For months it's seemed like a foregone conclusion that Apple was going to go bigger with the iPhone. And indeed the rumors were true: today in a huge auditorium, to thunderous applause, Tim Cook announced a bigger iPhone. Two, in fact.
The more moderate new model of iPhone is the iPhone 6, a 4.7-inch model, which looks much like the iPhone 5S. Only, you know, bigger. Its power button has been moved to the side, the edges have been slightly rounded, which make it feel almost like a throwback to the very first iPhone. Its 1334 x 750 screen looks great, though "Retina HD" doesn't at first glance seem to make a huge difference. It's 6.9mm thick, thinner than both the 5S and the iPhone 6 Plus, despite having the new A8 processor and a handful of new chips and sensors. It's obviously recognizable as an iPhone, though it feels more like a hybrid of iPhone and iPod touch.
Yes, it's bigger, but the iPhone 6 doesn't really feel big. It feels good, even in smaller hands, and at least on this device Apple's one-handed mode might not be terribly necessary. It's really, remarkably light, and incredibly thin; it seems to make up in ergonomics what it compromised in sheer size. Moving the power button to the side was an obviously smart move, making it at least possible to hold in a single hand. The iPhone 6 Plus is an entirely other matter, but the iPhone 6 still feels like a phone anyone can wield.
I can't say much about performance yet, after only a few minutes of playing with it, but there's certainly nothing slow about the iPhone 6. Even on the bigger, higher-resolution screen everything moved briskly and smoothly — that's not terribly surprising given the device's new and upgraded processor, but it's a good sign nonetheless.
It's what Apple thought it needed to do, what people have been asking for. Many of the iPhone 6's most important features — Apple Pay, the new camera software, the burst selfies, the hugely improved M8 motion co-processor — are software-based, and are frankly hard to do much with inside of Apple's crazy demo building. But from what we can tell so far, Apple did a bigger phone pretty much the right way.
Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report.