The big phone

My thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus, five months later

I lead a mobile sedentary lifestyle. I’m not someone who travels a lot or needs to visit multiple sites during a workday. I like, as George Carlin once said, to bring all my stuff with me. This has created its own challenges. Keeping multiple devices in sync can be frustrating, so I try to make one mobile device the primary source of truth for my data. I view myself as a creative (although I’m not even on the same planet as Adam Savage), so I want my devices to aid my efforts while staying out of the way as much as possible.

I bought the iPhone 6 Plus with the hopes it would become that device, especially with some new enhancements in iOS 8. Read on to see how successful it was.

One device to rule them all: is that possible?

It is almost impossible to discuss the iPhone 6 Plus without talking about how it integrates with the rest of my mobile devices: an iPad 3 and a MacBook Pro from 2011. I also have a work-supplied ThinkPad I use for most of my daily toil.

One of my weird little personally quirks is that I try to do all things on my mobile devices. This has led to initiatives like my Year of the iPad last year. Due to limitations of my iPhone 5, my iPad saw heavy use. So last year I worked on not having to carry my MacBook with me as much. I was largely successful at this.

This is because my reaction to the 6 Plus was so positive, and I’ve also found myself reaching for the iPad less.

My daily routine is pretty well-established at this point. I show up for work and put my iPad into my Origami Workstation Case, my iPhone into its charger and I make my coffee while my ThinkPad starts up. In the past, when I went to meetings, I’d take my iPad and the keyboard and use OneNote. It’s a great option, but after awhile it felt like I was doing it this way for the sake of doing it, when I could (and should) just bring my work laptop. So for now, I’ve put off the idea of using the iPad to take notes during a meeting. I am working on getting more comfortable with the on-screen keyboard to eliminate needing an external keyboard. However, the iPad does still work as a mechanism to reference documents during a meeting. If I’m interviewing someone, I’ll just open his or her resume on my iPad.

While I doubt I can ever fully replace my iPad or MacBook for my personal mobile needs, I’m finding that I now do about 80 percent of my non-laptop tasks on my 6 Plus.

A member of the media inspects the new iPhone 6 during an Apple special event.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A member of the media inspects the new iPhone 6 during an Apple special event. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus, five months in

This is an amazing device. I wasn’t very happy with my iPhone 5. It was larger, true, but it didn’t really offer any noticeable difference. The extra row of icons was nice, but I still wasn’t able to read a book on it. When Apple announced the new iPhone would have two sizes, I knew I was going to jump to the bigger phone. It has exceeded all of my expectations. Prior to the Plus, I was contemplating the iPad mini. I was concerned that it wasn’t going to be small enough, and I’d have some of the same limitations with the mini I would have with the larger iPad. It would still be too large to fit in a pocket and I’d still need my bag to carry it in. With the Plus, I was hoping I’d find a sweet spot. I have.

This may sound like a trivial matter, but being able to read a book on a device is a requirement for me. I read a lot and even being able to read a chapter is nice. The side benefit to this is that if I can read on a device comfortably I can easily perform other tasks. So my iPhone is now my default mobile device for triaging email, my task list, Twitter and Facebook.

The other big selling point was the extra battery life. My iPhone 5 barely got through the day on normal use. If I had to go into Boston for the day, or wasn’t able to charge it, it would die around 5 p.m. This last weekend I was at a gaming convention and was barely able to charge it for two days. It finally almost ran out when I left at midnight the second night. My iPad called it quits the first day. What’s also nice is how quickly the iPhone 6 Plus it charges. I have an iPad 3, and it take a good 10 hours to charge over the 30-pin connector. My iPhone 6 charges fully in an hour or so.

I am always trying to write more on mobile devices. I found this article on how someone writes on the 6 Plus and I was intrigued with his methods. I agreed with him on the keyboards on the iPads. After reading it, I tried writing the beginning of this article on the Plus. It went very well and I can see myself using the Plus to write with. I’m not looking for something I’d compose chapters of a book on, but more something to jot down some thoughts when I have a spare couple of minutes during the day.

I came for the larger screen; I stayed for iOS 8

While the iPhone 6 Plus does a great job at triaging information, sometimes it’s like drinking from the fire hose. Frequently during the day I’ll come across (or be sent) something I simply want to check out later. This usually isn’t something I want to put into Instapaper (that’s articles I’ll want to read later) — it’s usually an app, book, or a matter I want to Google later. iOS 8’s extensions make handling these sorts of tasks very easy. In this case, I use Workflow to create a workflow that automatically appends the URL or selected text to an Evernote note named “Check Out.” When I get home, I look through the note, check stuff out, and clear out the note.

I’m still working on getting used to the Today screen. My Today screen is set up so it’s easy to add a task to Things. I’ll use the Evernote today screen to quickly create a note, or view a recent note – usually the Check Out note. iOS 8 makes it so easy to hand off data to different apps. We’ve had so many years of having to use unsupported workarounds to integrate apps, I have to remember now that there may be an easier way to accomplish a goal. This is where I think an app like Workflow could completely change how I interact with my iPhone. So far, all I’ve done is adjust a few of their standard workflows. I look forward to digging in more and creating workflows from scratch.

Final thoughts

Earlier, I said one of my personality quirks is trying to make a mobile device handle all of my mobile tasks. With the iPhone 6 Plus, I’m finally changing that mindset. Instead of trying have one device at arm’s reach that can handle all of my needs, instead I want the device I use the most to be able to handle the important day-to-day tasks. I’ve decided that the most important task is to triage and handle information thrown to me on a daily basis. I may not be able to do anything about it at that moment, but it’s important to address it and file it away. The large screen makes it easy to do that.

I’ve thought about getting a small BlueTooth keyboard to use with the 6 Plus, but I think that gets away from its core competency. With the iPhone 6 Plus, I’ve finally found a device that I can both keep in my pocket and also be very productive when using.

9 Responses to “My thoughts on the iPhone 6 Plus, five months later”

  1. Thanks for the write up. I’m currently in the process of getting rid of my nexus 5 because the latest Android OS is so buggy and battery sucks. I had not considered getting the 6+ as a replacement for my ipad as well. I’m definitely going to give the 6+ a serious consideration. Also, I’ve used swiftkey with my nexus 5 and ipad air as my keyboard and I love it. It gets some getting used to, but even on the ipad, I can take notes in meetings faster than I can type on a regular keyboard. Definitely give it a try over using a bluetooth keyboard.

  2. Hi Mark, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the usefulness of iphone 6 plus. I have enjoyed using it tremendously for the last few months. I have been using it for –
    -taking photos of drawings and sketches for instagram art sharing
    -artwork touch ups and editing
    -audio recordings and quick uploads
    -time sheet entry and notes logging for animation jobs
    -a lot of podcast listening hours
    -map navigations ( extra screen size really helps)
    -read out loud from web articles and ebooks
    -emails / news reading / weather / scheduling / Skype calls / Google hangouts / chats
    – for better for worst my main camera

    Some of these I have already used on my old iPhone 4 but with the iphone 6 plus I just do a lot more!

  3. THanks for the piece. I too have a 6+ and have similar ambitions for its use case. I have ordered the TextBlade keyboard which is tiny but has full size keys. This could really revolutionise the 6+ for me.

  4. James Katt

    I got the folding Perixx Bluetooth Keyboard for my iPhone 6 Plus. It folds to about the same size as the iPhone 6 Plus in a protective case. Both can be placed in my front dress pants pocket.

  5. Michael W. Perry

    You’re likely to be disappointed when you check out those small Bluetooth keyboards. I know I have beem. They’re little more than stripped-down and shrunk-down version so regular keyboards.

    Someone need to rethink their design. Perhaps pressing on the sides could be used for various purposes. The center on the left, right, top and bottom, could become a cursor going that direction. The corners could be used as various shift keys, including uppercase, numbers, option and perhaps turning on keyboard lighting for a few seconds.

    Companies such as Otter, who make excellent cases, should also make keyboards that mate with their cases. Users shouldn’t be forced to accept a second-rate case to get a keyboard.

  6. Is there a RAW files for pictures like Nexus 6 and some post processing possibilities like with Photomate R2 with full 16MP pictures ?
    Is it possible to point on next schedule to go directly to goole maps and drive to the address ?
    Is it possible to get a widget to see the mail just received without touching anything like a SMS ?
    The Iphone 6+ looks interesting but I wouldn’t miss those functions and quit android.

    • PRETHOUGHT

      Mark are you still on 8.1.2? If you are you should jailbreak and install ReachApp

      It lets you split screen your iPhone. I didn’t think there would be much used for it on my iPhone 6 but I find it indispensable now. Hopefully Apple will appropriate it much like they did with the notifications