Today Apple announced their iPhone 6 at the Flint Center in Cupertino. As expected, it indeed got a larger screen to keep up with the Android brethren. It wasn’t Apple’s only phone announced. As with last year, it was an iPhone double feature. Also announced was the iPhone 6 Plus, the much rumored Apple Phablet, I mean large screen phone. Let’s take a look at exactly what Apple announced.
If you saw any of the rumor sites, you saw the iPhone 6. The casing with the larger screen, the all metal back, and the relocated lock screen button are what Apple announced. The biggest difference from the last two years is the 4.7″ Retina HD screen. The resolution is 1334 x 750 with a 16:9 ratio. That’s not quite as high a resolution as Android phones at the same size, but it’s proportionally larger than the 4″ iPhones. It keeps the same 326PPI ratio as the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5C/5S. That means the on screen icons will be the same size as the smaller phones. It’s functionally larger, just not larger for a number. Existing iPhone apps will scale up to the larger size, future apps will be able to take full advantage of more screen real estate.
The aluminum casing is somehow thinner than the iPhone 5/5S. Case dimensions are 6.9mm x 67mm x 138.1mm. That’s 0.7 mm thinner than the previous phones, but also considerably wider and taller. Unlike the 4″ metal versions, they look to be actually ergonomic. The sides have a curve to them. The volume rocker buttons are in the position, but they are much larger and bean shaped. The mute switch is also in the same position and really hasn’t changed much. The lock button has been moved for the first time, it’s now on the side within easy reach of your thumb. To help ergonomics even more, Apple has enhanced iOS 8 for easier operation with the larger phones.
The one part that didn’t change by near enough is the rear camera. My iPhone takes fantastic pictures for a smartphone – for all intents and purposes the new camera is very similar to the iPhone 5’s part when it comes to stills. In video mode, it adds 1080 video at 60fps, previously it was only 30 and it doubles the slow motion speed to 240fps. If you want 4K video, you’ll have to wait at least until the 6S. The other change is an updated version of the True Tone flash that is circular and from the looks of it, larger as well.
The CPU is, as expected, the new A8. While we’re yet to see an Android flagship phone with an ARM v8 64-bit CPU, Apple is on its second generation 64-bit. They didn’t stand pat offering even better CPU and graphics performance. The company also claims the new chip is 50% more efficient partially due to a new 20nm process. All this adds up to the same or slightly better battery life. The iPhone 6 adds 802.11AC wireless for the first time. For voice calls, you know have Voice over LTE and Wi-Fi calling functions, depending on carrier, to complement your GSM or 1x CDMA voice radio. The data LTE now supports at least 16 bands on all iPhones and another 4 on those supporting TDD LTE like Sprint, Softbank, and a couple other Asian carriers. The next highest might be 6 or 7 bands. There is one caveat though, it still doesn’t support band 12 as used by some US regional carriers. The 6 also now supports class 4 LTE up to 150Mbps.
The phone is available in 3 storage sizes: 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB. No, there isn’t a 32GB version, it’s not a typo. The Touch ID sensor is still around and now has 3rd party support in iOS 8. We’ll get to that later. Speaking of iOS 8, it’ll be released next Wednesday, September the 17th.
iPhone 6 Plus
If 4.7″ isn’t big enough, you still don’t have to settle for Android or Windows Phone. Apple will sell you what you want. The iPhone 6 Plus adds everything that the iPhone 6 has, adds a little more, and gives you a 5.5″ screen. For the first time, Apple uses a standard resolution, full HD 1920 x 1080. I was hoping for the half way between Full HD and quad HD screen that was rumored, but quite frankly this is fine. It’s not class leading, but it’s enough to keep its users from jumping ship to the Note 3 or LG G3 and will probably win a few converts back because of ecosystem. The iPhone 6 also adds optical image stabilization to the camera. The larger battery makes this not only the largest, but also the longest lasting iPhone ever made. Speaking about that size, it’s 158×77.8×7.1mm frame is slightly longer than the Note 4, thanks to touch ID, but also quite a bit thinner.
Pricing and Availability
The iPhone 6 will cost $199 for 16GB on-contract, $299 for $64GB, and $399 for 128GB. Add $450 or so for off-contract pricing. It comes in the same space grey, silver, and gold as last year. The iPhone 6 Plus is $100 more at $299 for 16GB, $399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB. They’ll ship to the Apple stores and the first round of carriers on September 19th. Additional carriers will come later.
There is one thing the 6/6S has that no other iPhone ever has: NFC. This is for Apple’s new payments system, Apple Pay. Apple Pay will only work with those phones and any 5/5S/5C connected to an Apple Watch. Apple Pay launches first in the US and is associated with the iOS 8 Passbook. The payment system will work with NFC terminals in stores and online.
During processing, the clerk not only gets none of your payment card data, but they don’t get your name either unless you want them to. Apple Pay uses the Touch ID sensor to verify the owner, and the payment card info is stored by neither the phone, nor Apple servers. Apple Pay will work with 3 major card companies, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express (sorry Discover users) and banks representing 83% of all payment cards. There will be 220,000 Apple Pay enabled locations from Apple, Disney, Walgreens, McDonalds (including the drive thru), Whole Foods Market, Macy’s, and more. Apple Pay will launch next month in the US with other markets coming later.
I have to start with an apology to the rumor sites. They were spot on, and just about everything they leaked came to pass no matter how unlikely it seemed. This was an event that had an unnatural level of hype to it and, for the most part, was up to the task. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were exactly what they needed to be, in the ballparks for specs for Apple’s ecosystem to push them over the top. If you wanted a larger phone there is no reason to leave. For those who aren’t quite happy with Android or Windows phone, you can now come back. I for one will be ordering the 6 Plus immediately.
What did you think of the iPhone 6 Event? Let us know on social media. You can also check out Paul Dixon’s article on the Apple Watch.