Too Big to Fail: The iPhone 6 Plus Reviewed

Young child holding iPhone 6 Plus at an Apple Store


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Apple has stopped selling the iPhone 6 Plus, but it can still be found used or refurbished. Check out the latest models, the iPhone 8 and iPhone XS and XR.

The Good

  • Huge, beautiful screen
  • Optical image stabilization in camera
  • 128 GB storage at the high end
  • Smart use of extra screen real estate

The Bad

  • Huge
  • Could be too big for some users

There are only two major ways in which the iPhone 6 Plus differs substantially from its sibling, the iPhone 6: its size and its camera. And only the 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 the right combination of size and functionality?

How Big Is Too Big?

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 which device is best for them, our advice is simple: go to an Apple store and compare the size of the 8 and the 8 Plus, because they are physically the same sizes as the 6 and 6 Plus. You should know fairly quickly which is right for you.

To some people, it feels awkward to use the 6 Plus one-handed and just too large when pressed to the head for phone calls or stored in pants pockets. Also, some people 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 ​three 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 tap. It’s simple to use and elegantly implemented, but it’s also easy to forget about.

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 for both the home screen and 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 iPhone 6 Plus includes optical image stabilization in its camera, a hardware-based technology to improve the quality of photos. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, provides its image stabilization via software, which is an inferior approach.

This difference 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). 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.