CUPERTINO, CALIF. — Apple CEO Tim Cook told a crowd of perhaps 1000 guests, including media, “Today we are announcing the the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone.”
But there were actually two announcements. Cook revealed an elegantly designed iPhone 6 device with a larger 4.7-inch screen and a larger “phablet” phone with a 5.5-inch screen: the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. These are the first new iPhones in two years.
The “old” iPhone 5 currently fits four app icons across its screen, but the iPhone 6 adds another row of icons at the bottom. So instead of viewing 16 apps in one glance as current iPhone users do, you’ll soon be seeing 20.
The new iPhones, Apple says, also have more battery life, up to 50 percent more than the last generation of iPhones. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will give us 50 hours of audio playback and 11 hours of video playback.
As reported by VentureBeat in June, the new phones have an NFC chip inside to support mobile payments. Apple announced a bevy of partnerships with merchants, banks, and credit cards that may push mobile payments into the mainstream.
“Apple Pay will forever change the way we buy things,” Cook said.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will include a barometer, which can detect changes in air pressure. This means your phone can track you as you walk up stairs or run up hills (or not).
The LTE radio in the devices is faster than ever, Apple says. The new phones can reach laboratory-throughput levels of 150 megabits per second versus only 100 mbps in the iPhone 5 and 5S.
The phones support Voice over LTE (VoLTE), although not many carriers support the higher-quality audio mode. The Wi-Fi in the phones is also faster. Now you can make a call that starts on Wi-Fi and can switch over to the cellular network seamlessly, Apple says.
Both new phones sport a new camera — an 8 megapixel iSight camera, with a new sensor for sharper photos. The camera can take 1080P video at up to 60 frames per second, Apple says. Both phones can now take slow motion video at up to 240 frame per second.
The front facing camera has a new burst mode and a better sensor that lets in more light, which results in better selfies. This camera also supports HD video. iPhone 6 screen has more that a million pixels, Apple says, and the iPhone 6 Plus has more than 2 million pixels.
The iPhone 6 is 6.9 millimeters thick, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 7.1 millimeters thick. In addition, the new phones are powered by 20 nanometer process. That makes it 25 percent faster in CPU performance and 50 percent faster graphics performance than the iPhone 5, Apple says.
Apple namechecked the game developer community, saying they will be able to develop “closer to the metal.” In other words, game developers will be able to utilize more of the power of the A8 chip.
In the iPhone 6 Plus, iOS 8 makes use of the extra screen area with two columns in some apps like email, as Apple demonstrated.
iPhone 6 comes in gold, silver, and space gray. Prices starts at $199 with a two-year contract. A 64GB version sells for $299, and a new 128GB version will go for $399. The phone goes on sale September 19, with pre-orders starting September 12.
While the iPhone 6 Plus comes in the same colors, a 16GB version will sell for $299, a 64GB version costs $399, and a new 128GB version will cost $499. Apple did not say when the larger phone would go on sale.
For those who don’t need the latest and greatest, the older 5S phone’s prices drops to $99, and the iPhone 5 will be free with the 2-year contract.
The new iPhone has been in development for at least the past two years (the iPhone 5 and 5S came out in 2012). Because Apple releases new phones much less frequently than its Android phone competitors, it has to be very thoughtful about which new technologies to include. In effect, Apple had to begin getting clarity two years ago on which features mobile users would consider important today and in the near future.
Has Apple done a good job of this with the new iPhone 6? Time will tell, but today it appears that it has made some very wise choices.
For more Apple news, head here: Everything Apple announced at its iPhone 6 & Apple Watch event.