How I outfitted my iPhone 6 Plus – multi-item review

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I had given a lot of thought about how I wanted to protect and carry my iPhone 6 Plus before I even received it.  I knew I wanted a case for it, but I didn’t want it to cover up the beautiful gold color that I had been pining for since I saw it on the iPhone 5s that I didn’t get.  I had ordered a Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case with Air Cushion Bumper for the iPhone 6 Plus in all clear and had it waiting for the iPhone to arrive.  I also wanted a pouch to carry it around in all the time, since my clothes almost never have pockets, and I wanted to be able to throw that pouch into my bigger bag when I left the house.  I found a Baggallini Bryant Pouch at Amazon that seemed perfect for my needs.  I also had that in the house waiting for the iPhone 6 Plus to be delivered.  I was afraid that I’d find the iPhone 6 Plus was too big to hold up to my ear for phone calls, so I thought about how I’d handle them.  I don’t like wearing Bluetooth headsets because they hurt my ears after a short while.  I remembered an old wired Native Union Solo Traveller Handset that I’ve had for a while, so I thought I’d try that for long phone calls.  I haven’t needed the handset often, because I don’t find that the iPhone 6 Plus is hard to hold to my ear at all.  Then I needed a way to keep it charged up while out and about, so I turned to a Lumsing Harmonica Style 10400mAh Rechargeable Portable External Battery Pack that I reviewed this year.

Since these are all simple products, I thought I’d combine some quick little reviews into a single post so you could see how everything works together with my iPhone 6 Plus.

By the way, I combined two images to make the lead image. It’s misleading, because the bag looks enormous next to the phone.  Later pictures will show the size comparison at the actual scale.

Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case with Air Cushion Bumper for iPhone 6 Plus

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As I had mentioned, I wanted a clear case to protect my phone without covering up the color or without making the phone too thick and heavy.  I settled on the Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case with Air Cushion Bumper for the iPhone 6 Plus.  It has a TPU bumper with Air Cushion Technology corners for secure drop protection; thankfully, I haven’t tested out the protectiveness of those air cushions!   The back panel is a hard, crystal-clear plastic panel .  The case is available with colored bumpers, but I ordered the clear bumper.  This case is about $12.00 at Amazon.  (This photo is from Amazon, so you could more easily see the bumper.)

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Here’s my iPhone 6 Plus in my Spigen Ultra Hybrid Case with Air Cushion Bumper.  The case wraps around over the front to keep the case securely in place.  Because the bumper is made of flexible TPU, it’s very easy to get this case on the phone.  The wrap-around keeps the screen off the table if you should lay the phone facedown.  The bumper doesn’t interfere with using the fingerprint reader on the Home button, nor does it interfere with using the screen or the FaceTime camera.  It adds minimal weight to the phone.  It does add a bit to the thickness and width of the phone, but it greatly improves my grip on the slippery iPhone 6 Plus.  After using it for the first couple of hours, I’m not sure I can even notice the extra bulk and weight at all now.

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The back has a cutout for the camera, flash, and the back microphone.  The case hasn’t interfered with taking pictures or using the flash at all.  Although you can’t see them in my pictures, there are thick triangles of clear rubber at the center of each corner of the iPhone 6 Plus.  These are apparently the “Air Cushions”.  The bumper itself is thick and firm enough around the entire periphery of the case to add some extra cushioning to protect the iPhone 6 Plus from bumps and drops.

The back cover is glossy, and reflections of the flash on my camera make the back of my iPhone look washed out in this picture.

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When the flash is in flashlight mode, the edges of the Spigen case glow.  If you have your phone set to blink the camera flash to signal an incoming call, this should give your phone an interesting effect.

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The case has a cutout for the mute slider, but it has built-in button covers for the volume buttons.  The button covers are “engraved” with the + and – indicators, but the buttons themselves are flush with the rest of the side of the case.  I eventually got used to finding the buttons by feeling for these symbols, but sometimes I still have to look to find the buttons.  Although they are completely flush, they work easily to change the volume.  Text at the bottom of this side of the case has the identifier “Air Cushion Technology”.

The other side of the case has a built-in button cover for the phone’s power button.  Again, this button is flush with the edge of the bumper, but it is “engraved” with PWR.  I quickly learned to find this button by feeling for the engraving, and it operates as easily as the volume buttons do.  You can see the SIM card drawer under the bumper; you’ll have to take the case off to access the SIM card.  The text at the bottom of this side of the case has the Spigen name.

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The bottom edge of the case has cutouts for the Lightning connector, the speaker grid, the headphone jack, and the bottom microphone.  I can use the Lightning cable that came with my phone with no problems while the phone is in this case.  The sound isn’t degraded by the case, and I can use the headphone jack with my earbuds and my Native Union headset.

There are no buttons, openings, nor branding on the top of the case.

Baggallini Bryant Wallet with Strap

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The phone pouches I already had just fit my iPhone 5 in a mophie battery case, so they were far too small for an iPhone 6 Plus.  When I was looking for a phone pouch, there weren’t a lot of things on the market that said they were made for the iPhone 6 Plus.  The few that were available were too “young girly” for my taste, and I didn’t want to have to wait nearly a month for them to ship from Asia, either.  While poring over the offerings at Amazon, I found a cross-body pouch from Baggallini that looked like it would work, based on the external measurements, anyway.  I placed my order and soon had the Baggallini Bryant Wallet with Strap in hand.  It’s available in several colors, but I ordered the Navy with Leaf Green  interior combination.  It was $27.10 when I ordered it, but it’s $27.95 now.

Neither Amazon nor Baggallini say what material is used in this bag, but it feels like a polyester or perhaps nylon fabric.  It’s heavy enough to maintain its shape.  The bag feels sturdy, but not too heavy.

It measures about 6.88″ long X 5″ wide X 0.75″ thick.  It weighs 3.75 ounces on my digital kitchen scale.

The front of the bag has a pocket with elastic in the opening.  There’s a brushed pewter-colored Baggallini badge on this pocket.  The rest of the hardware is this same pewter color.  The small D-ring on the left is the anchor point for an included wrist strap.  I took that strap off, because I will be wearing the bag cross-body for “hands-free” carrying.

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The back of the bag has two more D-rings for attaching the shoulder strap.  There’s also an open pocket on the back.  I’ve folded up the long strap and stowed it in the open pocket, which is how I carry this pouch when I stick it in my bigger bag.

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The strap is made of the same material as the bag itself.  It’s 0.5″ wide and can be adjusted from 31.5″ to 58″ long, including the metal clips.  The strap is comfortable and doesn’t scratch my neck.

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The interior is Leaf Green, as you see here.  If you click to enlarge this image, you’ll see holes where stitching was on the top side of the case.  There were several credit card pockets sewn in there.  Every time I tried to slide my phone in the pouch, the edge would catch on one of these pockets.  Since I had no intentions of using this pouch as my wallet, I carefully snipped the stitches and removed these pockets.  It’s much easier to get my phone in now.

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You can see that there’s plenty of width, but the length of the case is just enough to fit the iPhone 6 Plus in its Spigen case inside and still be able to zip it closed.  As the saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so the Bryant case is perfect for my phone in the Bryant case.  It would also work for a naked iPhone 6 Plus, but I’m not sure it would work with all other cases on the market.

Wired Native Union Solo Traveller Handset

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I mentioned I already had a Native Union Solo Traveller Handset that I could use for long calls if I get tired of holding the giant iPhone 6 Plus up to my ear.  When I ordered this from Amazon in 2012, they were $40.  They’re only about $15 now.  Amazon has several colors available, but only 6-7 of each color.  I have a feeling these are being phased out, so you’d better order quickly if you want one.

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The cloth-covered cable plugs into the headphone jack easily, even when the phone is wearing the Spigen case.  I’ve tried other, similar wired handsets, but they always silenced the phone’s external speaker when they were plugged in.  Sending all sounds through the handset is fine while actively talking on a call, but you can’t really hear the phone ringing when the handset isn’t held up to your ear.  The Native Union is the exception to this rule.  Incoming calls ring through on the phone’s external speaker, just as if nothing were plugged in to the headphone jack.  Press the red button on the handset to answer the call, and press it again to end the call.  The handset sounds great when making calls, and its slim design certainly makes it easier to hold for a long time than the iPhone 6 Plus may be.

The handset comes with a neoprene case, but the case is so small and so form-fitting that it’s impossible to get on the handset.  It’s got the same slightly hourglass shape as the handset itself, and it’s impossible to fit the big ends through the small section of the case.  I tossed the case ages ago.

Lumsing Harmonica Style 10400mAh Rechargeable Portable External Battery Pack

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The only other thing I need for my iPhone 6 Plus is a backup battery.  I don’t want to add a battery case to the svelte phone, so I’m using the Lumsing Harmonica Style 10400mAh Rechargeable Portable External Battery Pack that I reviewed a few months ago.  You can read my review for more details about how it works.  The Lumsing Harmonica 10400mAh charger is available at Amazon for $23.49 in black, white, or gold.

Conclusions

The Lumsing charger was a review unit, but I purchased all the other gear myself at Amazon.  I think every accessory I purchased is perfect for my needs, and everything was very reasonably priced.  The Spigen case is my ideal case – protective and light, but still allows me to see the beautiful gold back of my iPhone 6 Plus.  The Baggallini Wallet works perfectly to hold my phone.  I could put a couple of things in the exterior pockets, but I like to keep the back one open for holding the long strap when I’m not wearing the bag.  I could have used this pouch as a “go to lunch” bag if I hadn’t cut out the credit card slots, but I only want to use the bag for my phone – as a wearable pocket, as it were.  Because my iPhone 6 Plus isn’t as uncomfortable to hold to my ear for phone calls as I feared, I’m not sure how often I’ll actually use the Native Union handset.  When I do use it, I know it’s a lot more comfortable than any Bluetooth headsets I’ve used.  And the Lumsing backup battery fits in the bottom of my purse until I need it to charge up my phone while I’m away from home.  The only drawback to a separate charger instead of a battery case is that I’ll have to remember to keep my Lumsing charged instead of being able to charge the phone and the wearable battery case simultaneously.

At current Amazon prices, you could outfit your iPhone 6 Plus with all these items for under $80.  Just the case and the “wearable pocket” are about $40.  Reasonable prices for your ideal gear, don’t you think?

 

Product Information

Price:Prices in review
Manufacturer:Shown in review
Retailer:Amazon
Pros:
  • I've found the perfect case and pouch for my iPhone 6 Plus
  • I've found a very good handset for making long phone calls and a good external battery pack
Cons:
  • Need to remember to keep my backup battery charged
Posted in: Bags, Cases and Covers, iOS, Reviews
{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Julie Strietelmeier October 26, 2014, 10:00 am

    Great roundup post! The idea for the larger handset is a great idea when you have a phablet. I wonder if there are wireless (Bluetooth) versions too?

  • Janet Cloninger October 26, 2014, 11:22 am

    @Julie Thanks! Yes, Amazon has a ton of Bluetooth retro handsets. A lot of them are shaped like those clunky handsets I remember from my childhood. Those would give you even more freedom to move around, but the thin one I have will even slide in to the front pocket of my Baggallini pouch! When I do that, it looks like a tiny version of that military bag phone Radar used to bring out for Col. Blake to call headquarters to complain about something on MASH! 😉

  • Chris October 26, 2014, 12:20 pm

    I think more reviews should have M*A*S*H references.

  • Jon October 26, 2014, 6:11 pm

    Great write-up, Julie! After a lot of research & video reviews I also decided upon the Spigen Ultra Hybrid for my 6+ (Metal Slate in colour – more of a dark, dark blue). It was interesting to note the edges of the clear version light up when in torch mode! I wonder if this was intended, and haven’t heard this mentioned anywhere before in my readings.

    I have been tempted with a few other external battery units (like the Romoss, Xiaomi) and good to see another one in the mix. But with the capacity that the 6+ has I don’t think battery life in everyday situations will be a problem for me anytime soon. 🙂

  • Janet Cloninger October 26, 2014, 7:18 pm

    @Jon Thanks, but actually I’m the writer of this article. I didn’t see anything about the glowing edges of the clear case in any of the product information I read while I was deciding what to buy. One of our readers, John Kes, mentioned it in a comment in my “How will you be outfitting your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus?” article that was posted a couple weeks ago. I don’t know if it was an intentional feature, but I have seen other cases that light up in a similar manner when the flash is set to blink up to announce an incoming call.

  • Jon October 26, 2014, 7:21 pm

    Thanks Janet – sorry about the name mix-up. Yes it occurred to me it wouldn’t have been Julie writing this since she wasn’t persuaded to switch to the iPhone 6 🙂

  • Janet Cloninger October 26, 2014, 7:23 pm

    @Jon No problem. I just didn’t want you wondering why I was jumping in to the conversation! 🙂

  • Fred October 28, 2014, 7:21 am

    @Julie and Janet
    How about this bluetooth handset?
    http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f2c9/

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 28, 2014, 7:28 am

      @Fred funny… actually it would work out great for me since my hands are usually freezing here at the office during the winter months. 🙂

  • Janet Cloninger October 28, 2014, 9:03 am

    @Fred Well, winter is coming! 😉

  • John Kes October 28, 2014, 2:19 pm

    The glowing sides feature of the clear case was mentioned by a reviewer who purchased one from Amazon.

  • Janet Cloninger October 28, 2014, 2:21 pm

    No matter who first noticed it, I think the glowing is a pretty cool feature! 🙂

  • parth December 8, 2014, 3:06 pm

    Are there any cases which will hold the phone and the bluetooth headset together, as it is a pain to carry them separately, I am afraid I will lose it or the bluetooth headset will get damaged fumbling in my pockets..

  • Janet Cloninger December 8, 2014, 3:12 pm

    If you mean a case on the phone itself that will hold the Bluetooth headset, I don’t know of one. There’s enough room in the front pocket on the Baggallini pouch (in this review) to carry the headset. There’s even enough room in the zipper pocket with the phone that some small headsets might fit in, too.

  • John Kes December 8, 2014, 7:52 pm

    I once had a Sony Bluetooth headset that had a loop for a lanyard. I think it was for hanging around the neck.

    I see your point – I have damaged several Bluetooth headsets by stuffing them into my pocket with other stuff.

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