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iPhone 6: The little things make it a real star

Galen Gruman | Sept. 23, 2014
The iPhone 6 is the first major redesign of the Apple iPhone since 2010's iPhone 4. The design is new, with the aluminum side band gone and the glass and aluminum halves directly welded for a sleeker, less-industrial look. The iPhone 6 is also bigger, a long-desired improvement in screen real estate. That's normal change in the smartphone world.

The screen measures 5.5 inches diagonally, and the device weighs 6.07 ounces that's 1.52 ounces, or 33.4 percent, more than the iPhone 6's 4.55 ounces. The rear camera's lens has an optical stabilization feature meant to help overcome the inevitable jitters from trying to hold such a monster device steadily in motion photography. (I could not test that.)

That extra time with the devices didn't change my opinion that the iPhone 6 Plus is too big. It's too much of a handful even with Apple's one-handed display trick (which also works on the iPhone 6): Double-tap the Home button to bring down the screen, so you can reach the top of the screen with your thumb. In most apps, you can scroll down in that diminished screen but not in all.

iPhone 6 one-handed mode The iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 (shown here) let you double-tap the Home button to pull down the app so the top of its screen is more easily accessed by your thumb when controlling the iPhone with one hand.

The iPhone 6 Plus sticks too far out of a men's shirt pocket. That's great for surreptitious video recording, but I'd be constantly worried about it sliding out and falling to the floor any time I bent forward.

However, it's cool that apps can be designed to use all the extra screen real estate in landscape mode on an iPhone 6 Plus, switching to double-column view on Mail, for example, as if they were iPad apps. That's a smart accommodation of the "ablet" part of "phablet," and I wish Android phablets did the same.

I know there are people who love phablets, and who are comfortable using it with two hands all the time. And I know many of the Android makers are falling all over themselves to make each new model even bigger than the last, leading to really grotesque phone sizes. Seriously, people: A 4.7-inch screen is the optimal size for viewing, carrying, holding, and manipulating.

If you really want a micro tablet more than a smartphone, rather than use both an iPhone and an iPad, then I get the appeal of the iPhone 6 Plus. But try out an iPhone 6 Plus in person to see if it's right for you.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are available from the major U.S. carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon as well as from major carriers in Japan, Australia, and much of Europe. (Apple's still waiting for regulatory approval in China.)

The iPhone 6 costs $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for 64GB, and $849 for 128GB the pricier models offer more capacity than the predecessor iPhone 5s did. Some carriers will subsidize those prices with a $450 discount if you agree to a two-year contract. The iPhone 6 Plus has the same capacities but costs $100 more for each model. The casing colors are the same as for the iPhone 5s: silver, gold, and dark gray. Gone is the M&Ms color scheme of last year's iPhone 5c.


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