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OT: These printable models of the iPhone 6/6 Plus might help you decide which size to get! (Updated)

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 PlusUpdate: It has been pointed out to me that Ars Technica beat me to the punch with their own printable iPhone 6 mockups. Story of my life, right there. 😛 Still, I can claim some superiority with the fact that, unlike theirs, my models are actually in 3 dimensions! So there!

People who’ve visited this blog/podcast before are probably doing a double-take right about now, and wondering if they managed to wander onto some other website by accident. Either that or they’re facepalming and wondering how on earth this has anything to do with the normal topic of this website. It’s true, I feely admit it. I could try and come up with some far-fetched means of justifying this as something worth talking about here (after all, we have talked about iOS apps and devices before.) But I’m not going to. Because, you see, this really is the only place I have to post stuff that I want to draw attention to. This is my bully pulpit. I do have my own blog but it’s pretty badly neglected (it’s been on my “I’ll get to it one of these days” lists for ages now,) doesn’t get nearly the same level of traffic that this site does, and (perhaps more to the point) doesn’t have the web ads and analytics infrastructure in place. Yes, I freely admit that I am a click whore, I won’t deny it. But, unlike, ahem, certain linkbaity news sites out there (edit: I certainly do not mean you, Ars!,) I intend to back up my linkbaitiness with some actual useful content (at least I hope so!) And, hey, who knows, maybe one or two of you will decide to pay us a visit again sometime. So if this ends up getting me a few new listeners… well, so much the better. (Welcome, by the way. Make yourselves comfortable, I think you’ll like it here.)

Anyway, enough jibba-jabba, on to the actual subject of this blog post!

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or traveling in another dimension or something, you are no doubt aware that a certain fruit-flavored company held a little event yesterday in which they announced a few new products, including the inevitable iPhone 6. And, true to the rumors, they have made two different sizes available; the iPhone 6, which has a 4.7-inch screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a positively gargantuan 5.5-inch screen. (They also unveiled some sort of wearable thingie…)

As it happens, not only am I due for a carrier-subsidized upgrade (I didn’t get the 5S, even though I was seriously tempted) but my poor iPhone 5 is also on its last legs. So this announcement couldn’t have come at a better time. The problem though is, which one should I get?

The iPhone with its 3.5-inch screen has been the smallest of the smartphones for quite some time now. Still, that has never really bothered me. The smaller size makes one-handed operation simple, which is very important to me. But as apps grow more complex, their user interfaces tend to grow as well, and this UI growth has really started to push the limits of the 3.5-inch screen size. When Apple moved to the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5, that helped significantly, without compromising the one-handed ease of use. (If I needed to tap something single-handedly at either extreme end of the phone, I would perform a maneuver I’ve dubbed “the iPhone shimmy,” where I sort of wiggle the iPhone in my hand which lets it slide up or down in my hand until my thumb can reach the desired area of the screen.) But, once again, the ever-increasing complexity of apps has really started to push the limits of the 4-inch screen too.

Meanwhile, my Android-toting friends have been mocking me, and shoving their 4.5-, 5- and even 6-inch behemoths in my face. So I mocked them in return. The “phablet” form factor never really appealed to me. Sure, the screen is big, but you would need the hands of an NBA all-star player to hold it, and putting something the size of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey against your face when making a call just seemed… wrong. And forget about one-handed use! But then I hear people swear up and down, saying stuff like “no, it’s not really that big,” “you quickly get used to the bigger size,” etc. I’ve been thinking all night about how to solve this (admittedly first-world) problem when the answer (or at least a tool that might help me arrive at an answer) hit me: why not create mockups of the two new iPhones? Then I could play with them and experience how actually using them might feel. So, armed with this idea and a copy of Adobe Illustrator, I set to work. And this is the result.

First, the disclaimers. I really, really suck at Adobe Illustrator. Frankly I’m amazed that I was able to produce something even remotely iPhone-like. The only thing I can guarantee is that the dimensions of these mockups are the same as the specs that Apple has published, which, for the iPhone 6, are 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches (138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm), and for the iPhone 6 Plus, 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches (158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm). Also, the actual iPhones will be much rounder than these mockups; both the edges as well as the front and back surfaces are subtly curved, and I couldn’t really duplicate this in my mockups. So these models will look and feel decidedly brick-like. Finally, the size of the screen, the app icons depicted on it (which are also decidedly box-like) and the size of the physical controls (home button and earpiece) are best-guess approximations. We only know the diagonal measurement (4.7 and 5.5 inches), and I suppose there is probably some sort of magical equation that would let me calculate a length and width based on that, but I haven’t the foggiest of how to do that. However, in spite of these caveats, I still believe these mockups will give you a reasonably close idea of what holding and using the actual device would feel like. (Oh yeah, one final caveat: since you’ll be walking around with what is essentially a slab of cardboard, and pretending to tap on it, talk into it, etc., people might think you are a little bit strange…)

To use these, simply print these out (preferably onto a heavy paper or card stock), cut along the outermost lines, and fold along all the other lines. Tape or glue shut. For added realism, find yourself a postal scale and, before sealing them up, fill them with small objects (paperclips, coins, what have you) to approximate the actual weight of the devices: in the case of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, that would be 4.55 ounces (129g) and for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, 6.07 ounces (172g).

Go download them now!. They’re available as both Illustrator (.ai) and PDF files.

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