The two coolest features coming with iPhone 6

The date is 9/9 when the king of the mobile world 2014/2015 shall be launched. 2014 flagship phones have been launched by Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Nokia Microsoft and others, but none of these were as anticipated as the flagship phone by Apple, the iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 will not just be the king of phones in 2014 and 2015 but will be king over all iPhones ever launched to date – first because iPhone 6 will feature a real estate screen for the first time ever and secondly because it will come embedded with NFC technology.

There are two problems with those two features though – although being hyped as the coolest features in iPhone 6, these two features have been on Android devices for as long as I can remember, thanks largely to Samsung. After releasing the Samsung Galaxy phone in 2009 with a screen size of 3.2″, slightly smaller that the original Apple’s iPhone that was released in 2007 and featured a 3.5″ screen, Samsung realized that what a touch screen smartphone needed was a  big screen; hence in 2010 the tech giant released Samsung Galaxy S with a 4″ screen, then the Samsung Galaxy S2 followed the following year with a 4.3″ screen – after which Samsung decided to test the waters with a really big screen device later in 2011 in the name of Samsung Galaxy Note. The Samsung Galaxy Note came in at 5.3 inches, a test that proved to be largely successful and is responsible for Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the yet to be unveiled Samsung Galaxy Note 4 due on 3rd September 2014.

Apple is not just entering into the big screen market when it is already over crowded by Samsung, LG, HTC, Lenovo, Tecno, Huawei, Microsoft and others but more so after the same company under Steve Jobs largely criticized big screens on phones. According to Steve Jobs, people needed phones that can be used with one hand and that “no one’s going to buy” a big screen phone. The belief that no one will ever buy a big screen phone made Apple to retain the iPhone’s screen size at 3.5″ up to iPhone 4s. It is the iPhone 5 that broke away from the tradition and came with a slightly bigger screen at 4″, but the physical dimensions of 123.8mm length and 58.6mm width are such that one can still use the phone with one hand; dimensions that led people to make fun of the phone posting memes like the one below.

iphone 6


Although people thought that Apple had swallowed a humble pie and would release a bigger phone in 2013, the iPhone 5s released last year did not change the screen size of iPhone 5. Then comes 2014 – Apple is now set to release the next big iPhone in the smartphone world, iPhone 6 – a phone that will feature 4.7″ screen and possibly even a bigger version to be called iPhone Air at 5.5″.

Touch screen smartphones should have screen sizes of between 5.5″ and 6″

In late June to early July a friend who has Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and I, with my Samsung Galaxy S3, went on a road trip across the breadth and width of Tanzania. For ease of communication, we set my phone to be the one to make and receive calls as the Note 3 was left for Internet browsing and photography, and since my friend was the driver, I was the one in charge of handling both phones.

Before this trip I had bought into the Steve Job’s lie that no one needed a phone with more 5″ screen (okay I extrapolated a bit from 3.5″ to 5″). Then for two weeks I used both Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung Galaxy S3 side by side. Trust me, you can’t use Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and comfortably go back to Samsung Galaxy S3. The lie that you need one hand to use a phone is crap – actually, mostly you’ll use the Note 3 with one hand but there are features that are best used with two hands, one hand holding the device and the other pressing here or there on the large screen. The best description I can give the feel of using Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is “damn, it feels so good to use a big phone”.

It doesn’t stop there. A few weeks ago a long lost friend found me and arranged that we meet at TRM. We sat at Java facing each other and believe you me I couldn’t stop staring at his phone – the Nokia Lumia 1320 was demanding for attention – I had to humble myself and request him to let me have a feel of the gigantic Lumia (my first experience with a Windows phone article is coming soon).

If you attend a meeting where everyone has a 5.5″ to 6″ phones, you won’t want to take out your 4.8″ Samsung Galaxy S3 and below.

That’s why Samsung should turn away from the Samsung Galaxy S series as their flagship device and focus attention to Samsung Galaxy Note series – or rather, they should make the Samsung Galaxy S series feature screen sizes of 5.5″ and standardize them around there – then the Note series can be standardized at 6″.

(Also read: When it comes to phones, size does matter)

Given that the real estate screen size for “normal phones” released in 2014 has been set at around 5.3″ (from 5 to 5.5″), the screen size of Apple’s iPhone 6 of 4.7″ is a baby among the big guys – the 4.7″ screen might be the coolest feature in iPhone 6 given the history of iPhones, but no, it is not the coolest feature to have in a phone. I would say that a phone being released in 2014 with a screen size below 5″ is giving loyal customers a raw deal. Here is a video that explains it better.

NFC Technology

Other than the screen size, the only other remarkable change the iPhone 6 will have is the inclusion of Near Field Communication Technology, the technology that allows electronic devices to communicate with each other at a touch or at a very close proximity. This is the technology that allows phones to replace cards as a means of payment. If you are a Samsung phone owner, especially Samsung Galaxy S3 and beyond, you can have a feel of NFC at work by doing this simple task:

  1. Get a friend with a similar phone (Samsung Galaxy S3 and beyond)
  2. Enable both NFC and Wi-Fi Direct (S Beam) in both devices under settings
  3. Open the file e.g. photo you want to send to the other phone
  4. Touch the back of the phones together
  5. Tap the photo to be shared
  6. Let the phones do the rest

The beauty of NFC does not stop there. In countries like Japan where contactless payment has taken much ground, one can pay for shopping, restaurant services, buy movie tickets and execute numerous other electronic based payments simply by tapping the phone to a point of payment. You must have seen how NFC based payment works in Nairobi as it is the technology used on Bebapay. If everyone had an NFC enabled phone, people won’t need to buy the Bebapay prepaid cards as the phone itself could be the card. Imagine if you could send someone M-PESA simply by touching the two phones together. How Stuff Works explain the imagination even better:

You’re on your way home with a few errands to run and only your cell phone to help. From work, you walk to the commuter train station, where you touch your cell phone to a near field communication (NFC) reader to pay your fare. On the platform, you stand near a poster advertising a movie you’d like to see. You touch your phone to the NFC tag on the ad to download details about the film, including where and when it’ll be playing and the URL for a Web site to visit to order e-tickets.

When you reach your stop, you go to the bookstore, where you use your phone to redeem a discount coupon and buy a DVD. The next stop is the dry cleaners, and again, you touch the phone to the NDC reader to pay your bill.

The last stop is your favorite restaurant for carryout. You sent a text order from your phone, so the food is ready and waiting. Another touch of the phone to a reader, and you’re ready to head home for a relaxing dinner and a chance to watch that new DVD.

Despite NFC being one the coolest ways to transfer data from one device to the next, better than Blue Tooth or even Wi-Fi protocols, reports indicate that the technology has not been as widespread as it should. In Europe and in the US very few people actually have their NFCs turned on. Some of the speculators have reasoned that it is probably the user-unfriendliness that has made most owners of NFC enabled devices not use it as much – thus the news that NFC will debut on iPhone 6 made one tech blogger to ask, “Can Apple’s iPhone 6 make NFC user friendly?” from which he received an answer:

If you cannot figure out how to tap to send data via NFC, then you are definitely an iPhone user.

iPhone 6 might not make NFC any simpler, but it will surely be able to make NFC a popular technology with everyone – but only if Apple decides to actively popularize the various ways NFC can help simplify the lives of iPhone fans. The reasons why iPhone 6 can really help bring NFC to be an everyday experience are three fold – firstly Apple is known for hyping already existing technologies to the point of claiming invention (touch screen phones were not invented by Apple), secondly, most smartphone owners in the US own an iPhone and will upgrade to iPhone 6 and lastly what’s popular in US will be popular elsewhere in the world.

Even though Apple will include an old technology (the first NFC phone was a feature phone by Nokia – the Nokia 6131 that was launched in 2006) in its 2014/2015 flagship phone that has been popular in the Android world since 2011, that inclusion can be accepted as cool. It is cool for iPhone users to also have an experience of what they have missing, but the good part is that these fans will be able to do what Google, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Sony HTC and the other big names have failed to do over the years – make a really useful technology amazingly popular to the point of asking, “how the heck did we ever live without this?” If Apple succeeds in making NFC a part of daily life, then the Googles and Samsungs of this world should beg Apple to give them that secret – how to turn fans into worshipers…

Or they should just come to Kenya and talk to Raila.


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