On Tuesday afternoon, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the biggest iPhone in the device’s seven-year history.
And then, five seconds later, he announced an even larger one.
Yes, Apple unveiled two new iPhones on Tuesday — the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus — both of them with the biggest displays of any smartphone in Apple history. The iPhone 6 features a screen measuring 4.7 inches diagonally, while the iPhone 6 Plus is even larger, at 5.5 inches.
Both devices feature rounded edges and are slightly slimmer than the iPhone 5s. Apple also says battery life has been improved on both devices, and both come with improved cameras.
Apple also announced a new program called Apple Pay, which will allow owners of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to pay at the register by tapping their iPhones. The new iPhones contain an NFC chip, which allows for so-called contactless payments. Apple’s Passbook app can now store your credit cards securely, and you can choose which card you want to use at the register. Apple says it does not store information about what you buy or where you buy it.
Apple also unveiled an entirely new device that works with the iPhone: the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch will come in two sizes (large and small) and in three different styles. The watch connects to an iPhone 5 or newer and lets you send messages, track your fitness levels and daily steps, and more.
The Watch will start at $350 and will be available in “early 2015.”
The larger screen size is the most notable change about this year’s iPhones. From the first iPhone in 2007 through the iPhone 4s in 2011, Apple maintained a display size of 3.5 inches, measured from one corner to its diagonal. In 2012, with the iPhone 5, it increased the display to 4.0 inches; last year’s iPhone 5s maintained that size. This year’s bump to 4.7 and 5.5 inches represents another large jump and brings Apple’s flagship devices closer in screen real estate to Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (a 5-inch screen) and Galaxy Note 4 (5.7 inches).
Apple fans have long defended the company’s refusal to bump up the screen size, deriding its competitors as unwieldy and unpocketable. Samsung, however, appears to have had success in the past several years in part by offering smartphones with generous screen sizes. Surveys have consistently found that shoppers lust after larger screens and that device owners with larger screens enjoyed having the roomier display for reading text, typing, and watching videos (even though the phones may look a little goofy in their front pockets).
Tim Cook introduces the new iPhones at an event in California. (AFP)
Apple has been under increasing pressure from financial analysts to up the screen size of its smartphones. Despite record sales in each successive year, Apple has not dominated the smartphone market in countries like China and India, where shoppers have flocked to devices with larger screens from companies like Samsung and LG. The bigger iPhones are seen as an attempt to appeal to those potential customers, who would have otherwise dismissed the iPhone as unrealistically small.
The iPhone 6 will start at $199 for a 16 GB version, $299 for a 64 GB version, and $399 for a new 128 GB version. The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for the 16 GB version.
Both phones will go on sale Sept 19 and will be available for preorder Sept. 12.