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Which One? New iPhone 6 Plus or iPad?

By on Sep 15, 2014 in Blog, Consulting, iOS Studio |

The question of the month is – Does the new iPhone 6 Plus dilute the market for the iPad?

According to IDC, purchases of tablet devices have slowed quite a bit during the past year. Even the iPad, which continues to be the market leader is not experiencing the type of growth that smart phones are. Now, with the Apple 6 Plus, some people are wondering if the tablet has a future at all.

Use the Right Device For the Job

In our office, we use both the iPhone and the iPad. We produce more software for the iPad, but now new discussions have taken place — “could we adapt this iPad app to run on the iPhone Six Plus,” has come up more than once.

For me, it was pretty straight forward: I think an iPhone 6 Plus is too big to carry around in my pocket or on my belt. So, I’m using the phone for communication, and the iPad for work. For others in the office, a bit more of a debate has ensued.

My question to the team has been: “what is the right device for the job or function at hand?”

First, the iPhone 6 Plus does offer behavior more like that of a micro-iPad than an iPhone. That’s a result of the third party developer ecosystem. Clearly, some apps will now run on an iPhone 6 Plus that wouldn’t be “phone capable” in the past. Still, it’s a small screen when compared to any iPad. If you need to question this, visit an Apple store and put the 6 Plus and an iPad Mini side by side.

While the size difference between an iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 (or iPhone 5/5s) is small, the difference between it and iPad mini is substantial.

Which one?

If you think you need an iPad, you probably do. When evaluating the screen of the iPhone 6 Plus, it’s pretty clear that some tasks common on iPad weren’t going to be particularly suited to it. For moderate to extensive image editing and or anything more than light editing of Office documents, particularly large spreadsheets, the iPad is still the way to go. Even reading an entire ebook on it doesn’t seem quite so appealing.

At the same time, for someone that spends a lot of time collaborating and messaging, the iPhone 6 Plus is more than capable, and apps that use that extra screen real estate the way Apple has will provide a much better mobile work experience than the iPhone 6. Reviewing documents, PDFs, presentations, or video are also great business matches for the iPhone 6 Plus. For our team, we can watch video content on the iPhone 6 Plus in full HD. That’s pretty cool.

Oh, and Don’t Forget Microsoft Office…

There’s one other important factor to keep in mind when it comes to functionality between these devices — the iPhone 6 Plus may behave like it’s a micro-iPad more than a larger iPhone, but it is still an iPhone. That means that, added functionality aside, you will still be loading iPhone apps onto it, and universal apps that run on both iPhones and iPads will treat it as an iPhone.

If you use Microsoft Office, that’s an really important thing to consider.

Microsoft did a solid job with Office for iPad, producing three apps — Word, Excel, and PowerPoint — that replicated the core features of their desktop counterparts. Good job, too. The features that the vast majority of business users need is contained in these apps and transitions seamlessly between iPad and desktop.

Office for iPhone, released nearly a year earlier, is an anemic single-app offering that offers the most basic functionality of Office and that eschews even the most commonplace features like true formatting support or track changes. It is one of the worst productivity apps out there for the iPhone and, as things stand today and unless Microsoft makes massive changes, that’s what you’ll get on an iPhone 6 Plus. That’s really significant to keep in mind if you’re considering an iPhone 6 Plus as a way to get the best of both worlds — iPhone and iPad — in one device.

Our team uses the Apple suite of apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote). But, we’re receiving Microsoft originated materials all the time. Each organization has its own requirements, but the assumption that the iPhone 6 Plus kills off the iPad is premature.