Home / / Apple goes for ‘bigger is better’ strategy with next-gen handsets

Apple goes for ‘bigger is better’ strategy with next-gen handsets

Double-barrel launch unveils 4.7-inch iPhone 6, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus

Apple goes for ‘bigger is better’ strategy with next-gen handsets
The iPhone 6 range features the thinnest, biggest iPhones ever.

Apple Inc had teased its fan base long enough and last night the wait was over. As expected it launched two handset models: a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, each with Retina HD displays.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

Both iPhones feature unibody chassis of anodised aluminium that blends with the display and also bear the distinctions of incorporating Apple's largest-ever screens and being its thinnest-ever handsets.

The handsets are powered by Apple's own A8 chip, which employs second-generation 64-bit architecture, which, Apple has always been keen to point out, is aimed not only at performance but power efficiency.

Other features include iSight and FaceTime HD cameras; enhanced wireless technologies; and Apple Pay, a one-touch payment app that appears to be territory-dependent.

Both models run iOS 8, which comes with new Messages and Photos features, QuickType keyboard, a new Health app, Family Sharing and iCloud Drive.

"[The] iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the biggest advancements in iPhone history," bragged Apple's chief executive Tim Cook. "The iPhone is the most loved smartphone in the world with the highest customer satisfaction in the industry and we are making it much better in every way. Only Apple can combine the best hardware, software and services at this unprecedented level and we think customers are going to love it."

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple stakes a claim to a slice of the phablet market for the first time. Industry research companies have reported that the large-screen (5 to 6.9 inch) sub-category is growing at a faster pace than overall smartphone shipments. South Korea's Samsung Electronics has dominated this category with its larger Galaxy S models and its Galaxy Note range. Meanwhile investors and analysts had been critical of Apple's apparent disinterest in building a competing handset.

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The iPhone 6 Plus screen is a 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, providing 88% more viewing area and nearly three times the pixels of the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with 1334 x 750 resolution, providing 38% more viewing area than iPhone 5S, but the market's will be firmly fixed on the Plus, and what it can do for Apple's global share of smartphone shipments.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

The refreshed A8 chip goes for energy efficiency and performance, as usual, but this time around, Apple has introduced Metal, a graphics technology that comes with iOS 8, that is aimed at bringing "console-class 3D games to iPhone", according to Apple. The upgraded chip also includes a new, Apple-designed image signal processor that enables advanced camera and video features.

Both models include the M8 motion coprocessor that gathers motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and the new barometer, which senses air pressure to provide relative elevation. The M8 motion coprocessor is designed to continuously measure motion data, even when the device is asleep, which is aimed at saving battery life for fitness apps that use the sensors all day. With iOS 8, motion data from M8 appears in the Health app so users can see how many flights of stairs they have climbed, or how far they have walked or run. Developers can use CoreMotion APIs that take advantage of M8 and HealthKit to create wellness apps.

News had already broken of Apple's deals with payment companies and banks to introduce Apple Pay on the new iOS version. However, Apple revealed this functionality would only be available in the US.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

"Users can pay securely and conveniently in stores by simply holding the phone near the contactless reader while keeping a finger on Touch ID," Apple announced.

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According to Cupertino, users do not need to unlock their iPhone or even launch an app, but Apple Pay also allows one-touch purchases within apps, without having to enter credit card or shipping information. All payment information is kept private, encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Element, a chip inside the new iPhones.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

However, since all credentials required for purchase are stored on the iPhone itself, users will rely on the security of the device more heavily than previously. Within days of the launch of iPhone 5S, a German hacking group managed to crack Apple's uncrackable finger-scanning system.

The iSight camera has also been enhanced, with a new sensor featuring Focus Pixels for faster autofocus. Users of the Plus will also get optical image stabilization technology that compensates for hand shake in low light and works with iOS 8 to reduce subject motion.

High-definition video has been improved, with faster frame rates up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo, as well as continuous autofocus, "cinematic" video stabilisation and time-lapse video. The FaceTime HD camera now captures over 80% more light with a new sensor, larger f/2.2 aperture and additional features including burst mode and HDR video.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

Both iPhones support high-quality voice over LTE (VoLTE) as well as Wi-Fi calling, although this dependent on carrier. Apple also claims the handsets support "up to" 20 LTE wireless bands, which is said to be more than any other smartphone worldwide. Both iPhones also include 802.11ac Wi-Fi with theoretical speeds up to 433Mbps and Bluetooth 4.0.

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The iPhone 6 comes in gold, silver or space grey, and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 64GB model and, for the first time, a new 128GB model for $399 with a two-year contract. Unsubsidised pricing is unavailable at this time.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

The iPhone 6 Plus also comes in gold, silver or space grey, and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $299 for the 16GB model, $399 for the 64GB model and $499 for the new 128GB model with a two-year contract. Unsubsidised pricing is also unavailable for the iPhone 6 Plus.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK on Friday, September 19, and customers in those territories can pre-order both models from Friday, September 12.

GALLERY: iPhone 6 handsets

GALLERY: Apple Watch

ANALYSIS: Just another iLaunch, or a new line in the sand?

The phones are available for pre-order on the UAE Apple Store website from 27 September, priced AED2,599 for the iPhone 6 and AED2,999 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

 

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