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Apple admits Samsung was right about big phones, embraces choice

Andy Vandervell

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iPhone 6

9 conclusions from the Apple launch

OPINION Andy Vandervell considers the latest Apple launch and implications it has for Apple and its rivals, starting with how Apple has finally embraced the 'phablet'.

Apple finally admits Samsung was right about big phones

I remember my reaction to the original Samsung Galaxy Note. "That's stupid, how can you use it with one hand?" Apple thought the same, but people voted with their wallets and Apple has belatedly responded. Tim Cook didn't utter the words 'Samsung was right' but everyone else was thinking it.

To underline what a huge about turn this is, consider that the iPhone 6 Plus has a larger screen (5.5-inches vs 5.3-inches) than the original Galaxy Note and it's over a centimetre taller. It's a smidgen narrower, which is important, but it's a huge departure from the Apple norm.

Somewhere in South Korea is a product manager or two suffering mixed feelings. Pride at proving Apple wrong, but fear that the iPhone 6 Plus will eat into Samsung's sales. Expect one of its increasingly acid-tongued attacks ads to appear close to launch.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6S vs Galaxy Note 4

Apple embraces choice in a meaningful way

The Apple Watch also demonstrated a new-found commitment to choice and personalisation.

In the past the ability to change wallpapers felt like a begrudging nod to convention, but the Apple Watch embraces choice in a way no previous Apple product has. It comes in two sizes and three different versions, each catering to a slightly different niche and Jony Ive made numerous references to the number of 'combinations' of watch face, device and strap that are possible.

This feels like another way that Tim Cook's more inclusive, co-operative approach is seeping into Apple's products. It's very welcome.

SEE ALSO: Apple Watch vs Android Wear

iPhone 6 camera

The camera updates are underwhelming

As an iPhone 5S user I was quietly delighted by how underwhelming the camera improvements were. It makes me feel far better about the phone in my hand right now.

But that isn't a good thing. The core of the camera in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus remains much the same, though the optical image stabilisation in the iPhone 6 could have a big impact.

The other core improvement, the Focus Pixel (read: phase detection) focus system is a nice addition, but I've never had any problem with the speed of the iPhone 5S's camera when focussing. The things I want are a shorter focus distance and a larger sensor and they weren't here. Ho hum.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S

Apple Pay was the most important announcement of the night

I lost a long-standing bet with our News Editor, Luke Johnson, that Apple wouldn't put NFC in the iPhone 6. Clearly I need to get out of the gambling game.

Apple Pay is a long awaited foray into payments and in taking your wallet digital. There are various standards and systems out there, but Apple's huge payment database, slick execution and sheer clout of the brand should ensure Apple gains a decent, though probably not decisive, foothold.

The reason Apple Pay is important, however, is it's demonstrably transformative. The iWatch, pretty as it is, doesn't immediately convince. Apple Pay, however, is easy to understand and improves something that's clunky and irritating -- especially in the US where they don't even have chip & pin.

This is what technology is meant to do.

Apple Watch leaves many questions unanswered

Read Chris Smith's piece for more in-depth look at this, but the iWatch (dang, that's Apple Watch!) makes the most convincing case yet in favour smartwatches. It looks great, the software looks slick and it has a few very clever features no one else has yet. A 2015 release is a shame, but it should give developers plenty of time to support it.

But there are questions, the greatest of which is battery life. The fact Apple made no mention direct mention of it leads me to believe it's similar to those we've seen: about a day. It's been our biggest complaint and it looks like it will continue to be so. I already have enough gadgets to charge each evening, thank you. Perhaps the robots in The Matrix had the right idea?

Another concern for me is the Apple Watch interface and Digital Crown combination. Apple did its typical slick job of telling people how intuitive it is, but I wasn't entirely convinced. Is that mesh of tiny icons really an easy entry-point and is the Digital Crown really as easy to use as Apple suggests? Left-handers might take issue there.

The iPad is due some serious attention

It doesn't take much deduction to realise people who might have once bought an iPad will consider the iPhone 6 Plus. Moreover, some may replace their iPhone and iPad in favour of it. That's tricky for Apple as a business and it's about time the iPad saw some serious attention.

It was great to see some specific software optimisations for the iPhone 6 Plus, such as side-by-side apps and extra keyboard functions. Inside, however, I pondered "why can't my iPad do that?". For too long the iPad's software has played second fiddle to the iPhone. It's time Apple really innovated here and if it doesn't then people have a right to complain. I'll head that queue.

Gamers will love the iPhone 6 Plus

iOS has always been a good gaming platform. Its stable and rich ecosystem, powerful hardware and popularity has ensured games are the most downloaded apps in the App Store. The caveat was that previous iPhones weren't as convenient for gaming as larger Android rivals. The iPhone 6 Plus has a chance to change that and I'd wager the iPhone 6 Plus will become the gaming phone choice for many, provided they're not put off by the price.

Design comes before battery life at Apple

Forgive me if you think this too obvious a point, but Apple doesn't care too much about battery life. Just enough is its motto. While the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus last longer than the iPhone 5S, at least according to Apple's numbers, the difference isn't life-changing.

To a point this is a limitation of battery technology. It's a famously slow area of innovation. But it also reflects Apple's priorities. It could have made both new iPhones about the same thickness as the current iPhone and squeezed in more a battery capacity, but it chose not to. This is a slight oversimplification, but Apple could do more if it wanted to.

How much of a problem is this? It probably won't affect its sales, but there's certain to be some iPhone owners who hoped for more. I'm one of them.

Apple is trying too hard to be cool and failing

Finally, one of the weirder acts of the night was U2 appearing to perform their (pretty rubbish) new single and the announcement iTunes users were getting its new album for free. That's great if you're U2 fan, but U2 is not a 'now' band. It has a glorious history and millions of fans, but it's the sound of this generation. It's a dad joke where a witty reference is required. It's also a danger sign.

If Apple wants to be fashion brand, as its Watch announcement suggests, it needs to shed the crusty Beatles, U2 and Coldplay image for something more current. Perhaps Beats can help here? Either that or it should seek Bill Bailey's advice.

Next, read 5 Apple Watch features you probably missed

Prem Desai

September 10, 2014, 3:05 pm

The new iphone 6 is totally underwhelming as was the 5 and 5c and 5s).

The only good thing is the screen size - which it seems, they've copied from Samsung.

Keith

September 10, 2014, 4:08 pm

>> though the optical image stabilisation in the iPhone 6 could have a big impact

It's not in the 6, only the 6 plus.

edward

September 10, 2014, 6:21 pm

Andy, you have hit the nail on the head my friend!.

Paul

September 10, 2014, 7:32 pm

another lustful apple victory

DigitalFury

September 10, 2014, 7:40 pm

Besides die hard fanboys, did anybody reasonable doubted that Samsung was right ?

JCat_NY

September 10, 2014, 8:33 pm

Fixed on Note 4. Oh, and the Beatles will never be crusty. Their music shits all over today's "pop" hits. Good article.

Keith

September 11, 2014, 8:25 am

Wasn't it just Job's @ Apple who thought this, not Apple. Job's obviously was a smart man, but sometimes smart men are stubborn. One thing Apple do have to be careful of though is not diluting there product line, they made this mistake before and that's what Job's rectified when he came back to the company. He won't be around to dig them out of the hole next time.

Also I think times have changed, in the past having a 5 inch phone stuck to head while making a call would have made you look rather silly. Nowadays it seems to be more accepted.

pimlicosound

September 11, 2014, 10:07 am

Steve Jobs doesn't have an apostrophe in it. :)

Keith

September 11, 2014, 10:16 am

Well done pimlicosound, were would the internet be without the grammar police.

Person chap

September 11, 2014, 10:20 am

Anyone who buys a new iphone is stupid. Anyone who buys a phone which lasts less than 1 day is stupid.
Trusted reviews, please cover some long lasting battery phones! Lenovo P780. Or S860. Both have fantastic 4,000mAh batteries. I own the P780 and it's a fantastic budget 5" phone that performs way above its price point and I can get 3 days use from it without sweating.

BALKAN CANHER

September 11, 2014, 11:14 am

not were -> where :)

pimlicosound

September 11, 2014, 1:36 pm

I'm the only thing standing between you and total anarchy.

Keith

September 11, 2014, 1:54 pm

True, but I think it was Steve's ancestors fault for having such a silly name. With me been a touch typist I blame the automatic plural mode!!. Anyway I thought it was my wife who stood between me and total anarchy, or is that you Mandy. :)

andyvan

September 11, 2014, 7:56 pm

Well I agree about the Beatles, but I was really commenting on the 'perception' that brings. Hope you enjoy the Note 4, colleague thought it was great.

Casinowilhelm

September 12, 2014, 6:45 am

But plurals don't have apostrophes in them either. :)

Keith

September 15, 2014, 8:45 am

Anyone who buys a Lenovo P780 or S860 is stupid.

Ok, only joking. And I must say looking at the specification they do indeed look like good bargains. If you had left out the stupid's, your comment would have been a thumbs up from me.

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