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Apple Announces 4-Phone Lineup (Incl. Phablets), Apple Watch

No surprises here, though there is a whole lot of new Apple crack for all you fanatics out there.

Today, the company announced its long-awaited and much-rumored iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the Apple Watch. With the two new phone models, Apple's smartphone lineup expands to four options -- 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus -- and with the Apple Watch, the company will get in on the growing wearables category, challenging notable Android Wear entries from Motorola, Samsung, and LG.

An iPhone For Everyone

Last year, the rumor was that the iPhone 5c would be "cheap," at least by Apple standards. Our guesses weren't too far off -- it only took Apple a year to drop the price to anything resembling cheap. This year? The rumor was bigger screens.

Here's your new lineup, along with the starting, on-contract prices:

  Screen Size Starting Price (On Contract) Storage Capacities
iPhone 5c 4" Free 8 GB
iPhone 5s 4" $99 16, 32, 64 GB
iPhone 6 4.7" $199 16, 64, 128 GB
iPhone 6 Plus 5.5" $299 16, 64, 128 GB

What do the new iPhone Sixes bring for all that cash? The screens are wider and taller -- these are both pretty much phablets at this point. (The iPhone 5, as you may remember, only made the screen taller -- not wider.) Both come with larger storage sizes at the higher pricing tiers. And there's the obvious -- an upgraded processor.

The iPhone 6 Plus is the truly "different" model. Because the screen is so large, it has a different interface than its smaller siblings -- more iPad than iPhone, essentially a smaller tablet with a cellular connection. There are a few other niceties to make it play well with one hand too, such as the ability to double-touch (not a full press, mind you, as that'll open the multi-tasking view) the home button to shrink the interface to allow you to touch everything with one hand. Gimmicky? Sure, but now you can text and drive with only one hand!

The Sixes are thinner, the LTE radios are upgraded (to support faster connections, Voice over LTE), and the cameras are upgraded in every sense (light sensors, better autofocus, noise reduction, optical image stabilization) except resolution -- it's still an 8-megapixel camera. Even the front-facing camera was tweaked to allow better selfies!

Apple Watches Too!

Much like larger iPhones, the Apple Watch has been rumored for years. And if you, for some reason, want the 21st century equivalent of a Casio calculator watch on your wrist (because muggers totally won't notice), and if you have an iPhone, your day is here. But don't worry -- U2 totally wears 'em, so they're cool.

What's the Apple Watch? It's a smartwatch, controlled by the crown (the little dial on analog watches) rather than touch, that contains a number of apps that depend on having an iPhone nearby. Basically, it's a second, smaller screen for those who don't wish to pull out their phones all the time. Despite the non-touch controls, it does have a touchscreen, which is used for drawing cute messages to nearby friends and for swiping in apps. Why two forms of controls? Apple wants you to swipe less, as it's hard to see a tiny screen when you're touching it.

It also appears to be one hell of a fitness tracker, though if you have to carry your iPhone along with you, the utility of such a device may be diminished somewhat -- imagine the 6 Plus clunking around in your pocket while you run and you'll see the problem with a phone-dependent tracker.

It comes in two sizes: smaller and larger, three casing materials (including 18k gold), and six different types of bands (such as stainless steel, leather, etc.). It'll cost you $349 and will be available in early 2015.

Apple Payments!

Sick of using your credit cards? Want to trust Apple to handle your payments? Both the new iPhone Sixes and the Apple Watch will come with NFC (Near Field Communication) chips that allow you to tap to pay at participating vendors.

Basically, Apple wants to replace your credit cards with an app and a chip. The thought makes me uneasy, but then again, Home Depot. And Target.

Which Apple Product Are You Most Excited About?

iPhone 6
iPhone 6 Plus
Apple Watch
Apple Payments
Puhleeeze. I'm an Android/Windows/Blackberry user.

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