Pinky torture: Why the iPhone SE is a one-handed wonder, and the iPhone 6s is not

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2016
I can't really say I've ever been hyper aware of the pinky on my right hand. That is, until Apple decided to start making larger phones, and the smallest digit on the end of my hand began to suffer.


Propping up your iPhone 6s with your pinky is not recommended.


The iPhone 6s is a great phone for a lot of things. The curved edges feel fantastic. The display is gorgeous. It's fast and it shoots great photos. It's a wonderful two-handed phone.

But its luxuriously large 4.7-inch display comes at a cost: It's a terrible phone to use with one hand. Even Apple knows this, which is why it ships with a feature called "Reachability," allowing the top of the screen to be reached by tapping (but not pressing) your thumb against the home button twice.

My hands are decidedly average -- it's not like I have Donald Trump-like digits. And I have used Apple's larger flagship handsets -- the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s -- for about a year and a half, but I found Reachability to be more frustrating than useful. And so I disabled it.

Instead, I developed my own, carpal-tunnel-inducing method of using the 4.7-inch display: My pinky would naturally rest under the phone to help hold it in place.

My hand just isn't big enough to securely squeeze the iPhone 6s and also reach all four corners of it with my thumb. The only way I could possibly reach the upper left corner with my right hand and still securely hold the phone was to have my pinky act as the safety net, ensuring my iPhone remained securely in my grasp.

Though millions of years of human evolution have generally served me pretty well, my pinky was most definitely not designed to do this specific task.

I didn't notice it at first, but over time this habit took its toll on my right pinky. While I never really formed a full-fledged callus on my finger, the weight of the iPhone 6s and the friction of using it (especially with the sharp edges of the speaker grille and Lightning port) took their toll. Pinky fatigue became a real thing.


Though it has its shortcomings, the iPhone SE is much better for one-handed use.


It wasn't an easy decision, but last week I decided I'd had enough. The launch of the iPhone SE, and the ability to grip and use the phone one-handed -- without my pinky prop method -- proved to be too enticing.

To be clear, sacrifices were made. I had to go through a time consuming purge process to clear up enough space to downgrade from a 128-gigabyte iPhone 6s to an 64-gigabyte iPhone SE. And typing on the 4-inch iPhone SE is far more cramped than it is on the 4.7-inch display.

I'm a bleeding edge kind of guy who writes about technology for a living, and so I'll probably need to upgrade to a 4.7-inch "iPhone 7" come September, and once again live with a larger screen. But at least for the next few months, thanks to the iPhone SE, hopefully my poor pinky will have some time to heal.
dysamoriaantkm1bbdroidpscooter63timbitmacgui
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,588member
    I have a 5s and my pinkies function as 'phone shelves' even for this 'one handed' phone. I think they probably did back in the 4 days as well. I don't have particularly small hands but one handed use for me is an error strewn affair. Pretty much the only thing I do one handed with a high degree of success is answer calls. 
    moreck
  • Reply 2 of 56
    razormaidrazormaid Posts: 299member
    sog35 said:
    Your holding it wrong.
    Buy bigger hands.

    oh well. I don't mind using 2 hands. I mean what's the big deal with using two hands anyway?

    What the hell are people using their other hand for?
    Driving?
    Eating?
    Picking their nose?
    Carrying a baby?
    jacking?

    I don't get this obession with 1 handed use (my apologies to people with only 1 hand)

    The real question is can Apple make a 4.7 inch phone with bezel's small enough that 1 handed use it possible?
    Agreed. That is a bizarre way to hold it. Maybe he thinks it's going to slip out of his grip??  Hold is like a man and grip that puppy!  <LOL>.

    Actually I would think the pinky would been "more off the phone" for everyone except for people with "Burger King" hands (remember those ads? They were hysterical) because the 4" is so tiny and it hangs below with less real estate, but to each it's own. Still I did try to hold it the bizarre way he was for about 4 minutes. Sorry. My hands aren't big but I t's still just bizarre to hold it that way. 

    My only complaint with the 6 Plus and 6s Plus was the start button on the right instead of the top. Because now that I'm so used to it... I keep clicking there on ALL my devices only to turn up the volume instead. <Lol>. Who knew I'd grow to like that if all things?

    PS:  speaking of Burger King... Anyone try those new hot dogs yet??  Grill hot dogs!  They are soooooo Good!  Even with small hands
    edited April 2016 mwhiteanantksundaramrauls4
  • Reply 3 of 56
    razormaidrazormaid Posts: 299member
    paxman said:
    I have a 5s and my pinkies function as 'phone shelves' even for this 'one handed' phone. I think they probably did back in the 4 days as well. I don't have particularly small hands but one handed use for me is an error strewn affair. Pretty much the only thing I do one handed with a high degree of success is answer calls. 
    <LOL> "Pretty much the only thing I do one handed with a high degree of success is answer calls"

    yikes realky??  I can think of one other thing off hand that you could do one handed but maybe your pinkie is wrong on that too?  <LOL> 
    brakken
  • Reply 4 of 56
    rauls4rauls4 Posts: 1member
    Trump sized hand problems. 6S+ Works like a charm for me.
  • Reply 5 of 56
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,859member
    I might've purchased the SE if it had been out when I bought this iPhone 6s... So, yeah. 

    But don't expect this article to get much support from the gadget people. Ergonomics and usability research is dismissed by most of these people as elitist BS.
    moreck
  • Reply 6 of 56
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,262member
    I fully agree with Neil here. I used a 6 and holding it was never comfortable. I developed a similar holding position as shown on the photo but it never felt held firmly so there was always the concern of a sudden slip and dropping it. 

    I agree that that typing is much better on the bigger screen, as is the screen itself. I really miss the estate. 

    But OTOH the ability to comfortably use it with one hand is outweighing the cons for me. 

    What at might change his is if Apple would consider some changes to hardware and software. 

    First, make the 4.7 less slippery to hold. When I saw the battery pack by Apple I thought the bump on the back would give the pinky a much more comfortable resting place for holding it. The material of the phone (6 here, I hear the 6s is improved) feels slippery. 

    On the software side of things what about centering the OS around the bottom right instead of the top left? That would ease things significantly without drawbacks for bigger handed users. 
    Reachability is a joke. 

    I agree reed that for longer typing such as this post I always use both hands since it is much more comfortable. However, for shorter messages and some basic interaction such as checking/deleting emails, weather app, selecting music and surfing I prefer much more the one handed use. What I do with my other hand? Right now quite often holding my three months old daughter. Carrying a bag when walking outside, working out in a gym, eg. While she of this can also be done usin Siri, I simply prefer using my hands. 



    AirunJae
  • Reply 7 of 56
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,930member
    The only reason you need to use one hand is to enter texts while you drive!
    fotoformatbrakken
  • Reply 8 of 56
    Sam123Sam123 Posts: 9member
    Dumb article. The guy has a callus and thumb fatigue, so he makes the switch back to the 4-inch model. But just until the iPhone 7 is released later this year.
    Which I assume his fingers will be abused again. Apple most love people like this that switch to 3 different phones in one years time. 
  • Reply 9 of 56
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member
    I have the same grip as Neil even on the 5s and before. That pinky grip is useful when thumb typing texts. If you grip it as he showed with the SE, it's fairly difficult to thumb type because the keyboard is so much lower than the sweep of your thumb. I'm getting an SE but I know it's still not as ideal as the 3.5" screen iPhones.

    single handed use is for a much more casual use case, but is also useful in many situations. Think about public transit. If you have to stand on the train or bus you will need to grip something with one of your hands. Maybe you have a bag from shopping in one hand?  There are any situations where ergonomic single handed use is a necessity.
    wetlanderpotatoleeksoup
  • Reply 10 of 56
    rufworkrufwork Posts: 128member
    Pinky fatigue became a real thing.

    I haven't seen a better archetypal example of "First World Problems" since I complained about early iPod touches' volume buttons' inaccessibility for left-handed users.
    edited April 2016 radarthekatapple headargonautbrakken
  • Reply 11 of 56
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,336member

    This article was expected from Neil, he never hid the fact he likes the size of the phone which Apple always said was the right size phone for one handed use.

    The thing I find interesting is phone size has become a religious of political conversation. Those in one came or the other are bigots or racist if they can not understand why anyone would like one or the other. I feel bad for the fence sitters on this subject. 


    edited April 2016
  • Reply 12 of 56
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    This is just the latest in a string of bloggers that have been unable to resist the Apple-released-something-new-I-must-have-it-even-though-I-dont-really-need-or-even-want-it.

    A made up excuse to try the SE for a few months. 

    I just picked up one of the 4" iPhones on my desk and realized that I hold that with one with the "pinky shelf" too. It is not just the larger phones.

    You really can't do much with any iPhone one-handed.
  • Reply 13 of 56
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 547member
    fallenjt said:
    The only reason you need to use one hand is to enter texts while you drive!
    I was thinking the same. I feel the only reason you can't use two hands is because your other hand is occupied. This is the easiest way to have a drop happen. Trying to type or pick a song or whatever when your other hand is unavailable. 
  • Reply 14 of 56
    bbdroidbbdroid Posts: 11member
    As a fellow pinky rester, I agree that the size of the 6S and 6S Plus is just too big.  Weight is also an issue, since the heavier 6S Plus really puts the pinky finger under stress.  But as far as I'm concerned, that's the only logical way to use any iPhone one-handed.

    If the iPhone SE had feature parity with its larger cousins and had been released at the same time, then it would have been a launch day purchase for me without question.  But going back from a 6S Plus now just seems like a downgrade.

    I think Sony got it right with its recent Xperia Z5 series, announcing Compact, Standard and Premium models with the same key specs at the same time.  Choice is a wonderful thing.  I was almost tempted to jump ship.
    apple head
  • Reply 15 of 56
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor
    sog35 said:
    Could someone please educate me:

    Why the HELL would you uses 1 hand to use an iPhone?  (my apologies to people with only one hand)
    Standing for an hour on a crowded train or bus, for one.
    apple headargonautsingularitymacgui
  • Reply 16 of 56
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,720moderator
    We're there reviews of the Samsung and other larger Android phones complaining about pinky fatigue and callouses back in the days before Apple released a larger iPhone?  Or is this just yet more of the criticize-everything-Apple mantra that runs deep in our disfunctional and overly sensitive society?
    apple head
  • Reply 17 of 56
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,907member
    I have had an iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.  I've never had a problem with any of them.  The 6s is perfect for one hand use, and I don't have huge hands.  They are not small per se, but not massive either.  The 6s+ is another matter...
  • Reply 18 of 56
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor

    jcs2305 said:
    fallenjt said:
    The only reason you need to use one hand is to enter texts while you drive!
    I was thinking the same. I feel the only reason you can't use two hands is because your other hand is occupied. This is the easiest way to have a drop happen. Trying to type or pick a song or whatever when your other hand is unavailable. 
    Seems to me that selecting music on your iPhone is one of the simplest things you can do with one hand.
  • Reply 19 of 56
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor

    pmz said:
    This is just the latest in a string of bloggers that have been unable to resist the Apple-released-something-new-I-must-have-it-even-though-I-dont-really-need-or-even-want-it.

    A made up excuse to try the SE for a few months. 

    I just picked up one of the 4" iPhones on my desk and realized that I hold that with one with the "pinky shelf" too. It is not just the larger phones.

    You really can't do much with any iPhone one-handed.
    Made up excuse? Give me a little more credit than that, please.

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/09/27/adapting-to-change-a-review-of-apples-4-inch-iphone-5s-vs-the-larger-47-inch-iphone-6
  • Reply 20 of 56
    irelandireland Posts: 17,473member
    One-handed use is not a reason I prefer the 4" form factor.
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