Does Size Matter: My Weekend with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Last Friday I got an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus for review; by mid-afternoon I had both fully charged, synced, and ready to rock. Sure I felt dorky with an iPhone in each hand all weekend, but it was worth it, gentle reader, to bring you this early hands-on report. But even more importantly, it was worth it to help me solve a first-world problem: Which iPhone 6 should I buy?

Having attended Apple's big event on September 9, I already tried holding both phones, and stuffing them into the front pockets of my relatively tight jeans. (Apple security watched closely until both phones were back on the display table.) Before receiving the review units I was pretty sure I wanted the iPhone 6 Plus; after using both for 72 hours, I'm not so sure.

Here's why. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are more alike than different. Both feature the same processors and co-processors; both are impossibly thin; and both sport the same array of buttons and ports in the same locations. The biggest difference is their size (ha). On top of the size difference, the iPhone 6 Plus has two features the iPhone 6 does not: Optical image stabilization for better photos and videos, especially in low light; and the longest-lasting battery ever in an iPhone. Sadly, there hasn't been time to adequately test these two features for this column, but I will definitely let you know.

While the iPhone 6 is somewhat bigger than my current iPhone (an iPhone 5s), it didn't feel all that much bigger in my hand or pocket and I had no problem using it with one hand. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, feels much (much) bigger than any phone I've owned. I'm 6-foot 1-inch and 210 pounds, with big, beefy hands. Still, I'm not entirely comfortable using the iPhone 6 Plus single-handed, at least not yet. And while it does fit in the pocket of most of my garments, it's mostly a tight fit.

Both iPhone 6 models offer a pair of new features to take advantage of their larger screens. The first is called Reachability, and it shifts the entire screen downward. Put another way, it moves the top of the screen closer to the Home button where it's easier to reach.

You invoke Reachability with a new gesture called the double-touch, which means you lightly tap the Home button/Touch ID sensor twice in quick succession. I press it instead of touching it as often as not, revealing the multitasking screen as always, but I seem to be getting used to it and I think it's growing on me.

Before (left) and after (right) Reachability

Another new feature on both new iPhones is Display Zoom, which increases the size of everything on screen. To try it, tap Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Display Zoom and choose either Zoomed or Standard. You can then toggle back and forth between examples of the Home screen, Mail, and Messages displayed as Zoomed or Standard. It doesn't make a huge difference, but it's nice to have.

Standard vs. Zoomed

Caption: Standard (left) vs. Zoomed (right)

For what it's worth, even though I'm an older gent with the bifocals to prove it, I prefer Standard. While everything gets a wee bit smaller, I can fit more stuff on the screen, which is so crisp and clear I can easily read text in either view.

Which brings us to the bottom line: After nearly three days… I still can't decide. On one hand, the iPhone 6 feels better, is easier to use one-handed, and easier to slip in and out of my pockets. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus's longer battery life and optical image stabilization could convince me that bigger really is better.

So I can't tell you which I'm going to choose, but I can tell you I'll definitely get one or the other before the review units are called back to the mothership. When I do decide, you'll be the second to know (after my wife).

One last thing: I've been taking pictures and videos like mad with both phones and have taken more than 300 photos and time-lapse, slow-mo, and 60 fps videos. So far they both seem to take good pictures and videos, but I need to study and compare them more closely before I can make my decision. As before, you'll be the second to know!

And that's all he wrote…