SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue
By Julio Ojeda-Zapata
I had it in my head that I hated big smartphones. A compact handset is, after all, easier to use with one hand, more comfortable to tote around and kind of adorable to boot.
Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus has me rethinking my large-phone antipathy.
The 5.5-inch smartphone, released last month, is enormous compared to its immediate predecessors, the 4-inch iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c (which are still on the market). Apple also rolled out a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 last month, but it’s the big boy that has me intrigued.
It dawned on me that the iPhone 6 Plus is the perfect phone for someone, like me, who is entering a second century of life and having to make a number of physical adjustments.
Here are five reasons I’m falling in love with Apple’s honkin’ handset:
1. It is great for reading. I am a voracious reader, but the older I get, the more I hate to lug around hardcovers. Even toting a tablet or an e-book reader is a pain. On the other hand, standard-size phones are too small for comfortable reading. My eyesight isn’t what it was, after all.
The iPhone 6 Plus is just the right size, it turns out. It slips in my sportcoat pocket or in the front pocket of my slacks and jeans, yet its display is large enough to accommodate a generous amount of text at a comfortably readable size and wonderfully high resolution.
I began powering through more books, more quickly, once I got my hands on an iPhone 6 Plus. I whipped through The Kite Runner and The Martian in days. The new, huge Apple phone made this easy.
2. It is great for writing. I hate to lug stuff around, as I said. This is especially true after last winter, when snow shoveling did a number on my arm, which has yet to fully recover.
I try to avoid schlepping a notebook computer as a result, even though I am a writer. I have experimented with tablets and add-on keyboards, which together are a somewhat less of a burden, but the iPhone 6 Plus takes this to a whole new level.
The phone, though small compared to a laptop or tablet, is large enough for comfortable spurts of word processing and other productivity tasks.
Pick up an ultraportable keyboard, such as ZAGG’s terrific ZAGGkeys Flex or ZAGGkeys Universal, and you’re ready to do email and edit work files at the cafe. These keyboards incorporate stands for your iPhone, so there is nothing else to carry around, yet are light and compact.
3. It is great for watching. Watching video on a small smartphone is also a bit of a pain. YouTube videos aren’t too much of a problem, but there’s no way I will watch three-hour movies like Lord of the Rings on such a compact display.
The iPhone 6 Plus solves that problem beautifully. It is my new best buddy for whipping through episodes of Outlander before I go to sleep, while munching on my Corn Flakes or on my city-bus commute. Its screen is just large enough that I do not become fatigued during viewing marathons. My wife and I can even watch movies together on the couch.
4. It is great for gabbing. When making calls with the iPhone 6 Plus, I do feel a bit like I am holding a Pop-Tart up to my ear. I’m sure that feeling will pass eventually, but I love the ease with which I can engage in video chats via Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype or Google’s Hangouts.
Older iPhones felt a bit too cramped for this, but an iPad feels like overkill. The iPhone 6 Plus is just right for comfortable videoconferencing.
5. It is great for shooting. Apple’s iPhones have tended to have the best phone cameras, but their smaller screens have made it difficult to get a full appreciation for just-snapped pictures. Even though fantastic iPhone photo-editing apps are available, those of us with less-than-optimal eyesight have waited until pictures were transferred to our computers.
With the iPhone 6 Plus, I do not have to wait. The latest version of Apple’s iOS operating system brings with it huge improvements to Apple’s camera app, and I am fully availing myself of them on that big, beautiful screen. I did a ton of on-the-go tweaking while on a hike around my ‘hood' to shoot fall colors last weekend (including the one with this article).
It is important to note that the iPhone 6 Plus has a slightly superior camera than the iPhone 6. An “optical image stabilization” feature found only in the large phone aids in low-light photography by compensating for hand shake and subject motion.
Julio Ojeda-Zapata is a technology journalist and occasional author. His latest book is The Mobile Writer. Find him at ojezap.com and follow him on Twitter @ojezap.