"It doesn't explode, right?"

That was a real question from someone waiting at the Walmart Auto Center the other day while I was tapping out a text messaging on an iPhone 7 Plus. The main competition for this model, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, is known to explode and is suffering through a massive recall. "Ah, not so far," I replied.

Big phones are popular now because you can snap a photo and see the results in full 5.5-inch glory, plus (ahem) they work much better for Netflix. I've been using a review phone for a week now and I'm happy with the results. It's not just about the camera, but that's one of the main selling points. As I've been testing, I've realized there are three big reasons to pick this phone over other recent models.

1. It's really, really fast

I'll spare you all of the technical details--e.g., the A10 Fusion processor and the multi-tasking-ready 64-bit architecture. I can only tell you what I've experienced. I use an app called Sprout Social to manage my social media accounts, and it zips along faster than ever. There's something really satisfying about using a phone that doesn't slow down the more you open multiple apps, run a higher end game, or shoot a 4K video. Snap a high-res photo and flip through them on the big screen and you won't see any weird pauses or sputtering. The apps I use all day--including Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Music (long story, maybe I have an Android complex)--ran as fast as they do on the Apple iPad Pro and helped me stay on top of my work.

2. The camera is the best I've ever used

I'm a photography buff and have to snap photos constantly in my job. I like the new Portrait mode that creates a slight blur behind people in a photo. It's normally something you can only do with a camera that has a removable lens, but Apple does it using two lenses. It works on anything, not just people in a portrait. I used the camera to take pictures of a car, focusing on the foreground object. The blur means people will focus on the object in the photo. Color quality is outstanding. The reds in a Lexus RC 200t sedan popped like I've never seen before. Honestly, the camera is so good I may start using the Plus more than my Canon professional model, although that's mostly a matter of convenience. The Plus is always with me.

3. I can type much faster

I've been using an iPhone 6s for the past few months almost constantly, but the other big benefit to the Plus (and this was true of the 6s Plus as well) is that you'll type faster, especially if you have bigger fingers like mine. There's more space on the screen for the software keyboard. Running the Chrome browser, I typed in URLs without as many mistakes. Turning the phone sideways, I felt like I would answer more emails using the Google Inbox app. Making fewer mistakes with the keys is more important than I realized, and one of the main reasons I prefer the Plus model.

The downside is that the phone doesn't fit in a cup-holder of a car and it's bulky in your pocket. Battery life is not exactly groundbreaking, maybe an hour more per day (but you'll still be recharging each night). Sadly, I have yet to find a case for the Plus that has a backup battery like the Apple model I used with the 6s.

Still, I'm impressed with the phone quality, the incredible processing speed, and the exceptional camera so far. I'm adjusting to the world in which there is no headphone jack (and using the Lightning adapter that comes with the phone for the times when I use one with a 3.5mm cable and a speaker). I recommend trading in an old iPhone if you can find one--the carriers offer a nice price break if you do that.

The iPhone 7 Plus costs $769 without a contract, but if it is your bread and butter communication device, it's worth it. And, the camera is outstanding.