Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Switching to Smaller iPhones

Kirk McElhearn (iPhone 6 to iPhone 5s):

I used the iPhone 6 for a week; I went back to the iPhone 5s on Friday, to see if I really liked it better. And I did. This may be because of its familiarity; it’s a comfortable size. I can hold it comfortably in one hand, and do most of what I need with just one hand. The iPhone 6, however, felt alien, as though it was just not the right size for my hand. Granted, iPhones have always been smaller (I don’t consider the taller display of the iPhone 5 and 5s to be that different from previous models), so the iPhone 6 was very new. But it just wasn’t right for me.

I’ve always bought unlocked iPhones, and I’ve bought them from Apple, so I have the option of returning them within 14 days. I appreciate Apple’s return policy that allows me to try out a new device. I’ve never returned any Apple products for this reason before; I’ve exchanged defective Macs, but never sent back something I simply didn’t like.

Chris Mills (iPhone 6 to iPhone 5s)

For the first two months, everything seemed perfect. Texting from my desktop seemed magical, HealthKit was kinda handy, and it hadn’t even bent. But heading abroad, I needed an unlocked phone, so grabbed my poor, forgotten 5S out of a drawer and took it adventuring. Over the course of a couple days, I realized something: in every different way that matters to me, the iPhone 5S is a better phone.


As it turns out, the thing that most clearly sets the two devices apart—the size and design—is what I find to be the most annoying on the 6. I have small (but not ridiculously tiny) hands, and I basically live in perpetual fear of dropping it. That prompted me to spend even more money on Apple’s own leather case, and that improved things a little, but it’s still nowhere near as comfortable to hold as the 5S. The idea that big phones are ergonomically worse is far from new—heck, Apple made ads to that effect back when they launched the 5—but it bears repeating just how annoying it can be.

Fred McCann (iPhone 6 to iPhone 5s):

After my reluctance and experience moving to the larger sized iPhone 5, I was much less apprehensive about the 6. Certainly Apple knew what they were doing. I knew there would be an adjustment period, but I was so confident that this would not be an issue that I gave away my iPhone 5 a few days after getting the 6.

I was wrong.

Seth Clifford (iPhone 6 Plus to iPhone 6):

In addition to its unique physical characteristics, based on my personal findings and the feedback of other Plus users, I’ve come to believe that the device is severely affected by its RAM allocation. My theory is that while it has the same amount of memory that the iPhone 6 has, the extra large screen and constant scaling the device does to manage the display put it at a serious disadvantage. I noticed apps constantly relaunching, Safari tabs being flushed extremely quickly, and states across actions and apps not being preserved the way I’d expect. In day-to-day use it gets annoying, but it’s not crippling. That said, for a device I use dozens of times a day, it becomes a pretty glaring negative. The few OS updates that have arrived since it launched have helped a little it seems, but not enough to be unnoticeable. Additionally, this impacts other aspects of use, as an app like Pebble will get flushed from memory more frequently, preventing the watch from working correctly. Any external hardware that requires an app connection to be held in memory for consistent functionality passed between devices is probably eligible for this kind of problem.

Manton Reece:

I’m still using the iPhone 5C and think the design is nearly perfect. I wish I had the iPhone 6’s camera, but I’m not upgrading phones until Apple ships a “6C” next year with a 4-inch screen.

I’m still liking my iPhone 5s and hoping there will be a new 4-inch model this fall. If there is, I’ll upgrade in a heartbeat. If not, I’ll probably keep using the 5s.

Update (2015-03-10): Anthony C:

I love my 6, but still think my 5s is the best phone ever.

Andrew Abernathy:

See, I’m not the only one who prefers the iPhone 5 over the 6. I’ll keep hoping for a smaller iPhone in the future.

(I flat out prefer the iPhone 5 design, too, in addition to preferring the smaller size. Beautiful and comfortable.)

Gus Mueller:

You can add me to the list.

Jim Correia:

I really miss the 5 form factor for most use cases, but I can type much better on a 6.

Matthew Drayton:

I prefer the 6 Plus over previous models but I’m sure I’m in the minority. I’ve got large hands and can use it one-handed.

Update (2015-03-11): I have medium sized hands. I use the iPhone 5s without a case and have never come close to dropping it. I find the 5s and 4S much less slippery than the 6 and the 3GS. My wife got her first iPhone in December and reluctantly chose the 5s because she found it easier to hold than the 6.

Jeff Hunsberger, from February (iPhone 6 to iPhone 5s):

The iPhone 6 screen always felt a bit like it wasn’t made for my hands like the iPhone 5S was. The iPhone 4 and 4S were tiny and I could easily reach any area of the screen. My resistance to the iPhone 5 gave way to the fact that I could still reach the top left corner while holding my phone in the right hand. The iPhone 6 requires you to shift the phone in your hand, balance it on your fingertips and then stretch across to hit the top left of the screen one-handed. The whole time you are courting disaster.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm 6'-6". My hands span nearly a foot. I love my iPhone 6 Plus, and any time I handle a 5s or earlier (today it was an iPod touch we use for dev/testing), it feels like a thimble in the middle of my palm. I have to balance it on my fingertips, and I almost need a stylus to find its minuscule touch targets.

For a counterpoint :-)

Yeah, I'm using 6 but 5s is probably best looking and most comfortable iPhone to date.

"I have small (but not ridiculously tiny) hands, and I basically live in perpetual fear of dropping it. That prompted me to spend even more money on Apple’s own leather case, and that improved things a little, but it’s still nowhere near as comfortable to hold as the 5S."

I share the fear of dropping the iPhone 6 because it's shaped as a soap bar and it's too big. That's why I would be interesting to see listed, in addition to the apps having been used, the iPhone cases used by the persons who shot the photos in the latest Apple Marketing Campaign.

Taking a landscape photo with the iPhone 6 without a case is sometimes a dangerous experience for the phone.

[…] Michael Tsai is collecting excerpts from people who have written about going back to the iPhone 5S after buying a 6 or 6 Plus. His opinion: […]

I'm still all about the 5s. This fall when the new phones are released I hope there's a 4" version that's not significantly behind in power. Otherwise I'll likely stick with the 5s for an other year. Honest for most of what I use the phone for the 5s is more than powerful enough. This didn't used to be the case. With the 3 & 3gs the shift was huge. It wasn't until the 4s that I started skipping iterations. With the 5s I could see being happy with it for around the same length I keep a Mac for. At least 5 years. The only real exception is the camera.

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