Apple on Wednesday debuted its newest smartphones, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, giving the devices a new pressure-sensitive display, zippier processor and more powerful camera.
“What we have to show you today is really awesome,” CEO Tim Cook said during Apple’s presentation at the Bill Graham Auditorium in downtown San Francisco. “While they may look familiar, we have changed everything about these new iPhones.”
This year’s iPhone is Apple’s off “S” year. That means Apple keeps the basic design of the device the same but adds other features to attract buyers, like the Siri digital voice assistant in the iPhone 4S and the TouchID fingerprint reader in the iPhone 5S.
The iPhone has become more vital than ever to the company’s financial results following the introduction of Apple’s bigger-screen smartphones a year ago. It has made up more than two-thirds of sales in the past several quarters since Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September 2014. Typically, the iPhone accounts for closer to 50 percent of Apple’s revenue. That means keeping customers interested in the iPhone is critical for Apple to remain a major tech leader.
A marquee feature for this year’s iPhone 6S was expected to be the Force Touch technology used in the Apple Watch, a pressure-sensitive display that responds to various types of touches. The company instead unveiled 3D Touch, a feature that appears to have the same capabilities. For instance, it will enable a user to peek in an email by pressing down on the subject head.
In another notable change, Siri can be activated via voice for the first time, using the command “Hey Siri.” That will allow users to ask the digital assistant to play music or make a phone call, even while they are washing dishes or preparing a meal. In older models, Siri can only be activated by pressing the phone’s home button. The new feature helps Apple catch up to other voice-activated devices such as the Amazon Echo speaker and many Android phones.
The new 4.7-inch 6S and 5.5-inch 6S Plus are the same size as last year’s models. Preorders start Saturday and the devices go on sale September 25 in the US, UK, China, France, Japan, Australia and other markets. The phone will be available in 130 countries by year’s end. Also, owners of newer models of the iPhone can upgrade to the new iOS 9 operating system starting September 16.
Following Apple’s typical pricing system, the base-model iPhone 6S will cost $649 without a two-year carrier contract. Prices for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be knocked down $100.
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SOURCE: Cnet, Ben Fox Rubin and Shara Tibken