What constitutes a great phone in 2022? It’s been a moving target for a number of years now, albeit one that steadily moves in one direction. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact average display size, but most flagship smartphone screens typically fall between six and seven inches.
In 2010, Steve Jobs touted four inches as the ideal screen size. “You can’t get your hands on it,” he noted as Android phones slowly grew in size. “No one is going to buy this.” The following year, Samsung released the first Galaxy Note. The 5.3-inch screen aroused the disgust of some. The remarkable first phablet was simply too big for pockets and hands.
The decade since has made those comments quaint. Technology has a way of doing this. Fast forward to 2022, and the four new versions of the iPhone 14 come in two sizes: 6.1 and 6.7 inches. A lot has happened to get us here, not the least of which is a dramatic gain in screen-to-body ratio. As displays have gotten larger, the overall footprint required to support them has shrunk.
I’ve been using the standard iPhone 14 as my primary device for a few weeks. I can’t quite wrap my hand all the way around, but close enough. Most important is the fact that it is easy to use with one hand. We’ve come a long way from the days when a 5.3-inch phone seemed almost impossibly large.
For my own day-to-day use, I’ve come to really appreciate 6.1 inches as a sweet spot. It’s a good-sized screen in a hardware footprint that isn’t overwhelming. As always, your mileage may vary. Some people were understandably disappointed when the iPhone 14 line effectively marked the death of the Mini. Wanting a smaller phone is perfectly reasonable, and for now the SE will have to fill that role.
As you might have guessed from reading this, I’ve since upgraded to the 14 Plus for everyday use. Right off the bat, I’ll say that I can’t, in fact, wrap my hand around this. Using it in one hand is a bit more of a mixed bag. When face unlock is on, some actions can be performed just fine this way: checking email, scrolling through social media – basically the things that many of us spend most of our time on our phones.
If you want, for example, to reply to an e-mail, on the other hand, things get more complicated. I can usually contort myself to select the specific message, but hitting Replay in Gmail and typing is going to require both hands. If you’re deep in the world of voice computing, you might have a workaround that works for you.
As with all things in life, there is a tradeoff here. I like the 6.7 inch size for things like video. It’s also nice to have that whole screen as a viewfinder while taking pictures. I ended up hosting a panel at a Brooklyn bookstore earlier this week, and it’s a great size to serve as some sort of makeshift teleprompter. Admittedly, it’s a pretty niche need, but going from 6.1 to 6.7 inches, those kinds of benefits start to trickle in pretty quickly.
Beyond the screen size, the biggest advantage of opting for the Plus over the standard 14 is the battery. The Plus is rated for 26 hours of video playback versus 20 hours for the 14. In practical terms for me, that meant I went to bed at around 50% battery and woke up at around 37%. You should be able to go through a full 24 hours without issue. There’s a nice peace of mind in not having to worry about finding a charger during the day.
We’re not talking an Apple Watch Series 8 jump to Ultra-size here, but there’s a lot to be said for not having to worry about having a phone die on you when you’re out in the world.
The 14 Plus sits in an interesting kind of liminal space in the iPhone lineup. It’s the entry-level model, and it’s not the most high-end. It is closer to the first and similar in virtually every way except size. Interestingly, it’s actually lighter than the smaller 14 Pro. This is something I noticed almost immediately, having also used the Pro quite a bit. That’s definitely worth noting for a big phone like this. At $899, it’s also $100 cheaper than the Pro and $200 cheaper than the Pro Max.
The 14 is the device you get when you want a new iPhone but don’t need all the latest bells and whistles. The 14 Pro is at the cutting edge of iPhone technology. The 14 Pro Max is a kitchen sink appliance. The Plus is for the person who prefers the bigger screen, but doesn’t need all the aforementioned frills. The surefire way to figure out what’s best for you is to try them on for size at a local brick and mortar store.
I would say the standard 14 makes the most sense for most users. Go Pro if you want better photos and a faster chip (and/or are generally blown away by everything Dynamic Island has to offer). If screen size is your primary concern, however, that 0.6-inch makes a big difference.
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