I love — LOVE — the 4-inch iPhone. Though the larger 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone devices are great for most, there are some of us that still prefer a phone that can fit easily in a back pocket and can be used with one small hand effortlessly.
When the iPhone 7 Plus was unveiled, however, I was so enamored with its faster speed, amazing camera, and that Home button that's not actually a button, that I had to have one, even though it meant switching to a larger-size phone.
Three months later, and I've formed a solid opinion about whether I think 4-inch iPhone fans would be happy with or regret the decision to switch to the iPhone 7 Plus.
Why the iPhone 7 Plus rocks
First off, a larger phone would have to be pretty special to convince me to switch, and the iPhone 7 Plus is just that. What pushed me over the edge? The camera.
The iPhone 7 Plus has not one, but two camera lenses. They are both 12 megapixels. One is a wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/1.8 and the other is a telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.8. Because of these two lenses, the iPhone 7 Plus has a 2X optical zoom. Not that fake digital zoom that leaves your pictures grainy.
Additionally, the iPhone 7 Plus has a bonus Portrait Mode in the Camera app that creates a faux depth effect that is pretty spectacular. Portrait mode, while not fully DSLR-grade, is about as close as you can get with a mobile phone.
There are a lot of other amazing things about the iPhone 7 Plus, like wide color gamut (DCI P3), better speakers (in stereo!), the the A10 fusion chip. But, honestly, If it weren't for the camera, I probably wouldn't have made the switch from the iPhone SE.
What daily usage on the iPhone 7 Plus is like.
In short: it hurts.
That's right. It actually hurts me to use the iPhone 7 Plus for extended periods of time. If I'm using the device in landscape mode with both hands, I'm fine. But, who uses their iPhone in landscape mode all of the time?
If I'm checking emails or chatting with my coworkers in Slack, my hand starts to cramp up and my wrist gets sore. I find myself setting my iPhone down on a table or my lap, just so I can continue working while giving my hand a rest.
If I'm playing a video game, I'll hold the phone in my left hand with my ring finger resting at the bottom of the phone for support. I've developed a sort of tough spot on that finger (not a callus). If I play a game for more than about 10 minutes at a time, that spot on my finger starts to feel irritated because it is rubbing against the rough edges of the Lightning port. Incidentally, I also have the same problem with my pinky finger on my right hand.
I know this sounds nit-picky and overly dramatic, but these are actual in-the-field experiences I'm having with the larger, heavier iPhone. It isn't the worst thing that's happened to me, but it is real (#firstworldproblems, I know).
Should I stay or should I go?
The iPhone 7 Plus has so many amazing features that the iPhone SE doesn't have. I love 3D Touch. I love the buttonless Home button. I love how fast it runs. I love the Taptic feedback. I love the bright colors and huge screen when I'm playing games or watching YouTube videos. I love the clarity and sound boost of the stereo speakers. I love that I can see everything on the screen without squinting. I absolutely love the camera. I really, really love that camera.
I don't love that it doesn't fit in my fanny pack very well (yes, I wear a fanny pack, but it's super badass and makes me look tough, I swear). I don't love that I tend to keep it out of said fanny pack because it is easier than trying to stuff it in and yank it out all of the time. I'm always worried that I'm going to leave it on a table somewhere. I don't love that I can't sit down with it in my back pocket or it might fall out. I don't love that I can't play Pokémon Go one-handed with it. I don't love that I get physically fatigued when I use it for lengthy periods of time.
After having spent a full three months with the iPhone 7 Plus, I've come to the conclusion that size does matter when it comes to mobile phones. I need something that is light, small, and easy to use with one hand. The iPhone 7 Plus is none of those things for me.
That is why I'm switching back to the iPhone SE. By the time you read this, I'll have already switched.
"But what about the larger screen, brighter colors and the faster speed?"
I have the 9.7-inch iPad Pro for that. In my opinion, the iPhone 7 Plus is about as portable as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro; in other words, not very.
"What about that camera you love so much?"
You got me there. I'm having to give up that oh-so-awesome 2X zoom 12MP camera with faux depth effect in exchange for a phone that fits in my pocket. It was a very tough decision. I'm not going to say it won't hurt a little.
Should you go or should you stay?
If you love the 4-inch iPhone, but have been tossing around the idea of switching to the iPhone 7 Plus because of the awesome camera and super cool hardware feature, consider this: Why are you still using the 4-inch iPhone?
If the answer is that you have small hands and are afraid that the iPhone 7 Plus is too much to handle, literally, then you might want to stick with the 4-inch form factor, or at the very most, upgrade to the 4.7-inch iPhone instead. I can say from experience that the iPhone 7 Plus is difficult to use for long periods of time and I find myself not wanting to pick it up as often.
If the answer is convenience (the 4-inch iPhone just fits better in my pocket), then you should think about an upgrade. As annoying as it was to squeeze the iPhone 7 Plus into my tiny fanny pack or even hold it because I didn't have a pocket to fit it into, I could have gotten used to the size. I would probably have eventually purchased a larger fanny pack, or move onto some other bag, to keep the iPhone 7 Plus in. Though it is less portable than a 4-inch phone, it certainly shouldn't be the only reason you don't upgrade.
If the answer is cost, then you might want to look into the iPhone 6s Plus. It has a ton of awesome hardware features that the 4-inch iPhone doesn't, like 3D Touch, a 5MP front-facing camera, and more. It costs $120 less than the iPhone 7 Plus model and you're getting a whole lot for a whole lot less.
TL;DR Wrap it up!
Even with the most amazing camera I've ever seen on a mobile device, the beautiful screen, the buttonless Home button, and the super fast speed, in the end, I've decided to go back to the 4-inch iPhone SE because the 5.5-inch phone actually hurts me to use it. That, coupled with the fact that it is too big to fit in my bag or back pocket, is enough to make me decide that portability is more important than a kickass camera.
My experience is not going to be the same as yours. If you've been thinking about switching to a larger iPhone, consider why you've stuck with the 4-inch iPhone this long. You may find that you love the 5.5-inch screen and it's worth a little inconvenience to have such an amazing piece of hardware.
Like that camera. Oh, that camera.
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