The final countdown to Apple Inc.'s “special event” began Tuesday morning when the company shut down its online store and culminated a few hours later with chief executive Tim Cook's announcement of the much-awaited iPhone 6, Apple Pay mobile payments application and iWatch wearable device.
Apple's newest iPhone release, as expected, is bigger and faster than its iPhone 5 predecessors. The iPhone 6's diagonal Retina high-definition displays offers a larger screen, 4.7”, than the iPhone 5's 4-inch display and a more efficient A8 chip that allows for speedier communications. A fancier version, the iPhone 6 Plus, offers an even bigger 5.5” screen.
But the newest innovation Apple brings to the iPhone is near- field communication, or NFC, a technology that supports mobile payments (and is already available on Google Wallet). In other words, instead of paying for goods and services with a credit card, debit card or cash, smartphone users can tap their devices against another device to transfer encrypted data at short range via radio waves.
Apple touts the new iPhone 6 as the thinnest iPhone ever made, with graphics 84 times faster than the original iPhone, a better video application and an improved camera that's better at detecting faces near and far for single and group selfies.
The iPhone 6 starts at a cost of $199 with a two-year contract, and the iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299. The phone starts shipping Sept. 19 and pre-orders start Friday.
Financial advisers met Apple's announcement with mixed response.
“For advisers who are due for an upgrade to a new phone, this is a nice combination of features, especially for those who want a larger screen, but other than that, this new model doesn't really change our lives much,” Dave O'Brien, founder of registered investment adviser O'Brien Financial Planning Inc. in Midlothian, Va., wrote in an e-mail.
In a follow-up phone interview, Mr. O'Brien said he owns a one-year-old iPhone 5S and plans to hold onto it until it wears out. An avid user of Apple products, he also owns an iMac desktop computer, a MacBook Air notebook and an iPad 3.
Scott Stratton, president and founder of RIA Good Life Wealth Management in Dallas, said he plans to buy the iPhone 6 to replace his iPhone 4.
“I've been waiting for the upgrade, and I plan on getting an iPhone 6 later this fall,” Mr. Stratton said. “As I was waiting to upgrade to the 5, I heard there was a 6 coming out, so I thought I'd just wait.”
He also said that it would be “neat” to have mobile payments and that he would check out the new app and feel trustful in using it.
“I'm sure Apple would work out any security kinks before they launched it in the U.S.,” Mr. Stratton said.
Mr. O'Brien said that financial advisers should pay attention to Apple not only for its new technology but for its performance as an investment.
“When we look at the history of game-changing innovation from Apple, we see that's what put them on the map,” Mr. O'Brien said. “When the first iPhone came out, they sold a lot of those because they were the only ones with something like that. It drove revenue. Same thing with the iPad — when it came out, there was nothing like it.”
Apple (AAPL) shares jumped on the announcement, rising to as high as $103.08 per share in midday trading, versus Monday's close of $98.36.
It remains to be seen whether Americans are ready for Apple Pay, Mr. O'Brien said, noting that so far the app works at just a few retailers including Subway, Staples and Disney.