Calling it the “the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone,” Tim Cook today introduced the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are the same devices previously leaked. They are glass-fronted, with anodized aluminum backs and stainless steel Apple logos. Each has a right side-mounted Sleep/Wake button—the first relocation of the button in any iOS device.
The new iPhone 6 comes in two screen sizes—4.7” and 5.5”—which Apple is calling “Retina HD displays,” “new in every way,” and SRGB color-accurate. They use greater angle-visible IPS liquid crystal displays with improved polarizers and ion-strengthened glass. The screen resolutions are somewhat surprising—1334×750 for the 4.7” version, and 1920×1080 for the 5.5” version, the latter the first time an iPhone has exactly matched HDTV resolution. The 4.7” is 6.9mm thin, and the 5.5” version is 7.1” thin. Both contain NFC wireless hardware for use with Apple Pay, Apple’s new credit card transaction system.
An A8 processor is inside the new models, promising up to 25% CPU improvements and 50% faster graphics. Built on a 20nm process, it’s 13% smaller than last year’s A7. Apple claims that the processor can run at peak speeds for longer periods of time, generating less heat. A game demonstration called Vain Glory from Super Evil Megacorp shows graphics roughly equivalent to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Battery life is promised at 11 hours of video (4.7”), 14 hours of video (5.5”), 14 hours of talk (4.7”), 24 hours of talk (5.5”). The new M8 process can count steps, including estimates of distance and elevation—including flights of stairs—thanks to a new barometer sensor.
The 5.5” version now has a “2-up” mode that works in landscape mode with two panes, akin to a smaller version of the iPad interface. You can even use the Home screen for the first time in landscape mode on this model. A one-handed mode lets you tap the Home button twice to slide the screen downward for easier access—sort of a weird idea. Prior iOS apps—now 1.3 million of them—can just scale up to the new screens’ resolutions using a “desktop-class scaler,” or auto reformat using iOS 8’s layout-adjusting tools.
LTE speed has been boosted from 100Mbps to 150Mbps, now with support for up to 20 LTE bands, up from 13 in prior devices. VoLTE support has been added for Voice over LTE, so voice calls will sound better with voice and data simultaneously, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. 802.11ac has been added for 3x faster Wi-Fi. Apple’s engineers ‘came up with’ the idea for Wi-Fi calling while you’re within Wi-Fi range, then handing it off to cellular network. T-Mobile (US) and EE (UK) will support it at start.
The rear camera is an 8MP iSight camera with True Tone flash, 1.5 micron pixels and f/2.2 aperture—similar to before—but with a new sensor. “Focus pixels” (phase-detect autofocus) inside the camera sensor read the light to determine whether something is in or out of focus, twice as fast as before. Improved noise reduction and next-gen local tone mapping. To reduce hand-shake, the iPhone 6 will have digital image stabilization, while the iPhone 6 Plus will have true optical image stabilization, a bummer for those who wanted the smaller phone to be equivalent in camera performance.
Video performance now includes both 120fps and 240fps slo-mo modes, benefitting from realtime stabilization, plus 30 and 60fps 1080p video recording. Improvements to the iPhones’ A8 digital signal processing capabilities enable better face recognition; the front-facing camera has also been upgraded to an f/2.2 aperture lens speed, albeit with the same 1280×720-pixel resolution as before.
For the iPhone 6, $199 gets you a 16GB model, with 64GB at $299 and 128GB at $399. iPhone 6 Plus sells at a $100 premium per model. In-stores on September 19th for U.S. and 8 other countries; they can preorder starting on September 12. Space gray, silver, and gold versions will be available for each device. Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon have been tapped to do initial commercials for the phones, which are billed as “bigger than bigger.”