Another year, another iPhone—or two.
Despite a torrent of leaks essentially specifying the details of these phones, the atmosphere at the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launch in Cupertino, California on Sept. 9, 2014 was the usual frenzied mix of media hype and hysteria. The two new iPhones, unveiled by Apple CEO Tim Cook, were declared by Cook to be “the biggest advancement in the history of the iPhone.”
Launching two different devices marks a shift in Apple’s release strategy—which previously featured a single iPhone—and showcases its response to market preferences for larger screens.
The two models, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, are both significantly larger than the incumbent iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 comes equipped with a 4.7-inch 1334×750 pixels display, has better camera sensors and processing software, as well as the ability to act as a secure payment processor using a Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology called Apple Pay, which is available on both models.
This new system is designed to replace wallets, allowing for the use of ‘Touch ID’ in place of credit cards. It is a simple and refreshing take on mobile payment, and has been widely adopted, with behemoth companies like McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks jumping on board.
The larger model, the iPhone 6 Plus, has a 5.5-inch ‘phablet-sized’ screen, with 1920×1080 resolution. The higher-end model offers slightly better specs than the iPhone 6, with better battery life that can last up to 24 hours of talk time. It also has optical-image stabilization, which allows the camera lens to compensate for shaking, and features a one-handed mode to compensate for the larger proportions of the device.
Both phones sport faster A8 processors and are available in gold, space grey, and silver. The new operating system, iOS 8, is an improvement over iOS 7, with interactive notifications, health tracking, and better Mac compatibility.
However, those who are planning on buying one of the new iPhones will have to wait. Both phones are currently sold out on Apple and carrier websites, and are back-ordered for eight to 12 business days. The iPhone 6 retails for $199 on a two-year contract for the 16 GB edition, with increased prices for higher storage. The 6 Plus starts at $299.
Yet the iPhones’ high prices warrant a discussion on justified value. According to Green America, Apple is a company with inflated profit margins, producing phones with low-cost workers in unsafe factories. While nicely designed and easy to use, the phone essentially locks users into an ecosystem of expensive devices, like the Mac and the newly announced Watch.
So is this phone worth the price? It depends. For users who already have Apple products and have an older iPhone model, this is an obvious choice to continue the iPhone legacy. Those who value screen size—go with the iPhone 6 Plus or the iPhone 6 for just a general upgrade.
However, take a look at the competition. From the chamfered aluminum edges of the HTC One to the clean Android experience of the new Motorola X, the mobile market has never been stronger. Particularly for users who aren’t locked into the Apple ecosystem, an alternate choice may be the better option.
The iPhone 6 is a great device, no question about it. It’s just not the greatest anymore.