"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Apple Introduces the iPhone 6 and Watch

Today Apple held a press conference to show off the iPhone 6 which will go on sale at the end of next week in two screen sizes. In addition they showed off the Apple Watch which is essentially the same take on the Android watches that have been on sale for over a year now only their version will not be available until Spring 2015. Overall much like in the last two or so years, the new Apple products are really about the companies attempts to catch up to Android which continues to dominate the mobile market and with features that Apple tends to introduces years later. The advantage to Apple being last (instead of leading the charge like they use too) with new features is they get to see the mistakes everyone else is making and correct for them resulting in a final polish and approach that maintains their sterling reputation for quality products.

As for the release of iOS 8, it will be out on September 17. If you were hoping for iPad details nothing was mentioned but Apple will probably do another press conference in October. A final note is the iPod Classic has officially been discontinued by Apple. If you are a fan of it, keep on eye out for clearance deals but once the remaining stock is sold, that's it except for getting it used. On to the new product details and analysis.

iPhone 6
- Screen: 4.7" with 1334 x750 resolution and 326 ppi (iPhone 5's is 4.0" with 1136 x 640 resolution and 326 ppi)
- Dimensions: 5.44"H x 2.64"W x .27"D (iPhone 5 is 4.87"x2.31"x.30")
- Weight: 4.55 oz (iPhone 5 is 3.95 oz)
- Key Features: see below
- Battery: 1810mAh Li-Po with around 14 hours talk time (iPhone 5 is 1570mAh; ~10 hours talk time)
- Price: $199 (16gb); $299 (64GB); $399 (128GB) on contract; 32gb storage size eliminated (craptastic move on Apple's part)
- Hands-On: Engadget
- Competition comparison
- Release date: September 19, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus
- Screen: 5.5" with 1920 x 1080 (the HD standard) with 401 ppi
- Dimensions: 6.22"H x 3.06"W x .28"D
- Weight: 6.07 oz
- Key Features: see below
- Battery: 2915mAh Li-Po; ~24 hours talk time
- Price: $299 (16gb); $399 (64GB); $499 (128GB) on contract (so $100 for greater screen size)
- Hands-On: Gizmodo | Engadget
- Competition comparison
- Release date: September 19, 2014

Phone 6 and Plus Key Features
- Chip: A8 custom chip that is 25% smaller while 50% faster
- Camera: 1.2MP front; 8MP rear with ability to record in 60fps and slo-mo at 240 fps
- NFC: Finally supports near field communication, currently mostly used to make payments or configure for bluetooth devices
- Apple Pay: Used with NFC and a secure chip to allow payments from any retailer (including web apps) that supports NFC payments. American Express, Visa and Mastercard supported.
- iOS8: comes with latest iOS, details here

Apple Watch
- Retina Display head with Sapphire Glass (aka very hard to break and scratch)
- Will have a variety of band types that you can swap out
- Control is partially using touch screen but relies heavily on the "digital crown" knob on watch side to scroll, zooms, or click for the home screen
- Has built in speaker and microphone, NFC technology, wireless charging, heart rate monitor sensor, accelerometer and force-feedback (example of vibrating when following Map directions)
- Communicates with Apps on iPhone 5 or 6, not clear if can have its own installed apps. Also not clear if has its own onboard memory for music.
- The claim is the battery will last "all day" but no specific numbers
- Dimensions: 1.50" square or 1.65"square (38mm or 42mm)
- Price: starts at $350, band prices unreleased (but Apple surcharge means likely in $40+ range)
- Competition comparison
- Release Date: Spring 2015
- Hands-On: Gizmodo | Engadget

Should you upgrade? I am making a few assumptions here. One is you are firmly in the Apple app ecosystem with no interest in hopping to Android (cause that is a whole different conversation) and two that you are like me and can't afford the latest, greatest version every year. From a pure hardware perspective, the improvements with the electronic guts (chip, camera, battery, sensors, etc.) are fine but for day to day use almost completely meaningless. The chip speed stopped being meaningful with the A6 chip and any extra boost in speed is unlikely to be noticed by you or your favorite applications. At most apps might open and respond milliseconds faster but at a speed only another computer can notice. If you felt the camera was good enough before then the improved camera is likely to solicit the same response.

Now if you are on an iPhone 4 or below I would recommend you upgrade your Apple phone but not necessarily to the iPhone 6 as the iPhone 5 is now cheaper and still an great Apple phone. If already have an iPhone 5 and the screen size has never concerned you before then I see little reason to upgrade unless your current phone has had it and your off contract.

However, assuming a strong desire to upgrade, you really have 3 main upgrade choices (comparison chart) - the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus. Since phone guts don't really matter, chip speed is irrelevant, and the software is identical (iOS 8) than the question really comes down to screen size. In theory bigger is better. Since the phone is going to be in your hand at all times, comfort level holding it and using it matters most. Screen size just may help find that comfort sweet spot. The only way to figure that out is checking out the phones in person. A picture on a computer screen is going to offer no help.

So here is my advice to help make a decision. One, figure out the top three things you use your phone for besides making phone calls (example: web surf, email, and listen to music). Make sure it is the absolute top three things you do nearly every day on it, not the one off stuff do once a week or month (say watch Netflix). The reason for this is find a phone that will better meet your needs everyday, not the phone that might meet future needs (say watch Netflix more often or NFC stuff).

Two, sometime in the next week or so stores and carriers will likely have display models out for you to check out. Make sure its a store that has working display models (so not a Walmart). Now three, find apps that are a close approximation for those top three things you use your current phone for (ex: text a lot so instead open a new email and type out a bunch of fake text message to test typing comfort level) and make sure to try the same apps and tests on all three phones. At the same time if possible. Test the phones both vertically and horizontally. Make sure to hold the phones like you normally do. Try to approximate your daily use of the phone but make sure to not actually log into anything while doing it.

Finally while doing this app testing, pay extra attention to how it feels in your hand and on your eyes. Are you going through any extra contortions to make it work? What discomfort do you have or went away? If you have to go through contortions or you hand hurts with a certain size, just imagine it being like that every day. If figuring this out means have to hold and play use each phone for 30 minutes to figure it, so be it. Take the time as you will stuck with the phone for about two more years and want to minimize buyer's remorse. Now order the phone comfort level in your head. Whichever is number 1 is the phone you should get. If it is a tie, put it in whatever pocket you normally shove your current phone in and see how that feels. May turn out that its too big for your favorite pocket or purse and that could break the tie. If that doesn't work, then yep bigger is better.

As for storage space, if been going fine with 16GB then stay with that, otherwise no real choice but pay the extra $100 for 64GB even though 32gb is the sweet spot for the average person. The 128GB size is only useful if plan on keeping a bunch of digital copies of movies or TV shows on the device otherwise much of the extra space will just be wasted. Apple should have eliminated the 16GB and switch to 32GB as the starting point but from a pure business perspective they knew most of their customers wouldn't pay to upgrade to 64GB. So smart business move but crappy customer move. Hope all this helps in your buying choice.


  1. Very useful summary - thank you!

  2. Today Apple held a press conference to show off the iPhone 6 which will ... 1applewatch.blogspot.de