Wednesday, 10 September 2014 06:05

Apple announces iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Featured

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Apple is a secretive company, but in the modern world it’s hard to keep thing under wraps. We pretty well knew what Apple was going to announce.

But if the new iPhones do not surprise, nor do they disappoint. They’re bigger – we all knew they would be – but they are also incredibly thin (6.9 mm and 7.1 mm, compared to the iPhone 5s’s 7.6 mm), and cool, cool, cool.

The sizes of the two new phones are as predicted – 4.7 inches and 5.5.inches. They have a “continuous seamless design” with no edges and a Retina HD display shined by a “precision polishing process.”

The iPhone 6 is 1334x750, for more than 720p resolution and over a million pixels. The bigger iPhone 6 Plus is 1920x1080 – full 1080p and over two million pixels. The 6 plus has a landscape view for more information in many apps.

There is no doubt the new iPhones are technological marvels. After a couple of years of hearing that Apple has fallen off the pace a little technologically, there is enough in the new iPhones for Apple to be able to say it is back in the lead.

The new iPhones beat the iPhone 5 on every metric – performance, battery life, camera. And all the iPhone’s existing 1.3 million apps will all work, even if they haven’t been formatted for the larger screens.

Australia is one of only 12 countries slated for the first round of availability, on 19 September. You can order (‘pre-order') them from 12 September. Expect a slew of availability announcements from Australian telcos over the next few days,

There was no mention – of course – of any supply problems. There was much talk of difficulties with the screen of the iPhone 6 Plus – the next few months will tell us about any shortages of demand over supply.

Do they the new iPhones deliver? The proof of that will be in sales. Apple’s diehard fans will need no convincing, but the real question is whether there is enough in the new announcements to lure new users to Apple, and to bring back those who have defected.

At first glance, they will. It is easy to be cynical, but there is no doubt Apple has launched some remarkable new devices. See next article for details of the impressive Apple Watch.

Specifications

Processor: The new phones have chips that contain 2 billion transistors – twice as many as the iPhone 5. This ensures 25% faster processing time, and 50% faster graphics performance. Their A8 chip ensures they are more than 50 times powerful than the original 2007 iPhone, with their graphics more than 84 times faster. They will play games in a higher resolution than the next generation of games consoles.

Sensors: The M8 coprocessor continuously measures motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. There is a barometer to measure air pressure and elevation. The health app measures things like heartbeat and the number of stairs you climb, with third-party apps will be able to tap into this data.

Networking: There is support for voice over LTE (VoLTE) and 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Camera: 8MP iSight camera, 1.5µ pixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture. And an all-new sensor with focus pixels for faster focussing (which Apple says was previously found only in DSLR cameras). Faster autofocus, next-generation local tone mapping, and advanced noise reduction. “It’s a mouthful that gives you a real eyeful.”

An image signal processor (ISP) “helps with shaky hands and low light.” Burst mode detects smiles and blinks and recommends the best picture. There is a new video encoder. “Eev replaced the point and shoot camera. Now we are replacing the video camera.”

iOS8: Perhaps the real star of the show. Apple’s new iPhone (and iPad) operating system is a major new announcement in its own right. You can add voice, video, and location to any message. The predictive keyboard learns your conversation style and helps you answer accordingly.

Pricing: There is no significant price increase. Most will be sold on contracts. In the US, the low end 16GB iPhone 6 is US$199 with a two year telco contract and the high end iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB (and isn’t that the one you would want) is US$499.

The iPhone as a wallet

“Wallet, your days are numbered,” says Apple's CEO Tim Cook. Following from last week’s leaking of relationships with the three major credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard an American Express), Apple at its iPhone launch announced features that enable the iPhone to be used as an iWallet (not a term it is using).

It is called Apple Pay. “ See separate article.


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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