If you purchased a 5.5-inch smartphone today and don’t own anything else, the next device you buy simply won’t be a mini tablet. That money is better spent on other things, like a laptop or larger tablet. That’s why I believe the future of mini tablets is niche, and why larger tablets and laptops will ultimately converge.
That 5.5-inch device is good enough to be your daily device for personal consumption: browsing the web, reading books and even watching video. It’s still great for phone calls, photos and messages too. If you purchase a second device, it’ll be to do things you can’t do well on a 5.5-inch screen — like office work.
Despite most of Asia being clued into this for the past couple years, and despite large Android phones actually being popular in the US and Europe, the press there seemed largely unaware of this trend.
Until the iPhone 6 Plus.
Watching video on the 6 Plus is tremendous — the display is almost as big as the iPad mini showing 16:9 videos since the mini has to letterbox those videos to fit its 4:3 screen. I watched a lot of football using the Sunday Ticket app last weekend; I never once wanted to find a TV. I could spend days banging through YouTube and Vevo on this thing. If you’re a traveler who carries an iPad just for movies on the road, the 6 Plus is going to be your best friend.
I’m going to buy an iPhone 6 Plus. I’m taken with it; it feels like an entirely new kind of device for Apple…I can’t see myself ever using my iPad mini again after having the 6 Plus, and it’s getting harder and harder to justify pulling out my iPad Air. With the right software changes, I could basically use an iPhone 6 Plus all day long, for everything from sending messages to editing documents to watching videos. A do-everything phone like the 6 Plus would eventually allow Apple to push the iPad even further towards becoming the true laptop replacement it was always meant to be.
I showed my mother both phones and she was instantly drawn to the larger display of the 6 Plus. For these users, too, the 6 Plus can represent a single-device computing solution; it replicates much of the functionality of a tablet, with additional portability, and if you don’t do much beyond browsing the web, or interacting with the rich field of current apps, you’ll be better-served by this with its always-on connectivity than you would by even the combo of a smaller phone and a Chromebook, for instance.
Some people are going to absolutely love it. Like I wrote at the outset, the 6 Plus wants to be your only mobile device. If you want to leave the house — or at least just leave your desk — with just one computer, the iPhone 6 Plus is it. For many people, it might replace not just an iPad, but a MacBook, too. It’s that big, and iOS devices are getting that powerful.
To that note, I barely used my tablet while I was testing this phone. Instead, I used the 6 Plus to watch videos and read in bed at night. Draw whatever conclusions you want from this about the possible convergence of large-screen phones and mini-tablets.
I certainly found I was leaving my iPad mini with Retina display at home more often than not, and taking the iPhone 6 Plus with me in preference.
With its size and weight, the iPhone 6 Plus feels more like a mini tablet than a phone and easily fills one of my pockets. I prefer the smaller smartphone, but based on recent pre-order reports, I may be in the minority.
Perhaps, many of these opinion leaders are Apple users and accustomed to Apple as the base case. Of course mini tablets are useful when your main phone only has a tiny 4-inch display.
As people get accustomed to the iPhone 6, and eventually, the iPhone 6 Plus, I expect the chorus for convergence to get louder.