30-DAY REVIEW

A month in, the iPhone 6 Plus was the right choice

It didn’t take long for me to get used to Apple’s large new iPhone 6 Plus. After more than a month of everyday use, it has become even more of the pocket computer I’ve always wanted. A few thoughts:

Yes, it’s still “too big”—in the best way. It’s not going to fit in your hand or pocket the same way a smaller phone does. But that’s the point—I’ve been very happy with the tradeoff. The big screen, which displays more text than before, and makes photos look amazing, has come to feel luxuriously comfortable. It’s like driving a SUV instead of a Prius. My old iPhone 4, which I use as a kitchen radio, feels like a miniature toy.

My phone isn’t bent. At all. But it’s amazing how many people asked me about that, ranging from family members to random strangers at a Paris restaurant. Apple truly is mainstream news.

It is an amazing tool for travel. I spent two weeks on the road last month and will be in Japan next week for work. Even with a laptop nearby, the iPhone 6 Plus has become my primary “road” computer for many tasks. Because typing on its wider on-screen keyboard is more comfortable, and it’s surprisingly productive for writing emails and notes—not just reading them. The photos it takes are amazing. And after moving a few apps that I mostly use while walking, like Google Maps, further down the home screen, I even feel confident using it one-handed, on the go.

Madrid Airport
Madrid’s Barajas Airport—shot with an iPhone 6 Plus. (Quartz/Dan Frommer)

The battery life has been the best surprise. The most stressful thing about the smartphone era has been keeping enough battery power to last the day. Since getting the iPhone 6 Plus, I haven’t once run it down completely yet. Some days—especially on the road, when I use it more—that has included a mid-day recharge. But most days, I get home for the night with half or more of my battery life left. (Even while roaming on slower, 3G networks, which used to destroy my old iPhone 5 battery.) This makes new, battery-reliant applications, like unlocking your hotel room with your phone instead of a key card, seem more practical.

I’m hooked on Apple Pay. Perhaps I’m not saving that much time or energy—or any money—but it’s fun! And it seems like Apple underplayed the availability of Apple Pay-compatible, “contactless” terminals at stores that aren’t part of its big-name launch partnerships, at least in New York. I’ve found Apple Pay particularly convenient in NYC taxis, when my phone is usually already out and I’m sitting on my wallet. Especially if used in conjunction with the nifty, pay-before-the-ride-is-over trick.

It hasn’t replaced my iPad. This surprised me. I thought my beloved iPad mini would be doomed with a new device, almost half its size, in the house. But I still find myself reaching for the iPad when it’s time to read something for more than a few minutes, for watching videos, for recipes in the kitchen, and for reading in bed. I’m not sure I’d buy both if I owned neither—if anything, a massive kitchen iPad seems even more intriguing now—but I’m not going to get rid of my iPad mini any time soon. If anything, Apple should do more to differentiate the iPad now—and make it better for sharing between family members.

Bottom line: I didn’t return it in shame, or swap it for the smaller iPhone 6. Should you buy it? I wouldn’t recommend the iPhone 6 Plus for everyone—try it out first—but I’ve come to love it. As I noted previously, if you are interested in having a pocket-sized computer with you at all times—at the expense of some portability—give it a shot.

Previously: The iPhone 6 Plus is the pocket computer I’ve been waiting for

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