The pros and cons of the iPhone 6 Plus

In today's Apple roundup: The advantages and disadvantages of the iPhone 6 Plus smartphone. Plus: The Apple ID FAQ page is worth bookmarking. And is a 4K Apple television set coming?

The pros and cons of the iPhone 6 Plus

Apple's iPhone 6 Plus has rampaged through the smartphone landscape like a juggernaut, mowing down much of the competition and even winning users away from the iPhone 6. Blogger Marco Arment switched from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 6 Plus, and he found that the iPhone 6 Plus had some real advantages over its smaller sibling. But there were some problems with Apple's phablet too.

Marco Arment reports:

I finally tried the 6 Plus myself as well, having recently taken two trips to the British Isles in the span of a few weeks. I wanted to get a local SIM, and my only unlocked iPhones were my old 5S and the 6 Plus I bought for development and testing that has sat mostly idle for months. I didn’t want the 5S’ worse camera and smaller battery, so I chose the 6 Plus.

The results surprised me.

What’s better about the 6 Plus

Battery life: In my use, I’d estimate that it lasted about 50–75% longer than the iPhone 6, which is usually the difference between sometimes needing to charge it mid-day and reliably being able to last all day even in heavy usage.

Camera: The 6 Plus’ image stabilizer is a minor difference outdoors, but a noticeable difference indoors when it can select a lower ISO, resulting in less noise.

Typing: For whatever reason, the keyboard size on the 6 Plus (in portrait orientation) fits me better than the 6, resulting in far fewer errors. I’m already typing more accurately on the 6 Plus than I ever could on the 6.

Screen space: It’s nice when reading books, reading Web pages, and showing photos. But the additional screen space is a relatively minor benefit to me overall, as most iPhone software doesn’t make good use of it.

What’s worse about the 6 Plus

The only significant downside has been the 6 Plus’ physical dimensions.

The biggest problem I’ve hit is that it just feels uncomfortably huge and awkward in my pocket more often than the 6 (which did have this issue sometimes as well, but not as often), and it’s clumsier to insert and remove from pockets.

At first, I didn’t think its pocket size was a problem. But I’ve found myself often taking it out and putting it on the desk or table in front of me, which I’ve never regularly done before. It also feels uncomfortable in my pocket if I’m moving around a lot, and I find myself always trying to slide it to the side of my leg instead of the front.

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I disagree with his take about the thinness of Apple's phones. I prefer thin, light phones so I would not want more battery life at the price of additional weight or thickness. Then again, I don't use an iPhone 6 so battery life has not been a problem for me at all.

I also haven't found the size to be a problem in terms of carrying the iPhone 6 Plus. It fits into the pocket of my cargo pants very well, and sits right next to my wallet. So it's very easy for me to walk around with it each day.

As far as holding the iPhone 6 Plus goes, I stopped using Apple's leather case. Initially I agreed with Marco that the phone felt too slippery. But I dumped the case a while back because it added extra bulk to the phone. I got used to not having a case very quickly, and now I find that I can hold the iPhone 6 Plus quite easily without worrying about dropping it.

I shared my own initial reaction to the iPhone 6 Plus in a blog post I wrote shortly after getting Apple's phablet:

I was initially quite skeptical about buying a phablet. I thought they were too big, and too cumbersome to carry around during my daily routine. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’ll tell you why in this column.

...the iPhone 6 Plus is without a doubt the best iPhone I’ve ever owned. I can’t imagine going back to a smaller screen phone now. All you folks out there who touted your phablets were absolutely right about them. are the five reasons why I love my iPhone 6 Plus:

5. Landscape Mode

4. Battery Life

3. Netflix

2. Games

1. eBooks

More at Jim Lynch

The biggest problem I had with the iPhone 6 Plus was the lack of a split-screen keyboard in landscape mode, and I explained why in a more recent blog post:

...the problem comes when you are trying to thumb type in landscape mode. Some genius at Apple came up with what has to be one of the most awful keyboard layouts I’ve ever seen. Keys that are seldom used are on the sides, while the keys you need the most are crammed into the middle of the on-screen keyboard.

This means that you must have larger hands or giant thumbs to effectively type fast in landscape mode on the iPhone 6 Plus. I’m a small guy so I lack the giant hands or thumbs necessary to easily reach across the iPhone 6 Plus screen and tap the keys in the middle. This is incredibly frustrating and it seems almost beyond belief that Apple could be so stupid as to do this with its phablet.

More at Jim Lynch

So far Apple still has not added a split-screen keyboard for landscape mode on the iPhone 6 Plus. It remains the single most annoying problem for me since I still cannot thumb type effectively while using the phone. I hope Apple finally wakes up and realizes how badly they messed up the keyboard in landscape mode on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Update: Stephen Hacket at 512 Pixels just switched from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 6 Plus and likes it a lot:

The first few days with a 6 Plus are awkward, even coming from the iPhone 6. I’ve dropped it a few times, and have learned that one-handed use while walking is a terrible idea for me.

The Plus is such a different device that my brain and hands treat it differently. I use it with two hands, and even turn it to landscape, which is a first for me in the nearly 8 years of owning an iPhone.

In short, the iPhone 6 Plus feels much more like a pocket computer than a smartphone.

But now that I’ve gotten used to it, the situational weirdness that arises carrying such a big phone is well-worth it to me. The screen is great, the camera is sweet and the battery life is a game-changer.

More at 512 Pixels

The Apple ID FAQ

Managing your Apple ID can be a bit of a headache at times. Many people run into one problem or another with their Apple ID, and aren't sure how to fix them. Fortunately, Apple has a great FAQ page up for Apple ID. You should definitely read it and probably keep it bookmarked for future Apple ID issues.

From the Apple ID FAQ page:

Your Apple ID is the personal account you use to access Apple services like the App Store, iTunes Store, iCloud, iMessage, the Apple Online Store, FaceTime, and more. Use the same Apple ID everywhere you sign in to make sure that all your Apple services and devices work together seamlessly and you can access your personal content from all your devices.

How do I get started with Apple ID?

How do I get an Apple ID?

How do I sign in?

Can I update or change my Apple ID?

How do I verify my Apple ID email address?

How can I increase the security of my account?

What if I have a question about my Apple ID?

What if I can't sign in?

Can I merge multiple Apple IDs into one?

Can I share my Apple ID with someone else?

What if I no longer have access to the email address I use for my Apple ID?

Why can't I change my Apple ID email address?

What if I can't sign in to enroll an agreement, see my products or agreements online, or check a repair status?

If I purchased music, apps, or books with multiple Apple IDs, how do I move my content onto my iOS device?

More at Apple

Is a 4K Apple TV set coming?

Apple is expected to update its Apple TV box very soon, but rumors seem to indicate that the next version won't support 4K video. A writer at 9to5Mac speculates that this could be an indication that an actual 4K television set is on the way from Apple.

Zac Hall writes for 9to5Mac:

... it’s not hard to imagine that Apple could be saving 4K adoption for its own UHDTV, not the set-top box (which is not a completely new idea). Ignoring whether or not Apple should enter the actual TV set business, Apple could use the transition from 1080p to 4K as a compelling upgrade reason. The upgrade from 720p to 1080p for most people was not dramatic and 3D was a flop.

4K could be a reason to actually update your TV set to an actual Apple TV, not just add a new Apple TV set-top box. Saving 4K support for the TV set (maybe even with some Retina marketing similar to iPhones, iPads, Macs, and the Apple Watch) would be fitting.

Looking at the Apple TV’s past update path and the current ecosystem of iOS devices and services, it’s no surprise that the next Apple TV won’t support 4K. Still, 4K adoption will remain an opportunity for future versions of the Apple TV and Apple’s iTunes Store. Could 4K be justification for Apple selling the whole TV set rather than just the box you connect in the future?

More at 9to5Mac

9to5Mac readers shared their thoughts:

Jamie Perkins: "I wish there was more speculation here about Apple TV as a gaming console, and not just the resolution aspect of Apple TV. There’s so much opportunity for Apple here. They have the developer ecosystem. They just need to improve the hardware a bit."

Bruno Fernandes: "The writing has been on the wall for a long time that (smart) people want DUMB TVs. The TV is a display device to which we connect content. It makes little to no sense to bake the content processing platform into the TV as it will only make it more difficult to upgrade. A TV isn’t something a household will update every year or two, but upgrading a $50 media playback device isn’t such a big deal."

Alan Skinner: "People are still talking about a genuine Apple TV? Why won’t that idea just die? I think it would be a horrible idea. I think a connected box makes infinitely more sense. It allows for greater market penetration due to lower price, and Apple stands to make more off of their media than off their hardware if they can reach critical mass. It also provides a shorter upgrade cycle so people keep coming back for more. Who wants to buy a brand new 50″ (or greater) TV every two years?"

Freediverx: "You left out the two most important reasons why Apple isn’t about to introduce 4K support, and why they aren’t likely to do so in the foreseeable future: bandwidth limitations and negligible real world viewing benefits.

Even with today’s 1080p content, many users complain of spotty video quality with annoying buffering issues and degraded video quality due to overzealous compression by cable companies to conserve bandwidth. And that’s in addition to the issues many customers face with cable behemoths like Comcast imposing data caps and traffic shaping while simultaneously increasing rates. And all of the above are brewing under the specter of continuing threats to net neutrality and increasing consolidation of ISPs and cable companies.

Even if you ignore the bandwidth and content availability issues, there’s the question of whether 4K offers an appreciable quality difference for most users most of the time. In a blind test, I’d wager that most people could barely tell the difference (if at all) between 1080p and 4K video on a 50″ screen from 10 feet away, let alone on smaller screens and portable devices where an increasing amount of viewing time is spent. Most people do not own 70″+ TVs."

Andrew Placker: "There is one, I repeat, one reason the Apple TV is not supporting 4K… because Apple doesn’t yet offer any 4K content for sale/rent. That is it, period. Apple is not going to offer a feature that they themselves can’t use to make money while their competitors on their own platform could."

More at 9to5Mac

My own feeling about a 4K Apple television set is absolute disinterest. I don't even an own a television set. These days I just use an old iMac for Netflix and Amazon Prime video, and that works great for me. I wouldn't buy a television set from Apple (or any other manufacturer) even if the company made one.

Plus, I'm cheap and don't want to pay for a super-fast Internet connection. So streaming 4K content would be impossible unless I was willing to pay up for such a connection. And that's never going to happen because 1080p works perfectly fine for my viewing needs.

Did you miss a roundup? Check the Eye On Apple home page to get caught up with the latest news about Apple.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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