Too Big to Fail: The iPhone 6 Plus Reviewed

The iPhone 6 Plus
image copyright Apple Inc.

Update: check out the new iPhone 7 model.

The Good

  • Huge, beautiful screen
  • Optical image stabilization in camera
  • 128GB version
  • Smart use of extra screen real estate

The Bad

  • Huge
  • May be too big for some users

The Price
US$299 – 16GB
$399 – 64GB
$499 – 128GB
(all prices require a two-year phone company contract)

Compare Prices on iPhone 6 & 6 Plus

There are only two major ways in which the iPhone 6 Plus differs substantially from its sibling, the iPhone 6: it size and its camera.

And only one of those differences—size—is likely to matter to most people’s buying decisions. So, the bottom-line question about the iPhone 6 Plus is: Is it too big or does Apple’s first “phablet” (a device that's part phone and part tablet) strike just the right combination of size and functionality?

How Big Is Too Big?

I suspect that most people will know almost immediately whether the 6 Plus is too big for them or not. There’s no confusion about how much bigger it is than the iPhone 6 (or the 5S and 5C, for that matter). The 6 Plus’ 5.5-inch screen is fully three-quarters of an inch bigger than the 4.7-inch screen on the 6, which results in a device that’s 6.22 inches tall by 3.06 inches wide, versus the 6’s 5.44 x 2.64 dimensions. There’s a weight difference, too: 6.07 ounces compared to 4.55 ounces.

Some people will know without even seeing the two phones in person that they prefer the 6 Plus.

But for anyone who is unsure of which device is best for them, my advice is simple: go to a store that has both and try them. My guess is that, fairly quickly, you’ll which is right for you.

For me, the iPhone 6 was the right phone. The 6 Plus is nice, but it’s too big for my medium-sized hands. It feels awkward for me to use it one-handed and just too large when pressed to my head for phone calls or stored in my pants pockets.

Also, I can’t reach far enough across the screen to access things positioned away from the bottom-right corner of the device.

Taking Advantage of the Size

Apple has planned for this difficulty-in-reaching eventuality with a trio of features designed to make using the 6 Plus easier for those of us with less-than-giant hands. Two features—Reachability and Display Zoom—are available on both the 6 and 6 Plus.

Reachability is triggered by a light double-tap on the Home button, which results in the top of the screen sliding down to the center of the device, making icons in the far left corner easier to click. It’s simple to use and elegantly implemented, but it’s also easy to forget about. On my iPhone 6, I most often trigger Reachability by mistake.

Display Zoom is a nice touch that allows you to choose whether your screen displays its contents at its default 100% size or whether it zooms in, making icons and text bigger. Display Zoom is configured when you first set up the phone, but can be changed later, too. People seeking the larger screens of the iPhone 6 series due to vision troubles will appreciate this feature.

The final feature adds a landscape mode to the iPhone 6 Plus in both the home screen and in some built-in apps that can reveal additional features of the apps.

This feature has so much potential that I hope it comes to the 6 soon.

The Camera: The Benefit of Hardware

The other major difference between the two phones in the 6 series is the camera, but it’s a much more subtle difference than the screen sizes. The 6 Plus includes optical image stabilization in its camera, a hardware-based technology to improve the quality of photos. The 6, on the other hand, provides its image stabilization via software, an inferior approach.

This distinction is only likely to matter to you if you’re a photographer. For the average user, the camera on the 6 is probably more than enough (actually, it’s a really terrific camera; I just mean in comparison to the 6 Plus).

But if getting the best photos possible, especially in movement-heavy situations, matters to you, the 6 Plus is a better bet.

The Bottom Line

The iPhone 6 Plus is a fantastic smartphone, but it’s not for everyone. For some people, it will be too big, too hard to fit in pockets, too difficult to use. For others, it will be exactly the iPhone they’ve been waiting for. If you’re one of the people who has wanted a really big iPhone, your wish has been granted.

Compare Prices on iPhone 6 & 6 Plus