iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: Can you use them one-handed?

How to enable Reachability for one-handed use of your iPhone
How to enable Reachability for one-handed use of your iPhone

One of the biggest questions surrounding Apple's new, big and bigger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — aside from whether or not they'd fit in your skinny jean pockets — is whether or not you can still use them in the traditional one-handed manner. iPhones have always been prized by typers and swipers on the go. Those with feet to pavement and other hands to the coffee cup. Yet with 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens, and casings to match, how well do the new iPhones hold up to that legacy?

The iPhone 6 holds up relatively well. Even with my tiny hands I can still walk, type, and drink effectively. I do have to alter my grip slightly, in the same way I had to alter it when I went from the iPhone 4s to iPhone 5, but it remains extremely doable. Part of that is the thinner, rounder body, which is larger than the iPhone 5 but lighter even than the iPhone 4s. So, it might take some getting used to, and you might have to give your brain a few days to wire in new habits, but you you be just fine.

The iPhone 6 Plus is a different matter entirely. Granted I have tiny hands, but unless you have really big, Simon Sage-sized giant hands, you probably won't find it easy to type one handed on the iPhone 6 Plus. It's not just the width of the keyboard, which makes it hard to reach letters on the opposite side, it's the larger size which is harder to balance. I'm afraid of dropping it when I'm trying to reach the other side!

Reachability mode, where the iPhone interface slides down the screen, can help a little on the iPhone 6 Plus. I don't really find I need to use it on the iPhone 6. I should also point out that I've only tested the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus with the built in QuickType keyboard so far. Results might be different with a custom keyboard. I look forward to testing several of those soon.

Even though I can't walk, type, and drink at the same time with the iPhone 6 Plus, I still prefer it. The gains in terms of large screen size, longer battery life, and the iPad-style landscape mode more than makes up for the lack of one-handed ease of use, for me.

If you want a tiny tablet, you'll likely find the same trade-off works for you, and you'll want the iPhone 6 Plus. If you really want a phone, one you can pound out messages on while you're pounding the pavement and pounding down your favorite espresso-based beverage, you'll want the iPhone 6.

If you've tried typing on the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus one-handed, let me know — how's it working for you?

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector and Isometric podcasts, follow her on Twitter @Georgia_Dow and check out her series at anxiety-videos.com.

68 Comments
  • I've bought the iPhone 6 today in Paris.
    I couldn't have done a better choice. I still need to get used to write on it and all with the bigger screen. But it fits perfectly in my small hands. An iPhone 6 Plus would have been a nightmare for my usage, which is mostly one-handed. I've tried also the silicon case around it (I'm not a big fan of cases, but that protruding camera made me go for it), and I'll return it, took it off after 5 mins because it adds too much size to use the screen correctly for me.
  • Steve Jobs is rolling over in his now as Cook deviates from his minimalism design approach. I passed up the larger screens and upgraded to a 5S instead. I didn't care for the gawdy large screens and rounded, slippery edge design. Moreover, users will lose some utility with rounded edges. For example, you can't stand it up on its sides to take pictures...hopefully, the next iPhone 7 will provide a smaller/mini screen (4 or less) option and return to a more angular design.
  • I think the small screen boat has sailed.
  • Disagree on the Steve Jobs point. Keep in mind that:
    A) Steve often said one thing and then did another. B) When he shipped the first iPhone the screen was huge for the time. C) Minimalism has nothing to do with screen size. It has to do with design that doesn't distract and doesn't have too much extra (hence the single home button). Sent from the iMore App
  • I was fully convinced I was going to buy the 6+, but i went into the AT&T store this weekend and spent some time fondling both versions. Now I think I want the 6. The plus is just too much, size-wise. Felt like I was holding a tablet and not a phone.
  • I had no idea "one handed" was traditional! I seldom use just one hand with my iPhone 5. I do some while calling and talking. But for most things, I use 2 hands. I used 2 hands when I had my iPhone 4. One handed use is just not an issue with me at any size phone. And I'm not alone!
  • I'm the same way. But the past couple of years I was with Android and preferred the larger screen size of the Note series. Had both the Note 2 and 3. So was pretty used to using a large phone. A swipeable keyboard does make it easier for one handed typing but I find it is not as accurate. Sent from the iMore App
  • You've used Note 2? How is one handed typing on the 6 Plus compared to Note 2?
  • Frankly, except for calls and a quick look at an email/text I have always used two hands all the way back to version 1 - just seemed like the right way to do things - I guess I'm not a very good multitasker.
  • I guess you never look at your phone while eating with a fork in one hand?
  • Or drink a cup of coffee. My morning routine involves phone in one hand responding to emails and texts and reading the news while my other hand holds a cup of coffee. Part of the time sitting. Part of the time walking. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yea. Enough with the "I have to use it one-handed" malarkey. You're still drinking the Steve Jobs orthodoxy kool-aid. Relax and enjoy a screen that doesn't make you squint already.
  • Honestly I have small hands for a guy (cue "aww" from audience) but still find the 6+ manageable with one hand. Although I type with both hands I find that the 6+ still usable especially with the scree sliding down gesture. So. Useful. Sent from the iMore App
  • How do you manage the screen sliding down gesture with one hand? When I tried it in the store I nearly dropped the phone. I would much have preferred the slide down mechanism to be slide down on the screen twice or something, once to get to search, twice for pulling the screen down (or something similar). Overall I loved the screen on the 6+, but still not sure which I am going to buy because of the holding it issue. It isn't that I have small hands, it is that I have short fingers in relation to palm. I should have practiced piano or something :(
  • Honestly, and I hate to admit this...the new iPhones need a case. I used the phone for maybe 5 minutes and felt with every keystroke that it was going to slip out of my hand. Drove to Apple and picked up one of their leather cases and haven't had that worry since. It's something about the grip. Try that (if you're still considering) in store and see if it makes a difference. Sent from the iMore App
  • Thanks, it will be a while for me as the 6+ is hella hard to find. I'm also considering a cheap case that I don't mind modifying.
  • I too have small man-hands and feel neither new iPhone will work for me with my one-handed use needs. I travel a lot to china and while there ride the subway daily. holding onto the grab-bars on the subway and using my iPhone 5s is common. And, while i don't text a lot on the subway, i do use apps that have tap targets at the top of the screen. So for me, i think i'm sticking with my 5s for now and waiting it out another year. Perhaps by then, either *reachability* will get better, apps get better or Apple updates the 4" form factor...it's all up in the air for me. Frankly, i really don't need a bigger phone. I'm perfectly happy with the 4" screen and with the new accessibility controls for text size in iOS 7 I have no problem reading text and all my apps work just fine. If i need a bigger screen, i'll use my iPad Air. and really, my use-case dictates that i don't need a bigger screen, nor do i care to have one. Unless i got it for free, i won't be upgrading anytime soon.
  • I compared the 6 to my 5s in a lifeproof case and found they were almost the exact same size, just different thicknesses. I think the 6 would be great for me if I didn't use a case, but yeah, no case is something I have never tried. What I hate is that apple went down the road of "bigger handset is more premium." Bigger screen is fine, but why better battery life, better camera, etc. It makes the 6 feel like it is the 6c and the 6+ is the 6, at least to me.
  • Had more room for larger battery. Males sense the plus had larger battery. Plus camera is negligible between the two to tell the difference
  • Another thing to consider though is they also went with a larger pixel density on the larger screen. I found that odd as well.
  • Michael Antkowiak:
    "I too have small man-hands.." Awwww
  • I understand Apples take on "Reachability" mode, but the point of having a big screen is to utilize all the space on it... doesn't this take away from the +'s selling point? With that being said, I may still buy the + over the 6 just because I wouldn't have to carry my iPad mini with me anymore and I could read my e-Magazines, e-Books, and watch movies or T.V. shows without having to squint at my 5s or carry my secondary device (iPad Mini) around all the time. I guess its time for all or atleast most iPhone users to get used to this "new" learning curve.
  • The reachability 'feature' just seems like an admission that ios is not built for larger screens. It's a make-do until they change the way ios is navigated. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • Sort of...I can, but it is a strain. The double-tap helps a bit, but the primary difficulty is in the width, as keys like P, L, and return are *just* close enough that you don't go two-handed but far enough that one-handed typing becomes a pain. Sent from the iMore App
  • They should allow us to reposition or resize the keyboard, like SwiftKey does on Android.
  • I find that if you balance the 6 Plus on your fingers, you can reach any part of the screen with your thumb. Typing one-handed is possible, but much slower.
  • Galley, how hard is it to double tap the home button to slide the screen down for you? For me it throws the balance off too much and makes me drop the phone (or nearly drop it).
  • Double-tapping is easy and does not affect the balance at all.
  • Cool, I will keep that in mind if I ever get a chance to buy the 6+, lol.
  • It seems like, from the video, that the 6+'s keyboard should be positioned higher on the screen so the phone could be held more securely and balanced better when being used in a one-handed mode.
  • I'm typing this one handed on the plus just as a test lol. It's doable. Not as easy but doable.
  • Why does it seem every one of your videos are rushed? Not rushed in the sense that you didn't plan it out, but rushed in that you're literally speed talking. Is it a goal to finish a video as fast as possible? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I guess it is to make the videos shorter, not to make them rushed. Some people want more information but don't want to watch a 10min video for Everything. I find it better when they know what to say and speed talk, frustrating with videos Where the person needs to think about Everything he says.
  • Yeah I get that, but what about for the people who want an in depth review? I can understand for small features, but when you're trying to get people to make a decision and use this type of method they leave more confused than ever. Idk I just think the should slow down and present it better not asking for 10 minute videos a solid 3 with all the pertinent details would also suffice.
  • Or they could do a 1 minute video and have a link to a 10 / 15 minute in-depth video...
  • luniboy26:
    "Why does it seem every one of your videos are rushed? Not rushed in the sense that you didn't plan it out, but rushed in that you're literally speed talking. Is it a goal to finish a video as fast as possible?" Stimulant abuse... It's quite sad, really..
    ;-)
  • While you guys are doing the comparisons, can you check the camera on the 6 vs 6+? I am wondering if the OIS makes that much of a difference.
  • I like the evolution toward phablet-sized phones, if for no other reason that it discourages texting and driving.
  • Stick it in a dock and you're good to go Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • It's not only about driving. If I'm taking a bus or tram, and I have to stand up - I can use my iPhone 5 with 1 hand while using the other one to hold onto the handrail. Therefore I like the ability to use the phone with 1 hand. Sometimes while walking I also prefer to use it one-handed.
  • The iPhone 6 is "as easy to use as previous iPhones"? Are you kidding me? It is a very nice phone but it's not as easy to use as the iPhone 5. That's the why yesterday I went and upgraded from the 5 to the 5s - the nicer (build quality, size, still not bad specs, revived by iOS8) mobile ever made! I'll pass on the iPhone 6 until the 6s (or whatever it's going to be called) is out...
  • Reachability helps a little, I have the 6 Plus which in truth isn't really very usable with one hand. I didn't expect it to be though. It's not only the height but also the width that affects ease of use. This isn't a complaint. Sent from the iMore App
  • Georgia, I concur. I was a one-handed user with all previous iPhones. With the 6+, I can do it but I'm afraid someone is going to bump me and I'll drop the phone.
    I tried the 6 this weekend and it felt great but I think I'd be wishing I'd stuck with the 6+. So for now, I'm sticking with the 6+. I have 10 days left to decide whether to keep it, or return it.
  • IamJAd, what did you decide?
  • I just went to the AT&T store near me to feel the difference between an iPhone 6 Plus and an iPhone 6. It was a bit difficult to tell for sure which I will prefer because of the security mechanism glued to the back, but I think I am going to go with the iPhone 6 Plus. No doubt that the iPhone 6 Plus is a two-handed phone. In fact I had to come up with a new grip to be able to hit the power button even with it on the side. The reasons I would try the iPhone 6 Plus: 1) Much better battery life 2) Landscape mode features (especially home screen) 3) That display is gorgeous 4) No longer have to envy my wife's iPad mini Retina for reading (I use an iPad 4 and it is just so much bigger -- but the iPhone 6 Plus would make a great reader while I could keep with the larger iPad for drawing, word processing, etc....) 5) Mounting the iPhone 6 Plus in the car is going to be awesome for navigation and music (no more squinting to see the text on the display and landscape mode home screen will be great for this too) 6) I'll never know if I could use such a large screen until I give it a try (and I do get a 14-day return window with AT&T).
  • The "6" is borderline too big for my taste (and I do have long fingers). Oddly, my biggest gripe is with the sleep/wake/on/off button which Apple moved to the side of the phone. It bugs me to no end, especially because I'm a lefty!...
    In conclusion: If Apple comes up with a modified "6" (the size of the "5" but as thin as the "6," and with a top sleep/wake/on/off button), I'd exchange my new "6" for it in a heartbeat.
  • Yes, being an upright bassist and 6'1 helps
  • You all are holding it wrong. ;-D Seriously, I had practice with the Note 3 and G3 so navigating the 6+ is almost second nature to me.
  • Can you elaborate? What have you learned that helped? I'm having issues one-handing this 6+
  • I've been using iPhone 6 Plus one-handed walking all over NYC since it arrived on Friday. I've only used it with Apple's leather case, which I think makes it feel more secure in my [right] hand. It is definitely not as natural feeling as my 5S was, but it's not super awkward. I have the most difficulty with stretching my thumb across the display to the lower left corner for shift and numbers, etc. Reachability, which I thought would take forever to get used to, was second nature to me within five minutes of using it.
  • I can use it one handed but not like I could my iPhone 5 and even Moto X.
  • Who cares! Sent from the iMore App
  • The 6 Plus is Great!! Sent from the iMore App
  • I have really big hands and long fingers. I love the size of the iPhone 6Plus. I have no issues using the hand one hand but, my muscle memory in my hand is changing. The iPhone 6 is a good size but as a photographer the size makes it great for a Mobile portfolio. I have photos iPhone6+ in my big hand on mi Instagram account @wrightWayPhoto. Sorry if any typos I'm trying to use the voice recognition on the phone
  • Apple ought to admit that the big iPhones are not for one handed usage. Sent from the iMore App
  • I find BALANCE to be the big problem using the iPhone 6 one handed. Reachability helps with getting to icons and dialog boxes, but my hand rests in the wrong place to use it one handed and feel secure. The 6+ would be a non-starter for me.
  • IPhone 6 Plus + SwiftKey = one handed winning. Enough said. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have a 6+ and can type on it one handed. However, I usually control it with both hands because I need to fix the constant "autocorrection" that puts in the wrong words...
  • The funny thing about reachability is that it makes more sense on the 6 than the 6 plus. On the 6 plus you're probably needing two hands anyway. On the 6 while I'm using it one handed 90% of the time... I need to pull that far too left corner down from time to time. Then it pops up and I'm still one handed. Sent from the iMore App
  • An iPhone 6+ and a Simon Sage-sized hand to go with it. That's the dream!
  • My wife has the 6 and I find it too big to hold securely in one hand. I wouldn't want to reach for the top row in a busy street, as the adjustment I have to make to my grip really loosens my hold of the phone. I'm sticking to the smaller form factor until there's no choice, and quietly hope that Apple will continue to sell lots of them and so consider a hardware refresh (how about an "iPhone 6 mini"?). Surely there is still a sizeable market who want the latest tech but not a bigger phone...
  • cmon man it is in no way to big to hold in one hand. My wife and I both have the 6 and she's 5' 4" 110 lb woman and she not only holds it in her petite hands but uses it one handed. For me and I am not a huge man I'm 5' 10" 185 lb its like any other regular sized phone out there. This phone brought me back to apple I had been away with android for so long , but with the new screen sizes and the continuity and handoff features with my mac I couldn't resist and couldn't be happier
  • I'm returning my 6 and getting a 5S. 6 is too big....or rather, too tall.
  • I currently have the 6 + and will probably give it to my wife and get a 6. I think it's just to big, and especially since I put a case on it. Sent from the iMore App
  • And your wife has bigger hands than you?
  • Don't worry people, I am sure Apple will keep the 5s or the 5c along side the 6's
  • I have huge Palm a basketball or become a pimp hands so one handed use no issues Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm using standard 6 since few days . Im small size woman. I'm used to one hand only usage and must say, I'm suffering. For typing I learned to hold the phone at the bottom. Somehow goes but I have pain from stretching my thumb. For quick swipe and switching between apps my thumb is about 1,5 cm to short to reach corners of the phone.
    I like the device but never had hand pain before ;)
    All advices welcome.