Apple Inc, the Cupertino-based electronics behemoth, on Tuesday launched its latest version of the iPhone. The new phones are among the largest ever by the company, with a bundle of new features. Here’s 10 things you must know about the new iPhone6 and the iPhone6 Plus.
1. New design
We knew that Apple was going to change the design for the iPhone 6 before the first component was leaked. Apple has always revamped its smartphone on even years, separated by incrementally improved ‘S’ versions in the odd years.
That was confirmed for us when those aforementioned leaked components started emerging from the company’s China-based production line earlier in the year.
Despite all this, though, seeing the finished iPhone 6 product is an undoubted thrill. After all, Apple is ditching a basic design language that has been around for four years, starting with the iPhone 4 in 2010.
Gone are the severely squared-off edges that have proved so iconic over the years. In their place, the iPhone 6 brings back the curviness of previous generations.
Now the back and sides of the iPhone 6 flow into each other, rather like the iPad Air or theiPod touch 5th generation. The screen, too, doesn’t abruptly end. Rather, it smoothly curves round and melts into the aluminium chassis.
The iPhone 6 is a slimmer device than its predecessor, too, at just 6.9mm. In fact, it’s so skinny that the rear camera sticks out somewhat disconcertingly from the back of the phone. That may take a little while to get used to.
While the iPhone 6 is significantly thinner than the iPhone 5S, though, it’s also much bigger head-on. Of course, there’s a very good reason for that…
2. Larger screen
The iPhone 6 is bigger than the iPhone 5S for one major reason: it’s got a much larger screen.
After years of pressure and clear evidence from surveys and sales trends, Apple has caved in and made a smartphone screen that’s bigger than 4-inches diagonally. Much bigger, in fact.
At 4.7-inches, this goes well beyond the simple screen-lengthening exercise of the iPhone 5 – it’s both longer AND wider.
That complicates things on a number of fronts. It means that many people will struggle to be able to type on their iPhone one-handed.
It also means that Apple has had to mess with the resolution a little – not simple doubling of the pixel count as took place with the iPhone 4.
The result is a resolution of 1334?×?750, which is ever so slightly sharper than the 720p resolution adopted by most Android phones of a similar size. The result, though, is the same 326ppi figure that can be seen from the iPhone 4 right through to the iPhone 5S.
In other words, Apple gets to keep that ‘Retina display’ moniker without having to come up with more iPad 3-like excuses.
We had no idea what Apple would follow-up the iPhone 5S’s A7 processor with. Only kidding. It’s the A8 processor, of course.
As always Apple has kept precise details on clock rates to itself.
It’s still built on a dual-core 64-bit architecture, and it seems the main advance here is in power efficiency. That’s no bad thing, though, given that the A7 continues to hold its own against most of its rivals in a number of key performance-related areas.
Apple has built the A8 chip using a 20nm manufacturing process, which is a step on from the 28nm A7. This again will reduce heat production and increase power efficiency.
One area in which iPhones continue to be criticised (and mocked) is battery life. They just don’t quite last long enough on a single charge.
With the iPhone 6 getting a significantly bigger and sharper screen, as well as a faster A8 processor, you’d better believe that it needed a seriously improved battery.
Fortunately, the increase in general size has made space for a significantly bigger battery than the 1,560mAh unit found in the iPhone 5S.
The iPhone 6 comes with a much more capacious battery unit, but it still falls short of earning the title ‘long lasting’, despite Apple’s iOS being known to be energy efficient.
It’s perhaps understandable – if a little disappointing – that Apple is quoting similar amounts of talk and standby time to previous iPhone models. Maybe the iPhone 7 will last two days or more, but it looks like you’ll have to keep that charger handy with the iPhone 6.
The most exciting addition to the iPhone 6’s internals is NFC (or Apple’s own variant of), which stands for Near Field Communications – although Apple never actually muttered the letters “NFC” in its presentation.
High-end Android and Nokia Lumia users will know all about this little piece of technology, as it’s been around for several years now. This is the first time Apple has incorporated it into one of its devices though, so it’s set to be thrust back into the spotlight.
NFC is a wireless communication protocol that differs from others by being low power and extremely limited in range. This means that you can pass data locally between two NFC-equipped devices very quickly, efficiently, and discretely.
Apple’s application of this is its new mobile payments system, Apple Pay, which will ultimately enable you to ditch your wallet and pay for goods at retail with a swipe or tap of your iPhone 6.
It may well prove to be the kickstart that the mobile payment ecosystem needed – or else a waste of time like Google Wallet. Only time will tell.
6. Health abilities
Apple’s Health app will combine with the iPhone 6’s advanced sensors and M8 coprocessor, as well as a whole bunch of third party apps and peripherals (and Apple’s own wearables), to track and collate all of your health and fitness data.
You’ll be able to check out your calorie intake, physical activity and more, all from the Health app.
The addition of Health and the Apple Watch, means that you won’t necessarily take your iPhone out for a run with you anymore – which is perhaps good news given its increased size.
When you return from your runs, walks or hikes, your iPhone will be the hub to which you turn to for a summary of and contextual feedback on that data.
7. Camera upgrades
Apple has resisted boosting the megapixel count for the iPhone 6. The range hit 8MP back in the days of the iPhone 4S, and it’s stuck with it ever since.
This is actually a good thing. Boosting the megapixel count alone doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in image quality. In fact, with smartphone image sensors as small as they are, a high megapixel count can actually be detrimental.
Rather, Apple has improved the iPhone 6’s camera in ways that really matter. There’s a wider f/2.2 aperture for speedier, brighter shots, and Apple has dramatically improved the camera’s image processing capabilities.
Once again the camera is 1.5 um pixels, despite claims that the iPhone 6 would have 1.75um pixels. This effects the amount of light getting into each picture, and thus the overall detail.
Apple has also implemented EIS, or Electronic Image Stabilisation, to reduce blurriness and improve low-light shots.
So you may be annoyed by the apparent necessity for a sticky-outy camera on your iPhone 6, but Apple has made darned sure that this minor aesthetic aberration will be worth it.
The front-facing selfie camera, or as Apple want you to call it, the FaceTime camera, has also been given some love. It’s now a HD camera, with the same f/2.2 aperture and HDR FaceTime video support.
8. iOS 8
As we all knew it would, the iPhone 6 will ship with iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system. Announced back in June at WWDC, where it was shown off on the iPhone 5S, iOS 8 sees a whole bunch of improvements and general refinement added to the radical design overhaul that was iOS 7.
If iOS 7 was all about the aesthetics, iOS 8 concentrates on adding many of the features we thought iOS was missing – and quite a few that we didn’t.
Besides the aforementioned Health app, iOS 8 will add interactive notifications, better interoperability with OS X, predictive typing, a new keyboard, superior gaming potential, and compatibility with the Apple Watch much more.
Yes, a lot of those new features appear to have been lifted straight from Android. But with Apple’s customary attention to detail and tight integration between software and hardware, they could well prove to be better implemented here – and they’ll be at their best on iPhone 6.
Naturally, iOS 8 has been optimised for the iPhone 6. Add in features like the one-handed mode, and you can see that Apple is aiming for a solid one-two hardware-software punch here.
9. Release date
The iPhone 6 will go on sale in key territories, including the UK and US, on Friday September 19. It will be available for pre-order from Friday September 12.
Apple’s pricing for its new iPhone starts from $199 for the 16GB version for a two year contract. The price then goes to $299 for the 64GB of storage and $399 for the 128GB model.
In the UK it’s £539 for the 16GB iPhone 6, £619 for 64GB and a whopping £699 for the 128GB SIM-free model.