Friday, September 4, 2015

New iPhone Update and Review

I'm writing this using my iPhone 6+. It's actually easier to use the laptop, but it's also good to demonstrate.

Actually, now I've switched to my laptop, which is faster and allows for establishing links and such much more easily.

As I mentioned in an article on my bicycling blog, "One Apple 6+ Smartphone Equals 6 Electronic Devices," the 6+ has replaced a pile of electronics I've been packing on my bicycle:
  • Kindle eReader
  • Canon movie/still camera
  • Tracfone (buy minutes of phone time)
  • HP mini computer
  • Verizon MiFi wireless 
  • Garmin Edge Touring GPS
Well, the weight and compactness cannot be beat!

I think the camera and video functions better than my previous camera, although I have to admit that I had not yet mastered all possibilities with the Canon FS10. The 6+ is pretty slick, though, as a visual recorder. I have also found the provided iMovie editor app very usable; in fact, I've been making all my bicycling videos on my iPhone. I'm still learning the software and plan to improve the audio, but the move to the new software was easy. Check out the videos on my YouTube channel.

Because I bought the 6+, the entertainment possibilities are very robust.  Watching movies or reading e-books when I'm traveling Amtrak is comfortable. The screen size is great for both movies and e-reading. Because I bought the 64G memory, I have plenty of room for all my entertainment.

I also have been writing, using the iPhone. If I'm writing straight text, then although the hunt-and-peck touch keyboard is slower, it's still functional. When writing blog posts, I've found it easiest to write the text as a Google Doc and then to paste it to the blog. After that, I add a photo, centered. Getting fancy with the formatting doesn't work well or quickly. Perhaps I'll learn more with time, but (for instance) I switched with this blog post because I was still trying to find how to locate and copy the URLs I needed for establishing links. Using Google Docs is easy, and making them accessible offline is great for when I'm out of mobile range, like in the Rockies.

As a phone, the Apple 6+ is fine but a touch big. It's one of those trade-offs that come with "one size fits all." One size doesn't fit all, but packing one 6+ in my pocket is a lot more convenient than a bagful of electronics. If I mostly used the smartphone as a phone, then I would probably have purchased the 6 rather than the 6+. I really like Facetime for talking to my grandson or talking to my wife when I'm traveling. The face to face communication keeps the kid happy and keeps me from missing being home as much.

As a bicycle traveler on daytrips and overnighters, I've found the GPS function works well. I was at an unmarked gravel crossroad in SE Iowa and didn't know which road to take. The GPS had no suggestions for getting home (not enough information, it said), but I expanded the map and used some orienteering and common sense to choose the right gravel. In California I was on a dayride and didn't want to turn around and retrace my route home, so I checked the GPS, which gave me a new route home. Very pretty and enjoyable to continue on new roads! Therefore, I can say the 6+ can supply my GPS needs, and the screen is much larger than my Garmin Edge Touring, which is great for my older eyes. I've also found than I can save maps and locations for offline use, so if I'm out of mobile range, I've still got a map. If I were heading on an Adventure Cycling route, I'd probably still get the physical maps because of their anecdotal suggestions (and because they are so colorful and fun to open and look at).

As a bike traveler, I also have to say having a compass, flashlight, and weather forecasting service at hand in one device is also great. The charger that I bought at the phone store, which was touted to be able to charge the phone "many times," appears to be a rip-off, but I'm going to work with it some more and talk to the store before naming the brand. It's probably best to check out the reviews online before buying a charger. My charger purchase was a "Gee, I'm in the store and why not? purchase--and the phone folks must know what they're talking about" purchase. Oops!

I have to pay my mobile phone fee every month now, but I consider it a communications utility fee. It's really easy to use the 6+ for my communication and electronics needs. I find myself using it at home just because it's so quick and portable. I don't have to fire up the laptop to check emails.

The other day I read an article that used the word "phablet." I hate the word, but for me the Apple iPhone 6+ really is more a small tablet I use as a phone. Since I spend 4 days out of every 3 months traveling Amtrak (or two weeks a year), and since I spend a lot of time on my bicycle on country roads, having a phone that's a touch too big and a tablet that's a touch too small but all my electronic needs in one highly portable unit is juuuust right!

Copyright 2015 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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