Thursday, September 10, 2015

Apple unveils new iPad Pro, Apple TV and iPhone 6S

Apple had promised one of its biggest events ever, and it certainly delivered, with everything that had been rumored in the past weeks coming to light: the iPad Pro, the new Apple TV, and of course... the iPhone 6S.

It seems Apple wasn't worried to prolong its event for a bit longer that usual (though it tried to stick to its 2h time frame), and it talked about the Apple Watch, with new colors and bracelets, and about to gain nativa Apps with WatchOS 2.0; but mainly the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil; the new Apple TV with Siri Remote and App Store; and last but not least, the iPhone 6S with 3D Touch and 4K video.

iPad Pro

With the iPad Pro, Apple brings us the biggest iPad yet, with a 12.9" screen (basically, two regular iPads put side by side), and a more powerful A9X CPU, which Apple says it's faster than most laptops shipped in the last semester. Its clear that Apple wants to show that a tablet can do anything a laptop can do, and more.

The Apple Pencil pushes the iPad Pro into a new territory, allowing you to draw and paint, not only with pressure sensitivity, but tilt and orientation as well. It will cost you an extra $99, but it sure will please all those using Wacom tablets and the like. There's also a keyboard cover, which will inflate the iPad Pro $799 base price by $169 (no, it doesn't come cheap.)

Apple TV

Apple TV hopes to be the "Smart TV" done right, and Apple sure showed a fluid interface we'd all love to see on our TVs (I'm about to receive a new 60" 4K set a few days from now! :) and it puts a lot of hope in Siri. The thing is, Siri on the Apple TV will only be available on 8 of the 80 countries Apple TV will be available on, which is a major let down.

So, that leaves you with the other new feature: access to apps and games via a dedicated App Store. Expect lots of games to show up; but the fact that it's using a older A8 chip will make it less powerful than the newer iPhones 6S and iPad Pro. There's also the lack of 4K support, which is kind of awkward considering the new iPhones 6S capabilities.

iPhone 6S / 6S Plus

For the iPhone 6S, we get improved and faster CPUs (A9) and a better camera (12MP with 4K support). But the feature that will serve as this year's novelty, is the 3D Touch.

With 3D Touch, Apple hope to add the extra dimension that had been missing since the multitouch gestures became common. I confess I didn't expect much of it, but have to admit Apple really did a great job of putting it to use all over the iOS and its apps. Basically, other than the regular tap, you get the peek and pop touches, which will be done by slightly pressing on something, or pressing harder. It's s shortcut that will allow you to peek information without leaving where you are, and more.

It's highly likely that even those that today are saying this is nothing new, will be gladly enjoying it 3 or 4 years from now (in all sorts of devices), and assuming things have always been like that.

There are also things that didn't please all. The battery drops 1715mAh on the new iPhone 6S (compares do 1810mAh of the iPhone 6), although Apple says you'll get the same battery life out of it thanks to the improved CPU and iOS9 battery saving features. On the other hand... using a more solid aluminum makes the iPhone 6 heavier. But worst of all... it's more expensive than ever (at least for us in Europe, as in the US it will keep the same prices as before).

Which takes us to the next section...

iPhone Upgrade Plan

Apple doesn't want to rely on carriers for its customers to get their iPhones, and launches the iPhone Upgrade program. Starting at $32/month, you can get your unlocked iPhone 6 and AppleCare+. You need only to keep paying it for 2 years to keep your iPhone... or, upgrade to a new iPhone each year.

It will still likely be more expensive than buying your iPhone and selling it to buy a new iPhone each year, but if you don't want to deal with that sort of thing and value the AppleCare+ program, it may be worth it.

The main problem is... in Europe, a brand new iPhone 6S is now approaching the 900 euros mark (forget about the 16GB model, which is only there to direct you to the proper 64GB version). And that it's a lot of money for a smartphone, whichever way you put it. So... I'll keep looking and see when Apple will finally be forced to do something about the (ever better) low cost devices that are showing up - just like it was forced to bring the iPhone Plus phablet to market. It may not be this year, or the next, but a truly low cost iPhone is bound to happen sooner or later - or, at the very least, a margin reduction across its range of devices.

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