So I camped for an iPhone 6 Plus on Thursday night, as is now customary (since 2007).
What made this launch particularly interesting was that I had to work on Friday. Normally I take that day off, and spend it resting from the camp, configuring everything, and generally being a geek.
But this time I had to be in Denver for work. And not just any work: I had to speak at 9:30am on launch day. And the hotel was around 10-30 minutes from the Apple store.
Add to that some mall drama (the Apple store there is inside a mall, not free-standing) which had me at position 30 in line instead of sub-5 like usual.
So I was there at like midnight absolutely freaking out because I didn’t know if I could get my phone before I had to get in an Uber and dash across town to do my talk.
It was unpleasant.
So at around 3:00am I get an idea. What about AT&T stores? I look and there’s one a few blocks from where I’m standing in the Apple line (luckily Denver weather was like 75 degrees, no wind, basically perfect).
So I have someone go scout over at the AT&T store and there are only six people there. I head that way and am now 7th in line instead of 30th.
As usual, I met some cool people in line. One guy I’m actually in contact with now. Helped him with some web security stuff in exchange for a bag of Doritos. Barter system FTW.
Anyway, I ended up getting out of the store first. The AT&T store in question had tons of iPhone 6’s, but only like eight 6 Pluses. I was the last in line to get one, and ended up going with the silver 128 GB model.
I was out in 10 minutes, got to the hotel where the conference was (AppSec USA), and did my talk with my co-presenter (Jason from my team). Went pretty well. Lots of good feedback.
So that was my phone’s origin story. Now let’s talk about the stuff.
The iPhone 6 Plus
So as I talked about in a previous post, I sold myself before launch on the concept of a post-phone device. A “mobile device”, not a phone. So I was looking forward to seeing if I’d like the size, if it would be too big, etc.
Turns out, it’s not too big. I can hold it quite easily and it fits nicely in my front pocket. But it is definitely a two-handed phone for many tasks, whereas my previous phone (and maybe the iPhone 6 as well?) are one-handers.
I’m a few days in now, and the benefits of the larger screen are outweighing the handling issues for me. By a significant margin.
This thing is a joy to use. Typing with two hands on it feels better to me than typing with two hands on either the 6 or the 5s.
But my main use case is reading. Email. Documents. And most importantly, books. It’s now my Kindle, and it does the job brilliantly.
The thing is big. It’s not as elegant in my hands as the regular 6. That thing feels spectacular to hold. Especially in the Space Grey with the face all blacked out. It feels like something from the future.
The Plus, not so much. It feels a bit large. Not unmanageable, but just not perfect like the 6. This is probably the reason Jobs and others said no for so long. It’s just not perfect to manipulate in your hands.
The camera on this thing is remarkable. Check this shot I got through a plane window on the way back to SF.
Taking video on it is just ridiculous. So smooth with the stabilization. So smooth. And crisp.
But the best feature of the camera has to be the new focus system. It’s scary good. This is what I think has always put the iPhone cameras ahead of the Android offerings. They have like 75 megapixel phones or whatever, but they take blurry images far too often.
It’s harder to use the software. It’s not as responsive. And the pictures are worse. Other than that, strong offering.
The camera on the Plus magnifies that lead considerably. I’m not sure how much of it is the stabilization, or the bigger sensor, or the new focus thing, or whatever. I imagine it’s the focus, but I’m only guessing.
I think the additional image stabilization on the Plus (vs the regular 6) is pretty minor in most situations, and most reviews have agreed. There appears to be minor advantage in low-light situations, and when shooting while moving. Other than that, pretty minor.
6 Plus Downsides
I have a few negatives to say about the device.
- I have seen far more jitteriness on this phone than any other iPhone in the past. That’s disappointing. That’s Android territory. They’re the ones with 8GB of memory onboard who still has jumps when you do things. But the Plus only has 1 GB of memory, and I can’t help but wonder if that should have been 2 instead. But maybe this is something they can fix in software. I’ve mostly seen it when scrolling through lots of images in Photos.
I think that’s it, actually, but it’s a big one. If it’s not software, and the phone is actually under-powered for the size and such I’m going to be disappointed.
It’s not a massive deal, but I expect Apple’s interfaces to never hiccup the way that Android does. They never have in the past, so for them to start now would be bad form.
iOS 8 Must-see Features
I’ve been running iOS 8 all summer, so it’s not new to me on the Plus, but I wanted to point out a few features that you shouldn’t miss if you’re new to the upgrade.
- Voice texts. You can now send voice messages via the native texting app, which is super cool.
- SMS on your Mac. This one is rolling out very soon, but it’s a massive step forward.
- Better Messages interface. You can now do all sorts of stuff right from within Messages. When you’re talking to someone you can click on details and see where they are, share your current location (point in time), or elect to share your updated whereabouts for an hour, the rest of the day, or permanently. It’s massively useful for meeting up with people.
- Sending people stuff is much easier in Messages. Like I said, Messages is just better all around, which is huge because it’s probably the most used app. It’s now far easier to share images and stuff with people. Much improved.
- Handoff. You can start something on your mobile device and pick it back up on your laptop or desktop, and vice versa. Supper innovative, yet will seem obvious once you use it a couple of times.
iOS 8 Desired Feature
I’d love to see iOS 8’s voice texts get the option to auto-play received voice messages. This would make it more like a walkie-talkie. Right now you have to click the little arrow each time, which doesn’t feel like a real conversation the way Voxer (and similar apps) does.
Overall iOS 8 is just a solid evolution of iOS 7, but it’s got a ton of usability features (especially for Messages) that just make it easier to do your main tasks.
It’s also much easier to share content throughout iOS 8 and
Oh, here’s a tip for you if you have iOS 8 with one of the larger iPhones 6: You can swipe left and right to go backward and forward in many apps, including:
- Others, I’m sure
With the larger phones it can be hard to reach the top left to hit a back button (or maybe even the bottom left). Just try swiping from the left or right instead. It’s much easier to do this than go to the top or bottom.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Just wanted to give a quick update on the weekend’s events.
Looking forward to other peoples’ experiences with either the iPhones or iOS 8.