For Apple fans, Christmas comes early every year. It’s around this time that the tech company famous for the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod announces major upgrades to existing products — and, every so often, something entirely new.
So it was this week. Apple revamped its iPhone line with fresh models that are bigger than the existing ones. And the tech trendsetter joined the “wearable” revolution with the first Apple-branded smartwatch, called Apple Watch.
Apple revealed new services, as well, including one designed to make payments easier.
This is all well and good … but should you buy any of these products or services? There are reasons to do so, and reasons to stay away.
As expected, Apple announced iPhones that are substantially larger than the current 4-inch 5s and 5c models. The larger phones include the iPhone 6, coming in at 4.7 inches, and the jumbo iPhone 6 Plus at 5.5 inches.
This aligns Apple better with competing smartphone makers such as Samsung and HTC, which have been offering large-format smartphones for awhile. But does this mean you should take a bite out of the Apple and buy a big phone?
Reasons to go for it: Some of us aren’t getting any younger and our eyesight isn’t what it used to be. The larger the phone, therefore, the better. The new iPhones and especially the Plus model amount to small tablets that also happen to be phones. And with a nifty screen-scaling technology, you see exactly what users of smaller phones see — just blown up nice and big.
(MORE: Are You Ready to Get a Tablet?)
Reasons to avoid it: There’s a reason Apple stayed with smaller iPhones for so long. They’re easier to use with one hand. Plus, you might feel silly holding such a big gadget up to your ear.
Bottom line: If you’re intrigued by the new iPhones but unsure about them, visit a store and try handling larger phones from other makers before the iPhones are available, starting Sept. 19.
Also as expected, Apple revealed its first all-new device since the iPad in 2010. The Apple Watch is a curvy, metallic beauty of a smartwatch with a gorgeous display and a variety of high-fashion wristbands.
Reasons to go for it: Who wouldn’t want one of these on their wrist? The new watch makes other so-called “smartwatches” suddenly look dowdy (though those competitors are available now, while the Apple Watch won’t be for sale until 2015). Also, if you have an iPhone 5 or newer model, the Apple Watch will pair up with it. And the Apple Watch is loaded with health-monitoring stuff.
Reasons to avoid it: The Apple Watch starts at $349. Luxury-watch aficionados will gladly pay that, but the price is a bit steep for average mortals. That’s what a high-end smartphone costs, after all. Another caveat: It’s always risky to throw down big bucks for a first device of its kind.
Bottom line: A prudent course is letting early adopters deal with Apple Watch bugs, and go for the second or third generation (assuming there is one).
Tech firms have been trying to retire credit cards for awhile and Apple’s new stab at this is Apple Pay. It will let users tap their iPhones or Apple Watches against in-store terminals to consummate their transactions.
Reasons to go for it: For some, the promise of credit card-free shopping is hugely appealing. And that tap-to-pay thing is already catching on; similar store terminals are already set up at the likes of McDonald’s and CVS pharmacies. And users of Android phones have been able to use a Google Wallet service for payments. Although smartpay services haven’t taken off yet, if anyone can make this idea happen, it’s Apple.
Reasons to avoid it: You’re wise to be very, very cautious with payment information. High-profile data breaches at Target, Home Depot and other places have taught consumers to be extra-wary. Besides, digital wallets could be like 3D HDTVs: They are certainly cool, but how necessary are they, really?
Bottom line: Even we gadget geeks have to ask: How is it easier to pull out your phone to pay, instead of your wallet, really?
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