With its latest iPhone releases, Apple has finally caved into pressure from smartphone users and has launched larger format devices. The iPhone 6 Plus adds a much larger screen and build size than seen on previous iPhones, along with a few other new features exclusive to the latest bigger hardware.
When Apple first revealed the 6 Plus, with its gargantuan (to us with our small hands) dimensions, we were initially worried that the larger format would be awkward to use for tasks like typing, so we were keen to put the phablet through its paces to see if the other features make up for our stretched hand syndrome.
Design and build
The iPhone 6 Plus has the standard high-quality build associated with Apple. The aluminium case gives the iPhone 6 Plus a premium feel and the glass screen is integrated seamlessly into the phone's casing.
The iPhone 6 Plus is very thin for its size, measuring 158x78x7.1mm and weighing 172g. The handset has a different casing to previous generation iPhones with more rounded corners, so it's comfortable to hold for long phone calls or while viewing media, for example.
And while its weight at 172g is heavier than some smartphones on the market, the overall proportions made it feel lightweight in our hands, as with a device that size, you'd expect it to feel heavier than it actually is.
However, the length of the 6 Plus was a definite disadvantage for us. We found typing quite awkward, as it was quite a stretch for our fingers to hit those keys in the middle of the keyboard when in landscape mode. It also makes the handset difficult to use one-handed, not ideal for train or bus journeys when you're stuck standing up and trying to browse the web, or trying to use a navigation app to get directions while walking along.
This issue won't affect every smartphone buyer out there - many of you will have larger hands or longer fingers, and there will be others who want a mobile mainly for playing games, viewing media or browsing the web with both hands available. For any of those tasks, the iPhone 6 Plus is a fantastic device, and we think the best iPhone or perhaps smartphone out there.
But for those of you looking for your next BYOD device and needing to do lots of typing, we'd recommend trying the 6 Plus out first in a store to make sure it's comfortable to hold and use.
Apple has taken account of one-handed use in the longer design of the iPhone 6 Plus. Double-tapping the home button will now pull down the top of the screen (see image left). However, despite this Reachability feature we still found the phone awkward to use one handed due to its large dimensions.
The iPhone 6 Plus power/standby button is on the right-hand side of the device, along with the Nano-SIM slot. The ringer on/off switch and volume controls are on the left (the volume buttons can also be used to take pictures from the camera app).
At the bottom are a 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone, Lightning charging port and speaker. The home button with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor built in is on the front, while on the back is dual flash and camera lens.
The speakers and microphone are both good quality. You can get a decent level of audio out of the speakers, meaning you don't need to pack travel speakers for a bit of music or video playback on your next trip, and we found the mic performed very well at picking up sound for audio recordings, even when far away from the source.
The iPhone 6 Plus is available in three colour choices: gold, silver and space grey.
Next: Display and performance