“Today, we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at an event in Cupertino, Calif. “They are without a doubt the best iPhones we’ve ever done.”
Display: The iPhones have curved edges and bigger screens that measure 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, up from just four inches on the iPhone 5S.
The larger iPhones have what Apple is calling “Retina HD” displays. The iPhone 6 comes with more than 1 million pixels — a third more pixels than the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 6 Plus has 2 million pixels, double the iPhone 5S’ screen.
To help users handle the bigger phone, Apple has moved the on-off switch to the right edge of the phone. And when you double-tap the home button, the entire display will slide down so users can access items on the top of the screen.
The bigger displays allow for bigger batteries: 11 hours of video watching on the iPhone 6 and 14 hours for the iPhone 6 Plus — up from 10 hours on the iPhone 5S.
Speed: The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus feature Apple’s new A8 processor, which is 25% faster than the iPhone 5S. The M8 co-processor will allow fitness apps to tell the difference between walking and biking and even measure your relative elevation.
Camera: Both iPhones feature an 8 megapixel camera with a new sensor that Apple claims will help the camera focus faster.
Software: The iPhones will feature Apple’s new iOS 8 software, a relatively minor update from iOS 7. Among the bigger iOS 8 additions is new HealthKit application that monitors users’ heart rates, sleep, weight and blood pressure among other health-related information. IOS 8 will also feature HomeKit, a new platform for people to control all the items in their homes with the iPad or iPhone.
Apple said iOS 8 will be available Sept. 17 to customers who have an iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C or iPhone 5S.
Both iPhones will be available Sept. 19 in the United States and eight other countries. Pre-orders will begin on Friday. The 16 GB iPhone 6 will be available for $199. The 64 GB version will cost $299; $399 will get you 128 GB. The iPhone 6 Plus will start at $299.
Apple will also discount the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C by $100. The iPhone 5S will maintain its aluminum casing — it won’t get the iPhone 5C’s plastic treatment.
ApplePay: Apple also unveiled a new mobile payments platform called ApplePay, which works with the new iPhones.
Using a technology called “near field communications,” or NFC, the new iPhones will be able to interact with payment terminals in a simple tap. Apple has deals in place with the major credit card companies, including American Express, MasterCard and Visa, as well as several major retailers.
Apple touted ApplePay’s security. The company said it doesn’t store your credit card information on your phone — and the number isn’t even given to the merchant. ApplePay also works with the iPhone’s TouchID sensor — allowing people to pay with a swipe of their fingertips.
Apple also said ApplePay is convenient. It already has your credit card information and address associated with your iPhone account — when you pay for something, you can just touch the TouchID sensor and have items shipped to you.
“Our ambition is to replace this,” said Cook, holding a wallet.
iWatch: Apple is also widely expected to unveil an “iWatch” smartwatch would be its first wearable device. The iWatch is expected to pair with the new iPhones to display notifications, and it will likely have some health and fitness features. Oh, and it will tell time too — we’re pretty sure of that.
Google has already unveiled its smartwatch software called “Android Wear.” Samsung, Motorola, LG and other gadget makers have already launched smartwatches, which have received mixed reviews and tepid interest from consumers.