Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ Review: The Only Competitor To Apple’s iPhone 6S

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple’s new iPhone hits stores as CEO Cook faces growth questions.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus hit stores around the world on Friday, kicking off what is expected to be a record weekend of sales as customers scrambled to buy Apple Inc’s marquee product in pink for the first time.For every iPhone sold under their aggressive, new renewal plans, dueling carriers Sprint and T-Mobile are spending between $200 and $250, according to an initial estimate by New Street Research.

Eager buyers – joined by at least one robot – flocked to Apple stores from Sydney to New York and San Francisco, itching to get their hands on new models boasting an improved camera and a screen feature Apple calls ‘3D Touch’, which performs different functions depending on how hard a user presses. “It’s very intuitive. The newest models, following a hugely popular design overhaul last year that added bigger screens, may not match the success of previous releases, according to analysts. That’s about half the average subsidy of around $450 a few years ago that desperate carriers were funding for new iPhones, which retail for $650 and up, noted Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst at the firm.

I’m really excited to see what developers do with it,” Leah Bentley, a 22-year-old software developer from Emeryville, California, said inside Apple’s San Francisco store after purchasing her phone. For all the sophisticated technology packed into the new iPhones, customers interviewed by Reuters were most excited by a more low-tech feature: the ‘rose gold’ finish, a new shade that Apple introduced with the current phone. The novel hue – essentially sparkling pink – accounted for more than a third of early in-store sales, according to FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives, citing conversations with buyers. With smartphone makers offering increasingly advanced cameras to consumers, it’s almost easy to forget that when Apple first launched the iPhone eight years ago, the original smartphone’s 2-megapixel camera was basically … functional.

The oft-repeated cliché that the best camera is the one in your pocket wasn’t true yet, because in many ways, the best cameras were still the ones we slung around our necks. One store at least was buzzing, as Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook made a surprise visit to company’s store in Georgetown, Washington, to raucous cheers from employees and shoppers.

Given Apple’s dominance in this space, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the cameras in the new iPhone 6S models are as much about Apple’s internal philosophy as they are about technical prowess and manufacturing partners. Analysts expect 12 million to 13 million phones to fly off the shelves in the first weekend, up from more than 10 million last year when the launch of the hugely successful iPhone 6 was delayed in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market. It usually announces first weekend sales on the following Monday. “I obviously have my work and other things to attend to and can’t spend two days lining up so my boss at work suggested I take one of the robots down and use it to stand in my place,” she said, via an iPad mounted on top of the wheeled robot.

In the past year we’ve seen great strides from major competitors such as Samsung and LG, both of which have released smartphones with highly capable cameras. For the following year’s model, designated with an “s” tacked on to the number, the Cupertino, California-based company makes more subtle improvements. But Apple says that it’s the company’s decisions around this camera technology and the sum of the parts, not the parts themselves, that sets their new cameras apart. Apple has said just a fraction of its customers have upgraded to the iPhone 6 – analysts estimate less than 30 percent – suggesting there is room to grow.

It’s ironic, really, that a company known for its secrecy, clever marketing terms, and at one point in time, its “reality distortion field” has focused squarely (or cinematically, or panoramically) on a key theme when it comes to its phone photos: truth. Whether Apple can match last year’s demand will be determined as handsets hit stores Friday in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Still, Apple has only about 16 percent of the global smartphone market compared to 81 percent for devices running Google Inc’s Android system, according to tech research firm IDC’s projections for this year. Stores in China — Apple’s largest market outside the U.S. — drew faithful buyers like Wu Kai, who picked up two phones from a packed Apple outlet at Beijing’s Xidan Joycity mall. “Apple products are becoming family members,” the 17-year- old student said, explaining how he and his parents rely on every Apple product from the Mac Pro to the iPad. “It’s just good product that’s shaping our everyday life.” Mr. Greater China accounted for 27 percent of revenue in the June quarter, more than all of Europe, and remains a swing factor for the company’s iPhone-reliant earnings.

Shares of audio chipmaker Cirrus Logic Inc jumped 15 percent after iFixit’s tear-down revealed that Apple had used its chips, as it did in previous iPhones. There were signs however that iPhone sales there may have slowed, after Apple reported moving 47.5 million units in the latest quarter, missing analysts’ projections for 48.8 million. Lacklustre offerings this year from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will help Apple stand out in the marketplace, said analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

Freelance technology journalist Lindsay Handmer, 32, waited for 18 days in front of the shop to be the first, showering at a local gym and using the toilets at a McDonald’s. But many megapixels do not always equal a great photo — in fact, if you try to cram more megapixels onto a relatively small sensor, each pixel collects less light, often resulting in poorer image quality. To counter this, Apple says it is utilizing a technology called deep trench isolation, which forms a wall between each pixel and supposedly produces better images with more accurate colors.

Sony’s image sensors are hugely popular across imaging industries — you’ll find them in countless digital cameras and lots of smartphones, including some made by Samsung. Apple didn’t design its own image signal processor until the iPhone 4S model, but it’s been a mainstay in every iPhone since. (That phone also shot 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second, a feature that effectively put point-and-shoot video cameras like the Flip out of business.) Though other smartphone makers, including HTC and Samsung, now build their own ISPs, Apple says its camera ISP is one of its biggest advantages and, coupled with further tuning through the phone’s OS, is what produces top-notch photos.

The stock through Thursday was down 14 percent from its high in February, in part because of concerns that the device can’t sustain its run of unprecedented growth. Apple last week predicted it would top last year’s opening- weekend sales record of 10 million units, although that figure is boosted by availability this year in China, which wasn’t part of the initial rollout last year. A better gauge for how the device is selling will come in January, when the company reports sales for the holiday quarter. “The biggest area of interest for investors is the December quarter. The front camera triggers something called Retina flash, which, as The Verge’s Nilay Patel pointed out in his review, won’t go unnoticed when you’re standing in a dark bar and your iPhone’s display is flashing white, but it really does make low-light selfies look a lot better. As part of Apple’s testing during the development of these cameras, members of the company’s camera engineering team took over 100,000 photos over a period of several months.

Apple also introduced a program for paying in installments of at least $37 a month, similar to plans offered by wireless companies including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. The most interesting thing we’ve learned after putting them head to head is that there’s often very little discernable difference between them in the real world. One trend we noted was that the images from the iPhone often had a very slight green color cast, especially with portraits, and were not as pleasing as images from Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ or LG’s G4.

Macro photos were also a point of struggle with the iPhone — where the other phones quickly and reliably locked focus on what we were attempting to shoot, the iPhone frequently missed. But there were other instances, such as landscapes, where the iPhone produced the best image, going to show that the differences between the phones aren’t necessarily cut and dried. Even as we got down to the wire evaluating the images you see here, the Verge staff was split on which smartphone camera did the best overall job in this shootout.

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