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How Apple does big phones better than Android

Michael Simon | Dec. 3, 2015
A month with the Nexus 6P showed that perhaps its gorgeous screen is a little too big for its operating system.

Had I taken my Android vacation two years ago, it might have ended a whole lot differently. Back then, Apple was still trying to convince us of the benefit of thumb-to-screen ratio, and if I would have used the 4.9-inch Nexus 5 for a month, I’m not sure I would have switched my SIM back so quickly.

To be honest, I don’t really want to go back to my iPhone 6 now. My time with the Nexus 6P has convinced me of the benefit of so-called phablets, and as soon as it’s available I’m preordering an iPhone 7 Plus. But while I loved the physical size and the overall craftsmanship of my Nexus phone, I simply didn’t enjoy using it as much as I do my iPhone.

It’s a funny thing. Android phones started the large-screen trend years before Apple jumped on the bandwagon, but over the course of my time away from my iPhone, it wasn’t my iPhone that I missed most, it was iOS. Using Android for a month showed me that Apple has done a much better job with crafting its OS to compensate for the specific challenges giant phones create.

Beauty over brains

It’s a shame, because I kind of love the 6P. Its sturdy, metal enclosure isn’t entirely unlike a supersized iPhone 4 or a boxier iPhone 6, and being outside of the iEcosystem with my main device wasn’t nearly as crippling as I feared (though I missed getting notifications on my Apple Watch). I wasn’t even all that bothered by the bulging camera strip on the back.

Because, really, who cares what’s on the back when you’ve got such an amazing screen on the front. I’ve never any complaints about Apple’s best-in-class LCDs, but the 6P’s 1440x2560 Super AMOLED display is a thing of beauty. It’s like using a 5.5-inch Apple Watch, and the day Apple figures out how to produce a couple hundred million of them a year can’t come soon enough. It’s the one aspect of the 6P that consistently outperforms my iPhone, and the thought of going back to an LCD is a bit of a bummer.

But while its glorious screen is wondrous to look at, actually using it isn’t quite as blissful. A phone this size begs to be used in landscape mode, something Apple immediately recognized with the Plus. Oddly, Marshmallow doesn’t include a native setting for home screen rotation, and I had to rely on the kindness of launchers to replicate the feature on my 6P. It doesn’t make sense that it’s not a stock setting for phones of this size, especially given Android’s years-long head start on phablets.

 

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