Today in Apple history: iPhone 6 is bigger and better than ever

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iPhone
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were massive upgrades for Apple.
Photo: Jim Merithew

September 19 Today in Apple historySeptember 19, 2014: The iPhone undergoes its biggest upgrade — both figuratively and literally — since the first generation iPhone with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets.

The iPhone 6 brings a new 4.7-inch form factor, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasts a massive 5.5-inch design. While the previous generation iPhone 5 had been slightly taller than its 3.5-inch predecessors, the iPhone 6 generation is the first time Apple abandons that strategy and decides to take on the big-screen Android phablets.

Tim Cook’s vision for the iPhone

While Tim Cook had been Apple CEO for the launch of the iPhone 4s, 5 and 5s, the iPhone 6 generation of handsets felt very much like Cook’s vision for the product line — rather than necessarily being a continuation of Jobs’. Since introducing the iPad mini in late 2012, Cook had made clear that he was willing to introduce new screen sizes of device to fit what rivals were doing.

Where Jobs had insisted that 3.5-inches was the perfect size of a phone, the iPhone 6 showed Cook responding to other competitive options on the market by vastly expanding the size of the iPhone. Part of this came down to a renewed push into Asian markets, particularly in China, where the “phablet” form factor was popular.

At the same time that the iPhone 6 was making waves, Cook announced that Apple would be doubling its number of Apple stores in China, while pushing for a deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile carrier.

More than just a larger display

The new screen sizes weren’t the only change the new iPhones brought. They also included the obligatory faster processor, as well as upgraded cameras (with optical stabilization for the iPhone 6 Plus, improved LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, longer battery life, and support for a near field communications-based mobile payments offering in the form of Apple Pay.

iPad Air
The 2013 iPad Air was an obvious design influence on the iPhone 6.
Photo: Apple

There was also a more slimline, curvaceous redesign of the handset, similar to the look of the iPad Air. In addition, the size of the handsets meant moving the power button to the side of the device, while — for the first time — the rear camera wasn’t flush to the phone, but caused a slight bump.

The redesign of the iPhone was generally well received by both customers and critics. In the first three days on the market, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sold a massive 10 million units, which was especially impressive since (for the last time) China was not among the opening markets.

Remember the ‘bendgate’ scandal?

Soon after launch, however, Apple suffered its “bendgate” scandal — when a few users reported that the larger size iPhone 6 Plus bent in the middle when too much pressure was put on it.

The fuss only affected a small number of users, and seemingly didn’t damage sales, but Apple took steps to reinforce the iPhone’s design for the following year’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

Ultimately, the design was considered a winner by Apple and hung around for longer than any other design in iPhone history — with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both keeping the same exterior design.

Were you a fan of the iPhone 6? Which model, if any, did you buy? Leave your comments below.