Apple releases two new, faster, bigger iPhones with superior camera features and NFC payments
The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus have been described as “the biggest advancement in the history of the iPhone” by Apple CEO Tim Cook and will be released in the UK on 19 September, boasting a retina HD display, health and fitness applications and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for contactless payments with the newly announced Apple Pay digital wallet.
“They are without a doubt the best iPhones we’ve ever done and we hope you agree they’re the best phones ever done,” said Cook at a launch event in California.
Design and processor
Both models are significantly larger than the 4-inch iPhone 5S, Apple’s previous flagship smartphone, but are both thinner. The iPhone 6 is 6.9mm thick and the iPhone 6 Plus is 7.1 mm thick and Apple promises neither will feel too big despite the larger screen size thanks to an advanced multi-touch display optimised for one-handed controls, elongated volume buttons and a new sleep and wake button the side of the device.
The new Retina HD display offers higher contrast and dual domain pixels for more accurate colour at wider viewing angles, while the larger viewing space allows for more icons on the home screen and applications that offer two panels, such as the mail and message applications.
The iPhone 5S was the first smartphone to introduce a 64-bit processor with the A7 chip, but Apple says the A8 chip is 50 percent more energy efficient and offers 50 times the CPU power and 84 times the GPU power of the original iPhone.
The M8 coprocessor can now manage movements more efficiently thanks to a new barometer and this has a direct impact on battery life. The iPhone 6 will last for 50 hours while listening to audio, 11 hours while watching HD video, 11 hours when browsing on Wi-Fi and ten when browsing over LTE.
Battery, connection and camera
The iPhone 6 plus is superior with 80 hours audio, 14 hours video, 12 hours browsing over Wi-Fi and 12 hours over an LTE connection. It will also last for 24 hours talk time compared to 14 hours on the iPhone 6 and 16 days on standby compared to 10 on the smaller model.
Connections should be faster too with support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE speeds of up to 150Mbps. The iPhone 6 also supports Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and calls over Wi-Fi, a feature which will be welcome in areas with poor reception. Apple has confirmed this will be possible on T-Mobile in the US and on EE in the UK.
Imaging has also been improved with a new iSight camera which has an upgraded sensor for faster autofocus and is capable of better face detection, exposure control, video stabilisation, 240fps slow motion video and 60fps 1080p HD video. Additionally, the iPhone 6 plus also has optical image stabilisation that compensates for handshake in low light and works with the M8 chip to reduce motion.
The photos application has been updated with more edit options and the front-facing FaceTime HD camera now collects 81 percent more light and 10 photos per second in burst mode, ideal for better quality video calls and selfies.
Apple’s new flagship handsets also herald the long-awaited arrival of NFC, which will allow users to make payments using Passbook and Touch ID with a linked credit and debit card on Apple Pay, while it will also ship with iOS 8.
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system will be made available to all compatible mobile devices on September 17, complete with greater compatibility with OS X Yosemite and new health and fitness applications.
The iPhone 6 and 6 plus themselves will go on sale on the 19 September in the UK with pre-orders starting a week earlier. Both models come in gold, silver and space grey, with a new 128GB model replacing the 32GB edition.
UK prices for the iPhone 6 are £539 for the 16GB iteration, £619 for the 64GB and £699 for the 128GB without a contract, while the iPhone 6 plus ranges from £619 for the 16GB to £789 for the 128GB model. Both devices will be available on O2, Vodafone, EE, Three, Giffgaff, Virgin Media and Talk Mobile. The iPhone 5S and 5C will continue to be sold as cheaper alternatives.
Taking the battle to Samsung
Observers believe the larger screens and improved battery life will please iPhone users and that Apple now has a range of devices to suit all budgets.
“As expected, Apple is taking the fight to Samsung, delivering a big screen experience to muscle in on the Korean manufacturer’s lucrative bite of the phablet market with the duo of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus,” said Ernest Doku, tech expert at uSwitch. “Both new iPhones address the biggest bugbear of most consumers: battery life. Apple’s onto a poll winner. Our research shows that 89 percent of Brits are more likely to buy a smartphone with long battery life.
“This launch marks a notable change in tactics for Apple. These sizeable introductions nestle nicely alongside the existing 5S and 5C, which have both been slashed in price, creating an iPhone family that courts mobile fans at all screen sizes and price points. It’s a tactic which has served Samsung very well in recent years.”
Apple also took the wraps off the long-awaited Apple Watch at the event, which will be compatible with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5S and 5C.