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Should you swap your iPhone 6 for the 6 Plus?

iPhone 6 Plus - Main Pic

Have you bought an iPhone 6 but wonder if you should have gone for the larger “don’t-call-it-a-phablet” 6 Plus instead?

Perhaps you are holding off until you can get your hands on both devices. So do you plump for the svelte iPhone 6 or the huge display and extended battery life offered by the 6 Plus? The decision of which iPhone to choose can be hard, but if you’ve already got the 6 and feel that it’s not big enough, it may not be too late to change. To help our readers decide if they should return the 6 and buy a 6 Plus instead, we examine some of the key differences and opinions of people who’ve been using both for the last few months.

It’s the size that counts (not what you do with it)

Screen and resolution

At first glance the iPhone 6 Plus looks like it’s simply a larger version of the iPhone. While it is obviously larger (5.5 inches compared with 4.7 inches) there are some key differences to bear in mind, mainly in terms of the user experience and hardware such as the camera, touchscreen and battery capacity.

iPhone 6 Plus - with iPhone 6
The iPhone 6 is large, but the 6 Plus is gargantuan, at least compared to the older iPhones.


Firstly, the 6 Plus has a higher resolution screen than the iPhone 6, boasting 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 dots per inch) in its very beautiful and clear display. That’s not quite as high as some of the latest Android smartphones but you’d be very hard pressed to tell the difference between the Plus’ screen and those other devices. In typical Apple fashion, they’ve not just beefed up the specs for the sake of it, and admittedly there’s a limit beyond which the human eye can’t tell the difference anyway.

The iPhone 6 has a smaller 1,334 x 750 display which better than the iPhone 5 and 5s but still retains the same 326 pixels per inch resolution. Is it possible to distinguish between the two new models in terms of display clarity? After having used both for the last few weeks it’s definitely noticeable, but not by very much.

Optical image stabilisation enhances picture quality

One of the main features of the iPhone 6 Plus highlighted by Apple is the inclusion of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), which is not present on the iPhone 6. Normally such a feature would be firmly in the realm of digital cameras or even Nokia’s extremely high resolution smartphone cameras, but it does help to produce better pictures and eliminates some of the camera wobble. Is it sufficient to justify the larger device over the iPhone 6? Probably not on its own, but keen photographers will benefit in particular. Both phones include an improved 8 megapixel rear sensor from Sony, so it’s really only OIS that sets the 6 Plus apart.

Here’s a low light comparison shot to compare the two phones’ capabilities:

iPhone 6 Plus - Low Light Photo
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus produce very similar images, though OIS in the Plus creates more steady shots.


Low battery? The iPhone 6 Plus has the advantage…

If you’re one of those people that uses their phone constantly all day (like Ewan), the larger 2,195 mAh battery in the 6 Plus will keep you going much longer than the 1,810 mAh one found in the iPhone 6. Both noticeable improve on the iPhone 5s however – in my case, even though the browsing and talk time on the 6 appears fairly similar to last year’s model, in practice I’ve found it necessary to charge the phone only every two days (with moderate use, and the occasional sortie in Boom Beach).

If you’re constantly on the go, that’s already a pretty compelling reason to swap your iPhone 6 for the Plus…

iPhone 6 Plus - Battery Life
The iPhone 6 Plus has a much larger battery, which makes a huge difference to daily use.


An optimised landscape mode for apps

With all that extra screen real estate, probably the biggest advantage is being able to view more information and graphics in all your apps (if they have been optimised for the 6 Plus). At least the built-in apps such as Mail and Messages already make use of the larger screen, with a two-column landscape mode for emails and contact photos in Messages.

iPhone 6 Plus - Landscape Mail
Most of the native apps make excellent use of the larger screen, much like the iPad.


These enhancements make the 6 Plus much more like the typical iPad experience, and it’s even possible to display the home screen in landscape mode.

Besides the UI improvements, the iPhone 6 Plus feels huge – it’s not the type of smartphone that you’d be comfortable with carrying around in a trouser pocket. Perhaps that’s why the physical size of the Plus is less of an issue for women who can more easily slip it into a handbag or purse, because it’s certainly not possible to keep it in a jeans pocket, and impossible when riding a motorbike (though we concede, this may be somewhat of a unlikely scenario for most people).

Apple made a big deal about the fact that it’s adapted both phones’ design for one-handed use by moving the position of the power button to the right-hand side, and introducing a feature called Reachability. Reachability requires a quick double-tap on the Touch ID button to shift the whole display down into reach. Personally, I find the power button on both phones is inconveniently placed – and often end up pressing the volume keys on the opposite side by mistake when trying to grip the phone.

It does take time to adjust, but it’s even less possible to use the 6 Plus with one hand. If you’re one of those people that makes a lot of calls or mainly uses a phone with one hand, the 6 Plus is going to take a lot of getting used to.

Matthew Panzarino from Techcrunch took both phones on a trip to Disneyland and found that:

When I wanted to browse the web, play a game, read anything of any real length or watch a video, I reached for the iPhone 6 Plus. If I wanted to shoot a photo or message someone, check Instagram or my fantasy football scores I grabbed the iPhone 6. This leads me to believe that the iPhone 6 Plus will be very big wherever people use their phones in a tablet fashion

What do iPhone 6 Plus users think?

Now that the iPhones have been available for several months, plenty of people have weighed in with their opinions. Here’s a few choice ones from around the Internet:

  • “I love the bigger size (even if it did take some getting used to)”
  • “I’m still trying to decide on a size”
  • “I cannot deal with a phone as large as the iPhone 6”

Mashable’s Ryan Lytle said recently that the 6 Plus has made him a more productive and active mobile user with less need for an iPad Mini which “now acts as a glorified Kindle for my books and Pocket reads”.

The iPhone 6 Plus may be the perfect size if you’re a really active mobile user. For anyone that previously owned an iPhone 5S and an iPad Mini, the Plus could even be a viable replacement for both. When I purchased an iPhone 6 last month, it made the 5S feel tiny. But when a friend recently showed me her iPhone 6 Plus, it made even the 6 look small. And after a few days tinkering with it, I must admit I’m just a little jealous…

iPhone 6 Plus - Thumb Gadget
Japanese company Thanko sells these rather bizarre thumbs for using oversized smartphones.


Why the iPhone 6 Plus?

Mobile app site Pocket ran a survey last month and found that iPhone 6 Plus users are more likely to ditch their iPad than those who own an iPhone 6. Perhaps that’s why iPad sales are in decline, as Apple’s new hero device may be cannibalising sales from its tablet lineup…

According to Get Pocket:

We live in a day and age where phones have become so big they require a thumb extender and fanny pack to use them. If this is to be the new normal, we found ourselves wondering how screen size might affect when and where we view the content we’re interested in?

Several interesting trends were also discovered:

  • A larger screen encourages users to watch more video. iPhone 6 Plus users open 40% more video in the Pocket app than owners of the iPhone 5/5S and 16% more video than iPhone 6 users. This is certainly one of the benefits of the larger device – 1080p full HD videos can be played at their native resolution, and it’s much more pleasurable to watch on than a 4-inch iPhone
  • A bigger screen means you can leave your second device at home. iPhone 6 Plus users viewed 67% more content on their phone than those with a 5/5S. Those with an iPhone 6 viewed 35% more. This highlights the fact that, due to the larger displays, users find watching videos a much better experience – so much so that tablets are increasingly being left at home

But it wasn’t all positive news for those with larger phones, particularly iPhone 6 Plus users who tend to read 22% less during the commute to work than those with a 5/5S or iPhone 6. The reason given is that it’s almost impossible to hold the phone in one hand and simultaneously cling to the subway pole with the other…food for thought.

Additionally, the larger your phone is, the less likely you are to use an iPad. Those users with an iPhone 6 now read on tablets 19% less in the week, and 27% less during the weekend. Likewise, iPhone 6 Plus owners use their tablets 31% less in the week and 36% less at weekends:

iPhone 6 Plus - Phone v Tablet Consumption
Large screen iPhones don’t bode well for tablet consumption.


Which is the best iPhone for me?

There’s no doubt that anyone that loves to watch videos should buy the iPhone 6 Plus instead of the iPhone 6. The only problem with that is carrying the thing around everywhere can be difficult unless you have large pockets or a bag to slip it into – it really is that cumbersome. But in terms of actually using it, the larger screen is fantastic for watching movies and playing games, and all kinds of media consumption. It’s just that, as a phone, it’s rather awkward to hold and make calls.

For most people, the iPhone 6 is sufficiently large that everything you would want to do on the phone is bigger and better than before. But should you actually return your shiny new iPhone 6 and buy the Plus instead? Most retailers have a returns policy, so it’s possible to exchange it for the larger model within 30 days in most cases.

Our advice is to have a play with both new iPhones before you make a decision – both are very slick and powerful smartphones with superb screens and access to a million or so apps. Just remember that the iPhone 6 Plus will leave a considerable bulge in your pocket, and a severe dent in your wallet!

Have you ditched your iPhone 6 in exchange for a 6 Plus? Which model do you prefer and why? We’d love to hear your comments…


  1. An interesting article as my iPhone 6 plus is on its way. I plan to give away my iPad mini and use it instead.

    For reading technical documents and looking at large images I would like a larger iPad around 13 inches or so. The MS Surface would be ideal unfortunately it runs windows, if Apple will not supply what I want then I have to consider a Surface The iPhone will be ok for novels.


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