Like many people, I bought the iPhone 6 Plus without having a good idea of quite how big it would be. When it arrived and I held it aloft for the first time, I immediately felt the difference compared with my previous iPhone 5. When it came time to make a phone call on it, I felt like a ham-fisted idiot. It’s far too big to be a good phone. But I don’t care – the iPhone 6 Plus is still one of my favourite devices.
Let me be clear on why the iPhone 6 Plus is a bad phone.
- When holding it to your face, you’re always aware of how much effort your hand has to put into not letting it slip about.
- When holding it to your face, you’re always aware of the slab or metal and glass pressed against your flesh.
- When holding it to your face, you know you look like a bit of a dick.
- I also find it weirdly difficult to align the earpiece with my ear properly. I seem to lose audio with the slightest shift of the device. And believe me, it will be shifting around a lot as you struggle to hold it in place.
Ten years ago, you would have laughed at the very idea of trying to use a phone this big. Even five years ago, the utility of such a big phone was dubious. But now? It’s still too big to be a phone, but I don’t care one bit.
The proportion of time I spend using my smartphone as an actual phone hovers somewhere around 0.1%
Why am I giving it a free pass on its conspicuous enormity? Because the iPhone 6 Plus’s value as a phone barely registers in my assessment of its value as a device.
If I had to gauge the proportion of time I spend using my smartphone as, you know, an actual phone, it would probably hover somewhere around 0.1%. The other ~99.9%, I spend emailing, browsing, checking in on social media, taking and editing photos, watching videos, playing games, and reading news, long-form articles or ebooks.
The things that I predominately do with my smartphone benefit greatly from having a bigger screen to do them with. And they suit themselves well to a two-handed hold or to a relaxed one-handed grip on the device.
The voice call is merely one app competing for my attention against much more compelling alternatives
So why should I let my preferences be determined by the quality of 0.1% of my total experience? It would be like writing off a smartphone because the torch (flashlight) app is sub-par.
Frankly, at this point Apple could remove the phone app from the default app line-up, and I probably wouldn’t notice for at least a week. The iPhone, like most modern smartphones, has evolved into a general purpose content and communications device, where the voice call is merely one app competing for my attention against much more compelling alternatives.
Smartphone designs should not be constrained by a century-old communications paradigm
I’ve decided that the only size limit that I ought to give any regard is that my smartdevice must fit in most of my trouser pockets. How its size affects its utility as a conduit for traditional voice calls is about as relevant as which kind of screws hold the thing together.
It’s time for the products formerly known as “smartphones” to embrace a future where their designs are not constrained by a century-old communications paradigm.