Apple Announcements: iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and Apple Watch

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iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Yesterday Apple announced that its most popular product the iPhone would come once again in two forms. But unlike last year where consumers got the iPhone 5S and a rather gimped version in the iPhone 5C (which was basically a rebranded iPhone 5 with a colour case), this year Apple announced two phones called the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Unlike last year you get a great phone (in the iPhone 6) and an even greater phone (in the iPhone 6 Plus) at least in terms of specifications anyway.

If you follow any sort of Apple blog, you probably knew all the details about the phones already as iPhone parts continue to leak out of Chinese factories ahead of time to provide ever constant updates to the blogosphere. If you don’t then in a nutshell, the iPhone 6 sports a bigger screen 4.7″ on the diagonal (up 0.7″ from the iPhone 5s) and the iPhone 6 Plus is even bigger at 5.5″ (up 1.5″ from iPhone 5s). The screens also feature a resolution of 750p on the iPhone 6 and 1080p on the iPhone 6 Plus. Most of the other specs on both the phones stay the same, though with the bigger body on the iPhone 6 Plus you get much better battery life (it might even last a day finally?). You also get optical image stabilisation on the iPhone 6 Plus, an incentive I imagine to make you plonk down more dollars. I’ll leave it you to investigate costs and pricings as it varies all over the world.

My immediate reaction? Awesome. Coming from an iphone 4s with its tiny 3.5″ screen, I’m really looking forward to the extra screen space of the larger phones. I know Android fans will probably be clenching their teeth and pulling their hair in frustration because Apple are a few years behind, but the reality is that a GREAT number of iPhone fans stay iPhone users. Yesterday Apple showed in their presentation that customer satisfaction was at 98%. That’s an astounding number that no other business is even going to approach. So I’d imagine many Apple fans have been happily using their 3.5″ and 4″ iPhones and waiting for this day. No its not because they are narrow minded loyalists, its most likely for realistic reasons that they had 2 year plans and been plenty happy with their phone.

Between the two phones, I feel like the iPhone 6 Plus offers the best value long term wise. Having a 3.5″ inch phone, I’ve really felt how constrained the screen was in the last year or so, particularly with so much web content now being about photos and videos. Going forward I think the 4.7″ may be just a stop gap until I once again demand more screen space, so why not just get the 5.5″ to begin with? I’m also an advocate of larger screens on the macbook having gone from a 13″ to a 15″ and also unequivocally prefer the larger iPad too. Because the less zooming you have to do the better.

From a gaming perspective the specs are decent but not spectacular. The iPad Air feels weak with 1GB Ram, and I imagine the iPhone 6 Plus with a 1080p screen with feel similar. Let’s put it into perspective – the Playstation 4 a vastly superior machine and many PCs and laptops also have 8GB Ram and 1080p is not always guaranteed on every application or game. Obviously there will be many optimised apps and games for iPhone 6 Plus that will run fine but there may be comprises to run at that resolution. As Tim Cook said, the iPhone 6 Plus will be pushing 2 million pixels, while the iPhone 6 will be doing 1 million pixels at 750p which will probably provide smoother performance. That comes at a cost in the clarity of the screen where the iPhone 6 has 326 PPI (pixels per inch) and the iPhone 6 Plus has much better clarity with finer pixels at 401 PPI. Surely at that point it doesn’t matter any more does it? I’ll have to wait and see it up close for myself to judge.

All in all its a phenomenal upgrade for all iPhone users. There are some years where there’s no particular reason to upgrade, yes the phone is faster and you get SIRI or Touch ID,  but there are years like this when something as simple as getting a larger screen does matter and its something that many iPhone users are probably happy to upgrade for whether they have a 1 year old phone or 3. As Tim Cook has said its going to be the mother of all upgrades and I can see many existing users lining up for the new one.

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Apple Watch

After much speculation, Apple finally unveiled their take on the Watch. While there were a few quips on the internet about it just being another ipod nano watch, the majority of fans seem to be pretty excited by this new product. It even earned a standing ovation at the presentation.

My first impression actually was that it looked disappointing, but after the presentation I was convinced (damn Apple’s persuasive marketing) that it was a very clever product. As always Apple is never the first out of the gate with a product but they are great at critiquing a competitors product and identifying its weaknesses and capitalising on them. The first thing to notice is that the Apple Watch comes in three different editions, the Watch, the Sport and the Edition. All three come in different materials and finishes. I’ll let you browse the Apple website as they do a far better job than I ever could to show you these things. The watch also comes in a range of bands and wrist straps all of which look incredibly well designed, hardly something you would find from a tech company. Finally and the thing I like the most is that the user gets a bunch of digital faces all of which are customizable. My favourite certainly is the astronomer face where you can zoom out and see planetary alignments in real time and the Mickey mouse face where his hands act as the hour and minute hands and his feet tap out the seconds. Really a touch of class.

The Watch doesn’t stop there, Apple showed off a bunch of apps on it and the Watch basically performed like a smart phone lite. You can receive messages, receive reminders, facebook, twitter and the platform is open for developers on apps, so I imagine there’ll be watch apps for all your favourite phone apps. The biggest problem I see is that its limited by what you can do as there’s no keyboard. People (like myself) who are not fans of SIRI are probably not going to suddenly start using it because its on a watch so that could make it difficult to interact with.

But the things you can do are exciting. My favourite would probably be sending emotions to other Apple Watch users. These are basically hand drawn gestures on the watch screen that you send to your friends. I’m really looking forward to sending my daughter some emotions when she’s old enough. It just feels more personal. Having the watch keep track of fitness basically renders my fitbit flex completely and utterly obsolete. I’m still trying to work out what to do with it. And while I don’t see myself really doing much input on the watch, I think the watch does have a place in my daily use just by keeping me updated all the time.

Finally the price is particularly interesting. This article from Hokindee provides a great insight on the Apple Watch and its price level (http://www.hodinkee.com/blog/hodinkee-apple-watch-review). Of note is that, the watch looks like it blows all competition away at the entry price level of $350, and I agree. You can’t buy really buy a decent watch at $350. Having said that US$350 is still expensive for a gadget. At $350 this will still sell but it won’t sell gangbusters until its under $200. It’s not quite at impulse buy level yet. Another problem I see is that the Apple Watch Edition, the one with 18k carat gold will be pretty expensive and maybe even above $1000 at this point. Sure it’s probably just to pad out the collection and add something exclusive that no other tech company can touch, but for regular income people, its not a great buy especially if it gets superceded next year and stops working in a few years. One of the many reasons people buy a mechanical watch is that they last an awful long time. Yeah I know its for billionaires, but even billionaires don’t buy something that stops working after a short period of time. That’s just not smart.

All in all this watch just does so much more than your regular watch then its going to go some way to make a few watches obsolete. There’ll still be a place for a Rolex or Tissot or Tag Heuer, but it may just feel a little bit disconnected from the rest of the world. For someone with both the Apple Watch and regular watch, going back to wear a regular watch will be like stepping back in time.

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