Screen size matters to Apple fans in line for the iPhone 6

Apple fans expressed a preference for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus over the 4.7-inch iPhone 6

New York City Police Department doing its job to control a line of Apple fans waiting to buy the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

New York City Police Department doing its job to control a line of Apple fans waiting to buy the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple fans were out early in full force in Boston and New York Friday morning to buy the larger screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus have some of the "the biggest advancements in iPhone history," Apple said when it announced the new smartphones last week. But larger screens are what drew some to stand in lines outside stores on a chilly morning in both cities.

At Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York the line, which snaked around a city block, started to form on Aug. 31, before the smartphones were announced. The New York City Police Department barricaded some parts of the block to control the crowd.

"The [iPhone 6] Plus has a bigger screen. I had to have it," said Jonathan Lawrence of New York, who stood in line for 15 hours. Lawrence is upgrading from an iPhone 5S and said the larger screen will be more convenient for entertainment and gaming.

The novelty of the iPhone 6 Plus' screen size also drew the attention of Jorge Hernandez of New York.

"It's just much easier to handle when it comes to the bigger, wider screen," especially for typing on the keypad, Hernandez said.

He has a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and wants to see how the iPhone 6 Plus compares.

"I'm going to keep both, see the one I like the most." Hernandez said.

The preference for iPhone 6 Plus was echoed by some waiting outside the Apple store in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, where lines formed Thursday.

Mariana Galstain, a real estate broker, viewed the iPhone 6 Plus as possibly replacing iPad in some business-use cases.

"I like the bigger screen and longer battery life. Especially in my profession, I won't have to bring out my iPad anymore when I'm showing something to clients," Galstain said.

But the iPhone 6 Plus screen didn't excite Manu Gazive, a Tajikistan resident, who was upgrading to the iPhone 6. He had stood in the New York line since Thursday morning.

"Not the Plus. It's really big. It's better I go and buy Samsung," Gazive said. "It's big. It can't fit in your pocket. It's like a mini-iPad."

An iPhone 6 with 16GB storage is priced at US$199, while the 64GB version costs $299, and the 128GB model is $399. The iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $299 for 16GB or storage, $399 for 64GB and $499 for 128GB. The prices are with two-year mobile carrier contracts. The smartphones are available with all major U.S. carriers.

Apple expanded the screen sizes of its smartphones in response to the threat posed by Samsung, whose large-screen Galaxy and Galaxy Note smartphones with Android have sold well. The iPhone 6 displays images at a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels, and iPhone 6 Plus screen can show images at a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution.

The smartphone was announced at an Apple event in Cupertino, California, last week, where the Apple Watch was a big attention getter. But advance orders for both phones were strong, topping over 4 million in the first 24 hours.

The smartphones have received positive reviews.

They have the A8 64-bit chip, the iOS 8 operating system and support for Apple Pay, which enables mobile payments through extra layers of hardware and software security. Apple Pay uses an NFC (near field communication) antenna for mobile payment, a feature that already exists on Android.

Apple is finally making it easy to pay for services, said Danny Blair, a New York resident standing in line outside the Fifth Avenue store.

But Blair said he won't load his credit card information before he is absolutely sure it is a safe payment mechanism.

The smartphones also have a dashboard to collect and view health information, and better messaging and photo-organization features. Other features include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and support for VoLTE (voice over LTE).

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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