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

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.

Thanks Small Hands Malloy

Photo by shockfactor.de, 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.

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

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

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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?

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

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.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Thinking about getting thumb surgery to extend my reach. Anyone know a good surgeon?

    I'm at the point where my Iphone 4s' battery only lasts about half a day so I'm in the market looking at this. My biggest question is whether the 5.5" version is going to be usable for Ipad-only apps. For example, games like Baldur's Gate have moved from Ipad-only to Ios-universal and wouldn't be playable on the 4.7", but might be on the 5.5" version. Does anyone know whether other apps might do something similar?

    Personal preference. I have the Galaxy Note 3 and I love it. For a man, my palms are quite big but my fingers are pretty stubby so one handed useage is pretty difficult (and bad for my thumbs). One handed usage is bad for my thumbs in any sense though (I did damage to them long before I got a big phone) so I actively use it two handed.

    I love the size and I never have any problem fitting it in pants (jeans included). I don't wear uber tight jeans though.

    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.

    I have a note 3 and this has never been a problem. Also had a note 1 and 2 before it.

    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.

    Again, not sure about the iP6+ but the Note 3 isn't heavy at all. Hasn't ever occurred to me that it'd make my arm/hand sore, and never have had a real-world issue.

    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.

    The Note 3 has a beefed up charger and makes use of USB3 which actually ends up charging faster than my family's iPhones and GS5's.

    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.

    This one is correct. It is impossible to run with the device, though you don't buy a bigger phone for that, do you? Taking it on commutes using one hand has never been a problem, I don't think my hands are any bigger than the average joe, but if for some reason you feel like you're struggling, there's a special one-handed mode you can enable in Android. Not sure about iOS. Gripping it comfortably isn't an issue, either, especially if you go the route I did and throw it in an otterbox defender. That does add a huge amount of size to it, though.

    All in all, my advice would be to go into a store and try it out to see if it suits you, keeping in mind that it takes a week or so to adjust so anything that bothers you immediately more than likely you wouldn't notice after a week or so of using it. If you can, try out a friend or family's device, that way you can play around for longer and ask for their opinion.

    Last edited 17/09/14 11:00 am

    I can't believe how behind the times some iPhone users are. Large screen phones have been out for years now. Have you never actually used a phone that didn't have an Apple logo on the back?

      Whoah!
      It's almost like people have different opinions and iOS is better for some people's lifestyle!
      Crazy, I know.

        Way to miss the point. It's not about preference for an OS, or one brand of phone over another. It's about the fact that larger screen phones have been out for so long now that unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you would've at least held one and played around with it for a bit. From this guy's question, it sounds like the only smartphone he's ever held in his life has been an iPhone, which quite frankly is bizarre.

          Even so, he's probably never held a friend's phone long enough to get a sense of the bigger screen, nor has he probably called someone with it.

          Humans tend not to be good at remembering things we only use briefly :)

          Last edited 18/09/14 11:06 am

    — only Telstra has been offering it with pre-orders in Austrlaia)

    Austrlaia?

    Austrlaia??

    I demand a free 128gb iphone 6 plus for your transgressions!

    I've got a HTC One M8 and whilst I love it, tbh it's a little big to use comfortably and I have really big hands.

    I have a friend who has an ipad mini and even though I know a lot of people can't afford this, I think one of those is the way to go for web browsing in front of the tv, and a smaller, slimmer phone is better for carrying. I love my phone, but I won't be getting one this big next time (in about 2.5 yrs, I'll be paying this puppy off for at least another 1.5)

    Try using a stylus. I have a couple of DAGI P604 pen styluses (stylii?) which work well on my phone, tablet and my laptop. One end has a normal pen to write on paper, and the other a retractable stylus.

    It makes a huge difference on a small screen like a phone. Cost just under $30 on ebay.

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