Hands-On with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Bigger is Better

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Today, Apple began selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in stores around the world. And, unlike past iPhone releases, consumers now have two devices from which to choose.

Since the moment Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the larger iPhone 6 Plus last week, I knew I was interested. (I knew I was interested when it was just in the rumor stage, but the phone only became "Official" last week.) But how big would the iPhone 6 Plus really be? Was it seriously as large as I imagined? Could I hold it in one hand and navigate around the screen using VoiceOver? And, when it came right down to it, would the iPhone 6 Plus actually fit in my pocket? This afternoon, I took a trip to my local AT&T Store to answer these and other questions.

iPhone 6: An Incremental Size Boost

My first impression of the iPhone 6 was that it reminded me a lot of the iPod Touch Fifth Generation (complete with the rear camera that sticks out of the device ever so slightly), but just a bit bigger. I was worried about how thin the new iPhones would be—I had visions of a device so thin that it would feel flimsy in the hand—but the iPhone 6 does not feel "too" thin at all, but rather "just right." It’s bigger than an iPhone 5S, for sure, but not so big that it would be a huge difference for people upgrading from an iPhone 5 or later. While it’s not terribly important to me as a blind person, I did notice that the screen meats the edges of the phone seamlessly—and the whole device feels wonderful to the touch. The rear camera does stick out a little from the device, which means that it would not sit completely flat on a table or other surface; but most people, hopefully at least, would have their phone in a case.

One of the disappointing aspects of the iPhone 5S was how audio distorted at high volume levels. In my (albeit limited) testing of the iPhone 6 with VoiceOver enabled, I detected no audio distortion whatsoever. In my attempts to both get a feel for the devices and yet not take up the display units for too long, I neglected to do a formal side-by-side test of maximum audio volume between my iPhone 5S and the iPhone 6; with that said, however, the iPhone 6’s maximum speaker volume was plenty loud—just without the audio distortion from the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 6 Plus: Big, but Not Too Big

As a blind person, sometimes it’s hard for me to conceptualize how things look based on descriptions—and my perception of the iPhone 6 Plus fits into this category. Rather than confusing you with what I expected out of the device—a very long, unwieldy, narrow thing—I was pleasantly surprised to find that the iPhone 6 Plus was both shorter and wider than I had thought. It felt really good in my hand, although holding such a big device up to ones’ ear on phone calls will definitely take some getting used to. Like with the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus’ rounded chassis felt wonderful to the touch; it's worth noting, however, that the curved edges of the iPhone 6 Plus do make the device a bit slippery.

As far as speaker performance goes, I noticed a slight deepening in the sound of the iPhone 6 Plus’s speaker when compared to the iPhone 6—welcome news for those hoping for speaker improvements with this year’s models. While it is entirely possible that I simply did not have the volume level on the iPhone 6 Plus set to the maximum, I feel I should mention that I noticed a slight decrease in the maximum volume of the iPhone 6 Plus when compared to the iPhone 6. However, this slight decrease in the maximum speaker volume could very well be my imagination, as my testing conditions—a busy AT&T store—were not ideal for such comparisons. As mentioned above, though, the audio from VoiceOver did sound a little deeper—so it would be interesting to compare music playback on a 6 Plus to that on other iOS devices.

While writing this review, a couple users on Twitter asked me if I was able to hold and use the iPhone 6 Plus with one hand. The answer is "Yes," but with a couple caveats. First, when I use my iPhone one-handed, I reach my hand across the width of the screen—bracing my thumb on one side of the device and my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers on the other side—and interact with the touchscreen with my index finger. Happily, this is still possible for me on the iPhone 6 Plus, and I do not have particularly large hands. Because the device has curved edges, however, it is not as easy to grip the sides of the phone in the manner I described above—so I wouldn’t try this too much without a good case on the unit. (This applies to the iPhone 6 as well.) It’s also worth noting here that, because the phone was connected to the wall display, my range of motion—as well as my perception of the device’s weight distribution—was somewhat limited. Lastly, the device’s screen orientation was not locked—something I always do, as a VoiceOver user—so I had to always try and keep the phone angled so as to stay in portrait orientation. All that to say this: I think it is definitely possible for a VoiceOver user to use the device one-handed, but get a good case before you attempt to do so.

While I was drawn to the iPhone 6 Plus because of its bigger battery, bigger screen (yes, this actually does matter to a blind person, as it makes typing that much easier) and better camera (think optical character recognition apps), all the features in the world would not make the device viable for me unless I could easily carry it in my pocket. Luckily for me, the cord on the wall display was just long enough for me to slip the phone into my pocket where, surprisingly, it fit just fine. The pocket test is the one area where I thought the 6 Plus would disappoint—but, thankfully, I had a lot more room to spare than I expected. I don’t know how well it would fit into my pocket sporting an Otter Box Defender Series case, but, as mentioned above, I was quite impressed nonetheless.

Conclusion

If the iPhone 6 had the same (or better) battery performance as the iPhone 6 Plus, I might have considered buying one. With that said, I will be purchasing the iPhone 6 Plus, because a good battery and a bigger screen is important to me. However, Apple created two devices for a reason, and the iPhone 6 Plus is not for everyone. If you want the latest iPhone but like the size of your iPhone 5 or earlier, then the iPhone 6 is probably likely to be your best bet. When compared to an iPhone 5, the iPhone 6 is not all that much bigger when taken as a whole. (I compared an iPhone 5, in a minimal case, side-by-side with an iPhone 6 and felt that the 6 was not too much larger overall.) If you’ve really been wanting something much bigger, though, then the iPhone 6 Plus will probably fit the bill. In any event, before making any purchases, I highly recommend going to your retailer of choice to check out and compare the two phones for yourself.

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8 Comments

#1 new iphones

Thank you very much for this article. I found it to be highly informative. I'm still debating with myself whether or not I even want to trade in my 5S at this time. I think your advice at the end of the article is key: checking out both new phones in the store is crucial before deciding on which one, if either, to get. I'll be very curious to learn how much the camera improvements in the 6 plus impact performance of KNFB reader, Tap-Tap-See and other similar apps. If the difference is fairly minor, then maybe the 6 will be a better option. In any case, I will have to check them both out first to hear differences in audio and decide if I can handle the bigger screen. I almost wish Apple could have made a version of the 6 that was the size of the 5S for those of us who might want the better performance of the new phones without having to have a bigger screen. Thanks again for your descriptions of the new phones.

#2 NFC

it has NFC on IPhone 6 and 6plus to do the apple pay.
but, besides doing the payment services. can it also use the NFC to connnect with other devices such as headsets and speaker?

#3 Thank you!

Thanks so much for all the information you presented in this post. I had been confident I wanted an iPhone 6, but reading this has made me realize I need to go and check them both out.

#4 Re: NFC

Ming:
For now, I believe Apple has limited the NFC chip in the iPhone 6 and 6+ to ApplePay.
Personally, I'm really excited about using ApplePay, which is why I am upgrading to a 6.
I agree with other commenters, Michael, this was a great review, thanks for doing it.

#5 great review!

hello, I rarely write reviews on Applevis posts, but I felt this one needed some attention. I really like the fact of the iPhone 6 plus his battery, and I thank you for writing this wonderful description of both phones. I think, I am also I decided to get an iPhone six, or an iPhone 6+. I feel that I am quite user-friendly with my current iPhone five, and I like the size of that phone a lot. There are some things I like about the iPhone 6+ however, such as an increase in battery life. We could all use an increase in battery life! I am uncertain about the protruding camera on both models, and this is where going into the store and actually checking it out would be a good thing to do. It's a wonder you didn't get in trouble for trying to sneak off with that iPhone 6+ in your pocket. You're lucky flashing lights and robotic Apple man didn't come to steal you. Once again great if you and thank you for the descriptions, I will go to my nearest store, and take a look to see about the iPhone and see which one I like to purchase.

#6 I agree, great review!

I now have an iPhone 6 and absolutely love it. for those curious, it looks and feels exactly like an iPhone 5 or a 5s, accept the sreen is just a tiny bit wider. This won't imact your daily use though, I was abl to adapt to it withina few seconds, and was up and running very quickly. So if you upgrade, there's no doubt that you'll have to go with something a bit bigger, but as I said, it's not so big that it'll impact your daily use at all. In fact, iOS 8.0.2 runs just fine on it, I've had no issues accept for a few apps occasionally crashing now and again, but this isn't a constant thing. I'm certain that iOS 8.1 will fix a lot of these issues. Or at least I can sure hope so!

#7 why the 6 tunehead?

hello this is for Tunehead. why did ou choose the 6 personally? cost? size? Thoughts?

#8 both

Hey. Both, actually. The 6 is a smaller size than the 6 PLUS and I wanted something that I could still cary in my pocket. Plus, lets face it, it was cheaper than the 6 PLUS. I'm quite definitely happy with my purchase, you bet.