This is it. Apple just announced the iPhone 6, a sleek sliver of aluminium that comes in two sizes. The screen on the smaller of the two measures 4.7 inches diagonally, and depending on the nature of your needs (and the size of your hands) it might just be the perfect phone for you.
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- The iPhone's Apple Pay Wants To Replace Your Wallet
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The iPhone 6 is pretty. The device sheds the boxy profile of its predecessor in favor of rounded edges. It's also significantly thinner than any other iPhone — 6.9mm thick for the model with the 4.7-inch screen!
The iPhone 5's combination of flat anodised aluminium and flat glass panels has been replaced with an all anodised aluminium case with ion-strengthened glass that curves around the front. (Apple did not mention the word "sapphire", so it's safe to assume the new tech didn't make the cut this time around.) The lock button is now located on the side of the device so that it's easier to reach.
The overall effect brings the iPhone 6 design in line with that of the iPad Air and iPad Mini. Like the iPad, the new iPhone also features an embedded Apple logo in the back case. It is pretty no matter which way you look at it.
The new iPhone lineup also features a new generation of displays that Apple's calling Retina HD. That means 38 per cent more pixels are being packed into the 4.7-inch screen. Bigger screen and more pixels means the picture is sure to be beautiful.
Other upgrades include an improved polariser and an ultrathin backlight.
NFC and Apple Pay
Near Field Communication (NFC) has finally arrived in the iPhone. After years of avoiding the technology, Apple appears to be doubling down on NFC in order to enable touch-to-pay functionality. In fact, the company is launching a whole payments program called Apple Pay.
Apple Pay is meant to replace your physical wallet on the secure element platform. Your identity is confirmed using Touch ID at the point of sale. Apple Pay also uses the Passbook app to keep track of all your credit and debit cards. You can use the card you already have on file in the iTunes Store. If you add a new one, Apple doesn't store the card number — it creates a device-specific ID — and doesn't see or store information about your purchases. If you lose your phone, you can disable Apple Pay using Find My iPhone.
However, Apple Pay isn't just for retail use. The system will also be integrated into a number of apps, from Uber to Open Table, to enable one-touch purchases. ApplePay comes with the iPhone 6, but it's also available with the iOS 8 upgrade.
The new generation of iPhones isn't only increasing in size but speed as well. Apple just announced its next-generation A8 processor that will be baked into the iPhone 6 and most likely future iPad Airs. Apple confirms rumours that the A8 has over one billion transistors and is 13 per cent smaller, 25 per cent faster and 50 per cent more efficient than its A7 predecessor.
Apple is also introducing a new generation of M8 chip can tell when you're cycling, walking, running and can measure distance and elevation even if you go up a flight of stairs. The A8 does inherit some traits from the A7, primarily its dual-core and 64-bit architecture characteristics, however it's manufactured with the 20nm process rather than the A7's 28nm process.
From a straight spec comparison between chips, such as the Snapdragon 805 found in Samsung's new Galaxy Note 4, the A8 may not seem like a big deal. The 805 is quad-core 2.7GHz SoC, but it's important to remember that the A8 is a custom job, built and optimised specifically for Apple products and iOS, whereas Qualcomm creates stock chips for multiple smartphones. A pure spec sheet comparison doesn't come close to telling the whole story.
All the forthcoming Apple ads (and believe me, they're coming) will obviously, and maybe justly, focus on the iPhone 6's new slim exterior, but Apple isn't just about cosmetics. It's the marriage of design, software, and the impressive guts inside that holds the world's attention every September.
Other little improvements include an upgraded LTE modem that promises faster upload and download speeds. The new LTE technology accommodates VoLTE. And 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is supposed to be three times faster than the previous generation. With VoLTE, the new iPhone can make calls over Wi-Fi using your cellular connection.
Battery life, by the way, is supposed to be the same or better as the previous generation of iPhones. The iPhone 6 will have 14 hours of 3G talk time.
After upgrading the iPhones brains and brawn, all that's left is its vision. Because Apple slimmed down its devices (5.58mm!), it has also had to tinker with the camera module to make it fit, and even then it still protrudes slightly on the back. The lens remains the same with an 8 iSight camera, truetone flash and a f/2.2 aperture. This most likely is so people can take advantage of iOS 8's manual camera controls. The improved image signal sensor in the A8 makes advanced face detection possible, which means better focus.
The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 plus will each have digital image stabilisation. However, the Apple's phablet offering will also include optical image stabilisation, which will help capture steady video and better pictures in low light. Concerning video, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can take 1080p video at 30fp or 60fps. If you want to dial the speed down with the iPhone's slo-mo function, those frame rates jump up to 120 fps or 240 fps.
Burst mode, for the uninitiated will take several photos with one push of a button. This joins a number of other features that make the iPhone 6's camera better than ever. The lens is the same with an 8MP iSight camera, truetone flash and a f/2.2 aperture, but it has a bunch of manual controls, an improved image signal sensor and digital image stabilisation. But perhaps most importantly, the new iPhone's selfie burst mode leaves you with the question, why take one selfie when you can take one hundred?
Pricing and Availability
The iPhone 6 will be available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models for $869, $999 and $1129 respectively in Australia. The iPhone 6 Plus will be available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models for $999, $1129 and $1249 respectively. Both phones will be available from Apple, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and other carriers from September 19 onwards. Pre-orders start on September 12.