Apple launches iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

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Apple iPhone 6 / 6 Plus

With an even greater amount of hype, this morning, Apple put pay to rumours and announced its latest version of the iPhone. Unlike last year’s 5S launch, this is a complete redesign and for the first time sees the phone coming in two sizes.

The iPhone 6 features a 4.7in screen – a big jump from the 4in screen of the 5S – with a 1334x750 pixel resolution, while a second model, to be known as the iPhone 6 Plus, features a 5.5in 1920x1080 pixel screen. Perhaps Apple’s biggest competition in Asia, Samsung’s Galaxy S5, offers a 5.1in 1920x1080 pixel screen, while Samsung’s new Note 4 phablet will offer a 5.7in display. The curved aluminium bodies of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are also thinner at just 6.9mm and 7.1mm respectively.

Inside, both new iPhones are almost identical and as you would expect of a new model, they do things faster and better. The iPhone 6 uses a new A8 processor chip with second-generation 64-bit architecture, and an M8 co-processor that takes care of motion. Among the many existing sensors there is now a barometer, allowing the phone to use changes in pressure to better track your altitude.

The camera has had a fairly serious overhaul despite the megapixel count remaining the same. The rear iSight camera has improved focusing thanks to the use of dedicated pixels on the sensor to focus, a technique recently employed in many high-end still and video cameras. Video users can now record at 60 frames per second in full 1080 HD, while slow motion of 240fps can be achieved at 720p. The iPhone 6 Plus also adds optical image stabilisation, while the 6 uses a digital version. For selfie fans the front ‘FaceTime’ camera also now features a wider f/2.2 aperture – for more light – and improved face detection.

For data both models features a faster 4G connection, with 20 LTE bands to cover most networks at up to 150Mbps, while wifi also sees an improvement in speed and coverage thanks to the use of 802.11ac (over the previous 802.11n).

The phone’s touch ID fingerprint recognition can now be used to approve purchases on iTunes and a range of physical payments made with the Near Field Communications (NFC) chip using the new Apple Pay system.

The contentious issue of battery life has also been addressed on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with up to 14 hours talk and 10 days standby on the 6, and a huge 24 hours talk and 16 days standby from the iPhone 6 Plus.

Both models will come in a choice of silver, gold and space grey colours, and 16GB, 64GB and a larger 128GB capacity.

Preorders in Hong Kong start on Sep 12, with prices from $5,588 for the iPhone 6 and $6,388 for the iPhone 6 Plus; store.apple.com/hk

Apple Watch

The time has finally come. Almost eclipsing the iPhone announcement made this morning is Apple’s first venture into wearable technology. This is not, as was expected, to be called the iWatch but rather it uses the Apple symbol in its name, giving technology journalists an eternal headache for future write ups.

Though not to be launched until early 2015, with an exact date still to be announced, Apple has filled in the details of one of its most prophesied products to date. 

The Apple Watch is not a single product, but rather a series of watches, in three collections, with a choice of two sizes, six finishes and six wristbands. The Apple Watch Sport range features strengthened Ion-X glass and colourful bands, while the Apple Watch Edition has 18-karat gold cases and more classic bands. The third range, simply known as Apple Watch, features stainless steel designs with a range of metal, leather and an advanced rubber sport band.   

The Apple Watch is designed to work closely with the iPhone but is far more than just a Bluetooth screen. The device has its own apps including Calendar, Maps, Music, Weather and the Activity and Workout apps. The watch contains sensors to detect your heart rate and an accelerometer to detect movement that can be linked to the GPS in your iPhone, for detailed reports on your fitness. When paired with your phone the watch can deliver messages, reminders, control iTunes and even give a live preview of your phones camera – ideal for group shots.

Near Field Communication features, too, allowing the device to be used for payments via Apple Pay. Operation has been optimised for the smaller screen size and in Apple style the traditional watch crown dial has been reworked as a clever digital control. By rotating the dial you can zoom and scroll, while a press returns you to the home screen. The Watch also responds to presses and taps, with various shortcuts, while it can make you respond with what it calls the Tapic Engine – essentially tapping you on the wrist to alert you.

At this time detail of the battery life – an issue that has sunk many smart watches – has yet to be confirmed. However, the charging uses a simple magnetic attachment to the underside.

The Apple Watch is expected to retail from around US$349 (around $2,700) in the US but local prices have not been confirmed.

For more on the iPhone and Apple Watch visit apple.com

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