Yesterday, Apple introduced the 2014 version of the iPhone. The new iPhone 6 is larger (although thinner) than the iPhone 5/5s, and for those looking for a huge screen, the iPhone 6 Plus is even larger.
Before talking about the iPhone 6, a brief word about Apple's even bigger announcement yesterday: the Apple Watch. It will be released in early 2015, and there will be many different models, starting at $350. While the beautiful screen on the Apple Watch will remind many of the iPhone, it runs a new operating system (not just a version of iOS) and includes brand new features and input methods, with a user interface that is unlike anything I've ever seen. This has the potential to be the next big thing for Apple, and there is so much to learn about — including so many details that Apple has yet to reveal — that I am only beginning to understand this new product. I'll talk about this product more in the future as I learn more and as more information is revealed. Having said that, yes, I will absolutely be getting one just as soon as they go on sale.
But back to the iPhone 6, which is something that you can buy actually buy this month, with pre-orders starting on September 12 and sales in retail stores beginning at 8am on September 19. After watching the video in which Apple announced the new iPhones and reading everything that I could get my hands on last night, I have no doubt that the new iPhones include a lot of features that lawyers are going to love.
The most obvious new feature of the new iPhones is that they are larger. The 2012 and 2013 models — the iPhone 5 and 5s — had a 4-inch diagonal screen. In 2014, the iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch diagonal screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch diagonal screen. The screens are larger because the devices themselves are larger. The iPhone 6 is 5.44 inches tall and 2.64 inches wide. The iPhone 6 Plus is 6.22 inches tall and 3.06 inches wide. (By comparison, the iPhone 5s is 4.87 inches tall and 2.31 inches wide.)
What does the new iPhone do with the extra space? Older apps that have not been updated will simply zoom to fill the screen, so everything will just be larger. And as I understand it, you can select a mode on the new iPhones called Zoom View that will show, even with new apps, the same screen that you would have seen on an iPhone 5/5s, but just a larger version of it.
Alternatively, you can select the Standard View, and then apps can be written to take advantage of the larger screen size. For example, the iPhone 5/5s home screen can display four columns and five rows of apps (plus the dock) per screen. In Zoom View, you see the same layout on the new iPhones, but the icons and text are just larger. But in Standard View on the new iPhones, the home screen can show six rows of apps per screen — an additional row. You still get four columns, but there is just more space between each column. The following images show the Standard View on the left and the Zoom View on the right:
I can see both modes being particularly useful for lawyers. The ability to have larger text may mean that you don't need to reach for your iPad or a computer when you need to read a brief on your iPhone or read the fine print in a document. The ability to have more options on the screen means that you can be even more productive when you are trying to use your iPhone to get work done. And from what I have read from people who have actually held the iPhone 6, while it is certainly bigger than an iPhone 5/5s, it doesn't feel so much bigger that it feels wrong in any way. When I switched from an iPhone 4S to and iPhone 5, I immediately noticed the taller screen, but after about a week or so the taller screen seemed normal and the iPhone 4S seemed tiny and wrong. I suspect that the transition to the larger iPhone 6 will be similar. [UPDATE 9/12/14: David Pogue of Yahoo Tech said today: "The iPhone 6 (not PLUS) does NOT strike most people as bigger! Unless you have the iPhone for comparison, it doesn't hit you as bigger at all, which was a surprise to me."]
As for the even larger iPhone 6 Plus, I address that below.
Apple calls the iPhone 5s screen a Retina screen. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have what Apple calls a Retina HD screen. It has a higher contrast so that text is sharper and blacks are deeper. This will make pictures and videos look better, but it will also make it easier to read email and documents on an iPhone screen.
The Retina HD screen also has a winder viewing angle. Thus, if you need to show a client or a colleague something on an iPhone, they will find it easier to see what is on the screen of the iPhone in your hand.
The new iPhones are thinner than ever. The original iPhone was .46 inches thick. The iPhone 3G and 3Gs were slightly thicker, at .48 inches. The iPhone 4 and 4S were noticeably thinner at .37 inches. The iPhone 5 and 5s were thinner still at .30 inches. The new iPhone 6 is only .27 inches, and the iPhone 6 Plus is only slighly thicker at .28 inches. In my experience with prior generations of iPhones, as the devices get thinner, they become easier and more pleasant to hold in your hand, and they become easier to store in a shirt pocket because they bulge out less. Thus, I suspect that I will appreciate the even thinner iPhones this year.
Note that while the new iPhones are thinner, because they are also larger, the new iPhones weigh more than the iPhone 5/5s did. The iPhone 5s weighs 3.95 ounces; the iPhone 6 weighs in at 4.55 ounces, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 6.07 ounces. Fortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will feel heavier in your hands, thanks to the thinner design and the better distribution of weight — especially for the iPhone 6. For example, Brian Barrett of Gizmodo got a chance to hold the new iPhone 6 after Apple's announcement yesterday and wrote: "The iPhone 6 is also light as hell. Yes, it's about half an ounce heavier than the iPhone 5S, but with the weight distributed over larger area it ends up, oddly, feeling even lighter than the previous generation." I suspect that the extra weight will be more obvious with the iPhone 6 Plus.
The new iPhones have curved edges. Apple says on its website: "The first thing you notice when you hold iPhone 6 is how great it feels in your hand. The cover glass curves down around the sides to meet the anodized aluminum enclosure in a remarkable, simplified design. There are no distinct edges. No gaps. Just a smooth, seamless bond of metal and glass that feels like one continuous surface." Virtually every article that I have read about the new iPhones written by folks who held them yesterday notes that the new iPhones feel really great in your hand thanks to the curved sides.
Of course, a new iPhone model is going to have better processors and thus be faster. In the announcement yesterday, Apple VP Phil Schiller said that the new iPhones have up to a 25% faster CPU, and up to 50% faster GPU (graphics), compared to last year's iPhone 5s. The new iPhones are also up to 50x faster than the original iPhone on CPU tasks, and up to 84% faster on graphics. In real world use, this typically means that the device can do more and feels more responsive, which is always a good thing.
Apple knows that more and more folks are relying on an iPhone to be their primary camera, and thus Apple improves the camera every year. The new iPhones have a better sensor that takes better pictures with better, faster auto-focus for both photos and videos. The new iPhones also do a better job with handling colors, and do a better job with noise reduction when you are taking a photograph in low light.
So in short, the camera is better.
Apple spent a lot of time yesterday describing the new Apple Pay system. At a large number of merchants, you will soon be able to pay for items just by tapping your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus — and soon your Apple Watch — on a device at the store. The whole process is much faster, and much more secure, than using a credit card. This has the potential to be one of the best, and most convenient, features of the new iPhones and I look forward to learning more about it and using it myself.
Other new features
Those are the highlights, but there is a lot more that is new in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. For example, for carriers that support it, the new phones have better LTE support for faster data. Many carriers will also soon support Voice over LTE, which lets you talk using the better 4G LTE network instead of the 3G network for better sounding calls.
If you have a relatively new router that supports 802.11ac, the new iPhones also support this as well, which can result in up to 3x faster Wi-Fi. On T-Mobile, and hopefully other U.S. carriers in the future, you will even be able to take advantage of the superior bandwidth of Wi-Fi to make better quality phone calls, and then the call will seamlessly switch to the cellular network when you leave the Wi-Fi area.
The new iPhones can even tell how high you are — i.e., they have a barometer. Thus, the health-related apps can keep track of (and give you credit for) walking up stairs.
The new iPhones come in the same colors as before — silver, gold and space gray. Just like before, the entry model comes with 16 GB, but for an extra $100, you now jump up to 64 GB, and an extra $200 will get you 128 GB. For most attorneys, the 64 GB model will be the sweet spot.
Which size to get?
So you have decided to get a new iPhone. Which size should you get? As California attorney David Sparks tweeted yesterday: "I will probably spend more time considering iPhone 6 vs. 6 plus than most people spend choosing a tattoo." I've been thinking about it a lot. On the plus side of the iPhone 6 Plus (ahem), I see four advantages to paying an additional $100 for an iPhone 6 Plus over an iPhone 6.
First, bigger is often better when it comes to looking at things on a mobile device. Video and photographs will virtually always look better when then can be made larger on a larger screen. And for those of us with aging eyes, having larger text in emails, web pages, etc. is better. There are actually two ways that the iPhone 6 Plus screen can be better. First and most obviously, the screen itself is physically larger, as noted above. But in addition to being a larger screen, it should be a better screen because the iPhone 6 Plus has pixels that are packed more tightly together, making it all the more impossible to see individual pixels. The iPhone 6, like the iPhone 5s, has 326 pixels per inch. The iPhone 6 Plus has 401 pixels per inch. To be sure, 326 pixels per inch is awesome, and at some point the dots become so small that your eyes can't distinguish the difference anyway, but I imagine that the iPhone 6 Plus screen could look better in addiiton to being larger.
Second, as noted above, apps can be written to take advantage of the larger screen of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. But on the iPhone 6 Plus, the screen is so much larger that many apps will include features that we previously saw only on an iPad. For example, in the built-in Mail app, when you turn to landscape mode on an iPhone 6 Plus, you have the option to see a list of messages on the left and the message itself on the right, similar to what you can see on an iPad:
Thus, app developers can take advantage of the larger screen of the iPhone 6 Plus to display all of the same text and graphics, at the same size, that they appear on the iPhone 6, but then add some additional information in the extra space. This has the potential to make you more productive with an iPhone 6 Plus than with an iPhone 6.
Third, the iPhone 6 Plus has a larger battery, and while you need some of that extra battery to power the larger screen, the larger iPhone also lasts longer. For example, Apple says that an iPhone 5s can use the Internet for up to 8 hours on 3G, whereas an iPhone 6 can go up to 10 hours and the iPhone 6 Plus can go up to 12 hours. Video playback is up to 10 hours on the iPhone 5s, up to 11 hours on the iPhone 6, and up to 14 hours on the iPhone 6 Plus.
Fourth, the iPhone 6 Plus is the first and only iPhone to feature optical image stabilization, which helps to correct for your hand shaking when you take a picture with the iPhone.
All of those advantages seem pretty nice. Nevertheless, I still think I am going to get the iPhone 6 for myself, not the iPhone 6 Plus, because my sense is that the Plus will just be too big to be comfortable to me.
Until I hold one myself, it is difficult to know how big and awkward the Plus will feel in my hand. But there are ways to get a sense of it. First, you can look at this page on Apple's website and scroll down to the part that says "Select your current iPhone and compare it to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus." You can select a picture of your current iPhone on the left and the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus on the right so that you can see the releative sizes. And if you use your browser to adjust the magnification settings just right, you can get the iPhone on the left to be the exact same size on your monitor as it is in real life, which then shows you the true size of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus on the right.
Second, Aurich Lawson of Ars Technica took the exact dimensions provided by Apple and drew wireframe drawings to scale. At the end of this post you can download the PDF. Print it out on your printer (make sure you do so without letting your computer shrink or expand the size of the image), cut out the wireframes, and you can see for yourself what the height and width looks like — although of course not the depth or the weight. I did so, and I've been looking at my iPhone 5s as compared to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:
As I mentioned above, it seems to me that the iPhone 6 is bigger but not dramatically so, just enough to be good without being too extreme. But the iPhone 6 Plus just seems far too large. When I place my iPhone 5s in a a shirt pocket, you cannot even see the top of the phone. With the iPhone 6 cutout, you can see just a little of the phone sticking out. But when I place that iPhone 6 Plus cutout in my shirt pocket, the pocket is more than wide enough for the phone, but the top of the phone sticks out quite a bit, so much so that it doesn't seem right. And when I hold the cutout iPhone 6 Plus in my hand, it just seems wrong, almost like the way that it just doesn't look right when you look at yourself in a fun house mirror.
Having said that, based on the reports that I read from folks who got a chance to hold the new iPhones yesterday, many — perhaps even most? — of them really liked the larger iPhone 6 Plus. More than one were happy that the iPhone 6 Plus is almost like a small version of the iPad mini — an iPad mini mini, if you will. I'm not sure that I agree with that; if I want a larger screen, I'll just use my iPad, although to be fair my iPad is not always with me.
Apple does include a new mode with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to help with the larger size: if you tap (not press) the home button twice, the top of the screen slides down so that you can reach items on the top of the screen that are too far up for your thumb to normally reach on a larger device. Here is a short video by Joshua Topolsky of Bloomberg Digital that shows this in action.
If you don't plan to buy an iPhone 6 immediately, you can wait until you can hold the two new phones for yourself in an Apple Store, AT&T store, Verizon store, etc. But if you are like me and you plan to get one on Day 1, you'll need to make a choice now. I'm fairly sure that I have decided to get the iPhone 6, not the 6 Plus, but I want to think about it some more.
[UPDATE 1:15 pm: Over lunch today, I went to my local AT&T store and spent some time with the LG G3 phone to try to get a sense of what the iPhone 6 Plus will feel like. As noted by CNet, there are some similarities. Both phones have a 5.5-inch diagonal screen, but the LG G3 is not as tall (5.76" vs. 6.2") and not as wide (2.94" vs. 3.1"), although the LG G3 is thicker (.35" vs. .28"). The LG G3 is also lighter (5.26 oz. vs. 6.1 oz.) I didn't much care for the size, and as noted this phone is somewhat smaller in height and width and weight, which makes me even more suspicious of the larger iPhone 6 Plus. It just didn't feel like a phone to me, but instead felt like a miniature tablet. To be fair, a miniature tablet is a cool idea, but it's just not what I want to carry around in my pocket all day long and hold up to my face to make calls. And I didn't like the fact that it is impossible for my thumb to reach across the device with one hand. I see that California attorney David Sparks posted that he is leaning towards the iPhone 6 Plus specifically becuase it seems like a different device: "I've been leaning toward the larger phone because I'm really curious about how a bigger screen would change my relationship to my iPhone." That's a fair point, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for such a drastic change in my relationship with my iPhone. Bottom line, though, is that if you are also on the fence, until you can touch an iPhone 6 Plus yourself, consider checking out some of the similar Android phones that are currently in stores such as the LG G3.]
While most of my work gets done on my computer and my iPad, I can be mighty productive on an iPhone reading and responding to emails, reading and making quick edits to documents, keeping track of my contacts and calendar appointments, etc. With the larger, better screen, and a thinner, curvier design that makes it more pleasant to hold in the hand, the new iPhone 6 looks like it will be much better in performing all of these tasks. I still think that the iPhone 6 Plus will be too large for me, but who knows, maybe I will change my mind on that and opt for the jumbo size when the 2015 version of the iPhone comes out next year. But whatever size you prefer, the two new iPhones look like clear winners, and I have no doubt that they will be incredibly popular. I can't wait to have one in my hands.