Apple may have taken its sweet time jumping into the big-screen smartphone game, but now that it finally has, you can't accuse the company of doing things halfway. The iPhone 6 Plus isn't just bigger than older iPhones – it absolutely dwarfs them. Join Gizmag, as we take a quick first look at the first Apple phablet.
The iPhone 6 Plus is basically Apple's answer to the Galaxy Note. The 6 Plus takes the design language from the iPhone 6, and balloons it up to gigantic phablet proportions. And while it's a little compromised for one-handed use, it's, on the other hand, big enough that it can potentially void a need for a tablet.
The 6 Plus might be as much of an iPad mini rival as it is a Galaxy Note rival.
I see the iPhone 6 Plus as straddling the line between iPhone and iPad mini. If you're invested in the Apple ecosystem, and spent the last few years grumbling about having to buy both a tiny iPhone and a huge iPad, then this could be the 2-in-1 replacement device you've been waiting for.
This 2014 iPhone design, with rounded edges, works great on the huge iPhone 6 Plus. If Apple had stuck with the angular design that we saw in the last four iPhone flagships, then it probably wouldn't feel very comfortable in hand. But when you combine the Plus' thin build (7.1 mm/0.28-in) with those curved edges ... well, it's about as comfortable to hold as a gigantic phone can be.
The 6 Plus is also fairly light for its size, but it feels a lot more substantial in hand than the iPhone 6 does. Again, when you're dealing with a 5.5-in display, there's really no way around that. But you do need to go into this knowing that the Plus' size and weight are going to be jolting for some owners of older (either 4-in or 3.5-in) iPhones.
iOS 8 looks terrific on that big screen. And Apple's concessions to the larger screen are all right on the money. You can get iPad-like (doubled-paneled) views in apps like Mail, and also view your home screen in landscape mode:
Apple's one-handed mode ("Reachability") is going to be an integral part of the iPhone 6 Plus: just lightly tap the Touch ID sensor twice, and watch as the top of the screen slides down to the bottom. Press what you need, then double-tap again to slide it back up. It's about as elegant a solution as you can get to the problem of using a huge phone with one hand (though probably no more elegant than Samsung's one-handed mode, which shrinks the entire screen).
The 1080p screen on the 6 Plus looks terrific. I've been using various 1080p Android phones throughout the last couple of years, and I'm not yet sure if the iPhone's looks any better. But it does have terrific contrast, color range and accuracy. It might not be the very best mobile display, but it certainly isn't a weakness.
We're going to have much more on the iPhone 6 Plus, including a full review (complete with camera observations and battery tests) later this week. While you're waiting for that, you can also hit up our early impressions of the smaller iPhone 6.
The iPhone 6 Plus is available now – though in extremely short supply. It starts at US$750 full retail, or $300 with a two-year contract.
Product page: Apple