5 Things You Need To Know About The New iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Yes, that’s right, new iPhones! This year, there are two iPhones being released, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Look past the fold for a quick run through of the new features and changes.

1. Increased Screen Sizes

There is a 4.7 inch iPhone called the iPhone 6, and a 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, the name sounds pretty clunky, iPhone 6 Plus, but whatever, I’m not the one choosing these names.

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The screen resolution for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus is 1920 x 1080 pixels compared to the 1136 x 640 resolution found on last year’s iPhone 5S. Apple calls this  screen resolution “Retina HD” but really, it’s been around on pretty much every damn top-tier Android device released in the past 2 years (seriously, the HTC Butterfly had it in December 2012), and LG and Samsung have already moved into Quad-HD (2K) resolution territory.

And the screen resolution for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is 1334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi) and Apple dares call this Retina HD as well. Well, at least it’s an improvement.

2. Improved Camera

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The cameras in both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have a whopping 8 megapixels, far outclassing the competition today (I’m being sarcastic, just so you know). But, Apple has shown us that megapixel counts aren’t the most important thing in a phone camera, and from my experience, the 5s camera has performed better than most other phone cameras I’ve experienced.

Instead, Apple has chosen to improve the camera by using an all-new sensor which has larger pixels (to let in more light) akin to HTC, which should allow for better night shots. Like the 5s, it has an f/2.2 aperture lens and dual-LED flash, like the iPhone 5S.

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The notable difference between the 6 and 6 Plus is the image stabilisation. Presumably due to space constraints, the 6 has digital image stabilisation, while the 6 Plus has OIS (optical image stabilisation) which is supposed to be really good for taking videos and photos as it really reduces blur, which I’ve personally experienced with the camera on my G2.

Next, there’s a new autofocus system introduced in both the phones which is supposed to be twice as fast as the 5s’ autofocus speed. It uses pixels on the image sensor to focus even faster than before. Face, blink and smile detection speeds are also supposed to be improved, and both phones have advanced image processing algorithms to improve sharpness, detail and contrast in photos.

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What’s more, panoramas now are a whopping 43 megapixels – that’s right. You’ll be able to see every single person’s facial expression when zooming into the next panorama you take at a stadium. This is truly fantastic, and while there are Android apps that function similarly, they aren’t stable on all devices.

Oh, and the slow motion video capture as well as, well, regular motion video capture, have been improved. Both phones can now shoot 1080p video at 60 or 30 FPS, and the slow motion feature now allows for 120 or 240 FPS (previously it was just 120, so this is pretty good). Other Android phones are moving on to taking 4K video though, but their slow motion video capture just cannot match up to Apple’s.

3. Apple Pay (Mobile Payments)

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This is going to be useless for us Singaporeans for a while, because of how adoption of these things in Singapore takes forever, but it’s really cool. Basically the iPhones now have NFC and a secure mobile payment method which can totally do away with credit cards. Nothing is stored in the cloud, so yeah, no iCloud hacks can steal your info. Instead, it’s all stored in the secure element, which is where your TouchID info is stored.

Here's a list of merchants supported in the U.S.A.
Here’s a list of merchants supported in the U.S.A.

Speaking of which, you authenticate purchases using your thumbprint. You can pay at cashiers by using NFC, or you can pay when online (meaning that when online or offline, you can use Apple Pay. You can also use your Apple Watch to pay at cashiers.

4.  More Storage, At Cheaper Prices

Now the storage options are 16, 64 and 128 gigabytes. So basically for what you’d usually pay for a 32 gigabyte iPhone, you now get 64 gigabytes, and for what you’d usually pay for a 64 gigabyte iPhone, you get a 128 gigabyte iPhone.

However, at each storage tier, the price of the iPhone 6 Plus is USS100 more than the price of the iPhone 6. This works out to be around S$135 more factoring in GST, but I’m very sure that it will cost even more anyway when it comes to Singapore.

5. New Processor

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Come on, a new iPhone (or iPhones in this case) is (are) never complete without a new processor. With the iPhone 6, there’s the A8, an upgrade over the A7, and the M8, an upgrade over the M7.

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The A8 is the processor which is 25% faster than the A7. It has a 50% faster graphics chip, and is also a 64-bit processor like the A7 (and yet no RAM upgrade to take advantage of 64-bit). Apparently, it is more long-lasting in the sense that it is designed to be less subject to the effects of heat and other issues slowing down processors, that generally plague lesser chips. This will allow it to run at 100% power all the time, unlike previous chips where it had to throttle performance in lieu of thermal concerns.

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Further power saving enhancements made with the A8 have seen projected battery life of the iPhone 6 Plus double over the iPhone 5s, with the iPhone 6 taking a 25% boost.

The A8 is accompanied by the M8 which is a “motion co-processor”. The M8 basically measures motion and sucks up less battery while doing so, because you can, for example, lock your screen and just go for a run, yet still monitor your motion while not requiring the main processor (A8) to run, thus saving energy.

Now, the M8 can distinguish between running and cycling, and also measure elevation to track the staircase steps you climb, all three of which were not possible on the M7.

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Even though my fellow editors vehemently disagree, personally I’m really quite underwhelmed by the new features in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but I do think it’s a necessary step for Apple and for the world, especially with regard to the mobile payment industry which will now mature much faster because of Apple’s substantial market power. NFC? YES. Mobile payments? YES! Bigger screen size, meh, OIS, meh, better processor, meh.

And about the better processor, I’ll tell you something that the other news sites won’t pick up on (at least for a while) though. Ever since the launch of the first iPhone, processor speed has been literally doubling. This means a 100% increase in speed from the previous iPhone. But now… the iPhone 6’s processor is only 25% faster than the iPhone 5s’ processor. We’re reaching the point where processing speed is becoming very difficult to increase.

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What now? What’s next? There’s very little for smartphones in the hardware department now, and I think we’ve all been seeing this trend in the shifting of focus to software rather than hardware features for product differentiation. That’s fine. It’s now a matured industry, and I can’t wait to see what’s next, especially on the services side, where I believe tech companies are pushing for our lives to become even more seamless, integrated and automatic.

Pricing and Availability

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The iPhone 6 will be available from 19 September here in Singapore in three colour options – gold, silver and space grey.

There’s also three models to choose from – 16 GB, 64 GB, and for the first time, a 128 GB option and local pricing for them are S$988, S$1148, and S$1288 respectively. The iPhone 6 Plus will cost S$1148 for the 16 GB model, S$1288 for the 64 GB model, as well as S$1448 for the new 128 GB model.

These are ridiculously high prices, especially when looking at the Android competition – the 32 GB + SD card slot LG G3 is available for just S$899, and that’s with a 5.5″ 2K display.

You can get them both from the Singapore Apple Online Store from 19 September, or start pre-orders from 12 September. In addition to that, the three major local telcos (M1, SingTel and StarHub), additional carriers, and Apple Authorised Resellers will carry the models.

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And if you’ve taken a keen interest in the Apple-designed leather cases for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, you can get them in black, soft pink, olive brown, midnight blue and red for S$64 for iPhone 6 and S$68 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

If the silicone cases tickle your fancy, get them in black, blue, pink, green, white and red for S$48 (iPhone 6) and S$58 (iPhone 6 Plus).

Apple’s also announced that iOS 8 will be available as a free software update from 17 September for all iPhones starting from the 4s, so mark your calendars.

iPhone 6 Image Gallery:

What do you think of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus? Are you going to be buying it?

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