Putting an end to months of rumors, speculation and analysis, Apple today finally showed off its eighth-generation iPhone smartphone with a higher-resolution 4.7 and 5.5-inch screens, improved cameras, new sensors, a dedicated NFC chip for mobile payments and more.
In announcing the new phones, which Apple named the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, to the crowd of technology journalists, fashion media editors, analysts and investors Tuesday morning at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said the device will come in two sizes.
He also played a teaser video showing off its design, which looks just like in leaks.
“I hope you’ll agree, they’re the best phones you’ve ever seen,” Cook said.
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, then took the stage to talk specifics. Here’s our recap of the most important things you should know about the new iPhones.
All-new A8 processor
The phones run Apple’s in-house designed 64-bit A8 processor built on the 20-nanometer process technology. It has two billion transistors and provides up to 20 percent faster CPU performance and 50 precent faster graphics. More on the A8 in this post.
The new M8 processor
Apple’s second-generation motion coprocessor, also in-house designed, continuously measures motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass without waking up the main A8 processor.
But unlike its predecessor, the M8 can also tell the difference between cycling and running calculate elevation thanks to the iPhone’s new barometric sensor and measure distances travelled.
The barometer is great for fitness apps because your iPhone can now “tell if you’re going up molehills, mountains, and everything in between,” according to Apple. Nike is already working on a new Nike+ app, which will take advantage of the barometric sensor to track elevation. More on the M8 in this post.
Retina HD screen
The phones feature what Apple is calling the Retina HD displays, “a new generation” of mobile display technology. It’s “ion strengthened” to make it stronger and still uses sRGB-active LCD technology.
As per the rumors, Apple is providing the new iPhone in two screen sizes: a 4.7-inch variant called the iPhone 6 and a bigger iPhone 6 Plus outfitted with a 5.5-inch panel.
The iPhone 6 has screen resolution of 1,334-by-750 pixels and the iPhone 6 Plus has a full HD 1,920-by-1,080 pixel resolution screen — that’s 185 percent more pixels than the iPhone 5s’s 1,136-by-640 display.
Both screens have a “broader” viewing angle and tap a number of technologies to make the display assembly thinner, such as ultrathin backlight, photo-aligned IPS, an improved polarizer and ion-strenthened glass (no word on sapphire).
Both front and rear cameras have seen hardware and software improvements across the board. Although the (protruding) back shooter is still eight megapixels, it uses a wider ƒ/2.2 aperture, 1.5µ pixels and an improved sensor for sharper-looking photograps.
There’s also this thing called Focus Pixels, basically a technology previously found only in professional DSLR cameras which on the iPhone 6 does twice as fast as the last generation.
Lastly, whereas the iPhone 6 has digital image stabilization, its more powerful counterpart features optical image stabilization, another feature found on DSLR cameras which physically moves the optics in order to compensate for the shakiness during filming or taking images. When you record video, the iPhone 6 can now continuously adjust autofocus.
The Slow-Mo videos on the iPhone 6 are now captured at 240 frames per second, twice as fast than on the iPhone 5s. The front-facing camera has seen upgrades as well for taking “those killer selfies” and “burst selfies”.
Oh, and Panoramas can be up to 43 megapixels now. More on the improved cameras in this post.
The new landscape view for iPhone 6 Plus
Given the iPhone 6 Plus’s massive 5.5-inch display, Apple figured it should make best use of the available canvas. Introducing a brand new landscape view for the iPhone 6 Plus, a software feature which lets you see even more content.
It works with built-in apps like Messages, Weather and more and there’s even a special landscape mode for the Home screen!
More on this handy new landscape mode and “reachability” features in this post.
All the rumors and leaks were true, this is the most leaked iPhone yet. Borrowing some cues from the iPhone 5s and harkening back to the days of the original iPhone, the iPhone 6 has a seamlessly-designed Unibody chassis that features smoothly rounded edges with the Apple logo embedded on the back.
The iPhone 6 is just 6.8mm thin while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 7.1mm in depth. By comparison, the iPhone 5s is 7.6mm thin.
The glass front curves gently around the sides.
“From the glass front,” Schiller said, adding that the phone features “anodizes aluminum back” with a “stainless steel Apple.”
The power button has been relocated to the right side of the device for easier one-handed operation. The volume keys and the mute switch are still on the left. All hardware keys are nearly flush with the chassis which, combined with the screen’s rounded edges, creates a perfectly seamless appearance while allowing for a better grip during manipulation.
The iPhone 6 supports over 200 LTE carriers around the world, including all three in China. The iPhone 6’s LTE is faster than that on the iPhone 5s and it also has “more LTE bands than any other smartphone” for better roaming.
Wi-Fi calling is supported in iOS 8 and by the iPhone 6. The handset also supports Voice over LTE, allowing for wide-band audio for voice for crisp and clear phone calls.
The new iPhones support Apple-branded mobile payments service called the Apple Pay. Apple Pay takes advantage of the iTunes billing system and your credit card on file. This feature requires NFC so it’s only supported on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus which have an NFC chip.
The service doesn’t store your credit card numbers, nor does it transfer them to the merchant, and it doesn’t log what you buy or how much you pay for it. It simply creates a complex number for your card, and uses a one-time code for when you make payments.
NFC, or Near-Field Communication, uses short-range radio connectivity to allow the device to establish a secure link with a payment terminal in the close proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters. More on Apple Pay in this post.
Pricing and availability
Both new iPhones go on sale in the United States on Friday, September 19. Pre-orders will start this Friday. Curiously enough, Apple killed the 32-gigabyte model while introducing a 128GB tier.
The 4.7-inch model starts at $199 while the bigger 5.5-inch model carries a $100 premium, running you $299 for the entry-level with sixteen gigabytes of storage.
Summing up, the iPhone 6 will set you back $199/$299/$399 for the 16/64/128GB models. The iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $299/$399/$499 for models with 16/64/128 gigabytes of storage, respectively.
These are subsidized prices so a qualifying two-year contract with a wireless provider is required. More on the iPhone 6’s availability and pricing in this article.
By the way, the iPhone 5s has been slashed to $99 while the 8GB iPhone 5c is now “free,” both after a two-year contract.
So, what do you think about the new iPhones?
Will you be getting it, and which one?