Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?

Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?

Dear Lifehacker, I can’t decide between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. What are the actual benefits of that large screen on the Plus? It almost looks too big to use with one hand.

Small Hands Malloy

Photo by, Arcady, Adam Dachis, Apple

Dear Small Hands,
This is a question we’ve been hearing a lot. The big iPhone 6 Plus is worrying several potential buyers who aren’t sure what the actual point of this large device is.

[related title=”iPHONE 6″ tag=”iphone-6″ items=”4″]We can’t give an exact answer till the iPhone 6 Plus is here (and supplies of the Plus are limited — only Telstra has been offering it with pre-orders in Austrlaia). However, I have used plenty of “phablets” that give a good enough idea of what you can expect with such phones. Small differences in operating systems aside, the general usability of big handsets is similar, whether you are using Android, Windows Phone or (presumably) iOS.

What A Big Screen Gives You

Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?

That 5.5-inch screen, quite obviously, makes everything bigger. The increased Full HD resolution will make sure you see more information on the iPhone 6 Plus screen than what you get on the HD screen of the iPhone 6. Typically, this means:

  • You can see more content on web sites while browsing.
  • You will see a few more lines on social networks, like viewing some extra tweets on your timeline.
  • Needless to say, movies and photos look better on a bigger screen.
  • Games look bigger and better, and the game’s buttons are bigger and easier to press.
  • Tapping, in general, is a more accurate experience. Whether you are typing on the keyboard or trying to tap the correct link among three closely-spaced URLs, you are more likely to get it right on these big screens.
  • On Android, you will find apps and tools to split that screen into two panes, so you can view two apps side-by-side. While Apple hasn’t announced anything like that yet, there are indications it might be coming. This is even more useful in landscape mode.

What The Big Body Gives You

Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?

Apart from a large screen, you also get a large body, which comes with its own pros and cons.


  • A big phone almost always means a bigger battery. Android smartphones with big screens have always scored well on battery tests. Most of the big-size Android or Windows Phone handsets easily outlast the current iPhone 5s and 5c.
  • Greater comfort for two-handed usage. Yes, one-handed usage is hard to bear (we’ll discuss that further below), but using two hands to operate your phone has its own charm, whether it’s typing faster with two thumbs that don’t constantly bang into each other, or holding a phone comfortably to take a photo without your fingers blocking the lens.


  • It’s too big to put in many pockets. In some cases, it may fit, but it can be uncomfortable to sit with it in your pocket. Cargo pants or trousers? No problem. Jeans? Not so much.
  • Big phone means big weight and it can get uncomfortable to talk on large phones for a long time. Not to mention some people think it looks silly.
  • That big battery also takes much longer to charge. Sure, it’s worth it, and you’ll get used to the time taken after a while; but it’s something to keep in mind.
  • You don’t want to take this for a run. You don’t want to take this on a commute where you’ll be using one hand for support. You are more likely to drop it if you can’t grip it comfortably in one hand.

Is It Too Big For One-Handed Usage?

Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?

In a nutshell, the answer is yes, it’s too big to be used with one hand. It’s not easy to type, nor is it easy to reach certain parts of the screen without adjusting your grip. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

As with many Android phones, iOS 8 has a “Reachability Mode” that brings down the top of the screen so you can reach it with one hand, and a keyboard meant for one-handed typing. Plus, third-party keyboards should let you type with one hand too.

Here’s the biggie though: You probably use a smartphone with one hand much less often than you might imagine. More importantly, you can easily adjust to using it with two hands, and it’s completely worth it.

So yes, it can’t be easily used with one hand, but that’s not a deal-breaker, even if it seems like an uncompromisable hindrance right now.

How To Check If It’s Too Big For You

Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?

Of course, none of this can say what’s right for you. And yes, there is such a thing as “too big” if your hands are small.

So how do you check if the 6 Plus is too big for you? You can print out an iPhone cutout and hold it to see what it would look like in your hand. But remember, this doesn’t give you an idea of the depth of the phone, so it’s not a completely accurate representation.

My most unscientific method, but one that has repeatedly proved right, is to measure the length of your hand from the base of your palm to the top of your pinkie finger. If the total length of the phone (not just the screen) is more than that, it’s probably too big for you. If the length of the phone is smaller, then you’ll be able to use it comfortably. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s worked with multiple people and multiple phones.

But the easiest and best way, of course, is to head to a store and check it out in person. Play with it, spend some time, figure out if it’s fitting well in your hand. If your hand is strained while holding it, it’s too big for you. If you’re on the fence, you should try it out first. There is no substitute for actually trying out a product before spending your hard-earned cash on it.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


13 responses to “Ask LH: Should I Get A Smartphone With A Large Screen?”