We’d heard about the crowds gathering outside of Apple stores, with many ready to sell everything they own to buy Apple’s latest devices.
Tuesday, however, Apple finally took the wraps off of three of its devices that Apple customers will drool over for the next 365 days or so.
The iPhone 6 was rightly named in the press, but it’s the iPhone 6 Plus (the name only) that took us by surprise. Apple likely changed the name before the launch (seeing that some had verified the device would be called the iPhone 6L), but “Plus” seems like a much nicer nomenclature for the device than a letter. The iPhone 5C should’ve been given more brainstorming time if you ask us.
With the three devices revealed, let’s take a look at Apple’s latest and greatest.
Apple increased the display size on the entry-level smartphone with a 0.7-inch bump up from the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s had a 4-inch display, but the iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display. Some consumers hardly ever use their smartphone to watch movies and TV shows, but we have a feeling that the iPhone 6 will inspire you to purchase a premium Netflix subscription.
Along with the increase in display size comes screen resolution, with the iPhone 6 finally reaching HD screen resolution (1334 x 750; 750p meets the threshold of HD resolution, it’s past 720p), all while maintaining Apple’s pixel density of 326ppi (pixels per inch). Apple decided to name its new screen resolution as “Retina HD,” although we have no idea as to the naming significance. Over 1 million pixels, thirty-eight percent more pixels, are placed into the iPhone 6 screen than that of the iPhone 5s, are densely packed into the iPhone 6 screen, with images and videos being sharper and more vivid than ever before.
As for the size of the new iPhone 6, it stands at 6.9mm thin, the thinnest phone to date that Apple’s ever made. The iPhone 5s was 7.6mm thin, so Apple decided to trim the iPhone even further. As some renown analysts have said, the trimmed-down nature of the iPhone 6 means that it may prove more slippery in the hands than the iPhone 5s or prior versions.
The iPhone 6 is powered by Apple’s A8 processor, the second 64-bit processor chip (the first was placed in the iPhone 5s), and it comes with 2 billion transistors and a 13% smaller chip than last year’s iPhone 5s. The new A8 processor guarantees a 25% faster task processing and 50% faster graphics, with a CPU performance that’s 50 times faster than last year’s iPhone 5s and a GPU performance that’s 84 times faster than its predecessor. As with last year’s iPhone 5s, the motion coprocessor returns with the new M8 label – allowing your fitness tracking data to upload so that it’s available to you whenever you need it.
A new barometer is included within the iPhone 6’s software, which allows you to view information like wind pressure, wind speed and wind direction.
LTE speeds have been increased in the iPhone 6 from 100Mbps to 150Mbps, and 20 LTE bands are supported in the new iPhone 6 (more than any other smartphone on the market, according to Apple). Over 200 LTE carriers worldwide are now supported in the iPhone 6. Voice over LTE (or VoLTE) makes its appearance this year, making it possible to place voice calls over LTE data connections. The new 802.11ac standard in the iPhone 6 brings the iPhone experience up to par with the 2013 iPad Air and makes Wi-Fi more efficient than the old, former 802.11a/b/g/n standard.
Wi-Fi calling, like Voice Over LTE, is now possible with the Apple experience so that you can still have clear phone calls even when you’re on your home network. According to Apple, your phone call will switch from your home Wi-Fi network to your data network when you go outside to get in your car (when leaving home).
The iPhone 6 battery comes in at around 1,810mAh, which brings 50 hours of audio, 11 hours of video, 11 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of LTE browsing and 3G browsing, and 14 hours of 3G talk time. Apple only promises 10 hours of Wi-Fi and LTE browsing, and, as you can see, iPhone 6 battery life is the same as iPhone 5s battery life. This is an impressive feat given that Apple finally increased its screen resolution from 1136 x 640 to 1334 x 750, but this will prove little comfort to iPhone users who were hoping that Apple would finally nail the most important area to them. Battery life is always more important than display size (not to say that display size doesn’t bear significance).
As we said above, Apple’s commitment to 10-hour battery life is impressive, despite the increase in screen resolution, but Apple was able to do it not only because of the ultrathin backlight the company placed into the iPhone 6. Keep in mind that Samsung’s words about battery-guzzling backlights on liquid crystal displays (LCDs) still holds true. Apple reduced the size of the backlight while also increasing the strength of its glass display. Nothing was said about the use of Corning’s Gorilla Glass, so we assume that the company went with something of its own glass display type this time. Perhaps the Arizona sapphire crystal plant was used to produce the new ion-strengthened glass as well.
If you were hoping for a better camera, it’s unfortunate, but you’ll be disappointed: the iPhone 6 features the same 8MP iSight camera that we’ve seen in the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPhone 5s. Apple says that it’s increased the size of the pixels (1.5 micron pixels) to let in more light and produce better photo quality, but the same 8MP camera means that your images will have the same zoom quality that they’ve had in years past.
This is where we think that Apple dropped the ball in the iPhone 6 experience: while it’s true that a great camera can perform at 8-megapixels, it’s also true that cameras with higher megapixel counts have better digital zoom than lower-megapixel cameras. This is the reason why you can place the HTC One M8’s 4MP camera up against the iPhone 5s camera and see that the iPhone 5s quality is better. A 4MP camera cannot compete against an 8MP camera, and we’d say the same about competition between an 8MP and 16MP camera.
While the company did not increase its megapixel camera count, it did seek to add some new software to the iSight camera experience. First is Focus Pixels, Apple’s name for phase detection autofocus. The goal of phase detection autofocus is to speed up the time it takes for the camera to focus in on a photo to allow you to take an excellent shot. Apple has also increased its tone mapping software so that the camera captures a better color tone of the picture in sight than before. Finally, advanced noise reduction seeks to eliminate pixels in the photos so that all you see is the live image as though you could still live in the moment – long after it’s gone.
The new panorama mode provides 43-megapixel photos that provide a seamless connection between various portions of the photo so that all you see is one photo (not the stitching of various small settings together, although panorama mode brings them together into one glorious image).
Other camera features include the iPhone 6’s digital image stabilization, which works to prevent shaking and motion from becoming an embedded part of your special moments. Slow-motion video, once possible only at 120fps, is now possible at 240fps so that live actions still look alive once the moments pass. Time-lapse video allows you to capture the passage of time in professional fashion.
The new FaceTime HD camera still stands at 1.2MP, so Apple didn’t change this feature, either. While photos let in 81% more light, and have a larger f/2.2 aperture with an all-new image sensor, you won’t get more than a 1.2MP experience here. Apple has worked to improve the experience, but we’d still liked to have seen more current specs in the device than were given.
As always, iPhone fans want to know the price. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 starts at $199 with a two-year contract for the 16GB model, but Apple provides a neat twist in pricing: instead of maintaining a 32GB device, Apple ditches the 32GB model for 64GB of storage for $299, and brings in a 128GB model for the first time for $399 with a two-year agreement. Although this is certainly a surprise move for Cupertino, we don’t understand why the company didn’t ditch the 16GB model and offer 32GBs of memory storage as the base model.
In the current tech scene where one can get 32GB Android devices (plus microSD card slots for additional memory storage) that provide a maximum of 96-160GB of memory storage, Apple’s memory storage pricing seems a little under par (although those who pay $299 for Apple’s iPhone 6 will certainly enjoy the new double storage).
If you’re an iPhone fan who doesn’t want to pay $100 extra for additional storage, we recommend Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Google+ unlimited cloud storage.
The iPhone 6 and a little something extra: iPhone 6 Plus
Apple decided to ditch an iPhone 5C successor this year and head for a device that the company hopes will contend with the best of high-end Android smartphones. The answer to the competition? The iPhone 6 Plus.
The iPhone 6 Plus features a 5.5-inch display, Apple’s widest display to date, that comes with a 1920 x 1080p (Full HD) screen resolution. With over 2 million pixels in the iPhone 6 Plus, it’s clear that Apple wanted to make a point with the iPhone 6 Plus: “Android manufacturers, we can do it, too.” It’s interesting that a company that claims it doesn’t want to increase its megapixel count in its camera (say, from 8MP to 13MP, for example,) can increase its screen resolution.
It just seems a bit double-tongued to us: after all, why does screen resolution matter if Apple doesn’t care about specs? It all seems as though Apple often says one thing, then turns around and does something else. If specs are important, then go with it; if they’re not, then don’t. We just think that it’s a bit odd to say specs aren’t important in the camera, “but they are when it comes to screen resolution.”
The iPhone 6 Plus has 185% more pixels in its display than the iPhone 5s, so you’re getting a more vivid and colorful experience than you’ve ever seen in the iPhone experience. At 7.1mm, the iPhone 6 Plus is slightly heavier than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (at 6.9mm thin), but it’s to be expected when you factor in a wider screen on the Plus than the entry-level iPhone 6.
98% of the specs in the iPhone 6 are found in the iPhone 6 Plus, so no need to repeat them here. There are two features in the iPhone 6 Plus that stand out from the iPhone 6. First, Apple decided to increase its photographic capabilities in the iPhone 6 Plus from the iPhone 6 with the use of optical image stabilization (or OIS), as opposed to digital image stabilization in the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.
While digital image stabilization does work to prevent motion blur, OIS works to provide the best motion-free photos possible. Digital image stabilization isn’t enough to prevent motion blur (as a number of Android smartphone users can attest to), but OIS is effective in this area – and Apple’s implementation of OIS in the iPhone 6 Plus intended to send a signal to Android manufacturers, particularly Samsung.
Last but not least, Apple decided to provide a landscape rotation mode for the iPhone 6 Plus. According to the company, it decided to take advantage of the new screen real estate to provide a landscape mode whereby you can read text messages, email, view daily weather, and send text messages and emails. Even the bottom tool bar participates in the new landscape mode on the iPhone 6 Plus.
Battery life on the iPhone 6 Plus is somewhat improved over the iPhone 6 experience. Whereas you’ll get only 50 hours of audio on the iPhone 6, you’ll get 80 hours of audio on the iPhone 6 Plus; 11 hours of video playback on the iPhone 6 turns to 14 on the iPhone 6 Plus; 12 hours of Wi-Fi and LTE browsing on the iPhone 6 Plus just eclipse the 11 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and 10 hours of LTE browsing on the iPhone 6 Plus.
As for 3G browsing, the iPhone 6 Plus will provide 12 hours of web time as opposed to the 10 hours of the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus will provide only 2 hours more for Wi-Fi browsing, LTE browsing, and 3G browsing than did the iPhone 5s. Well, it looks as though iPhone users will be “wall huggers” once again (to use a recent Samsung anti-Apple commercial).
The iPhone 6 Plus will come in at $299 for 16GB, $399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB. All of these are on-contract prices. The 16GB 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus will retail for $799, the 64GB model for $899, and the 128GB model for $999. Get ready to put down an entire month’s worth of bill money for the new iPhone 6 Plus if you want the new 128GB model.
For those who just don’t think the small incremental changes are worth the buy, then Apple still offers the iPhone 5s (now at $99 with a two-year agreement) and the 8GB iPhone 5C (now free with a two-year contract).
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will start shipping on September 19.
Yes, after approximately three years or so, Apple fans got the “iWatch” (without the name, we’re afraid) that they wanted.
Apple Watch comes in three models: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition (we think Apple should’ve done a little better on the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition names, however). According to our sources, the three Apple Watch models come with varying build materials (aluminum, gold, etc.), which explains why three different versions are offered. Apple didn’t provide exact specifications for the display and so on, although we know that all three Apple Watch models come with sapphire glass protection on their displays.
All three Apple Watch models require a Bluetooth connection with your iPhone (iPhones 5, 5s, 5C, 6, and 6 Plus only) in order to provide on-the-wrist capabilities, and Apple added its own digital crown to the Apple Watch in order to give it an original look. Certain features such as photo capabilities, mapping capabilities, and so on are features that Apple’s competitors have already implemented into their watches, though we’re aware that the Apple Watch will have no competition for iPhone users who want a watch that’s made exclusively for iOS.
One more interesting feature Apple decided to add was a “Doodle” feature that lets you send symbols loaded with meaning to your friends and contacts. We’re not sure what Apple was getting at with this feature (except to make the device kid-friendly), but this feature, if Samsung features have often been thrown under the bus as “unnecessary and gimmicky,” will also bear the same label. The worst that could happen is that some iOS users will have their high-school teenagers clamoring for an “iCandy” device, and Apple ends up happily wrangling another $349 from your household.
Apple has priced its Apple Watch at $349, but you won’t be able to get your hands on one until “early 2015” – whenever that is. We insist that Apple should’ve had its Apple Watch devices ready to go by now. While we think that it often takes time to perfect a good device, no device that hits the market will be perfect. In fact, anyone who’s ever owned an iPad or iPhone can attest to this. Devices enter the market in formidable position and are made better over time. So, with this said, we chide Apple as we’ve chided LG at the G3 presentation for teasing the LG G Watch in May but announcing it officially in June at Google I/O 2014.
Good companies that make excellent products don’t rush them to market; but the products must be announced sometime, right?
Apple brought forth the best products it’s made to date, no doubt. Apple sure won’t win any Android users to its fold, but the company has done some things to keep the iFaithful close to shore.