1 Week, 2 Countries and 3 Reasons I'm Keeping the iPhone 6 Plus

For the longest time I was convinced Canada consisted of Toronto, Montreal and moose. After my recent cruise through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine I was clearly proven wrong. I was there on business, photographing and capturing video for Educational Opportunities. While I certainly can't complain about this work, you can see the fruits of my labor below:

But enough about cruises. The real reason I mention this trip is because I foolishly decided to leave my trusty iPhone 5s behind and bring my barely used and surely bug-ridden new iPhone 6 Plus. As many travelers can relate, my phone is invaluable during a trip like this. It's my communication tool, project manager, occasional camera (last shot in the video above was from the iPhone) and so much more. If the phone bugs out, I could very well be up a creek.

I received my iPhone 6 Plus in the mail just two days before I left on this 11 day trip. It was big, unwieldy even. I couldn't text one handed (still can't), and I began to doubt my 3:45am decision when I preordered it a month before. I'm not one to leave a new phone in the box though, so I wiped my 5s, activated the 6 Plus and put it to the test. If over the course of the trip I decided not to keep it, I had exactly one day to return it to AT&T. 

After a conference in Atlanta, two days in Boston and eights days on a cruise through New England, I can confidently say I made the right decision. I'm keeping the 6 Plus for three main reasons. It's not the right phone for everyone, and probably not the right one for most. And there are serious concessions, most notably losing the ability to text one handed. Though there are some 3rd party keyboards trying to fix that.

For me, it was and is the right choice. Here's why:

1. Battery Life

After reading the reviews that came out days before preorder time, the one consistent benefit all the tech sites claimed was better battery life. With my 5s I had to consistently charge it mid-day. Whether that was charging in the car on my way home from work or for 30 minutes at my desk, if I didn't charge it sometime during the day it wouldn't make it through the night.

The first major test for my 6 Plus was meeting our EO guests at the airport in Boston. I had a Google Sheet of their arrival times and flight numbers plus the Flight Aware app tracking each plane. From 7am to about 2pm the phone's screen was on almost constantly. Then we headed to the cruise ship to embark and I was texting / emailing / calling as much as I could before we set sail. There were also some periods of using it as a hot spot with my MacBook.

By the time 11pm rolled around, I still had about 20% battery left. It was astonishing. This was my experience throughout the rest of the trip as well. Taking tons of photos and video, sharing posts on social media, emails, hot spotting and more, the phone always made it through the day with juice left over. 

Even since I returned home I have to put serious effort to get it to 0% once a week. Usually it takes me streaming / AirPlaying a movie or two while I get the kids ready for bed to get it close to zero. The bottom line: battery life is great. For that reason alone I feel I made the right choice. 

2. Camera

The difference between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in regards to the camera is optical image stabilization. In the 6 Plus the camera lens will actually float / move to compensate for shaky hands. This especially helps in low light. I can't say definitely how much better the Plus does against the 4.7" iPhone 6, but photos that appeared grainy and soft on my 5s are sharp on the 6 Plus. 

Cruise ships are notorious for dimly lit areas, and the room we held lectures in while at sea met this criteria. The photo below is untouched and while not glamorous, shows the 6 Plus' ability in low light:

3. Big Screen

While the 6 Plus screen feels too big every once in while, I did appreciate the extra real estate more often than not. Sharing photos and videos across a dinner table is fun because more people can see the phone. Managing spreadsheets and Google Docs is easier and more efficient on the larger screen (and was especially helpful running around the airport). When I got bored waiting at the gate, watching YouTube videos at 1080p on the 5.5" screen was pretty ideal. And as more apps design their UI to take advantage of the bigger screen, it will become even more productive.

Like I said, the 6 Plus is big, and probably too large for most. But if you really use your phone a ton throughout the day and battery life has always been a source of pain, and taking photos with your phone is really important to you, take a hard look at the 6 Plus.