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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Two weeks with the iPhone 6 Plus

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.


As many readers of this site know, I just spent two weeks in Europe. While I was there, I used an unlimited-data SIM card from Three that I bought in the Heathrow baggage claim area for £20 (roughly $30)1. And since my normal iPhone 6 is locked to AT&T, I used an unlocked iPhone 6 Plus as my phone for the trip.

I chose the 6 Plus because this trip seemed like a good opportunity for me to spend some time with an iPhone model that I don’t use day to day. I chose the 6 over the 6 Plus last fall, but since I write and talk about this stuff for a living I figured it would be an interesting experiment. (I wasn’t alone, either—it turns out that Marco Arment had the same idea that I had for his two recent weeklong trips to the UK and Ireland.) I also figured that bringing along a phone with longer battery life while I was out and about in London, Glasgow, Dublin, and Killarney wouldn’t be a bad thing.

This all made Myke Hurley, my co-host on the Upgrade podcast, thrilled, as he’s a proud iPhone 6 Plus user and hoped to convert me to his side as he’s been doing with other friends. Thus he began anticipating my defection with the hashtag #mykewasright.

I really did appreciate the iPhone 6 Plus’s longer battery life. The longer life is noticeable, and was much appreciated as I was wandering around London. And I got used to the size of the device in my pocket in no time2. But beyond that, I have to say I’m hard pressed to find anything I prefer about the iPhone 6 Plus over my iPhone 6. Yes, the screen is larger, but I didn’t ever feel that I was seeing more of the world by viewing an extra tweet in Twitterrific or a little bit more territory in Maps.

I also noticed—and Myke confirmed—that the iPhone 6 Plus’s camera appears to be buggy. I would frequently notice that the entire touchscreen became unresponsive while I was taking pictures, though I could still take them by depressing the volume-up button. And sometimes the camera preview would include strange interference patterns, briefly. Myke told me that he experiences these camera glitches too, and suspects it’s somehow related to the optical image stabilization features that are unique to the 6 Plus3.

When I returned to my iPhone 6 upon landing back in the U.S., I felt instantly more comfortable when holding the smaller phone. During my two weeks with the 6 Plus, I had taken to cradling it with two hands whenever possible. I use my iPhone 6 with a single hand all the time, but that’s much harder for me to do with the 6 Plus—I could barely stretch my thumb across the 6 Plus screen to the bottom right corner, let alone reach items at the top of the screen. And I kept feeling like I was about to drop the phone as I continually moved it in my hand in order to tap the right part of the screen4.

People with large hands (or who rely less on one-handed operation) might have a very different experience, but for me it was just too big a device, with not enough functional gain elsewhere. I’m back to the iPhone 6 now and not missing the big guy at all. I don’t disapprove of people who prefer the 6 Plus to the 6—and I know a bunch of my colleagues are definitely rethinking their choices—but I’m afraid I won’t be joining the club.

  1. Though I bought the card in the UK, Three’s plan includes unlimited data roaming in select countries, including Ireland, so I had unlimited data for the entire trip. I ended up using 1.6 GB of data. Always having data available, and not having to worry about hitting the cap, was so worth it. And having data on my trip from the airport was worth the £5 airport vending machine mark-up. 
  2. I was also carrying around my passport in my pocket, and that thing is huge too, so truly it was the fortnight of overstuffed pockets. 
  3. Myke’s theory is that iOS engineers at Apple may not realize how big a problem the bug might be, because they themselves probably use the more common iPhone 6. 
  4. Even Myke, who has larger hands than I do, admits that some extra dexterity is required to move the iPhone 6 Plus around in your hands, and that he has dropped his iPhone several times. 

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