Apple devotees have been presented with a quandary.
The company a month ago introduced two new models of its iPhone. One of them is a vanishingly light and slender slip of a thing called the iPhone 6. For anyone who liked the iPhone already, this is a no-brainer: the same elegant software, improved electronics, and a bigger screen, all in a more svelte package. It’s a winner.
The other, the iPhone 6 Plus, is what’s called a phablet, a cross between a phone and a tablet. Not a few people who see it say, “Is it a phone? It looks so big.”
Happily, despite its jumbo size—it has a 5.5-inch screen, measured on the diagonal—in three weeks of testing, it has proved durable and hasn’t shown the slightest signs of bending, contrary to early reports of “bendgate.”
The 6 Plus is more like a tablet than a phone. Most people won’t be able to use it comfortably with one hand. But it isn’t quite a replacement for a tablet, either. Apple (ticker: AAPL) last week refreshed its line of iPads, and they remain the better choice for extensive reading of texts, especially copies of things in PDF. If you view a PDF on the 6 Plus, it’s readable, but not as comfortable as on either the 7.9-inch iPad Mini or the 9.7-inch iPad Air.
So what is the 6 Plus, if not a regular phone and not really a tablet? It’s actually the classic “road warrior” computing tool.
For the executive who needs to eyeball a spreadsheet, a stock analyst who needs to glance at a report in PDF, or anyone who does tons of e-mail on a smartphone, the larger screen is a welcome boost to productivity.
And for video fans, the 6 Plus is far better than its smaller sibling for viewing movies or professional content.
Apple has perhaps created a new entry in their lineup, a professional’s tool—not unlike when the laptop first arrived, and every power user had to have one.