Engineer phones

A week with the iPhone 6 Plus

After a week with the iPhone 6 Plus Dan Lane endorses the bigger screen after using it instead of his laptop on a day out in London.

After a week with the iPhone 6 Plus Tref asked me to write up my experience with the behemoth, but I’m not going to do that. There are hundreds of reviews out there which tell you it’s too big, it’s too bendy or it’s just right. No, I’m simply going to tell you about Tuesday.

After receiving the device on Friday I’d spent the weekend fumbling with it thinking I’d made a mistake buying this comically oversized phone but then came Tuesday.  This was the day the iPhone 6 Plus really shone and I realised I hadn’t made an expensive mistake.

I was due to install some equipment in Telehouse so I threw my kit bag into the boot of my car and made the 2 hour drive from Winchester to Docklands using the TomTom app on the iPhone 6 Plus as my satnav (having purchased a new iOttie windscreen mount because my previous one was too small!). Even though the TomTom app has yet to be updated to take advantage of the larger screen it looked fantastic in the zoomed mode and I much preferred it to my previous iPhone 5s.

When I arrived at Telehouse I lugged my kit bag containing my Macbook Pro and iPad to the rack, I pulled the information I needed to locate and get access to the rack from Evernote and started to install the kit. As well as the equipment I was installing there were various tasks that were documented in Basecamp which loaded nicely on my phone.

I used the camera to upload photos of the cabling changes I’d made to Basecamp for future reference and the photo was so clear and detailed that you could read the circuit number from the cable’s tag. I also used the Slack app to communicate back with the various members of the team who had logged the work. I probably spent about three hours at the rack and my phone was on for most of the time, the battery read 97% when I left having been fully charged by the drive over.

Next, since I was in London I had a customer meeting scheduled. I drove over and met the customer (keeping the phone in my pocket and using my car’s built in satnav this time) and through the meeting I took notes using Evernote on my 6 Plus. Ordinarily I’d use my Macbook or my iPad and at one point I did feel like I needed to place my phone down face-up showing the Evernote screen so he didn’t think I was busily texting someone.

After the meeting I had an hour or so to kill before meeting my girlfriend for dinner so I found a coffee shop and got down to some e-mails and support tickets, again I just did them on the 6 plus using the Gmail and Zendesk apps. This is where it occurred to me that I hadn’t opened my laptop all day not because I made a conscious effort to only use my iPhone but because the iPhone was all I needed – I probably pulled it out of my pocket to check Facebook and noticed there was a ticket that needed my attention and got carried away with some emails.

If I had been on my old 5s I’d have seen that ticket and reached for my laptop but with the bigger form factor and bigger keyboard it was no hassle to tap out reply after reply while my laptop remained unopened in my bag. I was in the coffee shop for just over an hour and a half and I didn’t put my phone down once – by the time I left my battery was still over 65%.

While I was in the coffee shop I needed to do some field testing for our new mobile service – this involved an iPhone 5s I use as test device. I was immediately surprised at how minuscule and cramped the 5s felt after only 4 days using the bigger device and this really cemented my appreciation of the larger screen and form factor.

The phone pretty much stayed untouched while I had dinner with the girl and then served as satnav and MP3 player (via Spotify) for the 1.5 hour journey home – as an experiment I didn’t plug it in and the phone was down to 14% when I arrived home which considering it’d been using GPS, bluetooth, streaming data and had the display on for the whole journey was pretty good in my book.

Could I have done everything I did on the iPhone 5s or the regular sized iPhone 6? Yes, of course! but when I had that device I never did. For me the bigger screen turns it from a phone that happens to do smart things into a small tablet that happens to also be a phone and this encourages more use in that fashion. It’ll never replace the laptop in the datacentre visit as I’d need to pull that out for ethernet or serial access but for the tasks I did on that day it was more than adequate and performed admirably.

Of course your tastes and requirements vary but if you’re undecided between which size to go for and you think you’d prefer a small tablet that happens to be an oversized phone then you’re going to love the iPhone 6 Plus.