TIME Video Games

Activision Claims Destiny ‘Most Successful New Video Game Franchise Launch of All Time’

Bungie's first-person shooter is selling well to retailers out the door, exactly as expected.

Destiny, Bungie’s attempt to one-up the latter’s Halo franchise by a country mile, has sold a whopping $500 million worth of copies so far, says publisher Activision. But hold up: that’s sold-in, not through, which means the company’s really reporting a record-breaking relationship with retailers, not customers.

That relationship must have existed prior to the game going on sale at its midnight launch. How much of that $500 million–shipped to stores in the form of retail and digital standard and limited editions as well as physical copies bundled with game consoles–is walking out the door with customers, buying it for PlayStation and Xbox platforms, remains a question mark.

Activision rolled that eye-catching figure out in a press release that also states the game launched at more than 11,000 midnight openings in over 178 countries worldwide. Among other things, the company claims Bungie’s hybrid single-player/multiplayer first-person shooter is the “highest-selling day one digital console release in history,” and that it’s “on track to become Activision’s next billion dollar franchise.” (“Next,” referring to its two other billion-dollar franchises: Call of Duty and Skylanders.)

As one of my colleagues put it this morning: “Great, I was beginning to worry that Activision wasn’t going to make enough money this year.”

TIME Opinion

One iPhone Feature I’d Still Like to See

Apple's iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 6 Plus (right) Apple

We spent a week at the beach this summer. I brought with me my work-issued iPhone 5s and a Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport I’d been reviewing. The iPhone spent much of the trip in my bag.

Now, my iPhone uses Verizon and got a decent-if-unspectacular signal where we were. It’d waver between 3G and LTE data, and phone calls and texts would come through regularly.

The Samsung, on the other hand, uses Sprint and didn’t get much of a signal at all where we were. It would routinely just lose the signal altogether, with texts being delayed and phone calls going straight to voicemail.

But I brought the Samsung to the beach with me everyday because it’s water-resistant.

I’m overly, overly, overly careful with my gadgets. Bringing my iPhone to the beach entails first putting it in a ziploc bag, then putting that bag in a waterproof cooler pocket. If I use the phone, I make sure my hands are completely dry.

I would use the Samsung instantly after getting out of the water, though — towel be damned, water droplets splattering everywhere like tears from God himself as he’s chopping holy onions — and would stuff it into the pocket of my wet swimsuit whenever I walked back up to the house. It was liberating.

Now I know there are plenty of iPhone waterproofing services out there, and it could be argued that the iPhone could stand to sport plenty of other features besides waterproofing: I saw a joke somewhere that Samsung’s next phone reveal will dictate which features will end up in the iPhone 8, which isn’t too outrageous an idea. At this stage in the game, though, if you’re expecting bleeding-edge hardware from new iPhones, you should expect to be disappointed. It’s the experience that counts, and waterproofing an iPhone seems like a consumer-friendly, trivial addition.

In fact, I’d wager a guess that such a feature isn’t far off. It would actually be a perfect feature to add to one of the iPhone line’s incremental upgrade cycles — iPhone 3G to 3GS; iPhone 4 to 4S, for example. Maybe slap it on to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus next year, bump the processor a bit and call it a day.

It’s a crowd-pleaser. Who wouldn’t want their iPhone to survive a drop in the toilet?

TIME Video Games

Some Pretty Tough News About the Xbox One’s Japan Launch Sales

No one's surprised that Microsoft's latest game console isn't doing so hot in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Tell me you weren’t expecting something like this: Xbox One sales in Japan, where the console just launched on September 4, are bad. Make that really bad.

According to Japanese game mag Famitsu, Microsoft’s games console sold just 23,562 units during its first four days on the market, September 4-7. Contrast with the Japanese Xbox 360 launch back in December 2005, which sold 62,135 units in half as many days, or the original Xbox in February 2002, selling 123,929 during its launch weekend.

Sony and Nintendo game systems have historically sold better in Japan, so it’s no surprise that figures for their respective launch windows are much higher: Sony’s PlayStation 4 sold 322,083 units during its first two days on the market (in November 2013) and the Wii U moved 308,570 units during its initial two days of availability (in November 2012). In Japan, that makes the Xbox One one of the most poorly launched mainstream game consoles on the books (the best remains the PlayStation 2, which hit 630,552 units sold during its preliminary weekend).

Microsoft’s original Xbox sold fewer than half a million units in Japan over the course of its life, and the Xbox 360’s only fared slightly better: presently somewhere north of 1.6 million units sold in the country. Nintendo’s Wii U–no trailblazer itself sales-wise–just crept past Microsoft’s nine-year-old system in units-sold last February.

Titanfall topped the charts with 22,416 units (nearly as many sold as systems moved, in other words), followed by Kinect Sports Rivals (14,191 units) and Dead Rising 3 (7,330 units).

By contrast, the Xbox One, while presumably behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 in worldwide sales given Microsoft’s reluctance to publicly lock horns with Sony sales-figure-wise, has sold in record numbers (relative to prior Xbox systems) in the U.S. At last check, back in April, the Xbox One had sold 5 million units across the globe, and it’s launching in 29 new markets this month. None of them immediate game changers, but it’s a significant shoring up of the availability gap between the Xbox One and the more broadly available PlayStation 4.

On September 4, Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg weighed in on the company’s reluctance to publish worldwide sales figures:

He’s talking in part about Halo: The Master Chief Collection (strictly rehash, but all four Halo core games fully remastered and immaculately packaged) and racer Forza Horizon 2. Microsoft’s been hyping Sunset Overdrive, an irreverent third-person shooter by former Sony-exclusive studio Insomniac Games (the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance games), so there’s that, and maybe Ori and the Blind Forest, a platformer that’s arguably the most interesting of the bunch, but it’s not yet a lock for 2014.

TIME Video Games

Microsoft is Trying to Buy Minecraft for $2 Billion, Reports Say

Microsoft wants to ride the fantastic success of the block-building video game

Microsoft is in talks to buy the maker of the block-building game Minecraft for more than $2 billion, according to reports, a deal that would make the fantastically popular game available on Microsoft devices.

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, citing unnamed sources, report that Microsoft opened talks with Mojang about three months ago and has already made an initial offer. Mojang and Microsoft could reach a deal by the end of the month.

Minecraft’s blocky graphics haven’t prevented it from being a huge hit among gamers, who build imaginative structures and recreate worlds using lego-like pieces. The game’s privately-held Swedish creator, Mojang, saw $115 million in profits last year, the Journal reports, off revenue of $291 million.

Minecraft isn’t currently available on Windows phones, and hasn’t been adapted to use the graphical interface of Windows 8, Microsoft’s newest operating system. Microsoft’s move to nab Minecraft would secure the popular gaming fad for its key platforms.

[NYT]

TIME Egypt

Here’s How to Explore the Pyramids From Your Own Home

New images added to Google Street View include 360-degree views of Egypt

On Tuesday morning, Google unveiled Street View Egypt in Google Maps, the latest step in the tech giant’s quest to image and map the seven wonders of the world. This new collection includes 360-degree views of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the necropolis of Saqqara, the Citadel of Qaitbay, the Cairo Citadel, the Hanging Church and the ancient city of Abu Mena.

A Street View operations team member wearing a Trekker in Saqqara, Egypt. Google

Google Street View began in 2007 and has since covered more than 7.2 million unique miles across more than 59 countries, gathering tens of millions of images that cover iconic landmarks and monuments, including the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Galapagos Islands, Everest Base Camp, the Grand Canyon and the Colosseum. Images are collected using 75-megapixel 360-degree panoramic cameras mounted on Street View Cars, or in the case of Street View Egypt and other hard-to-reach locations, “Trekkers” — backpack-like mounts worn by team members as they walk, hike and climb through a given location.

“We have two kinds of collections,” Google Maps Street View program manager Amita Khattri tells TIME. “We do countries that we have already collected imagery for — we sometimes go ahead and refresh the imagery — and then there are newer countries where we outreach and start on the new image collection.”

The Street View team faced exceptional challenges over the 10 days they spent using the Trekker in Egypt, carrying the heavy rigs through the desert during the height of summer where the heat tested the limits of both the cameras and the team members carrying them.

“It was a unique experience for us as well, because the equipment really got tested in the heat,” Khattri says. The captured scenes collected by the Trekkers were then stitched together into panoramas so that the result is seamless. This process, which also includes blurring of faces and license plates, can take anywhere from a month to several months, depending on the area being captured and the conditions under which the images were made.

TIME Web

Netflix, Mozilla, Vimeo and Others to Launch Online Protest for Net Neutrality

Erlendsson attends a pro-net neutrality Internet activist rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles
A protester attends a net-neutrality rally in Los Angeles on July 23, 2014 Jonathan Alcorn—Reuters

"We believe in the free and open Internet"

A group of popular websites that rely on speedy Internet service — including Netflix, Vimeo and Reddit — will launch an online protest Wednesday against controversial proposed changes to “net neutrality.”

The coalition of companies, who call themselves Team Internet, will use the spinning “still loading” symbol on banners of protest against the world of frustratingly slow Internet they say could come about if the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nixes net neutrality. Clicking on the banners will link to more information about net neutrality, the organizers say.

“We believe in the free and open Internet, with no arbitrary fees or slow lanes for sites that can’t pay,” write the organizers on their website. “If [cable companies] win, the Internet dies.”

Since May, the FCC has been weighing changes to its regulations on “net neutrality” — the 2010 rules requiring Internet service providers to treat all web traffic the same. The changes would allow cable companies to grant paying customers faster service, but ban them from slowing down, or throttling, the access of nonpaying companies. The FCC has already lost two court cases brought by cable companies who have challenged the legality of its existing net-neutrality rules.

Opponents to the changes, including much of Silicon Valley, have said that the revisions would in effect create an Internet of haves and have-nots, with paying companies zipping onto users’ screens and nonpaying ones lurching through the system.

“Consumers, not broadband gatekeepers, should pick the winners and losers on the Internet,” read a Netflix statement in the Financial Times. “Strong net neutrality rules are needed to stop Internet service providers from demanding extra fees or slowing delivery of content to consumers who already have paid for Internet access.”

Tim Karr, senior director of strategy at Free Press, one of the organizers of the protest, told the Wall Street Journal that the goal of the protest is to marshal public opposition to the FCC’s proposed changes and encourage people to reach out to the FCC and Congress. The FCC has already received more than 1.2 million comments criticizing the proposed revisions.

Other participants in the protest include Kickstarter, Foursquare, Urban Dictionary, Upworthy, Grooveshark and Mozilla, among others. Any Internet user with a website can post the protest banner or change their social-media avatars to the “spinning wheel of death.”

TIME technology

Apple Watch: To Wear It Like a Man — or a God?

According to Apple, this is technology that 'embraces individuality and inspires desire.' What could possibly go wrong?

Technology keeps getting more and more personal. First “personal computers,” which sat on your desk, gave way to laptops, which sat in a rather more intimate position. Now laptops are giving way to tablets and phones, which nestle in your hand and slip into your pocket. And early next year, the Apple Watch will wrap around quite a few wrists, which it will tap gently to signal that a friend is calling or a message has arrived.

You could say the Apple Watch will be the ultimate personal computer, but more to the point, it is one of the first intimate computers. It promises to be with you every moment of the day (though it will part with you at night for recharging—such sweet sorrow), aware of your every motion, responsive to your touch. It will be close enough, Apple promises, to feel your heartbeat—and share that heartbeat, in a feature that is either sweet or slightly creepy, with a friend.

I think Sting sang about this kind of intimate watchfulness a generation ago: “Every move you make, every breath you take, I’ll be watching you.” Oh, that song was not so much sweet as slightly creepy? Well, it won’t feel that way with the Apple Watch—unlike Sting’s hovering would-be lover, it is watching you in order to serve you. After all, in the reverent tones of Sir Jony Ive, narrating the watch’s introductory video, this is technology that “embraces individuality and inspires desire.” What could possibly go wrong?

“Every sufficiently advanced technology,” in Arthur C. Clarke’s famous words, “is indistinguishable from magic.” So perhaps, as we take one more step toward intimacy with our devices, it’s worth remembering what human beings have always sought from magic. Central to the idea of magic is the idea of secret knowledge—of knowing something about the world, whether runes or potions or spells, that will give us mastery over it. Magic promises that there is a secret passage through the mystery of the world, a doorway that leads to control. Long before modern technology, human beings sought (and frequently claimed to have found) that door.

But there is something we yearn for even more powerfully than mastery over the world—we yearn to master ourselves. We are a great mystery to ourselves. For hours every night we sleep, slack and unaware. During the day we barely notice our heart’s perpetual rhythm and our chest’s rise and fall. What if we had access to magic that promised knowledge of the secrets of our bodies? What if, behind that promise of knowledge of our bodies, lurked magic’s other promise, the promise of control of them?

This is why the “killer app” for the next generation of devices is fitness. Now that phones accompany us almost everywhere, they have begun to count our steps. On my own iPhone is an app that lets me number my calories day-by-day and track my weight with previously unimaginable precision. How much more will we be able to know, and control, once we enter the age of intimate computing, with computers that know us better than we know ourselves?

All technology, like all magic before it, craves godlikeness. Technology pursues the classical divine attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence—knowing everything, being everywhere, being capable of anything. Technology, like magic, seems to possess these divine qualities, and it promises that with its help we can have them, too.

Indeed, there is a very old story, one of the founding myths of Western civilization, about the pursuit of knowledge that would lead to control. “You shall be like God.” “You shall not surely die.” Those were the two promises the serpent made on behalf of the fruit in the Bible’s opening pages, and we’ve been chasing those promises ever since. The two promises are linked: We believe that if we have knowledge, we will also have power. If we can escape our creaturely limits, we will also escape our creaturely fate.

It is perhaps worth pondering the fact that so far in human history, these promises have always failed—not just the man and the woman in the primordial garden, but all the various magicians and religions since. We have neither achieved godlikeness nor escaped our mortality. Will technology be the exception that proves the rule, the path to secret knowledge that actually does let us transcend our limits? Or will technology fail at making us like gods, eventually failing in the way all false gods fail, demanding more and more from us while delivering less and less, until eventually they demand everything while delivering nothing?

There is, in fact, a powerful counternarrative in Western culture, an ongoing protest against magic, that says that the knowledge we seek, and the control we yearn for, is not available to us. Which does not mean it does not exist. “You have searched me and known me,” one of these protesters wrote, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” The singer of this psalm was not addressing a device within his control, but a transcendent being beyond his ken, who nonetheless was closer than his own breath. The testimony of this counternarrative is that we are only fully ourselves when we acknowledge a greater reality beyond ourselves; that we gain dignity, rather than losing it, when we accept the limits of human knowledge—even knowledge of ourselves.

So there will be two ways to wear the new Apple Watch, and the even more powerful and intimate devices yet to come: to treat it like a tool, or to treat it like magic.

We can see this watch as just one more tool—one more way to move mindfully (and watchfully?) through an enduringly mysterious world. Not as a way to master ourselves or our surroundings, but as a way to be reminded of, and grounded in, our embodied limitations. One of Apple’s promotional images for the new Watch showed it reminding its owner to stand up and walk around after sitting too long (presumably in front of a screen). That’s the kind of simple, humbling prompt we human beings need.

Or we can indulge the hope that this device (or some new version just down the road) will free us from our limits—will help us know what we cannot know and avoid what we cannot avoid. Wear the Watch that way, and you’ll not only be disappointed—along the way you’ll miss much of what actually makes life worth living.

As with all technology, the choice with the Apple Watch will come down to this: to wear it like a human being, or wear it like a god.

Andy Crouch is author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. He is the executive editor of Christianity Today.

TIME Books

9 Ugly Lessons About Sex From Big Data

Dataclysm
Dataclysm Courtesy Random House

Christian Rudder, author of Dataclysm and a founder of OkCupid, dives into the numbers and surfaces with some revelations on love, sex, race and culture

Big Data: the friend you met at a bar after your usual two drinks, plus one. You leaned in, listening more intently than usual. “Digital footprint.” “Information Age.” You nodded and smiled, even though you didn’t understand. “Change the world.” “The future.” You were impressed—and even if you weren’t, you faked it well.

Come morning, you have only fuzzy recollections of Big Data, its tag lines and buzzwords. You also find it vaguely reprehensible.

If you’re still up for it, there’s another side of Big Data you haven’t seen—not the one that promised to use our digital world to our advantage to optimize, monetize, or systematize every last part our lives. It’s the big data that rears its ugly head and tells us what we don’t want to know. And that, as Christian Rudder demonstrates in his new book, Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), is perhaps an equally worthwhile pursuit. Before we heighten the human experience, we should understand it first.

Rudder, a co-founder of OkCupid and Harvard-educated data scientist, analyzed millions of records and drew on related research to understand on how we search and scramble for love. But the allure of Rudder’s work isn’t that the findings are particularly shocking. Instead, the insights are ones that most of us would prefer not to think about: a racial bias against black women and Asian men, or how “gay” is the top Google Search suggestion for “Is my husband… .”

READ MORE This App Can Tell If You’ve Been Naughty or Nice Based on Your Tweets

Here are 9 revelations about sex and dating, courtesy of Rudder, Dataclysm, and, of course, big data.

1. Straight men think women have an expiration date.

Although women tend to seek men around their age, men of all ages are by far looking for women in their early 20s, according to OkCupid data. While men often set their age filters for women into the 30s and beyond, rarely do they contact a woman over 29.

2. Straight women are far less likely to express sexual desire than are other demographics.

On OkCupid, 6.1% of straight men are explicitly looking for casual sex. For gay men, it’s 6.9%, and for lesbians, 6.9%. For straight women, it’s only 0.8%.

3. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Like any good data scientist, Rudder lets literature—in this case, Thoreau—explain the human condition. Rudder cites a Google engineer who found that searches for “depictions of gay men” (by which the engineer meant gay porn) occur at the rate of 5% across every state, roughly the proportion of the world’s population that social scientists have estimated to be gay. So if a poll shows you that, for instance, 1% of a state’s population is gay, the other 4% is probably still out there.

READ MORE These 4 Things Kill Relationships

4. Searches for “Is my husband gay?” occur in states where gay marriage is least accepted.

Here’s a Big Data nugget you can see for yourself: Type “Is my husband” in Google, and look at your first result. Rudder notes that this search is most common in South Carolina and Louisiana, two states with some of the lowest same-sex marriage approval rates.

5. According to Rudder’s research, Asian men are the least desirable racial group to women…

On OkCupid, users can rate each other on a 1 to 5 scale. While Asian women are more likely to give Asian men higher ratings, women of other races—black, Latina, white—give Asian men a rating between 1 and 2 stars less than what they usually rate men. Black and Latin men face similar discrimination from women of different respective races, while white men’s ratings remain mostly high among women of all races.

6. …And black women are the least desirable racial group to men.

Pretty much the same story. Asian, Latin and white men tend to give black women 1 to 1.5 stars less, while black men’s ratings of black women are more consistent with their ratings of all races of women. But women who are Asian and Latina receive higher ratings from all men—in some cases, even more so than white women.

7. Users who send copy-and-paste messages get responses more efficiently.

OkCupid tracks how many characters users type in messages versus how many letters are actually sent. (For most users, it’s three characters typed for every one character sent.) In doing this analysis, Rudder found that up to 20% of users managed to send thousands of characters with 5 keystrokes or less—likely Control+C, Control+V, Enter. A little more digging showed that while from-scratch messages performed better by 25%, copy-and-paste messages received more replies per unit of effort.

READ MORE 10 Rules You Need to Know to Communicate Effectively

8. Your Facebook Likes reveal can reveal your gender, race, sexuality and political views.

A group of UK researchers found that based on someone’s Facebook Likes alone, they can tell if a user is gay or straight with 88% accuracy; lesbian or straight, 75%; white or black, 95%; man or woman, 93%; Democrat or Republican, 85%.

9. Vermont doesn’t shower a whole lot, relatively speaking.

Rudder has doled out some heavy info to ponder, so here’s some that’s a little lighter: in general, according to his research, in states where it’s hotter, people shower more; where it’s colder, people shower less. Still, the Northeast is relatively well-washed. Except, that is, for Vermont. Rudder has no idea why. Do you?

 

Rudder has a few takeaways from beyond the realm of love, too…

— On an insignificant July morning, Mitt Romney gained 20,000 Twitter followers within a few minutes.

Rudder dives further into social media data to show that Mitt Romney gained 18,860 new followers at 8 a.m. on July 22, 2012. Nothing particularly interesting happened on that day, and that spike in followers was about 200 times what he was getting immediately before and after. The secret? Likely purchasing followers. And Romney isn’t the only politician to do so—it’s a common practice, Rudder says, as we seek to strengthen our “personal brands.”

— Obama’s election and inauguration caused a massive spike in Google searches for “n-gger.”

According to Google Search data, search volume for “n-gger” more than doubled when Obama was elected in Nov. 2008, then fell rapidly within one month. When Obama was inaugurated in Jan. 2009, it similarly spiked, and then immediately fell. We don’t have national conversations on race, Rudder suggests, just national convulsions.

TIME Apple

iPhone 6: 8 Reasons to Buy, 6 Reasons to Wait

Do you really need one of Apple's bigger iPhones? These 14 pros and cons should help you decide.

Apple just made it a lot harder to pick an iPhone.

The company recently introduced not one, but two new iPhones: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which you can order on September 12, and pick up when they go on sale September 19.

But with the iPhone 5c and 5s still formally in the running and price-reduced, that means you now have four iPhones to choose from. What’s more, the spectrum of features keeps growing, making that choice about as involved as it’s ever been.

I’m just going to focus on the new iPhones, though if you want to scan our iPhone 5s rundown from last September, you can find that here.

On your mark, get set…pros!

Reasons to Buy

The return of curves (assuming you like curves)

Remember the original iPhone way back when? That thing, you probably forgot, had a half-curved edge (from the back) before Apple shifted to a frame nearer hard right angles.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are like that original frame, but more holistically executed: what Apple calls “a continuous, seamless design,” meaning the surface is texturally unbroken, and the cover glass (“ion-strengthened,” referring to a process in which one type of ion is exchanged for another to make the glass more durable) meets the anodized aluminum backing without tactile differentiation.

Apple adds that these are its thinnest iPhones yet, with thicknesses of 0.27 inches (the iPhone 6) and 0.28 inches (the iPhone 6 Plus). That’s hair-splitting: the iPhone 5s is only fractionally thicker at 0.30 inches, and good luck discerning hundredths of an inch. But I suppose it gives Apple’s marketing team another bragging point.

The new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch higher-resolution displays

Apple calls the iPhone 6’s new 4.7- and 5.5-inch diagonal screens “Retina HD displays.” That’s a marketing term and something of a misnomer: a tautological way of talking about technology that’s already outpaced your eye’s ability to spot discrete pixels.

But for those that like bigger numbers, the displays are notably higher resolution: 1334 by 750 pixels (326 pixels per inch, or over one million pixels, a tick higher than 720p) for the iPhone 6 and 1920 by 1080 pixels (401 pixels per inch, or over two million pixels, and native 1080p) for the iPhone 6 Plus. The new screens also have broader viewing angles, says Apple, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have dramatically higher 1400:1 and 1300:1 contrast ratios, respectively, compared with the 4-inch 1136 by 640 pixels (326 pixels per inch) screen with 800:1 contrast ratio found on past models.

Size-wise, the new screens make these significantly bigger phones overall, which I’m putting in the pro and con column depending on your smartphone-versus-phablet proclivities: 6.22 inches high by 3.06 inches wide (the iPhone 6 Plus) and 5.44 inches high by 2.64 inches wide (the iPhone 6), compared with the iPhone 5s’s 4.87 inches high by 2.31 inches wide.

What about older apps? Apple claims they scale up to the new resolutions just fine. We’ll see. Generally speaking, scaling’s less of an issue on screens this dimensionally small. Interpolation, which is what scalers do to fill in missing pixel data, is a problem more when you’re dealing with much bigger display spaces, say the troublesome blurriness you get running Nintendo’s Wii at 640 by 480 pixels (480p) out to a giant 50- or 60-inch 1920 by 1080 pixel (1080p) screen.

Apple’s also throwing in a new “landscape view” unique to the iPhone 6 Plus, so if you want to view traditionally portrait-locked apps sideways, the new landscape view lets you tap around the home screen’s rows of icons sideways, and adds functionality (like side-by-side panes, as well as a bigger keyboard) to apps that have been optimized for it. In other words, as The Verge put it during its Apple event live blog, it’s a little like an iPad Mini Mini.

The new phones have even zippier processors

Meet the A8 chip, Apple’s second-gen 64-bit offering with some 2 billion transistors, which Apple describes as sporting “up to 25% faster processing power and up to 50% faster graphics.” If you’re after some of the fastest phablets on the planet, the new iPhones are probably going to rank at the front of the pack.

Battery life is slightly to significantly better

The iPhone 6 Plus has a larger battery, which lends it the ability to do up to 80 hours of audio (versus 60 for the iPhone 6 and 50 for the iPhone 5s), 14 hours of video (11 and 10 for the iPhone 6 and 5s respectively), an hour or two more than the iPhone 6 and 5s when browsing over Wi-Fi, LTE and 3G, up to 24 hours of talk time over 3G (versus 14 and 10 for the iPhone 6 and 5s respectively) and 16 days of standby (versus just 10 days for both the iPhone 6 and 5s).

All the new tech tweaks, especially to the cameras

The new iPhones now include a barometer (to check air pressure and measure elevation — important for the new Health app in iOS 8), 802.11ac support (theoretically up to three times faster than the iPhone 5s’s 802.11n), a new M8 motion coprocessor (the iPhone 5c uses the M7) and a new Wi-Fi calling option, “for making high-quality calls when cell conditions are poor.”

But the coolest-sounding improvements are clearly to the iSight and FaceTime cameras. The 1080p iSight camera in both phones is still 8MP with 1.5µ pixels and ƒ/2.2 aperture (just like the iPhone 5s’s), but includes a new sensor that supports an autofocus-enhancing feature called “Focus Pixels” found in high-end DSLR cameras. Apple says autofocus is much faster (and continuous — important for video), local tone mapping and noise reduction have been improved, you can shoot video at 30 or 60 frames per second and take slo-mo video at both 120 and 240 frames per second. The cameras also include video stabilization (and the iPhone 6 Plus specifically includes optical as opposed to digital image stabilization, meaning the lens moves to compensate for shaking), and the new phones can identify faces (and blinking, and smiling) more efficiently whether close up or further away. What’s more, your panorama shots can be up to a whopping 43 megapixels now.

The still-720p, 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera has been upgraded, too, with a new sensor and larger ƒ/2.2 aperture, bringing it up to par with the iSight in that regard. It can also do automatic high dynamic range in videos (the iPhone 5s only supports this in photo mode) and has a “burst” mode, which Apple says will let you take up to 10 photos (or selfies) a second.

The new iPhones can finally talk and chew data at the same time

Apple’s best iPhones until today could do up to 100 Mbps LTE with 13 bands. The new iPhones can do up to 150Mbps, supports 20 bands (more than any other smartphone, claims Apple) and more than 200 LTE carriers worldwide.

More importantly, the new phones support “Voice over LTE,” or VoLTE. If you want a more detailed explanation of what VoLTE is, see here. But in summary, so long as your LTE carrier supports it, expect improved voice audio quality, and that you’ll no longer see your voice call connection throw your data link under the bus.

You want to pay for stuff with your phone

Apple Pay, which is what Apple’s calling its new pay-with-your-phone service, is Apple’s bid to make cash, checks and plastic credit cards obsolete by coupling the new iPhones’ NFC antennas with a TouchID fingerprint sensor. Imagine walking up to some store’s cashwrap, holding your phone near a sensor and simply fingering the TouchID button to make the transaction. Apple says it’s really that simple, and that it’ll support Visa, MasterCard and American Express at launch.

We’re talking about a highly theoretical pro, bear that in mind, and plenty of other companies have tried and fumbled with digital wallets. But if it works as simply and securely as Apple says, including the company’s provocative claim that Apple Pay is more secure than keeping cards in your wallet, it could be the deal-clincher many have been waiting for. I’m loathe to posit cliches about Apple being more likely to pull something like this off than any other big company with a compelling idea, but to the extent economic and political cachet matters, Apple still has it.

You get more storage for your buck

Recent iPhones have scaled from 16GB to 32GB to 64GB at $100 price intervals from a base of $199. The new iPhones still scale at $100 intervals, but jump from 16GB to 64GB, then up to 128GB. That means you’re getting 32GB more for the same relative price via the midrange model, and 64GB more for the high-end model.

Okay, that’s the feature-related pros list out of the way. Here’s why you might want to wait:

Reasons to Wait

These are big phones

Not ridiculously big, say like Sony’s 6.4-inch diagonal Xperia Z Ultra, but still big for iPhone owners who, even after Apple’s 0.5-inch iPhone 5 uptick years ago (from the original models’ 3.5-inch diagonal screens), have been accustomed to holding a slender device, width-wise.

If you’re no fan of phablets (or the idea of phablets, if you’ve never held one), you might want to wait to pull the trigger on a preorder and heft one of the new iPhones for yourself, just to be sure.

Apple’s flagship iPhone is $100 more expensive than usual

The starter 16GB iPhone 6 is $199 with a standard two-year contract, just like prior flagship iPhones at launch. But the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus — and let’s not mince words: that’s the model 4-inch iPhone upgraders are going to want — is $299.

If you just want an iPhone that’ll run iOS 8 seamlessly, offers all the basic features and plenty of the advanced features found in the new iPhones, and actually prefer thinner 4-inch smartphones, the 16GB iPhone 5s is now just $99, and the 8GB iPhone 5c is free (both with two-year contracts).

The new processor’s pushing a lot of pixels around

Bear in mind that a lot of the A8’s processing horsepower has to go toward animating all those extra pixels in both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (processing overhead increases exponentially as you scale up, pixel-wise). In practice, it probably means games for the new phones are going to look roughly the same as the sort of games you’re already playing on your other 64-bit iOS devices, complexity-wise. “Metal,” Apple’s better-optimized developmental 3D interface for iOS, is supposed to change that somewhat, but not just for A8.

Also, don’t get confused by claims about the iPhone 6 Plus playing games at “higher” resolutions than next-generation consoles (higher PPIs, yes, higher resolutions, no): 1080p is the PlayStation 4’s lingua franca (the iPhone 6 Plus tops out at 1080p, and the iPhone 6 at just above 720p).

More importantly, who cares? At 401 or 326 pixels per inch on incredibly small screens when compared to TVs, games with half the graphical bells and whistles tend to look just as good as games on high-end PCs or consoles. It’s a “how much detail can your eye differentiate at 4.7 to 5.5 inches diagonal” thing.

You want an iWatch but don’t need a new iPhone

The iWatch, which requires the iPhone, starts at $349 and goes up from there, so buying an iWatch and an iPhone 6 (much less an iPhone 6 Plus) is going to set you back quite a bit more than you might otherwise have budgeted for just a phone.

The good news: so long as you have an iPhone 5 or better, you can use Apple’s new iWatch when it arrives sometime in “early 2015.”

Apple Pay

Apple was just involved in a public kerfuffle involving the theft of sensitive photos from various high-profile personalities’ iCloud accounts. What technically happened and who’s technically responsible is debatable, but it hasn’t helped the company’s image from a consumer confidence standpoint.

Apple has a point when it claims, in theory, that Apple Pay ought to be more secure than cards in your wallet. In practice, however, it’s a giant question mark. So if you’d rather wait for competent security firms to weigh in (there’s nothing wrong or unduly paranoid about that), you can pull Apple Pay out of the “pro-new-iPhone” column.

Your contract’s not up

Welcome to my world (I have to wait until October to buy one of these things). Do you have three to four times the contract price lying around to pay in full for the 16 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus? Neither do I.

TIME Companies

Watch the Apple Products Launch in Less Than 2 Minutes

Apple fans and engineers gathered in Cupertino, Calif., for a hotly anticipated announcement Tuesday, which turned out to include not only the latest version of the iPhone (the iPhone 6), plus a larger version (the iPhone 6 Plus), but the much-rumored Apple Watch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also took the opportunity to reveal the new mobile payment system Apple Pay.

Check out the best of the hip tech event in under two minutes.

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