Saying My Goodbyes To One-Handed Usability

One-handed usability

I’ve been using the iPhone 6 Plus extensively over the past week. It’s got a heavy duty case on it, because I’m deathly afraid of dropping it. For all of the improvements, if you drop an iPhone, there’s a good chance that beautiful screen will shatter. Unlike in previous years, the cost to repair is $129, significantly less now that Apple had the facilities to do them on location. I have not been able to use the iPhone 6 Plus with one hand, at all. It’s strictly a two handed device. That’s the trade-off for having a bigger than bigger phone. As for the iPhone 6, it feels incredibly small when I switch to that phone. My wife got the smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 6. I definitely feel a bit more comfortable navigating with one hand. With either device, there is some level of one-handed use that you’ll sacrifice to the big phone Gods.

One-handed usability

It’s funny how your brain gets accustomed to different sized phones and adjusts. Now if only my hands would grow and adjust. That’s not happening and I definitely miss being able to seriously manhandle my phone with just one hand. One-handed usability isn’t overrated. I can no longer casually grab it from the pocket and check the score of my favorite team on the down-low. That’s something I’ve done often while bored at a wedding, shopping with my wife or countless other times where my iPhone was more interesting. Tweeting while grocery shopping, also a no go. The iPhone 6 Plus demands your attention and your hands.

Before the iPhone 6 arrived, I had spent a fair amount of time with the Moto X (4.7). It was my “big phone” that paired nicely with my iPhone 5s. I thought Motorola did a good job at pushing the boundaries of screen size while allowing for a good amount of usability. Motorola had sent me a Moto X (2014) review unit, which arrived before my iPhone 6 Plus. I remember thinking, wow this is really big and how I thought Motorola had lost the charm of the original. Today, I picked up the very same Moto X and it felt comfortable. Dare I say, I think I could use it a bit with one-hand. My opinion had changed. The iPhone 6 Plus made it feel small.

For kicks, I’ve jumped back to the Moto X and iPhone 5s. Those feel positively tiny, in a good way. I would love for companies to offer high end versions of their smaller phones. Imagine iPod touch thin with iPhone 5s capabilities. Same with Motorola. The Moto X 2014 feels like a premium flagship device, much more so than the previous generation. I wish they’d offer a high end version with a smaller screen.

When I hoped and dreamed of an iPhone with a big screen, I never thought we’d see something with a 5.5-inch display. It’s the HUMMER of phones. Big, brawny and won’t have great mileage for fans of one-handed usability. I count myself as one of those fans. I’ve started to re-train my brain as to what to expect from a smartphone and it’s working. Big is the new normal, as is my use of two-hands at all times. I also know that if I started using a smaller iPhone, that one-handed usability would be as comfortable as old pair of jeans. It’s the way phones were intended to be used, a hallmark created by the first Palm smartphones or as Apple calls it, a dazzling display of common sense.

How has your transition been to the bigger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? Have you lost some, most or all of your one-handed use capabilities? More importantly, are you ok with that?



  1. rsbell

    October 3, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I’ve found the same thing about size: I got the Plus, and my wife got the 6. It’s a low learning curve to get accustomed to one handed use of the 6. It’s taking longer to get used to one handed use of the Plus, but I’m getting better at it.

    Reachability helps, but it requires a conscious effort to get used to that as well.

    Apple prides itself on creating products with a very low or non-existent learning curves, but the Plus requires the new user to consciously and deliberately use it in certain ways to push through the learning curve.

    But it’s worth the effort so far.

  2. TurtleGerald

    October 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I have tried both 6 variants out in an Apple Store now and I have to say I’m very disappointed with the 6 Plus. I don’t have small hands, but the Plus is simply too big to hold comfortably (and that’s holding in one hand, tapping with the other).

    Apple say, “Bigger than bigger” – well it is, but not perhaps in the way they meant. It is bigger than simply a bigger phone. It’s a post-Steve Jobs product – and that’s a very big thing. By this I don’t just mean post-death – we’ve seen quite a few new products since that sad day – but post-mindset. Post-attitude. Post-greatness. No longer is Apple for those who “think different” – because they themselves are now pandering to those who think the same as everyone else. Jobs wanted a successful company, but to him the pursuance of a perfect product was more important. Jobs would’ve told people who wanted a 5.5″ smartphone to go buy a Samsung. He wouldn’t have wanted customers that wanted a product that required imperfect execution – a product that couldn’t be used without compromise – a product that didn’t “just work”.

    This, then, is the new Apple. It’s becoming the same as all the rest, just with more aluminium, more glass, and Jony Ive. The iPhone 6 (the Plus especially) makes me fear that Apple has truly lost its core (no pun intended). Go listen to “here’s to the crazy ones”. It fitted when Steve Jobs held the reins. Now, though, I’m not sure it does.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top