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How to choose between the iPhone 6, Plus, and iPad

Ryan Faas | Sept. 12, 2014
Like a great many people, I'm planning to pre-order one of the new iPhones on Friday --which you could call both very early Friday morning or very late Thursday night since Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint will all begin taking pre-orders at or just after midnight Pacific a.k.a. 3 a.m. Eastern

Like a great many people, I'm planning to pre-order one of the new iPhones on Friday — which you could call both very early Friday morning or very late Thursday night since Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint will all begin taking pre-orders at or just after midnight Pacific a.k.a. 3 a.m. Eastern

I'm still on the fence about whether to order an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

I didn't expect to be on the fence. With so many details known well in advance of Tuesday's announcement, I'd already written the larger iPhone off as too bulky and ungainly to carry around. Even the size of the iPhone 6 seemed big to me after years with mostly four-inch smartphones. As I wrote earlier this year, I'd developed distinct use cases for my iPhone 5 and iPad mini and presumed two devices that really met my different needs was the way to go.

Then Apple did something unexpected (besides mucking up its live stream of the event). It delivered differing functionality between the two devices. Although most of the specs are the same — the iPad Plus has better camera hardware and, being bigger, sports a bigger battery — the user experience wasn't.

Some features like Reachability — the ability to have content slide down with a double tap of the home button for easy one-handed operation — extended to both devices. But Apple has also developed ways for the iPhone 6 Plus to make better use of its extra screen real estate. Apple's built-in apps display more information or content in landscape orientation. The homescreen rotates like on an iPad. Although both devices have a larger keyboard with added buttons for enhanced functionality, the iPhone 6 Plus has more of those added buttons.

Put simply, there is a user interface and user experience difference between the two and I was intrigued enough about the added perks of the iPhone 6 Plus to begin considering it.

Since I wasn't at Apple's event and haven't seen or either device in person, I realized all the photos in the world wouldn't really give me an accurate idea of how big each of them are. Going a little old school, I decided to get as close as I could to finding out. Taking the dimensions of each device from Apple's website, I used a rule and pencil to trace out their outline on a piece of paper.

I was genuinely surprised by the result. When I put my iPhone 5 next to it in the Speck case it's been in since I got it, it was actually wider than the iPhone 6 and just millimeters shorter. The size difference wasn't much different when I popped it out of the case, particularly the width. There was a much more noticeable difference between the 5 (in or out of case) and the iPhone 6 Plus, but it wasn't as significant as I would've expected. I realized I could use either device comfortably even one-handed for the most part. I also realized that the iPhone 6 Plus would fit into most, but not all, of my pants or jeans pockets. Instead of clarifying the decision, the experience muddied it.

 

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