The Centerpiece

I've been an iPhone 6 owner for a few weeks now. On the morning sales started, I was up at 2 am, refreshing the Apple website at a furious pace, and terrified that I would not have one on launch day. After giving up on the Apple Store, I tried my hand at my carrier's website, also without much luck, and I was starting to have flashbacks of my month long wait for my iPhone 4 back in 2010. But finally I got an order in, and had my shiny new phone in hand a week later. This is my third iPhone, but what's extremely interesting to me about this particular phone is that it's changed my opinion of the iPad.  

When I purchased my first iPad, I was of the mindset that this was the computer Apple has always wanted to make. That perhaps the Macintosh was just the stepping stone in this direction but not the final solution. Maybe that will prove to be true someday, however the more I use the iPhone 6, the more I think that Apple is now a phone company more than anything else, and that, rather than the iPad, the iPhone is the final destination.

To be clear, I absolutely love my iPad Air. It's one of my favorite devices. It's what I use to enjoy  TV shows and movies, flip through my photos and home videos, and yes, even get work done when I'm out and about. Unfortunately, it's not always feasible to carry one around, just like it's not always wise to travel a full-blown laptop in tow. But an iPhone? “A computer in your pocket” doesn’t even do it justice, and if it wasn’t quite justifiable to say that about older models, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, coupled with iOS 8, are proof Apple's mini mobile devices are maturing into powerful pocket computers.

The thing is, it’s not even all about screen size. Yes, I will admit, after turning up my nose at larger phones for a long time (I still think the Galaxy Note looks ridiculous even when not being used as a phone), it is refreshing to have an iPhone 6 with bumped up screen size, and at times I have even regretted not going with the 6 Plus, but that’s not what has made me become so absolutely enamored with the iPhone 6. I am addicted to the iPhone 6 more than any other phone I’ve ever owned because of everything it can now do because of a combination of new software and new guts.

As we discussed with Shawn King in our recent photography episode of The Campfire Project, there is an old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. For millions, the iPhone has become their de facto camera, with various models claiming top  spots on Flickr’s site for most used cameras. The device is of high enough quality and being used so often in place of a standard point and shoot that most people just consider their iPhone to be their standard camera. 

The cameras on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are some of the most advanced for a smartphone.

The cameras on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are some of the most advanced for a smartphone.

I'm willing to take that expression one step further. The best computer is the one you have with you. And the computer I have with me 99% of the time is my iPhone.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ve probably seen The Doctor, in an attempt to fool guards, take out his “psychic paper” and declare that he has been sent by a higher office to investigate the situation. The psychic paper is actually blank, but anyone who has an imagination of any kind sees the credentials that The Doctor told them to see. Now, I don’t have any illusion that I can hypnotize people with my iPhone, but it often reminds me of that psychic paper. When I’m at the airport, a flash of my iPhone’s screen gets me on the airplane. When I buy something at the store, I can now take out my iPhone, give it my fingerprint, and be on my way. When I expense purchases on my business trips, use gift cards, or even track my health and exercise, it’s all done on my iPhone. In fact, if we’re going to stick with the Doctor Who references for now, maybe it’s more accurate to compare it to the Sonic Screwdriver.

As Apple’s most recent quarterly financial report shows, there are still a lot of people buying Macs. In fact, more people are buying Macs than ever before, even while the rest of the computer industry continues to shrink. And for good reason. There are times when a more powerful machine is what's needed. I’m typing this post on a Mac. We record, mix, and edit our podcast on Macs, and I wouldn't want to be without my Mac for any significant amount of time. But realistically, I’m out in the world more often than I’m sitting at this desk working, and often in situations where toting even an iPad is just too cumbersome. 

The best computer is the one you have with you.

With the recent refresh of the iPhone product line, a pair of devices that are insanely capable and boast more screen space than any of their predecessors are now being sold in the millions, and my mobile phone has become the center of my computing life. The iPad, the Macintosh, and even the upcoming Apple Watch, while powerful, capable and useful in a variety of ways, are now in orbit around that steady center. I have an inkling that much of the rest of the world views this device the same way. As much as the Mac is succeeding, it doesn’t even come close to the 39.5 million iPhones Apple sold to its customers last quarter. Think about that for a second. In three months, 39.5 million people decided that if they were always going to have a computer in their pockets, the iPhone was the best option. 

I will never forget the day I first laid my eyes (and hands) on the iPhone 4. It was a capsule made of aluminum and glass with a screen that looked like glowing paper. Just picking it up was a transformative experience. Despite the controversy in the press, and the fear of potentially breaking its glass faces, that device sold faster than anything that came before it. Four years later, it’s easy to forget what a big deal the iPhone 4 was, and when you see one now it looks chunky and slow. But back in 2010, it was a revelation. 

The newest iPhones recapture that sense of wonder. This is the computer in your pocket that Apple has been shooting for since 2007. The centerpiece of the Apple ecosystem. Macs may be more powerful, iPads may be getting slimmer, and the long sought-after wearable is on the horizon. But none of them are quite as interesting without the iPhone