It's hard to be productive on a small smartphone. That's why business users should take note of the iPhone 6 Plus, a big new smartphone from Apple that launched today alongside another new device, the standard-size iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 Plus sports a screen measuring 5.5 inches (14 centimeters), putting it squarely in the "phablet" category, which generally describes smartphones with screens bigger than 5 inches. Meanwhile, the basic iPhone 6 measures 4.7 inches (12 cm). Both new iPhones dwarf the cramped 4-inch (10 cm) screen on previous iPhone models, but the iPhone 6 Plus model could really stand out for business users, since the large screen gives you tons of room to work on. Before you put down a pre-order on the big new iPhone, which launches Sept. 19, read on for five features that could make it good for business.
The iPhone 6 Plus is by far the biggest iPhone ever made, and that's a good thing for business users. Simply put, it's easier to complete real productivity tasks on a larger screen. That's especially true for screen-intensive tasks like editing a document or spreadsheet, or even composing an email.
And the big new screen actually opens up some new tabletlike functionality when you turn your device sideways, because it allows for a two-pane mode. Certain apps, such as the one for email, will show a persistent navigation pane on the left side of the screen when viewed in landscape mode; smaller displays wouldn't have room for the second pane. That lets you easily navigate among the various sections of your inbox, without having to tap through hidden menus, for example.
Of course, the downside to such a big screen is that it can be difficult to use with one hand. Apple hopes to remedy that with a few new features. The "Reachability" feature lets you double-touch the home button to make the active part of the screen slide down about halfway, which means you can reach the top of your app without shifting your phone's position in your hand. Meanwhile, many apps will have new gestures designed for one-handed use. For example, you can now go backward and forward in the Web browser by swiping in from the left or right — no need to reach for buttons at the top of the screen.
A new iPhone means a new version of iOS, Apple's mobile operating system. The iPhone 6 Plus will launch running the latest update, dubbed iOS 8, which is packed full of handy new features for business users.
For starters, the notifications system has received an overhaul, letting you act on incoming messages and alerts faster than before. When a new email or text message arrives, for example, just swipe down to reveal the keyboard, type your message and hit send — no need to launch the messaging app to send a reply. Different actions are available depending on which type of alert was received.
But the best new addition to iOS might be Handoff, which lets you connect your iPhone to your desktop iMac or MacBook computer. For example, with this feature, when you're typing out an email or editing a document on your desktop computer, you can transition seamlessly to keep working on your mobile device, and vice versa; just tap the Handoff button on the device you're currently using. It works because Apple devices connected to the same network will now recognize each other automatically.
Apple's TouchID fingerprint scanner returns on the iPhone 6 Plus, with new functionality. For starters, Apple Pay is a new payment system that uses near-field communication (NFC) in conjunction with the fingerprint scanner to let you, or your customers, quickly pay for items. Just hold the iPhone up to an NFC reader at checkout, while pressing a thumb to the reader. The system uses TouchID to authenticate that the user holding the phone actually owns the device, which curbs fraud. Apple calls its new payment system fast, secure and private. American Express, Visa and Master Card have already signed up as partners, so Apple Pay could be the first device to help contactless payment catch on, a possibility that small business owners should take heed of.
But the basic functionality of Apple's TouchID fingerprint scanner hasn't changed. Users can still press their fingers to the scanner to quickly and easily unlock their devices. (The scanner is embedded in the phone's home button.) That makes it easier to secure your work phone without fussing with password screens, providing a nice security boost. Apple's TouchID scanner, which activates when you press your finger to the scanner, is still the most functional fingerprint scanner on any smartphone. The feature is less reliable on Samsung phones such the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4, since these phones require you to slowly slide your finger down over their scanners, which doesn't always get a clean read.
Longer battery life
Battery life is incredibly important for business users who use their mobile devices for work. That's why it's a big deal that Apple is packing a bigger battery into its big new smartphone. The company promises up to 12 hours of continuous Web surfing over LTE on the iPhone 6 Plus. With average use, you should be able to squeeze a full day or more out of the device. If that's true — we haven't yet had a chance to test out the device ourselves — it would be a big step up from the iPhone 5s, which ran for about 6 hours in tests that involved surfing the Web continuously. The standard iPhone 6, meanwhile, is rated for about 10 hours of battery life, according to Apple.