Apple iPhone 6 Shows Why Even Small Gains in Screen Size Matter

REVIEW: The increase in screen size is less than an inch over the iPhone 5, but that's enough to make a huge difference in usability.

iPhone 6 Review B

My biggest complaint about the Apple iPhone during my previous brief periods of ownership was that the screen was too small to use.

Specifically, I couldn't type on the crowded buttons without a substantial error rate that was frequently exacerbated by Apple's idiosyncratic auto-correct feature. Worse, the tiny screen made reading Websites and other online information nearly impossible for me.

But when Apple announced the new 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 6, I was heartened. While seven-tenths of an inch might not sound like much, it brought it much closer to the size of the screen on the BlackBerry Z30 that I'd tried out a few weeks earlier and liked.

Unfortunately, even with its ability to run some Android apps, the Z30 was just too limited to handle the functions I needed, so I took a chance and ordered the iPhone 6 from T-Mobile. I avoided the iPhone 6 Plus because it's too big to fit into my pockets.

The T-Mobile version of the iPhone 6 has a few capabilities that are important. The most important are WiFi Calling, HD Voice and Voice over LTE (VoLTE). While some other carriers are promising these features sometime in 2015, T-Mobile has them available now. But perhaps more important, I'm located in an area near Washington, D.C., where T-Mobile is the only reliable carrier. Being able to actually make phone calls is an important feature for a phone.

Once I received and unpacked the iPhone 6, the improvement in size was obvious. I didn't need to squint to read the screen, and the screen was big enough to reduce the error rate when I typed.

Even better, Apple has gone to great lengths to improve one-handed use, a feature that was once the province of BlackBerry. Apple makes one-handed operation even easier by sliding the screen down so that it's within easy reach of your thumb when you do a quick double-tap on the home button.

One-handed operation is also made easier by the rounded shape of the edges of the iPhone 6 and by its thin 6.9mm profile. Apple's now-familiar fingerprint sensor also accommodates one-handed use by allowing your thumb to activate the sensor even if it's at a different angle from what you used when you first set it up.

The fingerprint reader will actually work with any of your fingers. You get to choose when you set up the phone for the first time. During the setup process, iOS asks you to place your chosen finger on the sensor in several different angles so that it can get the whole thing.

I used my thumb, figuring that this would be the most useful, which it turned out to be. But when I performed the setup, I used a different orientation than what I use when unlocking the phone in daily use. It still works fine.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...