Last night, in one of the time-honored traditions of gadget blogging, Apple lifted its embargo on the first wave of iPhone reviews, and from a dozen publications — the Times! The Journal! The Verge! Re/code! Bloomberg! – came simultaneous, nearly identical summations of what the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are really like.
The short answer: They’re good, in the same ways all previous iPhone upgrades have been good. And they’re big.
A few bottom-line snippets from the lovefest:
Engadget’s Brad Molen: “The new iPhones make their predecessors look like the tiny handset Ben Stiller used in Zoolander. The market has changed, and it was high time Apple did the same.”
Re/code’s Walt Mossberg: “I’ve been testing the more mainstream of the two models, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, for about a week now, and I think it’s a terrific phone. In my view, it’s the best smartphone on the market, when you combine its hardware, all-new operating system, and the Apple ecosystem whose doors it opens.”
The Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler: “After using both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for a week, I can report that Apple has successfully addressed its size deficiency, and much more. The $199 (with contract) iPhone 6 packs a 4.7-inch screen, big enough to get down to business, into the most comfortable smartphone I’ve ever held. And while the iPhone 6 Plus feels too big for my taste, for $100 more its 5.5-inch screen offers an option for road warriors who don’t want to carry a tablet.”
The Verge’s David Pierce: “Apple doesn’t have better ideas about how to make use of more display real estate, or how to help users navigate a bigger device. It’s not on the precipice of offering a new kind of do-it-all computer, as it might be with the iPhone 6 Plus. The latest iPhones could have been a chance for Apple to really re-examine what smartphone hardware should be, but Apple just built a bigger iPhone. Because that’s what people wanted.”
The Times’ Molly Wood: “The slim new iPhones aren’t a big-screen slam-dunk, but they work well, as we have come to expect from Apple.”
Joshua Topolsky of Bloomberg: The iPhone 6 Plus’s body is over 6.2 inches tall and 3 inches wide, which means one-handed use feels messy even with Reachability, and holding it up to a normal-size head looks slightly absurd … On the other hand, the iPhone 6 feels like the perfect phone in my hand.”
As for the question you really care about — should I get the big iPhone 6, or the bigger iPhone 6 Plus? — reviewers mostly agreed that it comes down to personal taste and physiology. If you have big hands or use your phone with two hands normally, and don’t mind toting an unwieldy device in exchange for a bigger screen, go for the 6 Plus. If your hands are normal-size, or you do a lot of one-handed typing, the 6 is probably more your speed.
And if you can’t spare hundreds of dollars for a device that will give you only a brief moment of satisfaction before the hedonic treadmill overtakes you once more? Well, then, you’re probably not going to love either one.