Apple [AAPL] launches iPhone 6 Plus and all-new Apple Watch

Colorful new Apple Watch Sport models announced today in Cupertino.
Colorful new Apple Watch Sport models announced today in Cupertino. (Screen capture from Jonathan Ive presentation)

CUPERTINO, Calif., September 9, 2014 – Apple [AAPL] introduced its long-anticipated iPhone 6 models today during its more or less annual media event, which took place this year at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts.

The new iPhones come in two notably larger sizes than their predecessor models. The model designated as the iPhone 6 boasts a 4.7-inch screen while the higher-end iPhone 6 Plus screen weighs in at 5.5 inches. “And boy, are they packed with pixels,” Apple’s promo guru Phil Schiller happily proclaimed.

The new phones are significantly thinner than earlier models. As opposed to the 7.6 mm. width of the iPhone 5s case, the 6 is a slimmed-down 6.9 mm., while the 6 Plus, given its higher-end screen and features, is slightly thicker than the 6, at 7.1 mm.

The thinner profiles are at least partially the result of the larger screen format, a new form factor that allows internal electronics to be spread along a wider surface plane which allows for a narrower case.

The new devices are also faster than previous models, something that early adopters have come to expect. Schiller claimed the new devices were 50% more efficient than the 5s’ A7 chip. Better yet, battery power is said to be much improved.

The iPhone’s camera system has been updated yet again, with features like a full 8 megapixel “eyesight” camera lens with improved internals—including DSLR technologies—plus a “true tone” flash and an all-new, more sophisticated sensor. All-in-all, Apple promises that the new cameras are faster over all and capture images more quickly than ever before.

Today’s key commercial news was the announcement of what Cupertino is calling Apple Pay. It is what it sound like it is, a new virtual credit card methodology for transacting purchases while on the go by using your iPhone. Features include one-touch checkout, no card number entry, no need to type addresses and no card information shared with merchant.

Merchants already signed up for the new service include Disney, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

Both new iPhone models are slated to go on sale on September 19.

In keeping with the tradition originated by the late Steve Jobs, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed Apple’s new iWatch, which, somewhat unexpectedly, the company has officially dubbed the “Apple Watch.”

With a groundbreaking, highly functional design by Jonathan Ive, the new Apple Watch is available in a variety of models, including the basic “Apple Watch,” the tougher, trendier Apple Watch Sport, and the boutique level Apple Watch Edition that boasts an 18 karate gold case.

The watch is an innovative, and very possibly brilliant combination of functionality and high fashion. Models start at $349 and will be available in early 2015.

Cook stressed that the Apple Watch is customizable, works seamlessly with the iPhone (which is required for full functionality) and includes full functionality as a comprehensive health and fitness device. “Apple watch is the most personal device we have ever made,” he proclaimed.

Other features include the introduction of a super-durable sapphire crystal—finally bringing at least part of the sapphire rumor mill into present reality—and a wide range of Siri and GPS functionality.

Other innovations were revealed, too, including an app from the Starwood Hotels organization that will allow Apple Watch wearers to check into their hotel and wave their watch in front of the electronic lock on their room.

A video presentation, voiced-over by Jon Ive, noted that the Apple Watch was designed as “as a whole range of products. I think,” he said, “we are now at a compelling beginning of designing technology to be worn, to be truly personal.”

“Personal” also include familiar, fully functional apps and social networking including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the handling of personal photo libraries.

(We’ll issue an update to this article a bit later with further details.)

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17