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 history: iPhone 6 is bigger and better than ever September 19, 2014: The iPhone undergoes its biggest upgrade — both figuratively and literally — since the original with the launch of the 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. The previous-generation iPhone 5 measured slightly taller than its 3.5-inch predecessors. But with the iPhone 6, Apple abandons that strategy for the first time to take on 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 handsets felt very much like his vision for the product line rather than a continuation of Steve Jobs’ approach. Since introducing the iPad mini in late 2012, Cook made clear that he was willing to introduce new screen sizes to counter rivals’ devices.

Jobs had insisted that 3.5 inches was the perfect size for a phone. But the iPhone 6 showed Cook responding to competitors by vastly expanding the size of Apple’s smartphones. Part of this came down to a renewed push into Asian markets, particularly in China, where the phablet form factor was popular.

As the bigger iPhone 6 made waves, Cook said Apple would double the number of Apple stores in China. Cupertino simultaneously pushed for a deal with China Mobile, the Asian country’s largest mobile carrier.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: More than just a larger display

Bigger screen sizes weren’t the only changes brought with the 2014 iPhone lineup. The new iPhones 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.

And — for the first time — the rear camera did not sit flush with the phone’s back. It protruded, causing a slight but unsightly 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.

‘Bendgate’ scandal hits iPhone 6 Plus

Soon after launch, however, Apple faced the “Bendgate” scandal. A few users reported that the larger 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, Apple considered the iPhone 6 design a winner. It stayed around for longer than any other design in iPhone history — with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, all keeping the same exterior design. It was only last year, with the glass backs on iPhone X and iPhone 8, that Apple finally moved on.

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