We’re just a few days away from Apple’s special iPhone 6 event on September 9, and right on schedule the New York Times has published a detailed exposé — most likely leaked directly by the highest echelons of Apple — of everything that we can expect. We now have almost-certain confirmation that the iPhone 6 will come in two flavors — a 4.7-inch model, and a 5.5-inch phablety monster. Furthermore, Apple will also reveal its first new product since Tim Cook took the helm from Steve Jobs three years ago: the iWatch. Curiously, it sounds like the iWatch will also come in two different sizes. Near-field communication (NFC) will be available in both the iPhone 6 and iWatch, and Apple will announce partnerships with Amex, Visa, and MasterCard, allowing the Cupertino company to finally wade into the mobile payments/digital wallet arena. The iWatch will have a sapphire glass front, but the iPhone 6 might not.
At roughly the same time every year, Apple performs an unofficial official leak to one of the big US newspapers. Historically it has usually been the Wall Street Journal, but this year it’sthe New York Times. This unofficial “pre-release” from Apple usually serves as a tidy way to brush away some of the rumor mill’s more spurious predictions — and I’m sure the stock market likes it, too. In any case, while we can’t take the NYT’s story as hard fact, this is as good as it gets before Tim Cook and friends take to the stage of the Flint Center to officially unveil the new large-screen iPhone 6 and iWatch. The iPhone 6 is expected to be released a week or two after the September 9 event; the iWatch will probably open up for pre-orders, but won’t ship until 2015.
So, let’s get down to the details. The iPhone 6 will come in two sizes, one with a 4.7-inch screen, the other with a 5.5-inch screen. Unlike the iPhone 4 and 5, which were sharp-edged rectangles, the 6 will have “softer, tapered edges” — a bit like the iPad Air and Mini, in other words. There’s no word on screen resolution, but I would guess that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will have a 1920×1080 display, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 might step up to 2560×1440 (just like the LG G3 smartphone). Curiously the NYT piece doesn’t mention whether the iPhone 6 will have a sapphire glass front. Given various rumors and cost concerns, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple couldn’t quite hit scale and cost targets in time for the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 will have a “one-handed typing mode” to allay any concerns about your little thumb not being able to reach the far side of the screen.
For more iPhone 6 rumors, hit up our iPhone 6 rumor roundup post. The video below (sadly in Russian) is the best/final word on what the iPhone 6 will look like.
There’s also no word on the internal hardware specs of the iPhone 6, except that Apple is finally adopting near-field communication (NFC). Combined with the necessary partnerships (Visa, American Express, MasterCard), Apple will use the NFC chip inside the iPhone 6 to offer some kind of mobile/contactless/digital wallet solution.
The iWatch, too, will also feature NFC. At the very least this will probably be used for easy pairing (tap-to-pair) between your iWatch and iPhone 6, but it would be pretty neat if you could pay for your bus or train ride by tapping your watch against the contactless payment reader. The NYT’s sources say that the iWatch will have a “unique, flexible screen” and come in two sizes (presumably for people with small and large wrists). There’s no word on whether the iWatch will be round, square, or rectangular, nor its internal hardware/software specs. It will have a sapphire glass front, however. The iWatch (or whatever it’s called) has lots of sensors and will “track movements and vital signs … much more accurately than existing fitness devices.” According to the NYT the iWatch will feature wireless charging — but I suspect it’ll also have a wired Lightning connector, unless Apple really wants to ship a wireless charging plate to every iWatch owner.
All in all, between the large-screen iPhone 6, iWatch, and NFC, it looks like Apple is delivering exactly what it needs to stay relevant in a mobile market that’s moving very quickly. While NFC is old tech by now, it clearly hasn’t yet managed to revolutionize the mobile/contactless payment world — at least not in the US, anyway (Google Wallet was released way back in 2011!) If Apple is finally getting into the NFC game, and has the partnerships to make it work on a broad scale, then it isn’t too hyperbolic to say that the iPhone 6 + iWatch + iOS 8 could kill the credit card. The larger-screen iPhone 6 and iWatch are less interesting in my eyes: They’re just a reactionary response to what’s happening over on Android’s side of the fence. I don’t think the world is quite ready for the smartwatch revolution, but I’d be happy if Apple proves me wrong.