Apple Announces iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
September 9, 2014 :: John Mulhern, Lead for Client Technologies, TSS, Information Systems & Computing
On September 9, 2014, Apple announced the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple also announced the Apple Pay digital payment system and the debut Apple Watch. Collectively, these announcements are the most significant by Apple in a single day within the past several years.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are substantial upgrades to the iPhone 5s and 5c, but do not render them obsolete. Screen size has been increased from 4.0 inches to 4.7 inches (iPhone 6) or 5.5 inches (iPhone 6 Plus) and resolution has been increased with “Retina HD" displays. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are both thinner than the iPhone 5s, measuring at about 7 mm versus the 5s' 7.5 mm. As is expected because of the increases in screen size, both are heavier than the iPhone 5s, which weighs 4.0 ounces: the iPhone 6 is 4.6 ounces and the iPhone 6 Plus is 6.1 ounces.
Camera functionality is notably improved in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, though they are rated at the same 8 megapixels as before. Apple has added digital image stabilization to the iPhone 6 and optical stabilization to the iPhone 6 Plus. The latter is a important upgrade and is probably the superior solution for image stabilization, both in video and for still images. Rather than trying to digitally stabilize the image, which can lead to odd image artifacts or distortion, the camera assembly moves to compensate for vibrations and hand shake. Other improvements to the rear camera are higher frame rate video capture in 1080p, faster frame rate options for slow-motion capture, panoramic photos that are up to 43 megapixels in size, and phase-detect autofocus pixels, which allows for faster subject acquisition for stills and better continuous autofocus in video and burst modes. The front FaceTime camera also has a few improvements, including a wider aperture of f/2.2, and a burst mode for taking self portraits.
Other notable hardware upgrades include the following:
- Significantly higher performance from a new A8 processor
- Improved Long Term Evolution (LTE) high-speed cellular capability with voice over LTE (VoLTE) support and Wi-Fi calling support, both of which the major cellular vendors have stated they will support to at least some extent
- Near Field Communications (NFC)
- Moderately improved battery life
Both new iPhone models will be available in 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB sizes, will be compatible with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless networks, and will be available on Friday, September 19, 2014 with pre-ordering beginning on Friday, September 12.
Concerning cost, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will have an in-contract pricing structure similar to previous models, starting at $200 for the 16 GB iPhone 6. Now lower-end 8 GB iPhone 5c and 16 GB/32 GB iPhone 5s models will remain available at little or no cost (in-contract). A comparison of the four iPhone models is available here.
While the hardware improvements of the new iPhones are welcome, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes the most significant improvements are in the iOS 8 update for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. iOS 8 is compatible with the iPhone 4S and later, iPad 2 and later, and iPod touch (5th-generation and later) and will be released on September 17, 2014. ISC and others across the University have tested beta versions of iOS 8 and have not discovered any issues with core University systems or with many University apps. For more information on iOS 8, see the continuously updated iOS 8 Technology Brief. More information on iOS 8's features can be found at Apple's page here.