It happens but once a year: Apple debuts its newest phone in a grand, press- and-analyst-filled event. This year, as the iPhone gets bigger, it’s joined by its long-awaited, smaller, wearable cousin. If you didn’t feel like sitting through the two-hour erratic live stream or missed our live blog, here’s the lowdown on what you missed.
It wouldn’t be a mobile launch without at least one new iPhone, and this year we’ve got two. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively, as well as new generation Retina Displays — Retina HD. And the Plus’ is full HD resolution.. They’re thinner, have redesigned keyboards, faster graphics processing and a new motion coprocessor (for tracking motion and distance data), and bettery battery life than the iPhone 5S. they also promise faster Wi-Fi and LTE, plus there’s support for VoLTE.
The camera’s been updated with phase-detection autofocus, and optical image stabilization debuts in the 6 Plus, and the phone now supports 1080/60p and 30p, with slow-motion 120fps or 240fps, continuous autofocus and image stabilization. The FaceTime camera has a new sensor and f2.2 aperture, plus burst mode, better face detection, and single-shot HDR for still or video.
For US residents craving the iPhone 6, the 16GB version is just $199, while $299 gets you 64GB (instead of the 32GB that the 5S carried at that price), and $399 bumps you up to 128GB. If you’re in the UK, it’ll run you £539, £619, and £699, respectively, and in Australia the line of iPhone 6s will set you back AU$869, AU$999, and AU$1,129.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for 16GB, $399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB in the US and £619, £699, and £789, respectively, in the UK. Australian pricing is AU$999 for 16GB, AU$1,129 for 64GB, and AU$1,249 for the top-of-the-line 128GB model. Available: September 19.
- Apple iPhone 6 First Take
- Apple iPhone 6 Plus First Take
- The iPhones’ updated cameras
- Old iPhones gets cheaper
- Poll: what do you think is the iPhone 6’s biggest draw
- When and where to buy the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
With a return of its trademark “One More Thing,” Apple finally makes its official jump into the wearables market with the Apple Watch — sorry, no iWatch, folks. It uses a “Digital Crown” — you know, that thing on the side of an analog watch you use to set the time — for navigation, as well as addition to touchscreen swiping and Siri, and provides haptic feedback.
There’s a second button on the watch for Digital Touch: it brings up a list of your favorite contacts, and supports tap-based shortcuts. A sensor on the watch activates the display when you raise your wrist, and it bears a completely different interface than iOS, optimized for a small screen. It sports a flexible Retina display with a sapphire screen, a variety of sensors for motion and health tracking, and it supports inductive charging. Apple demoed some interesting applications, like the ability to unlock a hotel-room door, as well as Fitness and Workout.
In addition to watch faces, there are six different straps, each of which uses a standard means to change them. There are three collections; Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport (most durable), and Apple Watch Edition (18K gold). It also requires an iPhone, though it will work with the 5 series as well as the iPhone 6 versions. How much? It starts at $349. Apple has not revealed pricing for the UK or Australia, but $349 converts to around £220 or AU$380. Regardless, you won’t be able to get one until early 2015.
Catching up with the rest of the pack, for its latest mobile devices Apple incorporates NFC (near-field communications) technology and an infrastructure called Apple Pay. It’s limited to the new phones because it requires a new Secure element chip, and it sounds pretty ambitious. Credit card info is integrated through PassBook, and it uses the TouchID sensor to authenticate a payment; the retailer gets just a single-use number verified by the bank instead of your name and credit card number, whether brick-and-mortar or online. And Apple claims it doesn’t monitor your purchases. It will launch with support from 83 percent of all banks and 220,000 US merchants. Apple Pay will launch in the US in October, with other countries to come in the future.
- Apple Pay First Take
- You need to know about NFC and mobile payments. Here’s why.
- Apple adds NFC to iPhone 6 with Apple Pay
Announced in June and subsequently seeded to developers, this is when we finally get to see the final apps and their implementations, including new games that take advantage of the Metal gaming engine. Apple’s apps have some built-in optimizations for single-handed use on the bigger screens. iOS 8 will be available to update your current devices September 17, at which point you’ll get these apps on your old phone.
Aaaaaaand at the end, Apple brought in U2 to perform, and announced that iTunes users can get the band’s new album for free until October 13.
Get more — lots more — on Apple’s announcements in our full coverage.