Apple's newest flagship, the phablet-class iPhone 6 Plus, arrived on Friday and I've spent most of the morning moving everything over to it so I can use it full time. As you may know, I'd been using a Lumia 1520 since early August, and doing so was good preparation for this large device. I can't imagine what this upgrade would be like for those coming from an iPhone 5S or any other iPhone.
On that note, Apple's "bigger than bigger" advertising makes plenty of sense. It's impossible to see the iPhone 6 Plus and not immediately consider the size of the thing. It's smaller than the Lumia 1520, and is identical in size, almost exactly, to the 2012-era Samsung Galaxy Note 2 that my wife will continue using until January when she can finally upgrade. But to truly understand the size of the iPhone 6 Plus, you need to compare it to the iPhone 5 or 5S that most people will be upgrading from. And that, folks, is simply silly: These phones are from entirely different planets.
iPhone 5S (left) and iPhone 6 Plus (right): An obvious upgrade?
Of course, I've been complaining about the size of the iPhone and its postage stamp-sized screens for years, so I'm happy about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, though I think Apple should have went with 5-inch and 6-inch screens, respectively. Whatever, they're finally on board with "rightsized" phones. But they're not just bigger. They also come with completely different design aesthetics than past iPhones.
This is both good and bad. Starting with the Antennagate-era iPhone 4, Apple has pushed glass, metal, and hard edges with its smart phones. This look was—still is—very high end, and while I was never a fan of those hard edges—it actually hurts your hand to hold an iPhone 4, 4S, 5, or 5S normally—That these were luxury devices was unmistakable. The iPhone 6 Plus isn't quite in the same league.
Don't get me wrong, the aluminum-bodied iPhone 6 Plus is not cheap looking or feeling. But it's no better or worse, I think, than the polycarbonate unibody design of the Lumia 1520. And looking at them straight on, the iPhone 6 Plus is curiously similar to the Samsung Galaxy S5. It's only when you regard the cheap faux metal siding and plastic back of the S5 that you realize it's not in the same class, design-wise.
Left to right: Lumia 1520, iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy S5, iPhone 5S
I know Apple's fans will justify these changes in whatever ways help them sleep at night. To me, none of this matters. The iPhone 6 Plus is a beautiful, large phone. It's newly curved edges are much easier to hold, and are appreciated. The device is thinner than its predecessors, but that's not a surprise despite some of the clueless reviews I've seen: "And it's somehow even thinner than the iPhone 5S!" Of course it is. Larger phones are always thinner. That's how this works. It's why the Lumia 1520 is thinner than the 1020, 920 or Icon.
Top to bottom: iPod touch (current gen), iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 Plus
And it being thinner is good, a positive. The size, thinness, curved design, and even the materials all work together to help create a handset that is large, yes, but also balanced. It doesn't feel heavy for what it is, or dense like some Lumias. (I'm looking at you, Lumia 920 and Icon.)
Looking ahead, I'll be evaluating the iPhone 6 Plus—and eventually the iPhone 6 too—for its capabilities, which we see in both the extensible new iOS 8 and in some hardware features that are unique to these devices. I'm particularly curious about the camera, of course, which I expect to be excellent. But is it better than the cameras in the Lumia 1020, 1520 or Icon/930? I'll find out. I'm likewise curious about the new health features, and the wallet functionality that will come online next month. I'll be testing that stuff. I'm even increasingly interested in how these new iPhones will interact with the Apple Watch—in particular the Sports models—and Apple's new health software. So we'll get to that eventually too.
Same old in-box accessories
There's a lot to look at here. So far, I can say that this is a high-quality handset with a pretty design, one that maybe doesn't warrant crowds of people standing in line for some reason, but is indeed a worthy flagship. Some people blindly follow Apple down whatever path it chooses to tread, and others are equally blind in their hatred of the company. I think Apple makes great hardware, and always has, and with iOS and Tim Cook at its head, Apple has shown it can change its more egregious ways of the past as well. The iPhone 6 is part of that wave, and I'll be checking back soon.