Luke’s iPhone 6 Plus Review

First of all I’m sorry I’m so late on this. I promised my Facebook friends I’d have something up in less than a week after getting the phone and here it is almost a month later. I wish I had an awesome excuse but honestly it is just life. Hopefully you all still find some value in reading what always ends up being a lengthy entry when I’m solo blogging (wife and little girl are sleeping). So let’s get into it:

Why did I choose the bigger phone?

There is only one other person I can think of that does more homework when it comes to making purchases and that is my father-in-law. In the “pre-buying” research phase he absolutely destroys me. However, I definitely put in my work to make sure I am pretty educated about what I’m about to spend money on – especially when it could mean the difference of having a small and portable phone versus a goliath “mini-iPad”. Some of the more important factors that I looked at in considering the iPhone6 or the 6Plus were:

  • Could I use it one-handed and does that even matter?
  • Will it fit in my pockets?
  • Is it too big for normal things like cupholders in my car?
  • Will upgrading to the regular 6 be enough of a change from my current iPhone 5?
  • Does a bigger display really matter that much?
  • Am I concerned at all that the lens cover on the rear phone protrudes?

These are just a few of the myriad of things I tried to consider. I knew I wanted the iPhone 6 and was eligible for an upgrade (I’m on AT&T for whatever that is worth). When I first saw the new iPhone 6 I didn’t know what I was looking at (the 6 or 6P). My local AT&T store had two phones on display under their “iPhone 6” display. I instinctively though one was the 6 and one was the 6P. My gut reaction to seeing what I thought was the 6P was “that’s not that big”. However, I soon learned that very few stores actually had any 6P phones to display. What I was looking at was the iPhone 5S versus the iPhone 6. I held my personal iP5 up against the iP6 and said in my mind “that isn’t that much of a change in size”. To be honest I was disappointed.

The salesman showed me two phones, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Note. He said that the iPhone 6 Plus was right in the middle of those two. I put the bigger of the two (the Note) in my pocket and it fit no problem. I immediately had hope for the size of the 6P.

Fast forward a few days and I went on a guy’s weekend trip with a bunch of my buddies. There were very few iPhone 6 phones anywhere at that time and trust me I looked. The first actual 6P I was able to hold was in New York in an AT&T store. I remember holding it and immediately thinking “yes”. The size, the balance, the thin and rounded edges, but most importantly – that DISPLAY. Never did I have a clue how much a big display changed your perception of a phone.

Within a week I had ordered my phone. I had a month to wait, research articles and read forums about user experiences. Over this month I saw more and more iPhone 6 devices in public. Folks seemed very happy with them but I did hear some complaints about the battery life. I believe the iP6 battery life is still worse than the iP5S but they may have fixed that with the recent 8.1.1 iOS update. The battery life in the 6P is stunning but I’ll get to that later.

I was actually on a work trip when my phone arrived. My wife opened the package and took some pics with her phone and sent them to me. It looked pretty big to say the least. She immediately started ripping on me for carrying a tablet, etc. She’s seriously a lot of fun to be around but to this day she gives me crap about my phone. And in all fairness compared to her iPhone 5C it does look like a monster.

I get excited just seeing the packaging. Apple does such a good job with this stuff
I get excited just seeing the packaging. Apple does such a good job with this stuff
Here she is in the box: I went with the silver 64GB model.
Here she is in the box: I went with the silver 64GB model.
The rest of the contents are exactly the same as what you get with any iP5 or later.
The rest of the contents are exactly the same as what you get with any iP5 or later.

So I now have the phone in my hands and I’m pretty jazzed. I love the design changes, with the power button on the side and the longer vibrate toggle and longer volume buttons. The phone feels absolutely wonderful in your hands. My Dad says it feels “slippery” and that is a good adjective for it. The form and visual appeal of the iPhone 6 Plus is there, and I was pumped up to finally set this thing up.

First boot!
First boot!

I’ve owned a variant of every iPhone ever produced and set up was pretty painless once I stopped making a crucial mistake: If you have a backup of your phone on a desktop (which you should), make sure you don’t do anything with your new phone until you restore it from that backup. I kept signing into my new phone and not realizing I was setting it up as a “new phone”. Only when I completely restored it and started with it plugged into my iMac did it load like I was hoping for. As usual everything came over except my music which is how I like it. I don’t keep any photos on my phone (transfer them often to the iMac) so my total boot time was about 40 minutes after I stopped being an idiot.

here is the new iP6 sitting next to my iP5
here is the new iP6 sitting next to my iP5
you hear a lot about the thinness of the new iPhone 6 models. Here it is compared to my iPhone 5. Not much but the rounded edges are what do the trick
you hear a lot about the thinness of the new iPhone 6 models. Here it is compared to my iPhone 5. Not much but the rounded edges are what do the trick

I’ve now been using the 6P for almost a month and I can’t tell you how happy I am with the overall daily benefits of such a big phone. Things that never mattered to me are suddenly high points of using the device and almost all of the major benefits are from this beautiful display. Things like your Facebook feed, GPS maps, weather radars, FaceTime, and a whole slew of things take on a whole new life when you have that much real estate to work with. Your fantasy football feed now has your entire team without scrolling. You can actually surf the web and not feel like you are constantly pinching and sliding. It is great, and even though I’ve appreciated a ton of other things about the phone – the display is my #1 selling point.

So let’s rapid fire through the other things that I’ve noticed that are high-points:

  • Battery Life: Amazing, awesome, noticeable. I have seen the phone broken apart and they are right when they say most of the inside is battery. It shows during usage! I am a pretty heavy user of my phone and on my busiest days I am maybe at 35-40% by the evening. A quick charge for an hour or two gets me through the night no matter how late it gets. This is the first iPhone I’ve owned that I actually think has great (not just good) battery life.
  • Wi-Fi and LTE speeds: With both hardware specs for this being updated, you would expect a performance increase and yep it is there. I have an “n” band router at home and pay for the maximum speed I can get and if I configure my router to the 5Ghz spectrum I can pull over 100Mb down on the phone via wi-fi. LTE seems much snappier as well although I haven’t been in a market where I can really test it. In general usage the LTE responds a little quicker than my old phone. It isn’t night and day but when you are someone who uses your phone a lot you notice subtle changes like that.
  • Photo Camera: Apple took a lot of heat for not upgrading the actual camera sensor to a higher megapixel option. What they have done however, it completely refine the way the hardware works and upgrade a few components. To save a bunch of technical jargon, it is just a better camera. The pictures in the daylight are shocking how good they are. They are good enough that we’re about to go on a cruise and we’re not bringing our Nikon 5100 D-SLR camera because the iPhone 6 plus takes pictures that are that good. Regarding the protruding camera lens, I did confirm that the lens cover is made out of sapphire (along with the home button cover). The only harder substance than sapphire is diamonds so unless you plan on scratching your lens with diamonds you are OK to set the lens down on tables an other surfaces. This was a big win for me because I don’t like cases on my phones.
  • Video Camera: When I took my first 60fps (frames per second) video, it looked fake. It seriously looked like something made in a CGI studio. You soon realize that it looks fake because it is so amazingly clear. I absolutely love the video camera on this phone and liken it to the first time you really saw a TV in true HD. It is one of those things that would be hard not to have now that you’ve owned it for a bit.

There are many other neat little things about the phone like the much louder speakerphone and the way it acts like an iPad if you go into landscape mode in emails, texts, or certain applications. Some of these things I think it is better if you discover on your own (they act as neat surprises) and I’m sure many of them I am not even aware of yet. This phone combined with iOS 8 is pretty bad ass.

So we’ve passed sixteen hundred words and I haven’t talked about the elephant in the room which is the size of the iPhone 6 Plus. It took me a while to find a very concise way of describing the size of the phone to someone without them being able to see it. I’ll tell you what I’ve been telling everyone else: This is NOT a one-handed device. Unless you are over 6’5 and/or have enormous hands, you will be using this two-handed for over 90% of what you do.

So if you are a back-pocket phone person, don’t get this phone. If you are someone who is so active that they use their phone one-handed most of the time, don’t get this phone. For everyone else, get this phone as soon as you can! And in case you are wondering, yes it fits in my front pocket although it will be the only thing in there. The 6P is a pocket dominator but it fits fine without causing any kind of discomfort.

In all seriousness it was an adjustment for me to move to a two-handed gadget. I use Siri a lot more now, and I use dictation so much that I’d pay for it if it didn’t come as part of iOS 8. I find myself doing the hand wiggle to move the phone up and down my hand to try to reach apps if I absolutely have to use the phone one-handed. Using the phone with two hands is an intuitive, comfortable experience. Trying to use it in a pinch with one hand can be frustrating.

BUT – going back to the display, the sacrifice of one-handed usage is worth it in my opinion. The display is seriously that good. I actually enjoy using my phone to read now, and don’t mind doing anything on it that I’d do on an iPad or small laptop. Even typing on the 6P is much better because they have the room to put some spacing between the keys.

Some other small things that are great are the Touch ID and Apple Pay. I didn’t have the iP5S so Touch ID is new to me. What a great way to lock and unlock your phone.

Is there anything you don’t like?

Sure. Because of its size it does not fit in the normal things designed for phones. My car is a 2006 and the 6P does not really fit in the cup holders. I have to angle it this perfect way. I also get annoyed sometimes when I try to use it one-handed and I miss what I’m trying to do. Case in point today I was trying to take some weather pics really quickly as the weather was changing in front of me. I had to use my knee when driving to free up both hands to snap the pics because I couldn’t use the phone one-handed in an efficient manner.

Overall results

Thanks again for reading this much.  I just broke two thousand words which is crazy for a blog post but what the heck I love this crap. My overall thoughts about the 6Plus are extremely positive. I purposely did not buy an iP5S because I wanted something different. I wanted a big change and I believe Apple delivered on that desire. I absolutely love the display and cannot say enough about it. I love and appreciate the battery life. Those two things alone are worth the jump.

I’d recommend the 6Plus to anyone who likes Apple products and is OK with using their “phone” with two hands. The size sure is not for everyone but the regular iP6 was just not enough of a change for me to switch. On a daily basis I am grateful that I took a chance and got the iPhone 6 Plus.

If I left anything out or if you have further questions please leave them in the comments section. Thanks again for reading and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!! (for my USA readers).

– Luke

SOL Tracks Air Wireless Headphone Review

Before you read this, ask yourself “Do I really care about headphones?” For many people that answer is going to be “not really.” If you are one of those people, and unless you really like my writing style or wonder what kind of idiot could compose an entire blog entry about headphones, you probably want to skip this post.

I wish I could describe myself as someone who wasn’t concerned about headphones. Perhaps it is the self-diagnosed ADHD that I have. Perhaps it is the equally omnipresent self-diagnosed OCD I claim, but the search for the “perfect pair of headphones” is something I’ve chased most of my life. Yes, I realize how pathetic that sounds – most of my life – but it is true. I can remember being a teenager and getting a pair of Sony over the ears with the “mega bass” option and being bummed because more bass meant less mids and highs. The pursuit of the perfect sound is as unique to me as it is the other headphone-addicts out there. What I hear as great may not be so great to another pair of ears. Nonetheless, with the SOL Republic brand I’m extremely happy to report that I’ve come just about as close to the “perfect” sound possible for my over-analytical and imaginary audiophelic (I made that word up) state of mind.

I’ve already reviewed the SOL Republic Tracks HD headphones HERE.  In that review you can read a little more about the obsession for sound quality and the pure glee that resulted from my discovery of such a wonderful product that so embodied most of the features I figured a winning set of headphones would employ.

The transition to wireless

About a year ago (maybe a little longer?), I was visiting family in Fort Myers, FL. My Dad is a pretty techie dude for a guy in his sixties, and he had a pair of wireless (bluetooth) headphones at his house. At that time I was still under the impression that bluetooth quality was substantially lower than that of wired headsets. However, when I tried his on (the Go Groove Air Band) I was instantly impressed. They actually had deep lows and a well-balanced sound. What sold me though was the absence of wires. It seems like such a novel thing, as our entire lives have had wired headphones. It has always been just part of the setup. After using the headphones for about 10 minutes I was sold on the fact that going wire-free was for me and so began the slow journey of looking for the perfect-for-me pair of bluetooth headphones.

Dad surprised me with my own pair of GoGroove headphones about a month later and they have served my needs wonderfully. In fact they have done so well I have no problem plugging them in this review. The fact that the bluetooth headphones now have transmit distances of over 30 feet means I can leave my phone in the room and go refill my drink, use the bathroom, chase my daughter, or a wide variety of things without having a cord getting in the way. I watch movies on my iMac with the bluetooth headphones on and sit on the floor so my daughter doesn’t constantly pull at my shirt wanting Daddy closer. When driving I have music and telephone capabilities all without moving my phone. The headphones have controls for volume, play/pause, next song, previous song, and a few other handy options. And for you iPhone users, the microphone in the headphones works perfect with Siri (I would imagine they work on Android as well I’ve just never tried).

So as stated I’ve been rockin’ the GoGrooves for about a year give or take. However, as stated up top I am almost maniacal in my pursuit of sound. The GG’s are great, and I still have and use mine, but it was clear that when I put on my Sol Republic Tracks HD (wired) headphones, they were worlds apart in comfort and sound. What I wanted was that comfort and sound with the convenience and wireless joy of bluetooth.

And so began the research. If the Internet has done one thing right, it is making available all of the hundreds of reviews and comparisons of products from all industries. Thankfully as I began to dig into wireless headphone advancements over the years there was (and is) a ton of information out there. From the technological advancements in bluetooth releases, both hardware and software, to the efforts made by audio engineers to refine the encoders used to transmit audio so that it favors well on both wired and wireless platforms. In short there are some astonishingly intelligent folks out there who have elevated the bluetooth connection protocol to a point where it (for 99.9% of us) is just as good if not better than a wired connection.

After going into the Matrix of geekdom concerning bluetooth performance (and I’m talking reading compression specs, audio wavelength transference, and other stuff I can’t even spell), I was ready to purchase a high-end pair for my own uses. However, what brand do you go with? Do you follow the crowd and go with Beats because the cool kids are doing it? Do you go with a trusted name in audio sound like Bose or Sony? Do you go off-brand like Monoprice where for a third of the price you get the same specs? My personal research took weeks, and in the end I decided on the SOL Republic Tracks Air Wireless Headphones. In the end what got me? Honestly probably brand loyalty. However the brand loyalty exists because SOL makes products that (in my opinion) exceed their competitors in performance while being priced at or below what you’d expect to pay for what they deliver. So the brand loyalty exists because that brand continues to provide quality products.

SOL partnered with Motorola on their bluetooth headphones. SOL delivers the sound, style, and flexibility of their interchanging parts while Motorola provides their long-standing expertise on bluetooth and wireless connectivity. The results are truly spectacular.

They have arrived
They have arrived

I ordered the headphones from Amazon and they arrived (as everything does from Amazon) in two days and in perfect condition. I purchased the SOLs from a reputable dealer on Amazon for the same price they are listed on the SOL website. As with a lot of the SOL products, you have options in colors to pick on both the headband and the speakers (SOL calls them sound engines). I went with the white as the wireless headphones only came in three combos. Their wired headphones have a dizzying amount of customizable options.

Inside the box
Inside the box

As with Apple, I love the packaging work done by SOL. It is attractive, functional, and easy to put back together if you want to save the original box. I’ve found this useful if you plan on possibly selling the product to put towards a future upgrade (Craigslist is my friend).

Sound Engines and Head Band
Sound Engines and Headband

The headphones are very easy to put together, with the speaker sliding onto the headband. Perhaps it is because the headband on the Tracks Air has metal connections to the speakers (no wires connect anything), but I found them a little difficult to slide on. If you’ve ever assembled a wired pair of SOLs this will be a change for you. I realize now after reading reviews that this is done on purpose to establish a firm connection between the metal contacts.

The accessories in the creative packaging
The accessories in the creative packaging

Included in the box is a mirco-USB charger and a pair of wires to connect the headphones if you want/need a wired sound. I find this especially thoughtful because this allows you to still enjoy the headphones if you run out of battery life on the bluetooth. One important thing to note is that the micro-USB does not come with a A/C (house) plug but it is likely you have one already or something that you can plug a USB into.

Headband and one of the sound engines
Headband and one of the sound engines

The headphones are extremely comfortable. One complaint I had about the GoGroove is that they were good for an hour or so and then you started to feel the pressure on your temples and ears. Not so with the SOLs. I’ve worn them for hours and hours (yeah I know – weirdo) and had no issue at all. They are on-ear headphones (as opposed to in-ear or over-the-ear) but they rest softly on the head and for me are extremely wearable for long durations.

When you first power up the device, it automatically goes into pairing mode. It paired instantly with both my iPhone and iMac without hassle. It also put this cool icon on my phone that I’ve never seen

Bluetooth icon shows you how much power you have left on the SOLs
Bluetooth icon shows you how much power you have left on the SOLs


Here are the stated selling points from SOL and my comments on each:

  • A2 Sound Engine – The sound is whatever the best adjective you know for awesome. I mean spectacular balancing of lows and highs. I’ve read where folks say they are too bassy but I can’t get there. To me they are everything a headphone should be performance-wise. I absolutely love listening to everything on them (movies, music, spoken-words, etc). My honest opinion is that they sound as good or better than the wired version (this is a claim made by SOL and I second their position). I’m extremely picky about sound quality and they have me smitten.
  • Headband functionality – SOL markets the headbands as virtually indestructible. I would never be this hard on the device but you can YouTube examples of them being run over by cars, hit with hammers, and bent and twisted all around. Since the pieces are interchangeable, you can also opt to buy different color headbands if you’d like your own look.
  • Carrying Case – The headphones do not fold up like a lof of their competitors. This can be viewed as a good or bad thing depending on your preference. The unit comes with a carrying pouch that works well and the fact that you can take them apart increases the options of how you can transport each component.
  • Sonicsoft speaker pads – The term Sonicsoft is trademarked, and I’d say with good reason. The pads are extremely comfortable and durable. As stated I’ve gone hours wearing them with no irritation.  It is worth noting as well that the pads offer great noise resistance from outside interference. I don’t think they are active noise cancellation but they do a great natural job of keeping the outside stuff out.
  • Multi-device pairing – This is a wow-item for me. The headphones can be paired with two devices at the same time. You can only use one at a time, but the practicality of this is spot-on. For example, I can be watching a movie on my iMac (or doing anything really) and if someone calls me on my phone, I can elect to take the call which will pause the movie and let me speak to my caller. As with most bluetooth headsets they have a built-in microphone that you can use for calls or audio commands. Note that both devices are paired at the same time so the transition between each is seamless and requires little work. The convenience of this function is something you have to use in person to appreciate. I love it.
  • Battery Life – This was another big selling point. The company states a battery life of 15 hours under active usage. A neat feature is that when you power them on it tells you exactly how many hours you have left to recharge. I haven’t tried to reach the 15 hour mark yet but they do seem to hold up very well. I haven’t charged mine in days and it still shows almost 50% on the battery icon.
  • Bluetooth range – SOL will tell you that these devices can stream content from up to 150 feet away from the source. Yeah, they said 150 feet. I believe that is a direct line-of-sight and nothing in between the transmitter and the headphones. Most of us have walls in our homes with varying degrees of shielded cables, metals, liquids, and currents running through pipes and cables and I can tell you for sure that I can’t walk 150 feet away from my iMac before it breaks up. However, the range is very impressive. I can cover my whole house (2300 sqft) without any degradation of signal. 150 feet? That one may be a stretch but the range is very good. Much better than the incumbent for me.

So are there any drawbacks?

If you’ve made it this far, thank you! Word count says by now I’m zooming close to 1900 words and you have my appreciation for dealing with this deluge of words about the SOLs.

Some users of the headphones have reported that they do not fit well on people with smaller heads. I have a pretty big dome so this isn’t an issue for me so I can’t confirm.

One of the potential annoyances that I’ve found is that the headphones are not very loud on my iMac. When I’m really jammin’ I like to have it loud. I’m not sure if this is something my Mac is doing (not pushing it loud enough) or what, but I do not have this problem on my mobile device. It is plenty loud on my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong on the Mac it is loud, and the source of the music (some songs are louder than others) may be part of the item. But it is one of the things I read when shopping and I can confirm that, only on my desktop, I wish they had maybe 10-15% more output regarding sound. Of course I could always use the preamp function on my audio player but I shouldn’t have to.

Misc and Wrap-UP

You’re almost done! A few other things that users familiar with bluetooth may care about: The device turns on and off very quick. The menu options are easy to use and there aren’t many of them. The device takes about 2-3 hours to fully recharge and has a color-coded LED to let you know what stage of battery and pairing you are currently in.

So if you are still with me you know I am happy with my purchase. SOL Republic has yet again delivered a great product that is rich in value and performance. At 200 bucks this is a lot of money for headphones, yet they are substantially (as in a hundred bucks or so) cheaper than their competitors (especially in the wireless world). I feel comfortable recommending this product to anyone who is serious about their sound quality and loves the convenience of bluetooth.  I do not believe you will find a bigger bang for your buck.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Love Your Life