Like many other lunatics I awoke in the middle of the night to preorder a new iPhone. After having spent previous launches in line at carrier and Apple stores I decided that having it delivered to the office was the only grown-up thing to do.
This year required some up front thinking. Which iPhone did I want? Historically I have always ordered the new iPhone in the largest size available. This year as the parts leaks mounted leading up to the event it became clear the choice would come down to either a 4.7" or 5.5" screen.
I have lamented in the past how these extra large phone screens were ridiculous and even laughed at the size of the Galaxy Note when I first held one years ago. But I started to think about how I use my devices and what I needed from the one that was always with me.
Enter the iPad #
As with iPhones I have always purchased flagship iPads. Unlike the iPhone however, I find I rarely, if ever, make use of it. Ultimately the iPad for me has become a device that lives right in the middle of spectrum between portability and efficiency. On one end I have my iPhone, always on, always ready for anything I may need to lookup or respond to, easily pocketable. On the other end is my 15" Retina MacBook Pro, physical keyboard, huge beautiful screen, a terminal window, a browser and the web inspector – All the things I need to get serious work done, highly effective. The iPad doesn’t fulfill a need for me between these two devices and has become, frankly, a waste of money.
So I decided it was finally time to ditch the iPad and admit its a product I don’t really have use for. So how should this inform my decision for my next iPhone? I did what any good nerd should do, I printed out to-scale paper cut outs of the new phones and started to consider going big. The 6 Plus is huge, there is no denying that, but is it too big? I was able to fit it in my pocket with a bit of room to spare and I could reach about 70% of the screen with a sweeping thumb. I rarely use my phone one-handed and in two-handed mode I can reach all four corners with ease. If I switched I would have better battery life and more screen for reading and watching video on the train or at the gym.
So I concluded, what smarter friends did years ago, that my next phone was going to be a phablet.
After having spent a week with this monster, here are some early observations:
- It feels more like an iPad Nano then an iPhone Plus, but it fits nicely in my pocket and after some adjustment has become comfortable to hold
- One handed operation - using the far corner requires a sort of spider crawl with your hand to reposition for the reach
- Typing mistakes are few and far between, text input speed is noticeably faster. The iPad has always been too wide to type with two thumbs (even with the split keyboard – which always felt awkward). This size seems to strike a perfect balance
- The new location of the sleep/wake button took very little time to relearn. It think the largeness of the phone makes you intuitively understand that reaching for the top is impractical
- The brain is a funny thing, holding an iPhone 5S now feels like a weird trick, it seems impossibly small
- Touch ID has been rock solid, I can’t recall a single time where it failed 1
- Scaled apps are a huge eyesore, the blown up interface really does a disservice to the experience
- Going with the 128GB option was a good move. I put a ton of movies to watch and with the larger screen I find myself taking advantage of that
- Battery life is noticably better, I would say at least 30-40% more life from casual observation
- Both Bluetooth and WiFi reception seem improved. Spotty areas of my house where signal goes to die seem to have disappeared
- Expect for brief encounter with iOS 8.0.1.