch into a two-column view when horizontal. The result, as apps scale up to fill the extra pixels you get a strange zoom effect. Gmail and Facebook seem particularly bad as you seem to lose emails or status updates that would be visible on a smaller handset.
The camera on the iPhone 6 plus is perhaps one of the best cameras I have used on a phone. As the owner of a very energetic Jack Russell who likes to move just as you are about to take the perfectly posed picture the fast re-focusing on the 6 Plus has definitely been put to the test. The image quality is definitely better than that of the 5 particularly in low light with a significant reduction in noise. The videos taken with the 6 Plus are also very fluid when compared to older models.
One of the advantages of being late to the iOS8 / 6 Plus party was that Healthkit was patched quite soon after I started using the phone. I also have a FitBit that I wear pretty much constantly which also tracks number of steps and floors climbed so I was intrigued to test the accuracy of these measurements on the iPhone. FitBit is yet to announce any plans to integrate with the health app so I have the advantage I can compare side by side over the past few days there has been a massive discrepancy and the reason why, for me at least, seems to again be the size issue. I can clip my FitBit One onto my clothing and forget about it and go about my day but with the iPhone 6 Plus there isn’t much chance of being able to put it in my pocket and forget about it, partly due to size, partly down to #bendgate paranoia. Therefore there are definitely situations throughout the day where the iPhone is left sat on the side whilst I walk about.
The battery life isn’t something I can give a good accurate evaluation on, due to the fault in my old iPhones battery that meant it required near constant charging , though I was impressed at how well the phone battery held up when using data and process heavy applications. For example, Friday afternoon I went out to an event in Stockton, my colleague Chris was driving and we used the iPhone as a sat-nav. Though the iPhone did struggle initially to find a location a big bonus of the screen size is it makes a very good sat-nav. Including the journey home GPS and Data were running heavily for about an hour with only a 12% loss of battery power. I’ve also found that most days my iPhone will have only just dipped below 50% by the time I plug it in on a night.
As a Phone
One important thing a few reviewers seem to be missing is how the 6 Plus functions as an actual phone. I’ve always been more of a texter than a talker but I made a couple of calls to give the phone a test. A friend had mentioned to me she felt a bit strange holding something so gigantic to her ear whilst making a call, it is true whilst on a call it can feel a little cumbersome but if you think about it from a phone evolution perspective it is probably still smaller, in length at least, than a lot home phones. Whilst the width means the phone still sits quite comfortable in your hand. The new auto-correct feature is definitely a massive improvement.
Due to its size when compared to average hand, the iPhone 6 Plus is definitely not a one handed phone, it’s not something you could easily whip out to reply to a quick email or text whilst walking down the street without using both hands. It’s not particularly comfortable (or possible in every case) to have it in your pocket, the areas where the 6 Plus excels over previous models: camera, graphical capability, software speed are all things that it could be argued are areas that clever marketing has taught us to believe we require from a phone. The 6 Plus is definitely Apple’s attempt to re-establish the iPhone as a status symbol rather than something practical.