A few weeks with the iPhone 6 Plus… How big is bigger than big?

iPhone-6-Plus

After a few weeks with the iPhone 6 Plus, I thought that it was time to update my thoughts on it. First, it is a big phone. I was previously using an LG G3, which also has a 5.5 inch screen, but thanks to the G3’s much smaller bezel, the LG is much easier to handle and carry than the iPhone 6 Plus. I have noticed several times in the weeks that I have had the iPhone 6 that it will stab me in the pelvis when I sit down with it in my pocket. (And if the pocket is not quite as deep, it will also protrude out). Despite the large size, I have found that the iPhone has easily replaced my Android phone.

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Although the iPhone 6 Plus is larger than most large screened Android competitors, it just seems to work much better with my work flow. TouchID is definitely something that I missed when I last switched to Android. Since the iPhone 5s, TouchID has gotten even better. About 95% of the time, my phone instantly unlocks by just using my thumb. It works so well, that I have often found that my phone unlocks when I was just pressing the home button to check the time or a lock screen notification. I am not sure if the refinements of TouchID are unique to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, or if the 5s has also received the performance boost, but I can tell you that in iOS 7, my iPhone 5s never was as responsive as the iPhone 6 Plus has been.

Beyond TouchID, battery life is just incredible on my iPhone 6 Plus. Despite loading it with 350 apps, many of which have background processes running constantly, I leave work at the end of most days and still have an 80% charge on my phone. The only time I have gone below 20% of a charge was last Sunday when I actually had the screen powered on for over 7 hours of the day. I just have not had this great of battery life on a cell phone since I was using a Motorola flip phone 15 years ago.

I have found that since having the iPhone 6 Plus, I reach for my iPad much less. I used to use my iPad Mini multiple times per day to catch up on news stories, edit webpages, or doing anything screen intensive. Even when I was using my last Android phone, there were things like reading RSS feeds and setting video recordings that I simply could do faster on my iPad than on my G3. What I have found with the iPhone 6 Plus, is that I get almost everything I loved about the iPad Mini, with a device that is much easier to use with one hand (yes the majority of the time I am still using even the huge iPhone 6 Plus with just one hand).

Speaking of one-handed use, I can say that I very rarely use a second hand with this device. Now I will warn that with the aluminum back, both the new models of iPhones are very slippery. Initially I noticed that when I was using my phone to read, it would easily slip down my hand. I solved this problem by purchasing a very slim plastic case that provides much more friction when holding my iPhone 6 Plus in one hand. As soon as I added the case, all problems with one-handed use ended for me. The only time I find my self using two hands now, is when I am walking with the phone over concrete or asphalt (still can’t be too cautious!). I do not even use the reachability mode that was introduced, but if you have difficulty reaching all parts of the screen with your hand, this mode is a life-saver (double-touching the home button, without pressing, pulls the screen down so it can be reached easier with one hand).

The negative things that I have found with the iPhone 6 Plus have mostly been related more to the buggy iOS software release than to the phone. I have still been encountering numerous problems with iOS 8, even after the recent iOS 8.0.2 update. Most notably, my WiFi will simply stop working sometimes until I reboot my phone, and third-party keyboards still will randomly just not appear (and leave me with a blank screen when trying to perform a spotlight search). These are not issues with the iPhone 6, though, and seem to simply be bugs that Apple still needs to fix with iOS 8.

So the big question is whether the iPhone 6 Plus has brought me back to the iPhone world. After less than a month, my immediate answer is yes. The iPhone 6 Plus still is somewhat limited in some of the things that I could do with my Android phone, but overall the simplicity is just great. I love that my iPhone just works with all my docks, and that even in my car I can simply use a dock connector to charge my phone and listen to music at the same time. I use “Hey Siri” constantly in my car. This allows me to send text messages, check notifications, and start my GPS without ever touching my phone (to use “Hey Siri” your device must be charging, and if it is, you simply speak “Hey Siri” followed by any command that Siri recognizes).

The areas that are still lacking with the iPhone 6 Plus (and iOS in general) is the ability to assign default apps (use Chrome as my default browser for example), use text messaging on my Windows PC with my phone, and having a good full-featured smartwatch (which hopefully will be fixed when the Apple Watch is finally released next year). I loved that with my Android phone I could use an app called Mighty Text to relay text messages to my phone from my work computer, and I really miss my LG G Watch. I use a Pebble with my iPhone, but with the G watch I was able to interact with the watch using my voice and touch. Unfortunately Pebble does not have a microphone and despite numerous apps, it is still best at just displaying alerts.

If you are currently using an older iPhone, you do not care about your phone being large in your pocket, you crave a large screen, and battery life is important to you, I give the iPhone 6 Plus the must-buy stamp of approval. Bend-gate and the way-to-large bezel aside, I cannot complain about the design of this device in any way. The iPhone 6 Plus is the iPhone that I have been waiting for since the iPhone 5 was released. Even though it has the same screen size as my LG G3 had, it just feels like I can view more on the screen. If battery life has not been as big of a concern for you with past iPhones, and you just want a nice new phone, the iPhone 6 is also a worthy upgrade over any of the past iPhones.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus should continue to improve with future releases of iOS 8. iOS 8.1 is expected by October 16th, and hopefully the already announced continuity features and Apple Pay accompany that release. Apple Pay will allow you to use either new device to make purchases, and continuity will allow SMS texting using your iPad and Mac (but not PC). I will update my thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus as new features arrive.

Apple Releases iOS 8.0.2. The Version That Works?

After releasing iOS 8.0.1 yesterday and having to immediately pull it, Apple has now released iOS 8.0.2 as an over the air update, which is supposed to fix the new problems introduced with yesterday’s release along with the bug fixes included in 8.0.1. I recommend waiting to update until this release has been out long enough for any additional issues to surface. Once you decide to update, remember backing up your iPhone or iPad is still recommended before applying any update.

If safe, the newest release fixes issues with third party keyboards not appearing after device is locked, enables the use of the Health app, fixes issues some apps were having with accessing your photo library, and improves reachability functions of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus. See 9 to 5 Mac for more information.

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