Notes On The iPhone 6

iPhone6As expected, Apple announced the iPhone 6 yesterday.

There is a lot new in both the phone and in iOS 8. Here are a few of the key bits from the Mobile Internet perspective...

The iPhone 6 and 6+ (aka 'big' and 'bigger') are both getting faster LTE radios than the iPhone 5S and 5C had, with support for theoretical maximum LTE speeds of up to 150mbps and support for LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation to combine multiple frequency bands.

Speaking of bands, the iPhone 6 models will have built in support for up to 20 LTE bands. This should make international LTE roaming easier, and I imagine an unlocked device can likely be used on all US carriers with just a SIM swap.

Here is how Apple describes it:

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iPhone 6 has up to 20 LTE bands. That’s seven more than iPhone 5s — which already had more than any other smartphone. That means iPhone users can connect to more high-speed LTE networks in more places. And when you’re traveling, more LTE bands help you benefit from the growing number of roaming agreements around the world.

I do notice however that there are three distinct models with slightly different cellular network and LTE support, so even though you will likely be able to swap SIM's to change carriers, there may be some issues that come up if you buy an iPhone for one carrier and move it to another.

Here are the models for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:

  • A1549 (GSM) & A1522 (GSM) - In the USA, these models will be sold on AT&T and T-Mobile. They will have CDMA support for older 3G CDMA networks (e.g. Verizon) disabled. Do not expect these models to work well for voice with a Verizon SIM.
  • A1549 (CDMA) & A1522 (CDMA) - Identical to the prior model, but with the CDMA radio unlocked so that the iPhone can still access Verizon's 3G and older voice networks. This will be the model sold by Verizon, of course.
  • A1586 & A1524 - Seems to be identical to the prior CDMA model, but adds support for four additional LTE bands - including Band 41 which is essential for Sprint's Spark. This model in the US will be sold by Sprint.

I notice that LTE band 12 is missing from the supported band list - this is where US Cellular has some current LTE deployed and T-Mobile has announced future LTE expansion. I am surprised to see this missing, and will be looking into if this is a real potential issue. So far - very few phones have been released with Band 12 support.

Also new in the iPhone 6 is VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) support - initially coming on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. In LTE areas, at last Verizon iPhone owners will have access to simultaneous voice and data connections!

And via iOS 8 - support for WiFi calling is coming as well to not just the iPhone 6 but also coming to the iPhone 5 models. WiFi calling is launching initially on T-Mobile, but other carriers will eventually enable this - allowing customers to make and receive calls in WiFi areas when lacking a cell signal.

Also new on the iPhone 6 - WiFi speeds have been increased 3x via support for the new 802.11ac standard.

The final version of iOS 8 has now been released to developers, and to the public on September 17th.

And the new iPhones go on sale on the September 19th, with preorders starting Friday.

Plenty of other interesting news announced as well by Apple yesterday - the biggest being the new Apple Pay system that lets your phone replace your credit card, and the Apple Watch coming early next year.

So... Any of you Android fans feeling compelled to switch now that the iPhone has a bigger screen? And older iPhone owners - anything exciting enough here to get you to upgrade? MIA members - let us know if the comments section!

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