Apple making a large-screen smartphone? You must be joking.
But this isn’t Steve Jobs’ Apple any more. This is Tim Cook’s Apple, a company that’s more open to feedback from its users, instead of one that makes you believe its one phone is the best phone you’ll ever get…until the next year, when the new iPhone is the best phone you’ll ever get.
Now, there’s a choice. Last year there were the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s; it wasn’t a difficult decision the last time. For 2014, there’s the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, a huge 5.5-inch phablet catered for those yearning for a big iOS-running smartphone that can do everything.
Seeing the iPhone 6 Plus live in front of my eyes was an experience I will not forget in a while. My mind went “what the…” as I held up this humongous slab of a phone. Across the table, a teenage boy said out loud, “this thing’s the size of a planet!” Next to me, a woman told her partner, “that thing is HUGE.” That’s what she said.
Reading the dimensions of the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t really show just how big the iPhone 6 Plus is. Saying it’s taller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 doesn’t do it justice either. It’s…indescribably large, and more so for your hands than it is for your eyes. You know it’s big, yes, but when you actually hold it, it feels unbalanced.
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (left), Sony Xperia Z3 (middle), & iPhone 6 (right)
It’s so thin and light for its size that there’s little surface area to actually hold on to comfortably. Don’t even think of using this phone with one hand, even if the Reachability gesture tries to help.
It isn’t so much about the size, either – Apple seems to have done a pretty bad job of using space efficiently. There’s the same amount of bezel on the side and top as on the iPhone 6, but the bottom bezels appear to be slightly larger. Design-wise, there is absolutely no visible difference between the two new iPhones as well, giving the impression that the 6 Plus is merely an enlarged edition of the iPhone 6.
That is of course not true. There is not one, but two major differences between the two phones. The first is the addition of optical image stabilisation (OIS) on the iPhone 6 Plus, which is a big inclusion that will make the video recording capability even better. Secondly, the iPhone 6 Plus’ display automatically rotates when you turn it sideways…and even upside down.
With a larger display and more pixels (the iPhone 6 Plus has a Full HD screen compared to a 1334 x 750 screen on the 4.7-inch variant), the larger iPhone displays more information on the screen at any given time (except for the home screen, which shows the same amount of icons).
Not to forget. Here’s something to everyone who thinks the iPhone 6 Plus’ aluminium body will bend under the slightest of forces: it does not. Aluminium may be a soft and malleable metal, but there’s no way the iPhone 6 Plus feels like it will bend if I twisted it with my bare hands. It is still metal, after all. That being said, the thinness of the 6 Plus does mean the structural integrity of the device may not be as robust as on the iPhone 6 – though I’m sure Apple would have addressed this matter in some manner.
As mentioned in our iPhone 6 hands on, we were not able to show off any sample images from the iPhone 6 Plus, but from our initial impressions, there aren’t any visible differences between the 6 and 6 Plus – at least for stills. Both produce excellent images, and appear to resolve more detail compared to the Sony Xperia Z3 (but note that this is purely an initial observation, without transferring the images onto a neutral display).
In all, my first impressions of Apple’s first phablet didn’t make me excited in any way. Evidently, Apple does not know how to make a large-screen smartphone; at least not yet. But compared to the iPhone 6, which had its fair share of plus points, the only memorable moments I had on my first encounter with the iPhone 6 Plus were the reactions that regular people were spontaneously making around me.
MORE: Hands On: Apple iPhone 6