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As rumored, Apple today took the wraps off two new iPhones during a streamed media presentation in Cupertino, Calif.
CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the Flint Center, the site of other momentous Apple reveals including the original Macintosh, to introduce the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. "Today, the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone," he said, before turning the stage over to Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus boast a new Retina HD screens. "Not any display would do," said Schiller. Compared to the 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 sports a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 1334 pixels by 750 pixels.
The larger, phablet-sized iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels, which translates into over 2 million pixels, 185 percent more than the iPhone 5S, noted Schiller. Both models feature a glass front that curves slightly around the edge.
Highlights include iOS 8, an updated 8 megapixel iSight camera and a faster A8 64-bit processor with 2 billion transistors that is "50 times faster than the original iPhone," said Schiller. Connectivity is enhanced with a 150 Mbps LTE and a Wi-Fi Calling feature that "seamlessly" hands off to cellular networks. In the U.S., T-Mobile will support Wi-Fi calling.
Eddie Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, later showed off the company's mobile payments solution, Apple Wallet. A combination of near-field communication (NFC) technology, Touch ID, a Secure Element chip and specialized software, the Apple Wallet integrates with Passbook to enable secure payments with retailers and select e-commerce apps.
Cue assured that his company will respect the privacy of Apple Wallet users. "The transaction is between you, the merchant and your bank," he said.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus go on sale on Sept. 19. iPhone 6 prices start at the $199 for the 16 GB model and top out at $399 for the 128 GB version. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus prices start at $299. Preorders for both models start on Sept. 12.
The event's "one more thing" was the long-rumored iWatch, or as the company is branding it, the Apple Watch. Available in two sizes, the wearable "works seamlessly with iPhone," said Cook. It also serves as a "comprehensive health and fitness device," he added.
Apple Watch pushed the company to explore new interface and device interaction models. "What we didn't do is take the iPhone and shrink the user interface," said Cook.
The touch-capable, sapphire-enhanced display is complemented with a "digital crown" that contains infrared LEDs. Users can press and twist the dial to zoom and otherwise navigate the Apple Watch UI. A rear sensor monitors a user's heart rate. It also features integration with Apple Pay for mobile payments.
To get developers on board, Apple is making available a software development kit (SDK) called WatchKit to extend iPhone apps to the device. Apple watch requires the iPhone, said Cook, before revealing that the smartwatch is backward compatible with iPhone models stretching back to the iPhone 5.
Apple's wearable will be available in three versions, the base Apple Watch, the Sport and the 18 karat gold Edition. A range of interchangeable watch bands, from leather to sweat-resistant plastic to an array of metals, add an additional touch of personalization.
Prices start at $349. Apple Watch is scheduled to ship in early 2015.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.