Phablet Reviews Before and After iPhone 6 Plus (Everyone Got It Wrong)

Bigger is better. No, wait, bigger is worse. Well, which is it?

Apple’s newly supersized 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the jumbo, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a marked departure for the company, which has clung to the same, small screen size for years. It has gone so far as to publicly deride larger phones from competitors, notably Samsung, even as their sales grew to record highs.

Tech reviewers over the years have tended to side with Apple, in general saddling reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note – a 5.3-inch device that kicked off the phablet push in 2012 – with asides about how big the darn thing was. To be fair, I’m one of them; I called the 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega “preposterous” last year. I also think the iPhone 6 Plus may be more phone than most people will be comfortable with, although the skyrocketing sales seem to point otherwise.

But does Apple have something special? Can its phones succeed where others have … well, already succeeded? And more importantly, are tech reviewers being fair when they review the iPhone 6 Plus? Here’s what some of them said today, compared with how they reviewed earlier phablets and big phones from the competition.

Related: iOS 8 Review (new features so subtle, there’s an app to help you find them)

Jonathan Geller spun 180 degrees thanks to Apple. But he’s decent enough to admit he was wrong.

2012:  Samsung Galaxy NoteThe most useless device I’ve ever seen … This is a phone, after using it for a few hours, that feels like it is too big to be taken seriously. That’s the end of it. I don’t care if you like large screens on mobile devices, I don’t care if you love Android, and I don’t care if you love 4G LTE — this is a device fit for use only by such a small subset of the human population that I can’t fathom how AT&T and Samsung are putting so much marketing resources behind it.
– Jonathan Geller
2014:  Apple iPhone 6 PlusNow that Apple has finally taken the wraps off the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple fans are going crazy with anticipation over the largest iPhones ever released, something needs to be said. And that something is, “Thank you, Samsung.” We got it wrong.
– Jonathan Geller

TechCrunch wasn’t sure how it felt about phablets at first. But larger iPhones have clearly convinced them.

2012:  Galaxy NoteUnfortunately, you might look a little crazy with that huge thing up to your face. I found that it was really difficult to get comfortable with the device, never feeling like I had complete control over it as I would with a smaller phone. On the other hand, the mobile video experience offered by the Note can’t really be beat.
– Jordan Crook
2014:  iPhone 6 PlusIn terms of carrying and holding the device, the additional size makes for a less ‘perfect’ ergonomic quality, something the iPhone 6 definitely achieves, but there’s still lots to love about the industrial design of the 6 Plus … For most tasks, I find the iPhone 6 Plus to be a two-handed device – but I also find that I’m absolutely fine with that.
– Darrell Etherington

Related: One size fits all for Apple’s fresh but familiar iPhone 6

The Wall Street Journal / Recode
Lauren Goode is singing a very different song – and is willing to admit it. So too Walt Mossberg, who called the 5.3-inch Note “gargantuan” and the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 as “terrific.”

2012:  Galaxy Note 2It’s still too big for a smartphone … After testing it over the past week and a half, the awkwardness that came with carrying such a large, “notice me” phone outweighed the benefits of it, for me.
– Lauren Goode
2014:  iPhone 6 PlusMaybe I’m getting old, and my eyes are getting worse. Or maybe I’m stuck in Apple’s reality-distortion field (help). But something strange happened this week. I started to like a phablet.
– Lauren Goode
2014:  Walt Mossberg on Galaxy Note and the iPhone 6That iPhone, and its four-inch successor, the 5S, proved very popular. At first, larger, wider phones seemed weird (I even compared holding the first Samsung Note to your face to “talking into a piece of toast.”) But for many people, especially in certain countries, the iPhone’s screen began to seem too small, as competing models appeared with bigger and bigger screens. At first, larger, wider phones seemed weird … the iPhone 6’s 4.7-inch screen is a catch-up feature. But it’s very well done.
– Walt Mossberg

The New York Times / Yahoo
For David Pogue, a 4.8-inch Samsung was great, but so big it needed to be ridiculed. A 5.5-inch iPhone “doesn’t seem bigger than the iPhone 5,” however. He’s clearly adjusted to the scale.

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