By Tom Huddleston Jr.
September 9, 2014

As expected, Apple unveiled the latest installments in its smartphone series, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, at a product launch event near the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Standing before a couple of thousand in-person attendees in Cupertino, and quite a few more people live-streaming the event online (not on Chrome, though!), Apple CEO Tim Cook told the audience that the company had made its best smartphones yet.

“Today we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone,” Cook said to a hearty applause in the Flint Center for the Performing Arts.

The phones feature the larger screens that had been expected for months, with the iPhone 6 display measuring 4.7 inches and the iPhone 6 Plus measuring 5.5 inches. The new iPhones are also the thinnest yet, the company said, at 6.9 mm and 7.1 mm, respectively. The event also highlighted the phones’ improved retina display, which offers 1080p HD resolution.

Apple (AAPL) says the iPhone 6 is up to 50% faster than the original iPhone and the new phones also have faster processing and LTE than previous iterations of the iPhone. The company has updated the phones’ 8 megapixel iSight camera feature to include a sensor that helps the camera focus, and the iPhone 6 Plus also features “optical image stabilization,” which uses a motion chip to reduce the likelihood of blurry images.

The iPhone 6 will start at $199 on a two-year carrier contract at 16GB. For $299 at 64GB, $399 for 128 GB. iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for 16 GB, $399 on 64 GB, and $499 on 128 GB. Pre-orders start on September 12, with shipping by September 19.

The weight of Apple’s newest products on the rest of the smartphone market was already being felt prior to Tuesday’s big unveiling. Ahead of Apple’s expected iPhone announcement, Amazon made a move to boost sales of its own smartphone by drastically cutting the price of the Fire phone to just 99 cents when purchased with a two-year AT&T contract. The Fire cost $199 when it launched in July.

Meanwhile, other smartphone rivals may just be waiting to see what Apple had up its sleeve before they make any official moves. Last year, Google launched its Nexus 5 at the end of October and an update to that line could come around the same time this year, while Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is expected to become available at the beginning of 2015. Of course, one of the major new iPhone features – the larger screen – has long been implemented in the products of Apple’s rivals, with the display on the latest Galaxy measuring at 5.l inches. An even larger display is also expected on the next iteration of the Samsung Galaxy line.

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