Apple this week launched its next generation of iPhones — the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — maintaining a two-device product cycle that mimics last year's iPhone 5s and 5c release.
There were, however, marked differences compared to last year: Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus use Apple's latest system on a chip (SoC) design, the A8; sport the new M8 motion coprocessor that allows the phone act as an activity tracker; and support NFC technology and Apple's forthcoming Apple Pay system. That's unlike last year, when the iPhone 5S featured got the new technology — an A7 chip, M7 coprocessor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor — while the iPhone 5C was largely a reskinned iPhone 5, which it effectively replaced in Apple's lineup.
The differentiators this year are less about the underlying hardware and more about the size of the devices. That includes whether or not apps (and the homescreen) can display additional or different content in landscape orientation, something that's possible on the larger iPhone 6 Plus but not on the iPhone 6. It also includes battery capacity; the iPhone 6 Plus provides more space for what seems to a larger battery. Aside from the size and the optical image stabilization in the 6 Plus, the new iPhones appear to be comparably specced.
Pre-orders for both phones begin Friday, with sales starting on Sept. 19.
Although it's easy to look at just the two new iPhones, both of which are bigger than their predecessors, as the new iPhone lineup, they're really only half of of the story — and a less than a third the company's overall iOS product line.
Last year's two iPhones are still available — the 8GB iPhone 5C is now free with a carrier contract and the iPhone 5S starts at $99 with a contract. The iPhone 6 Plus bridges the gap between the iPhone and iPad lines and attendees at Apple's press event said using it feels more like using a tiny iPad than a larger iPhone. That's due to its ability to display more content in landscape mode. (That feature until now was only available on Apple's tablets.)
This leaves Apple's entire mobile lineup at eight devices:
- iPod touch (which will like get an iPhone 6-like update at some point)
- iPhone 5C
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPad mini
- iPad mini with Retina Display
- iPad Air
Those devices hit all the major mobile form factors — small phone, larger phone, phablet, small tablet and large tablet — that Apple's competitors offer, including Samsung. (Samsung and Microsoft both offer larger tablets in the 12-in. range, and Apple is rumored to be planning a similar-sized iPad, possibly for release later this fall.) They offer a range of storage capacities from 8GB all the way to 128GB (with the maximum storage available in both the new iPhones and the current iPad Air). Equally important, they hit a wide range of price points with the exception of bargain basement smartphones typically tied to pre-paid carriers.
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