Which size Apple device is right for you?

With so many different sized iPhones and iPads, how do you pick the device for you needs and hand size? We have a handy guide to help you.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech | Health | Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
3 min read

From left to right, the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 2 and iPad Air. Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple now has the widest range of sizes for its iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet lines that it's ever had, and with so many sizes, there comes the inevitable crisis of picking the right device for you. Can your hands handle the iPhone 6 Plus? Which tablet is better for gaming? These are the important questions you really need to ask yourself.

Today, Apple's mobile devices range from nearly five to almost 10 inches tall, giving you plenty of choices when you're picking out a phone or tablet. In this guide, I'll break down which size is best for different scenarios, comparing the iPhone 5S , iPhone 6 , iPhone 6 Plus , iPad Mini 3 and iPad Air 2 .

Of course, everyone has different hand dimensions, and one person's too-big screen is someone else's perfect fit, so it's worth playing around with these devices in person if you can.

iPhone 5siPhone 6iPhone 6 PlusiPad Mini 3iPad Air 2
Height 4.87 inches (123.8 mm)5.44 inches (138.1 mm)6.22 inches (158.1 mm)7.87 inches (200 mm)9.4 inches (240 mm)
Width 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)2.64 inches (67.0 mm)3.06 inches (77.8 mm)5.3 inches (134.7 mm)6.6 inches (169.5 mm)
Depth 0.30 inch (7.6 mm)0.27 inch (6.9 mm)0.28 inch (7.1 mm)0.29 inch (7.5 mm)0.24 inch (6.1 mm)
Weight 3.95 ounces (112 grams)4.55 ounces (129 grams)6.07 ounces (172 grams)11.68 ounces (331 grams)*15.36 ounces (437 grams)*
Screen size (diagonal) 4 inches4.7 inches5.5 inches7.9 inches9.7 inches
*Wi-Fi-only model.

Fit it into your life

iPhones have been long been lauded for their compact frames, small enough to fit comfortably in your hands. Apple changed that with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, stretching the screens to literally new lengths. Those bigger screens give you more space for apps, photos and everything else. However, the downside of a phablet-sized phone is that it's harder to fit into a pants pocket.

The bigger sizes can also be problematic if you have small hands and your fingers can only reach so far, because it makes it harder, if not impossible, to use the phone with one hand. If you're still pining for the 4-inch screen, you're going to have to stick with the iPhone 5S. The phone will likely disappear from Apple's shelves next year when the company releases a new iPhone, but for now, you can still grab one.

With iPads, smaller can be better if you plan to carry the tablet around. At 7.8 inches tall, the

will be much easier to slip into a purse or small bag than the 9-inch iPad Air 2. However, if you'd rather leave your iPad at home, go for the bigger size -- you'll appreciate the extra space for using apps, reading and watching videos.

Videos and gaming

When it comes to watching videos and playing games, a bigger screen is usually better. That's because it's easier to see the full scene of a video and you get more space while playing a game, both factors that can greatly impact your experience. For those reasons, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2 are the best choices, as both offer the most screen real estate in their categories.

Aside from a simply larger screen, the iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2, as well as the iPhone 6, have the A8 64-bit chip, which promises the potential for better gaming, especially in graphics-rich games.

Even with their smaller screen sizes, the iPhone 5S and iPad Mini 3 are both adept at playing videos and games. The experience just won't be the same as if you had a larger screen.


My biggest beef with the iPhone for years has been that the 4-inch screen is far too cramped to type on easily (granted, I'm used to using larger Android devices). That said, the iPhone 5S is the easiest device in this bunch to type on with one hand. Once you move up to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, you start to need an extra hand to either stabilize the device or reach one-half of the keyboard.

As far as typing on an iPad, the iPad Mini beats the iPad Air. Even though you can split the iOS keyboard to make it easier to type on the iPad, it's still more cumbersome to type on the larger model in both landscape and portrait modes. If you want to use an iPad to take notes, whether in class or during work meetings, the iPad Mini will likely serve you better. An even better choice is to pair your iPad with a keyboard case, which can speed up your typing and offer better ergonomics.