It’s been a busy few weeks in the smartphone industry, with reveals from all the top dogs in the market. Apple rounded things off yesterday with an event of their own, pretty much confirming every rumour and leak about their new iPhone on stage. This year’s was a bit different though, because Apple announced not one, but two iPhones, as well as some Apple love for your wrist.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
Rumours up until yesterday’s event suggested that Apple would be pulling the sheets off to brand new iPhones. That was spot on as usual, with Apple finally conceding that this large screen business maybe has something to it. The iPhone 6 will come in two variants, both of which will be a lot bigger than the iPhone 5s. The regular, iPhone 6 will feature a 4.7″ screen, while the iPhone 6 Plus comes with a 5.5″ display and a horrible name.
Both models will be considerable thinner than the previous iPhone 5s and feature a more rounded design that makes them look like really small iPad Airs. The screen also curves around the front now, and it seems Apple has chucked its Sapphire screen tech out the window for this year. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will both come standard with the new Retina HD display, which will hopefully account for the less than adequate resolutions both screens have. The iPhone 6 will push out 1,334 x 750, while the 6 Plus only manages to reach 1920×1080. To put that into perspective, the Galaxy Note 4 has the same screen size, but double the resolution.
Thankfully, that’s where the major differences end. I’m all on-board with manufacturers making smaller handsets that still have the same power as their bigger brothers, and Apple seems to think this is a good idea as well. The guts of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are identical, with both sporting the new A8 processor and barometer sensors. That means both phones can now measure subtle pressure changes around you, which is supposed to improve things like fitness apps. The only other difference comes into play with the camera. The iPhone 6 features digital image stabilization, while the Plus size will have its own optical image stabilization thanks to a lens that can move up and down and side-to-side.
The rest of the finer details are as follows:
- An A8 processing chip with an M8 co-processor
- Retina HD Display
- Variants of 4.7-inches (1,334 x 750) and 5.5-inches (1,920 x 1,080)
- 8-megapixel iSight camera with phase detection
- FaceTime HD camera with a new sensor
- 6.9mm and 7.1mm thick (iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus respectively)
Everyone is getting into the smartwatch game, and it was only a matter of time before Apple jumped onboard. They’ve waited a few years in comparison to Samsung and their Gear range, but it seems like it has been worth it. The Apple Watch, which skips the iWatch naming convention so many thought it would adopt, is one hell of a sexy device. A smaller, rectangular Sapphire glass display with a massive range of interchangeable straps makes the Apple Watch feel like a more personal device than most others in this range. There’s even different sizes for those with daintier wrists that make other smartwatches look awkward.
The watch itself features a new way to interact with the small screen – the digital crown. Located on the side of the watch, the crown allows you to seamlessly zoom in and out of content on the screen, as well as interact with apps. This makes finer adjustments and actions easier to perform, without the need of touch input on a screen that is almost eclipsed by a single index finger. Or course the screen is still fully touch capable, with touch and force detection allowing the watch to differentiate between user actions.
The Apple Watch requires a link to an iPhone, from the 5 upwards, so that it has access to GS and Wi-Fi data. This helps track fitness data, maps and social media notifications, because nearly everyone wants all of that on their wrist. One of the weirder features is the ability to send small gestures to other Apple Watch users. Sending hand drawn hearts and custom emoticons is neat, but I have no idea who in the world would want to send their exact heart rate to someone else, unless you’re having cardiac arrest and you happen to have your surgeon on speed dial.
Unlike other Apple products, the Apple Watch is still far from being released. The watch is coming out early next year, with a starting price of $349. That’s far more expensive than any other smartwatch on the market, making it a bit of a tough sell from the get go. That’s even worse when you take into account that it’s the starting price, meaning it could go way, way higher. The gold Apple Watch Edition, for example, will probably break the bank in your pocket.
iOS 8 was formally revealed earlier this year at Apple’s annual development conference, but it managed to squeeze in a little stage time last night. The most notable feature is one that we’ll probably never use locally, but it’s interesting nonetheless. ApplePay is a new way to pay for, well, everything. Using NFC in the iPhone and Apple Watch, you can now pay for anything without the need to swipe your card.
You confirm payments using Touch ID and a combination of passwords in case security is on your mind. It’s probably on everyone’s mind after the recent iCloud hack, forcing Apple to really punt how your credit card data won’t be stored by them. Instead, your card data will be encrypted and assigned a device specific ID, meaning Apple doesn’t have direct access to your card. Regardless, you can deactivate ApplePay using Find my iPhone in case you lose your device.
iOS 8 will also offer a new suite of health applications that look like they might render third-party apps useless. Using the new sensor in the iPhone 6, you’ll get even more accurate data about how many steps you take a day, running distance, how long you’ve been standing and more. That’s all baked right into the OS this time, which excites me a little. There’s also updated navigation features so that Apple’s Maps is slightly less useless.
iOS 8 will be available for download on September 17th, and hopefully it won’t halve your battery life.
Ultimately, there wasn’t anything too exciting about Apple’s event yesterday, with most of the announcements basically being almost industry standard at this point. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to upgrade immediately if you picked up an iPhone 5S last year, but the new form factor and faster processing might entice some to make the jump. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, seems a little more innovative than past smartwatches and a lot more like a personal device. It’s just a pity that this comes hand in hand with a massive price tag, one that will probably be even higher locally.
As usual, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus should be here before the end of the year.
Last Updated: September 10, 2014