I am not a fanboy. I say that with no small amount of pride in an industry where allegiances to platforms have taken on a religious zealotry, where people consider attacks on their operating system of choice to be slights against their personal characters. To wit, I started my smartphone adventure nearly a dozen years ago with PalmOS, transitioned over to Windows Mobile, made the move to iOS (iPhone 4, iPad 2), and have since been firmly entrenched in the Android camp.
I mention all this because, despite my hardware-is-greater-than-software mentality, Apple has not excited me with a product (save for the iPad mini with Retina Display) in a *long time (*long time in mobile = two to three years).
It was my observation, at the time, that the iPhone 4 was the best phone on the market -- period. Anyone who held one in their hands at time, admiring the super-tight tolerances and highly-polished machining, would likely have agreed.
But it seemed like Apple really stopped trying to be a market-beater following that handset. As the manufacturer of a single device that was more popular than an entire ecosystem of Android phones, the company can be somewhat excused for resting on its laurels. However, even when it became clear that consumers had a seemingly vociferous appetite for large-screened phones and phablets, Apple maintained its one-hand-usability ethos. (The company, under Steve Jobs, felt that a 3.5-inch screen was the perfect size for operating the device single-handedly.)
Since the 4, we've seen a rather ho-hum evolution of the iPhone, in the form of the 4S, 5, and 5S (5C notwithstanding). While screen size was finally boosted -- to a still-lagging four inches -- and a few value adds like Siri and a fingerprint sensor have been tacked on, the most exciting designs and features have been coming from the Android camp, from a host of different manufacturers. However, all that appears to be on the verge of changing, this year: I'm actually (kinda) excited for the iPhone 6 (both of them).
First and foremost, both models of the iPhone 6 (or whatever the final names end up being) will have much larger, and therefore more competitive, screen sizes than any previous iPhone -- 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, to be exact. Not only that, but their resolutions should also see a corresponding boost. Whereas the 4's Retina Display offered an unheard of 960 pixels of horizontal screen space, Android phones quickly surpassed its pixel density (even on much larger displays), with today's flagships stuffing 1440 pixels along the X-axis. Apple is going to be uncharacteristically late to the game here, but it's certainly a case of better-late-than-never.
Having said ALL of that... is it actually so uncharacteristic of Apple to lag on certain features? As you'll recall, the first iPhone was plagued by a host of "missing features," with the most notable being lack of 3G (this was pre-4G LTE), no app ecosystem to speak of, and no way to copy text from one field and paste it into another.
Besides having bigger displays, these new iPhones also promise to make the screens themselves more durable. Testing on a supposedly-leaked front fascia indicates that it could be made of a next-gen, scratch-resistant material that is impervious to all but the most violent of attacks. Being able to comfortably use your device without a screen protector? Huge plus.
Internally, we're likely to see a lot of welcome changes too. A second-gen 64-bit processor is likely, whereas Android devices are still mostly operating in a 32-bit universe. A better camera sensor -- and additional shooting modes -- should help Apple regain the title of "best cameraphone," while a more sensitive fingerprint sensor should finally enable the level of security necessary for mobile payments ("pay-by-phone"). Moreover, this sensor will now allow you to sign into apps and perhaps websites sans password, which is a huge leap forward and away from an antiquated login format.
Perhaps most exciting of all -- at least to some people -- is the fact that both iPhone 6's will ship with iOS 8 out-of-the-box, preparing them for integration with the long-rumored (and anticipated) "iWatch" wearable set for debut within the next 6 months or so. Google has a pretty big head start with its Android Wear platform, but Apple is a company with a unique ability to upend existing markets, and even create entire markets of its own with the release of a single product (looking at you, iPad).
Along with what promises to be an IFA show chock-full of new products, Apple's upcoming September 9 event ensures that this will be one of the busiest and most exciting Septembers the mobile world has seen for a long time. And I couldn't be happier about that.