Thoughts on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple had some great announcements for us earlier today and among them were two brand new iPhones to take over as the flagship models for the next year. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus didn’t come as much of a surprise, most of the rumor sites had many of the features pegged months ago. But, it’s always nice to see the official announcement so we get a better idea of what the whole picture is. Even if it means having to sit through the cheesy new ads featuring Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon.

Bigger Than Bigger

Apple finally did it, they announced bigger iPhones. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with 4.7- and 5.5-inch displays respectively. Both sporting a new case design with curved glass at the edges and an aluminum back. Both have brand new “Retina HD Displays” with resolutions of 1334×750 at 326ppi for the 4.7-inch model and 1920×1080 at 401ppi for the 5.5-inch model. And if you were wondering how third-party apps would work with the new display sizes, they will automatically scale to fit, even if the developer hasn’t built their app with these new displays in mind.

Beyond the displays, there’s been a ton of other hardware advancements in these models as well. Faster A8 processor, better battery life, the next generation M8 motion coprocessor, VoLTE, 802.11ac, and some great enhancements to the front and rear-facing cameras.

But, the star of the show really is the new display sizes. It’s what many have been asking for and Apple finally delivered. Unfortunately though, I’m a little disappointed. I don’t want to bury the new sizes too much, but I’m a bit bugged that the phone has grown the way that it has. I understand that the market is pushing Apple to build bigger iPhones, and I understand that many will be happy about it. But, I don’t think I’ll be one of the happy ones.

I haven’t actually had my hands on the device yet (I’m not one of the lucky ones). But, Ars Technica put together a neat printable paper template that will give you an idea of how big the new iPhones are. They’re pretty big, maybe a little too big for my liking. Just comparing the size of the paper template to my iPhone 5s, I can tell that I won’t be able to reach all four corners of the device with my thumb while using it one handed. And, I’m not sure if it will even fit comfortably in my pants pocket.

I have discussed the new iPhone sizes with my girlfriend and I can tell you that she absolutely hates the new sizes. She has the same concerns as I do about being able to use it one handed, but her concerns about the size are a little bit more serious than mine. Her current iPhone 5s barely fits in her pants pockets and the iPhone 6 won’t actually fit in her pockets at all. That’s a bit of a deal breaker for her and she’s hoping Apple will “get their act together” and release a more powerful 4-inch iPhone next year for her to upgrade to.

I would like to actually hold one in my hand before I make my final decision about the new sizes. I don’t expect I’ll have any interest in the iPhone 6 Plus, it’s much larger than I would expect myself to ever want in a smartphone. The 4.7-inch model is much closer to what I expect the optimal size is for me, but it’s pushing it. And, without actually holding one in my hand, using it for a little bit (and trying to put it in my pocket), I don’t think I’ll have any idea how it will be to live with one day in and day out for two years.

The one bit of solace in this otherwise annoying iPhone announcement is that I don’t plan on upgrading my iPhone until next year. Since the original iPhone in 2007 I’ve purchased every other iPhone — with last year’s model being my most recent purchase. Maybe I’ll get used to the size over the next year or I’ll finally give in and just deal with it. Either way I’m glad I have an extra year before I have to make the decision.

iPhone Lineup

Apple does have an incredible lineup of iPhones leading into the holiday season, though. What strikes me most about this year is just how similar the iPhone lineup is to what the iPod lineup was at its peak — the iPod shuffle, nano, classic, and touch. The iPhone lineup is now as follows:

  • iPhone 5c – Free
  • iPhone 5s – $99
  • iPhone 6 – $199
  • iPhone 6 Plus – $299

Four options, just like the iPod. There’s now an option at every price point from free all the way to $299. This is exactly the same strategy that Apple used to push all of the other MP3 players out of the market — don’t give them any breathing room.