When Apple introduced the iPhone 6 Plus, it said the device was superior to the standard iPhone 6 in a few key ways. First, it featured optical image stabilization, while the iPhone 6 only supported digital image stabilization. Next, the iPhone 6 Plus featured a 1920-by-1080 display, offering 401 pixels per inch, while the iPhone 6 came with “only” a 1334-by-750 display, with a pixel density of “just” 326 pixels per inch.
To support the additional power draw of the larger, higher pixel-density display, the iPhone 6 Plus features a 2915 mAh battery, which offers far more capacity than the 1810 mAh battery in the regular iPhone 6.
These three features allow Apple to charge an additional $100 for iPhone 6 Plus models over the iPhone 6. Given the seemingly solid demand for the iPhone 6 Plus, and given that a mix shift toward the “Plus” models helps Apple’s average selling prices and profits, I think the company will do even more with this line of phones.
I believe hardware specifications for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are substantially similar because Apple probably wanted to get a sense for the relative demand for each device.
By having the two smartphones share most components, Apple minimized the supply chain risk it faced in potentially miscalculating the relative demand levels between the models. Most of the components procured for one model could be used for the other, so Apple could shift most (but not all) parts intended for the build one device to another without problem.
However, given that Apple probably now has a good sense of the relative demand or the 6 and the 6 Plus, it can more comfortably use different and improved components in the next “Plus” iteration without the uncertainty that likely loomed ahead of the 6 and 6 Plus launches.
I expect the next-generation “Plus” iPhone will feature the following improvements over the smaller one:
I’m not sure if Apple will upgrade the displays on the next round of iPhones. While the competition will be moving to even higher resolution and pixels-per-inch displays, the higher power consumption and increased costs might not be worth the effort for Apple, particularly since both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus already have exceptional displays.
At any rate, I think Apple wants people to buy up, so the more interesting features and improvements it can pack into the “Plus” model while keeping the cost structure reasonable, the better. I can’t wait to see what this year’s iPhones, particularly the larger model, will feature.