When Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) first announced it was releasing a 5.5-inch "phablet" in September 2014, my first inclination was to ask "why?"
It seemed like a product, like the iPad Mini, that Steve Jobs would have been against. During a press conference for the iPhone 4 Jobs actually took a swipe at companies (presumably Samsung given the timing) for making phones with screens larger than four inches. "You can't get your hand around it" he said adding that "no one's going to buy that."
At the time, the new iPhone had a 3.5-inch screen -- smaller than the 4.7-inch display offered on the the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s -- up from four-inches on the iPhone 5. It's hard to know if Jobs would have resisted bumping the standard screen up to four inches, and then to 4.7 inches, but it's reasonable to think he would consider the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus models too big for people to handle.
In some ways, for the entire first year the larger iPhone was on the market, I was in the Jobs camp. My iPhone 6 with its 4.7-inch screen seemed like as big a phone as I could handle. Anything larger would be hard to hold, difficult to fit in my pocket, and generally unwieldy.
That seemed to be an inarguable fact, but it did not hold up to reality.
Making the leap
When Apple released its latest phones, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus, I decided to upgrade by moving from my previous wireless carrier to T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS). The upstart carrier offered the new phones on a special, limited time lease deal with JUMP! On Demand, which allows customers to upgrade or trade in their phone up to three times a year with no penalty or added fees.
Being able to trade it in if I did not enjoy the phablet experience made me willing to take the leap and order an iPhone 6s Plus. Since the smaller model was readily available (while the iPhone 6s Plus was backordered) I would be able to try the larger phone and immediately swap it out for a regular iPhone 6s if I wasn't comfortable with it.
I was still skeptical and expected to do exactly that.
You'll never go back
For me the main draw of having more screen space was that it would make the on-screen keyboard easier to use.
My apparently clumsy fingers miss the days of a physical keyboard and despite considerable practice I'm a fairly awful typer using the iPhone keyboard. I figured that a little less than an inch of extra screen would make things easier.
I can't say that the slightly larger on-screen keyboard has helped my typing, but I will say that I immediately enjoyed everything about the experience. Moving from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 6s Plus was an "aha moment" similar to the first time I moved into a house with central air conditioning. It was instantly better and the idea of ever going back seemed horrifying.
Answering all my doubts
Though I had worried about my ability to use the larger iPhone with just one hand, it's generally not a problem. Launching some apps does require reaching over with my other hand, but in most cases when I'm moving while using my phone I'm looking at email or reading text messages -- which I'm able to do on the larger phone without any trouble.
In addition, though it's a tight fit in certain dress pants, I generally wear shorts, jeans, or workout pants to the office and the phone fits easily in all of those.
It's larger screen all the way
In most cases, using the larger phone I found that I already used two hands when doing most things.
Broadly the situations where I only have one hand to operate my phone are times when I probably should not be using it in the first place. It is fairly impossible to text while driving on the larger screen -- not really a negative because that's something I shouldn't be doing in the first place, even when a smaller screen made it possible.
In most cases, however, I find reading on the larger screen more pleasurable and I can glance over to my phone while I work to read text messages or push alerts. The extra real estate adds a startling amount of usability and simply makes the phone more valuable.
The iPhone 6s plus costs $749 for the entry-level 16GB model compared to $649 for the smaller iPhone 6. You can even save some money and still get the larger screen by buying the iPhone 6 Plus for $649 from Apple if you're willing to settle for the older model's slightly reduced specs.
Whether you get the newest model or opt for its predecessor though, the choice is clear for me that the larger, 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6s Plus is worth the money and overall a better buy than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s.