Apple launches iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, Apple Watch Series 4

In what can be described as the leakiest run up to a product launch (second behind the Galaxy Note9 though), Apple revealed the latest iPhone family and a new generation Apple Watch. The event at the Steve Jobs Theater kicked off with a fun Mission Impossible-esque introduction (right after Tim Cook’s naughty tweet) and then Apple went straight into business.

Apple Watch Series 4: The #1 smartwatch gets even better

In the smartwatch world, Apple is the undisputed king. It’s a leader by a mile, and it’s not difficult to see why – great design and craftsmanship, solid hardware, a universe of accessories, a slick OS, and surprisingly an attractive price point.

The Series 3 was a solid upgrade from the previous generation, but with Series 4, Apple’s taking it to the next level.

The narrative for the Apple Watch is the “intelligent guardian for your health” and Apple has built some ground-breaking new tech to make its smartwatch ever better.

The Apple Watch Series 4 now has a larger edge-to-edge display, offering up to 35 percent bigger display compared to Series 3. It is also thinner although a tad heavier.

The UI, with watchOS 5, has also been redesigned. The new Apple Watch introduces eight new complications on its Watch Face which lets you track live scores, flight boarding info, glance nutritional intake, and more.

The watch also introduces new dynamic Watch Faces and now has a re-engineered digital crown with haptic feedback and a built-in electrode.

Electrode, you say? Built into the digital crown and working in tandem with the new heart sensor, the new Apple Watch Series 4 can now take an electrocardiogram or ECG. It’s the first ever over-the-counter ECG device available for consumers.

The Series 4 features a new processor – the Apple S4, a 64-bit dual-core unit that is up to 2x faster than the previous generation.

It also has a new gyro that enables a brand new feature – to detect falls. The watch can detect and recognize a fall and do the necessary, including automatically making an SOS call if it detects non-movement after a fall.

The Apple Watch Series 4 boasts the same all-day, 18-hour battery life as previous, and this with full GPS tracking on.

The watch is available in 40mm and 44mm Silver, Gold and Space Gray cases with multiple finishes including a new Gold Stainless Steel finish.

It will be available starting 21 September 2018. Prices start from USD399 (GPS) and USD499 (Cellular). The Series 3 continues to be sold alongside the new Apple Watch, starting from USD279.

watchOS will be available starting 17 September 2018.

Apple iPhone Xs + iPhone Xs Max
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iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated that the iPhone X is the number one smartphone in the world, by sales numbers. Not only that, it’s also the most loved smartphone with 98 percent customer satisfaction.

As plentifully leaked, Apple announced three new models: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.

Cook said the new iPhone is “the most advanced iPhone ever created.” The iPhone XS and XS Max is made of stainless steel with a new gold finish option, and features “the most durable glass on a smartphone.”

The iPhone XS and XS Max are available in Gold, Silver and Space Gray.

Design-wise, it’s fundamentally the same as the previous generation iPhone X. This time however, Apple has upped its dust- and water-resistance rating to IP68 from IP67. Apple claims with the new rating, the iPhone XS can be submerged in up to 2m of water for up to 30 minutes.

On the display front, the iPhone XS features a 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display (2436×1125 @ 458PPI) while the iPhone XS Max gets a whopping 6.5-inch Super Retina OLED display (2688×1242 @ 458PPI). The display on the XS Max is the biggest display ever on an iPhone, and it’s even bigger than the Galaxy Note9’s.

Contrary to rumours, the new iPhones still support 3D Touch and now has “Tap to Wake” and 120Hz touch-sensing. Both displays continue to feature True Tone and industry-leading colour management. I won’t be surprised to see the new iPhone win DisplayMate’s hearts again.

The TrueDepth camera housed in the notch is improved with faster algorithms for Face ID and a faster secure enclave. Apple says it’s the most secure authentication ever in a smartphone.

Apple iPhone Xs + iPhone Xs Max
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Speaking of cameras, the iPhone XS and XS Max sports identical 12MP f/1.8 dual-camera setups with OIS and big 1.4 micron pixels. The enhanced cameras support Portrait Mode, Advanced Bokeh, Depth Control and Smart HDR. Apple’s really playing catch-up here with these features but certainly much welcomed.

In the heart of the new iPhone XS is the powerful six-core A12 Bionic SoC. It’s the first 7nm chip with 6.9 billion transistors with a dedicated neural engine. It has a new 4-core GPU that’s 50 percent faster than the A11 Bionic able to crunch 5 trillion operations per second compared to 600 billion on the A11 Bionic.

The new chip enables 30 percent faster app launch. The new chip enables advanced machine learning capabilities that drive Quicktime suggestions, True Tone display, image search, Siri Shortcuts, AR, and more.

For the first time ever, Apple is making the iPhone dual-SIM capable. There is a catch. As rumoured, the dual-SIM version with an innovative dual-sided SIM tray is headed only for China at the moment. Apple calls its Dual-SIM, dual-standby technology “DSDS” (what?). The rest of the world will also get dual-SIM but… it’s really a nano-SIM + eSIM solution.

Apple iPhone Xr
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iPhone XR

Initially speculated to be called iPhone Xc and even iPhone 9, the iPhone XR is Apple’s entry-level device, at least amongst the new “X” line-up. The design is a cross between the iPhone X and iPhone 8, featuring 7000 grade aluminium and durable glass. With the iPhone XR, Apple has injected some vibrant new colours ala iPhone 5c, including White, Black, Blue, Coral, Yellow and (PRODUCT)RED.

Being the most affordable in the line-up, Apple has gone the LCD route for the display, seemingly to drive the price down. The edge-to-edge LCD display measures 6.1-inch with a resolution of 1792×828 topping 326PPI. Apple says it’s the “most advanced LCD in a smartphone” and calls its new display Liquid Retina. The display features 120Hz touch-sensing but lacks 3D Touch. In the absence of 3D Touch, the iPhone XR has haptic touch.

I was always baffled at why single camera iPhones were crippled without Portrait Mode or depth of field capabilities, when a phone like the Google Pixel could do it so expertly.

With the iPhone XR, my wish is granted. Apple has opted for a single 12MP wide-angle f/1.8 rear shooter, the same module on the iPhone XS and XS Max. It has bigger 1.4 micron pixels and now for the very first time offers Portrait Mode, Advanced Bokeh, Depth Control and Smart HDR.

Apple iPhone Xr
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Bokeh, is that you?

Apple says the iPhone XR lasts 1.5 hours more than the iPhone 8 Plus, which is quite impressive. And it’s cheaper too.

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iPhone XR pricing and availability

The iPhone XR starts from USD749 with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage options. Pre-orders start on 19 October, and the device ships starting 26 October 2018.

The new 2018 iPhones will run iOS 12 out-of-the-box.

iPhone XS pricing and availability

The iPhone XS is available with 64GB, 256GB and 512GB of storage, retailing from USD999. The iPhone XS Max is available with 64GB, 256GB and 512GB of storage, with prices starting from USD1,099.

Pre-orders start 14 September, and will be available starting 21 September in 30 countries including the U.S, U.K, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and roll-out to another 29 countries including India and Russia, starting 28 September 2018.

What do you think of the new iPhones? How about the Apple Watch Series 4?

Missed the Apple Special Event? Watch it here.

By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.

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