iPhone 6s Plus

Yesterday I walked into an Apple store… no, it’s not the beginning of a joke, but it could be, given the level of guilt I feel about how much I spent on a new iPhone there.

I’ve had an iPhone 5s for almost two and a half years, and it’s a great phone – but it’s tiny. I am possessed of fairly large hands, mainly made so by long fingers. I could have been a piano player except that my parents were smart enough to forgo the pain of trying to push me through the actual years of practice required. I have been ready for a larger-screened iPhone for a long time.

I was never onboard with the people who roundly mocked the first big screen Android devices as “too large”, nor did I assume that people who wanted them were the elderly looking for an old person phone with huge screens and correspondingly huge fonts and buttons to go along with them. I always knew what Apple refused to admit for so many years, that iPhones have always been TINY. And in fairness, if you’re going to err on one side of screen size options, smaller is probably better, but the rate at which people responded to the 6 and 6 plus, and at which Samsung smartphone sales plummeted upon their arrival, says a lot about what people actually want: bigger phones.

Having had my iPhone 6s Plus for about 24 hours now, my initial impressions can be summed up in two sentences: “Why did I wait so long?” and “I cannot believe I spent that much of our hard-earned money on an iPhone”.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may recall a somewhat painful dialogue between myself and another person in which he was pointing out that the economics of using the Apple iPhone Upgrade program and getting a new model every year are preferable to the strategy of hanging on to them longer. It seems counterintuitive, but the reason is resale value. If you resell your iPhone every year, outside of the Apple trade-in program, and then buy a new one with the iPhone Upgrade program, you’ll actually be spending less money per iPhone purchased. Waiting a second year (or more) drastically reduces the resale value.

This is all true, and if you’re a single person who knows how to punch numbers into a spreadsheet, it may seem like the end of the argument. However, as I once said to a young, unmarried co-worker who was surprised at the number of us taking time off around the holidays, “You’d be amazed how many people have families”. There are things to consider: family budgets, selfishness vs. other people’s needs, and hand-me-down devices. It is this aspect of reality that made the aforementioned Twitter conversation so painful: trying to help people who don’t have families understand that you need to throw out your bachelor economics when you do have them is an impossible task. It’s like trying to explain to people who’ve never had kids how much your priorities and concerns change once you do. You have to go through it yourself to get it.

Anyway, as a result of all these family financial dynamics, my daughter is the recipient of our used iOS devices because we can’t afford to buy her new ones. She was given and used my old iPhone 3GS for a long time, and it was quite painful before long. She was given and still uses my old iPad 2, which I replaced with nothing. I just gave it to her at some point when it started getting slow and I found myself using my iPhone 5s much more often. Now she is the possessor of that very iPhone 5s, gifted to her by myself yesterday after acquiring the Wallet Crusher 3000, aka the 128GB iPhone 6s Plus.

So, yeah, there is some decent amount of guilt and regret over how much this new iPhone cost. We have a lot of places our money needs to go. But in terms of the device itself, using it is incredible after having the 5s for so long.

The first thing that jumps out at you on the 6s Plus is, of course, the size. And the beauty of that huge screen. It’s gorgeous. Reading and watching video on it are now very comfortable activities. Books can be read without scrolling for much longer periods, and text is clearer and easier on the eyes. Games like Real Racer 3, which were difficult on the 5s due to the difficulty of seeing what’s down the track, are tremendous on the 6s Plus. Even games that don’t require the extra space for playability just look better.

It’s also the small things that make using the iPhone 6s models so nice. 3D touch is a mix, weighted towards the positive. It’s useful in some places (the keyboard trackpad is a dream come true) and less so in others (the app icon actions are great but it’s often easier to use Spotlight and just open the app, especially for those in folders). Overall, though, it’s a very nice feature. The speed of the iPhone is nice, although it doesn’t wow the user. It just feels like it’s as fast as it should be, more the absence of delays and waiting than a feeling of riding a rocket.

Reachability is already one of my favorite things about iOS 9 on the iPhone 6s Plus. When it was introduced in iOS 8 with the 6 Plus, it was ridiculed a bit as a gimmick that pointed out the ridiculousness of the huge iPhone, but in fact it’s actually very useful and usually brings the element at the top of the screen that I need to access right to where it’s comfortable to do so with one hand. I’m not the only one who thinks so either.

https://twitter.com/HabibCham/status/688294110860414977

Obviously the camera and the battery life are bonuses of the iPhone 6s Plus over the smaller iPhones. Yesterday I played with the iPhone non-stop after getting home from the Apple Store around noon, and I hit 20% battery somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00 PM. That never would have happened on the iPhone 5s. In fact, even using it very little that day, it needed charging by about 2PM.

I haven’t had a chance to use the camera much yet. It’s been pouring buckets here and it’s dark inside as a consequence, but it appears to do much, much better in low light conditions than the 5s. I think it’ll be a remarkable improvement. I’m not really convinced by Live Photos yet. Seems gimmicky and resource intensive, but time will tell.

Overall, I’m really impressed by the iPhone 6s Plus. I hope to be able to use it for the next three years. That’s my goal – I guess I’ll find out how realistic that is.