Date Archives September 2014

☆ Thoughts on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Despite being the highest-selling product in Apple’s lineup, less than 30% of Tuesday’s keynote was spent discussing the major changes to the iPhone. 

Tim Cook wasn’t lying when he said it’s the “biggest change” of the iPhone since the original. It also happens to be literally the biggest iPhone Apple’s ever made. 

Now, none of this comes as much of a surprise considering the numerous leaks leading up to the announcement (and the fact I predicted these changes a week earlier). Despite predicting some of these changes, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share. 

iPhone 6

As expected, the iPhone 6 will come with a 4.7 inch display running 326 ppi. The sleep button has now been moved to the right side of the phone to account for the larger body. 

Overall, I like Apple’s shift to a 4.7 inch screen size. All things considered, I think it should be Apple’s best-selling phone. I was somewhat surprised by Apple referred to the improvements in the 6 display as being Retina HD (a moniker I thought they’d reserve for the 6 Plus).

After spending some time with a cardboard cut-out of the 6, I didn’t find it significantly different than the current size of the iPhone 5. In fact, it felt like a similar jump as to when the iPhone when from a 3.5 inch to 4 inch display with the launch of the 5.

Apple also updated the core processor to an A8 chip which we know little about, other than it features improve energy efficiency and graphics capability.

Apple also unveiled surprise improvements to the front and back camera such as: focus pixels, improved face detection, exposure control, continuous auto-focus, and a few more. These improvements (and better low-light image quality) have made what was the best overall smartphone camera even better. 

iPhone 6 Plus

Despite being wrong on the name, I had an idea of what to expect when it came to the 6 Plus – and for the most part – I was right. It’s almost identical to the 6, with a few exceptions.

First is the 5.5 inch display. Simply put: it’s huge.

It only takes a few minutes of holding a similarly-sized cardboard cut-out to realize how massive this phone is. People have already been complaining online about their inability to use the 6 Plus one-handed. Partially to blame is Apple for leading people to believe that is the way it should be with their mentions of how “easy it is to use one-handed” throughout the keynote. The size of the 6 Plus requires a fundamental shift in how you use your iPhone. Most people will struggle to operate the 6 Plus in one hand without cramping or having to shift their grip. I don’t see the clunky Reachability helping much either. 

Not only is the display larger, it’s also sharper at 401 ppi. It features (as expected) a new UI standard in it’s ability to perform a split-column UI when held in landscape orientation. We only saw a few examples of how apps may utilize this extra screen real estate, but I think we will see more developers take advantage of it before launch.

An added benefit to the larger body is the improved battery life over the 6:

I think the battery life improvements will be the biggest draw to people choosing the 6 Plus over the 6. ‘Battery life’ is a buzz word to many people when choosing a smartphone, and one that will have them overlook other nuances (like the huge display).

I expected there to be subtle differences between the 6 and 6 Plus when it came to the camera, and I was right. The 6 Plus features optical image stabilization which uses several of the sensors inside the iPhone to produce higher quality low-light images. 

Which one to buy?

This year, more than any previous year, consumers will have a tough decision to make when they visit their local Apple Store on September 19th.

Should you go with the smaller, more compact 6? 

Or should you go with the (much) larger 6 Plus with additional battery life?

Ultimately when the dust settles, I think the 6 will end up being the most popular model in the iPhone line up. I imagine most people will like the idea of a 5.5 inch screen, but will reconsider after holding one in their hand(s).

That’s not to say the 6 Plus won’t be a hit. Clearly Apple is bending to the consumer with the release of the 6 Plus and I expect the demand to be extremely high. More so than the 6, I think the 6 Plus will be an attractive option for people who are looking to switch to iPhone from other platforms (most of which have been offering larger displays for years).

After spending a few days with a couple of cardboard cut-outs, I’m going into Friday with the intention of purchasing a 6 Plus. For me, I believe the 6 Plus has the potential to replace my iPad.

Plus, I’m a sucker for more battery life.

6 or 6 Plus?

David Sparks from MacSparky:

I printed the page, folded it around the 6 Plus size, and taped a stack of index cards to the back to give it the approximate thickness of the actual phone. I’ve carried it so far in my fancy work pants and my jeans. It fits fine in my pocket. I’ve set it in my car mount and it seems like the larger screen will not be a problem for me to carry around and a benefit when viewing. In addition to giving me some idea of whether or not the 6 Plus will work, walking around with a paper phone in my pocket has provided my family a seemingly infinite amount of amusement.

I don’t think he’s the only one having a tough time making this decision (myself included).

A Watch Guy's Thoughts On The Apple Watch

A great read from Benjamin Clymer with a bevy of pictures:

Apple products have a way of making someone not want to live without them, and while I wasn’t able to fully immerse myself in the OS yesterday, what I saw was impressive. So while certainly not direct competition for haute horology watchmaking right now, the Apple Watch is absolutely competition for the real estate of the wrist, and years down the road, it could spell trouble for traditional watches even at a high level.

I completely agree.

The Hidden Structure of the Apple Keynote

An interesting article to read the night before Apple’s biggest keynote since 2010:

One of Apple’s most successful products—which rarely gets recognized as such—is made not of aluminum and glass, but of words and pictures. The Apple keynote is the tool the company uses a few times a year to unveil its other products to millions of people.

To understand their hidden structure, Quartz reviewed more than a dozen Apple keynotes, logging and analyzing key elements. Here’s what we found.

With iWatch and New iPhones, Apple CEO Tim Cook Faces Defining Moment

I’ve tried many smartwatches and never found anything particularly compelling about them. I’ve played with a few mobile payment services and never felt like they offered a greater convenience than just whipping out a credit card. And I’ve never taken the plunge to use any of the various health monitor gadgets. 

Then again, when I first saw the iPad back in January 2010, I didn’t feel particularly moved by it. It was only when I eventually bought one that I suddenly couldn’t remember how I’d managed without it. Just like I did with my first iPhone and iPod. 


☆ Predictions on the 'iWatch'

We are only 3 days away from what could be Apple’s biggest keynote in a decade, and it’s time for me to make more predictions.

In Part 3 of my multi-part prediction, I will focus on Apple’s rumoured wearable device.

Disclaimer: while I have evidence to prove some of my predictions, these are in no way guarantees and should not be treated as such.

A Watch For Everyone

Provided numerous analysts haven’t been blowing smoke for the last 6 months, Apple will be unveiling a wearable device on Tuesday.

What will it do? What will it look like? What will it cost? All of these questions are unanswered and will mostly likely remain that way until Tuesday – but I will provide my predictions to give you a better sense of what to expect.


“For something to work here,” said Cook, gesturing at his wrist, “you first have to convince people it’s so incredible that they want to wear it.”

There’s no debating the most important part of a wearable device is that people actually want to wear it. The debate of whether someone will want to wear it is two-pronged. First, it has to be fashionable. Secondly, it has to do something to warrant a spot on your wrist.

I will tackle the latter question eventually, but let’s focus on what it’s going to look like.

Based on the recent fashion industry hires Apple has made in the past year, I suspect the wearable to be something light, unisex and incognito. Other than that, it’s hard to say exactly what it will look like.

Recent reports suggest it may have a square display, while others have suggested circular. Judging by the difficultly of reading text on a circular screen, I believe Apple’s wearable will have a square display. I’d imagine that in order for it to fit different sized wrists, Apple will offer female and male versions (the latter with a slightly larger screen).


A few months ago, I speculated on a potential wearable from Apple and what it should be capable of. Here’s what I came up with back then:

  • Has to be waterproof
  • Has to provide useful information while working out (calories burnt, distance run, etc) AND while in normal use (steps taken, minutes active, etc).
  • Has to serve as a mobile notification centre from my phone.
  • A single battery charge would have to last a week or longer.
  • Ideally it would have the option to play music while paired with Bluetooth headphones (whether it be locally stored music or something like iTunes Radio).
  • Siri would be a key component, both for listening and for dictating system notifications.
  • It would have to sync data back to my phone for a more detailed look at past history and performance.
  • And finally, it would have to do all of this while still looking hip.

I believe all of these points are still valid. Make no mistake, this is a health device first and a utility device second. 

One thing I never mentioned in my previous report is the possibility of Applications. There is little doubt in my mind Apple will allow 3rd-party developers to use the iWatch as a platform. I would be surprised if we don’t see a few examples on Tuesday.

Battery Life

The one part of my previous prediction which I’m not feeling confident about is one week battery life. 

Recent reports are telling us we shouldn’t get our hopes up about battery life, but I don’t think it will be as bad as some suggest. 

I could see Apple offering two modes for this device: one in which everything works and one in which it only tracks fitness and offers the basic functions (telling the time, for example). This could be linked through a ‘do-not-disturb’ mode which would prevent incoming notifications, drastically improving battery life.

If this is the case, I could see Apple promising three day battery life (although it would go down to one day if everything is enabled).


I’ve been thinking about a name for Apple’s wearable for a while now. Without a proper name to identify it, the media has resorted to calling it the ‘iWatch’. Apple could use the iWatch name, which is already out in the news, for reach alone. 

However, the only reason I can’t see Apple using the iWatch name is that it propels the belief that it’s primarily a watch and leaves out the idea of it being a fitness/lifestyle brand.

I’m the worst when it comes to naming things, but here are a few other guesses:

  • iBand
  • iWrist

Whatever it’s called, I’m willing to bet it follows the iSomething naming scheme.


I think the iWatch will be priced similarly to a current-gen iPod Touch. I see it starting around $250, and ranging upwards to $400.


Based on the lack of part leaks, I think the current reports which put an iWatch release date sometime in early 2015 are spot-on. There’s no doubt Apple would love to get this thing out before Christmas, but don’t forget that January is the best-selling month for gym memberships (cough, New Year’s Resolutions, cough).

It’s an exciting time to be an Apple fan.

Check back for last-minute speculation leading up to Apple’s event on Tuesday.

The Problem With Apple's Juice

In the build-up to the new Apple Watch, it is easy to get seduced by the rumored features. Curved screen! Wireless charging! Jony Ive thinks it’s slick

But—and I hate to burst everyone’s bubble here—the appeal of the world’s most highly anticipated wearable computer is going to come down to something a lot more mundane: battery life.

I won’t disagree that battery life will be a hot button for Apple’s upcoming wearable device, but ultimately, we will have to wait to form our opinions until we know what purpose it serves.