Make no mistake; I don’t actually have my 6 Plus yet. But I went out of my way to try and get one early in line Friday morning. When I found out for sure that the store wouldn’t have the stock to accommodate my order, it was only half an hour before they opened their doors. I decided to stick around and get my hands on the demo 6 Plus as a sanity check.
Didn’t get a 6 Plus, but I stuck around to play with the demo model. A) Not *too* big. B) Not getting gold after all. pic.twitter.com/OZNEMMeZVD
— Virginia Roberts (@askvirginia) September 19, 2014
The manager was kind enough to take this pic of the phone (and my ass and my ill-conceived skinny jeans, but let’s stay focused). He also let me put the demo model in my purse so I could make sure it fit in the internal pockets. Even with the annoying security dongle thingy, it was very helpful to get to do this. And I decided there’s nothing to worry about, size-wise.
My use case
I have super severe tennis elbow in both arms. This means that I’ve gotten used to mostly typing two-handed since halfway through my usage of the very first iPhone, when my RSI injury occurred. It’s annoying, but I’m way faster and more accurate when I use two hands anyway. Yes, I do occasionally poke around one-handed, but that’s totally when I drop my phone or introduce typos or what have you. For me, “significant” one-handed use (like furious text entry) has long been a bad habit I needed to quit.
As for storing the device, I’m a lady who usually carries a purse. Even if the purse pockets that seem to be dedicated for cell phones are too small to accommodate a 6 Plus (not as problematic in recent purses), there’s usually this other larger zippered pocket opposite the “cell phone and pens” side. The 6 Plus fits (always in portrait, sometimes in landscape) in this zippered pocket in all my existing bags. My main concern is actually minor scratching/screen damage from touching said zipper, since I’m not sure any reputable screen protectors have shipped yet. In past years I’ve been inconsistent about screen protector usage, but I’d plan on using one specifically because the 6 Plus’s size means it’s more likely to knock into internal purse hardware.
I had no trouble fitting the 6 Plus poorly into my back pocket. I don’t tend to deliberately carry my iPhone in most pants pockets; front pockets are annoying for me (and often too small in lady pants, sigh) and back pockets have always looked weird and felt like a potential security risk (from pickpocketing to accidental toilet dropping). Back pocketing my iPhone has always felt like something ill advised, like a bad habit I wanted to quit. A larger form factor will force me to quit being lazy about securing my giant, expensive, blingy mini computer, you know?
The phone itself
The camera bulge is barely noticeable. I mean, sure, it’s more obvious than before, but it’s no big deal. Quit whining, tech Twitter. :) It’s NOTHING like the giant bulge on, say, a Nokia Lumia, and the pics do seem stellar. (Didn’t get to test the OIS in a low light setting, but it seemed even better than my 5s, as was expected.)
The screen is lovely. Didn’t notice anything janky with older apps, but everything on the phone appeared to be a special demo version so I doubt they had them loaded with shitty scaled-up apps. (Fun note; there was a copy of Threes on the demo phones! Nice plug, right? Pardon my terrible surreptitious pic.)
The body style may be reminiscent of the original iPhone, but the 6 Plus’s external build quality feels nowhere near as nice as the first iPhone. The glass has a weird curved edge where it meets the body (can you kinda see its reflection in this awkwardly snapped shot?) and it actually seems to cheapen the whole look; it makes the screen seem like it’s made of plastic to me. The metal on the back isn’t as great as that first gen iPhone; again, it feels oddly plasticky, like when they try to trick you into thinking an appliance is stainless steel with a shitty layer of bullshit that inevitably peels within weeks. The buttons don’t have the same feel of incredibly sturdy and expensive materials. This phone feels great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m clearly super nostalgic for v1 of this thing, and the 6 Plus doesn’t really scratch that itch in person.
Oh, and Gruber is totally right! It’s super, duper weird to have that sleep-wake button on the side. That’s seriously going to mess with me, haha. I’ll fail to silence calls speedily for at least a month after I get it. I’m annoyed I didn’t also test the stronger vibrate motor that Gruber mentioned, but I forgot in my hurry to not block other customers who were actually going to buy something that day.
The gold is surprisingly tacky looking. Specifically, the whitish plastic accents on the back of the 6 Plus look terrible with that champagney gold. I had no space gray (also known as “gray”) model against which to compare, but I feel like black plastic accents will be subtler. It was like the white ones were sort of transluscent, which felt like a mismatch with the design vibe the rest of the device was going for. And of course, with black I’ll get the better contrast to make the screen look even better. (I still wish that the gold and black model Siracusa once theorized about existed; I’d totes get that.)
Edited to add: this helpful view on Target’s website actually shows me that the back of the Space Gray model still has ugly whitish translucent plastic on the back. I still think I’m going with this model, though, which I definitely wouldn’t have decided sight unseen.
The ordering process
I was at an out of town wedding during the night preorders went live, so I wasn’t timely about it. When I got home later that night, I tried placing a pre-order (at maybe 12:30 PM) and it was a train wreck via every Apple channel.
After some dogged research, I determined that the issue seemed to be that AT&T had a rule that they would only let me preorder and have it shipped to the address associated with my wireless account. An AT&T rep later confirmed this; they don’t permit ANY in-store pickup preorders. This seems insane to me since their competition clearly does permit in-store pickup preordering—and their shipping estimates even half an hour after launch were several weeks out. Such a crappy customer experience, and that seemingly random rule is so poorly communicated to both customers and AT&T/Apple employees. (It took three escalations to get a clear answer.)
Anyway, I decided to try my luck at waiting in line, partly because I thought it might be kind of entertaining. (I’ve been an iPhoner on alternating years since the first gen, and I’ve never once waited in line.) So I got up at 4 and drove to my local Apple Store… where some 300 folks were already camping out. A confusing awkward encounter with an ex Apple retail employee (he thought he knew me, I thought I knew him, we were both wrong) convinced me to try my luck waiting in the nearby AT&T line instead. I did, and it wound up being much more friendly and low volume. (Didn’t actually get me a phone though; d’oh!)
As we waited, I wound up explaining a bunch of AT&T features and options to many people in line, as well as loaning out pens for these stupid survey checklist things the employees handed out. It was a little hilarious. Their “Next” gimmick to get you to pay buttloads was very poorly understood. I also hadn’t realized that they would let you pay full retail price to avoid a two-year contract lock-in; I think that option is new for them. Us old time iPhoners theorized that AT&T would eventually cut the unlimited data plan into which many of us were grandfathered; if/when they do, I will probably jump ship since I find them to be an unpleasant carrier in so many ways.
I had actually looked into switching our household to another carrier last year for my 5s purchase. I was deterred from T-Mobile by many reports of lesser network coverage in rural areas where friends and family live; I was reluctant to consider Verizon because they didn’t used to allow voice and data usage at the same time. (I haaaate talking on the phone without being able to multitask in email or with navigation on.) Verizon now seems to have solved that, but I’m not sure it’s worth bothering since they’re another “expensive” carrier. Still, if I do get kicked out of AT&T’s remaining $30/person unlimited data tier, I fully expect to jump ship somewhere.
After all this kerfluffle, I think we plan to order my 6 Plus at the same time as a new MacBook for Grant sometime next week, so we can finance it interest free. By the way, if you’ve never considered Apple’s financing option via Barclay, I highly recommend taking a look at it—most laptop purchases by people with decent credit will yield either 12 or 18 months of no interest, which is ample time to pay it off via reasonable monthly payments with no extra expense (unless you’re buying the $10k Mac Pro. And actually, I kinda wonder how this will work with gold ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ models, ya know? Hm.)
Obviously, don’t be cavalier about opening up lines of credit, especially if you’re trying to qualify for something bigger like a home loan—but I love this option and I’m glad to use it every couple years or so. The Barclay reps will even help you figure out the exact payment amount necessary to perfectly zero out at the end of the term.
So I won’t actually *get* my 6 Plus for several weeks, unless I manage to snag one at a store and decide to just pony up for it. Which I might. We’ll see. I’ll be in NYC soon; maybe I’ll buy one at the 5th Ave flagship store and then immediately get mugged before I’ve set up Touch ID.
Oh, and that reminds me: when I was chatting with a guy at Target after failing to buy one there, he said the 6 Plus is even bigger than [insert name of giant Android phone whose name I forget] and that that Android thing was his most commonly returned item because “it’s just way too big.” To him and his whiny customers, I say this: suck it up and get a purse! <3