Apple on Tuesday unveiled its next-generation iPhones, which include larger screens and the integration of a new mobile payments system that will let you make store purchases by waving or tapping your iPhone at a checkout terminal.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were announced by Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif., where it also debuted its first wearable, the Apple Watch.
“Today, we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of the iPhone,” said Cook before handing the presentation over to Phil Schiller, the senior vice president for marketing.
The iPhone 6 will feature a 4.7-inch, 1,334 by 750-pixel Retina Display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch, 1,920 by 1,080-pixel Retina Display. The phones, with curved edges, are thinner than the previous generation, measuring 6.8 mm thick and 7.1mm thick, respectively. In order to make the phones easier to use one-handed, they include a feature called “reachability” where you can double-press the home button and minimize the display in order to reach all of the onscreen.
In addition, there’s a two-pane display when used in landscape mode. So for example, when viewing your email, you can see a list view of your messages on the left side and the contents of an email on the right. The home screen and keyboard will also work horizontally.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will also be Apple’s first smartphones to have integrated NFC. Near Field Communication is a radio technology that lets you wirelessly exchange information between two NFC-enabled devices, provided that they are in short range of one another. Android and Windows Phone handset makers like Samsung and LG have used NFC in their devices for things like exchanging photos and connecting to speakers and other accessories.
It’s the technology that will power Apple’s new mobile payment system called Apple Pay. As previously reported by Re/code, Apple Pay will allow you to make purchases by holding your phone up to a checkout terminal instead of using your credit card. The company has signed on numerous credit card companies and retail partners, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Macy’s, Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Walgreens.
There are more changes under the hood. Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are packing new processors. The Apple A8 64-bit chip is 25 percent more powerful than its predecessor and offers 50 percent faster graphics, according to the company. Schiller also promised that the the A8 would allow the device to run at full power without causing excessive heat. Battery life is estimated at 15 hours of 3G talk time on the iPhone 6 and 24 hours of 3G talk time on the iPhone 6 Plus.
The two smartphones also have an eight-megapixel rear camera with new technology to improve speed and quality. The iPhone 6 Plus’s camera has the added advantage of optical image stabilization to help reduce blurry photos and video caused by hand shaking. Other new features include an updated M8 motion coprocessor that can measure elevation and differentiate between running and cycling and support for voice-over LTE and Wi-Fi 802.11ac.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in the U.S. on Sept. 19, with preorders beginning on Sept. 12. Pricing starts at $199 for the iPhone 6 16-gigabyte model with a two-year contract, $299 for 64GB and $399 for 128GB. Meanwhile, pricing for the iPhone 6 Plus is $299 for the 16GB model, $399 for 64GB and $499 for 128GB.
The release of the new iPhones comes at a time when there’s much at stake for Apple. Despite posting 12.7 percent year-over-year growth in iPhone shipments, Apple’s global marketshare fell to 11.7 percent in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC.Sales of Apple’s lower-cost model, the iPhone 5c, also did not do as well as the company originally estimated.
But the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus may be a different story, as there’s an increasing demand for bigger-screen devices.
Analyst firm Canalys reported that shipments of smartphones with screens five inches or bigger grew 369 percent in Q1 2014. And IDC expects that phablet shipments will reach 175 million units worldwide in 2014, surpassing that of laptops for the same period.
A category first made popular by Samsung with the release of its Galaxy Note, numerous Android and Windows Phone device makers, including LG, Nokia (Microsoft), and Sony, have all released phablets. But Apple has been critical of the whole movement.
In 2010, Steve Jobs ripped Apple’s competitors making larger phones saying, “You can’t get your hand around it. No one’s going to buy that.” And in 2013, Tim Cook said the current crop of phablets were riddled with trade-offs, and Apple would not ship a larger display iPhone if it meant compromising quality.
Whether Apple felt pressure to release a bigger iPhone now or felt the time was right is up for debate, but Apple is (predictably) calling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus best in class.
“These are the best phones ever made,” said Schiller. “They are the best we know how to make, and I think the best anyone has ever seen.”
In addition to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple announced that iOS 8 will be released on Sept. 17 for the iPhone 4s and up, fifth-generation iPod Touch, iPad 2, iPad with retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with retina display. The company also dropped the prices of its previous iPhones. The 8GB iPhone 5c is now free on contract, and the iPhone 5s starts at $99.
source: Bonnie Cha/Recode