APPLE has unveiled three new iPhones, its largest smartphone ever and a cheaper version that still boasts many of the high-end features of the iPhone X at its most important annual product event this morning.
The focus of the product unveiling was on performance with some serious new power under the hood of the new iPhone range, giving the company’s flagship device some great new capabilities and features.
The event kicked off with the new Apple Watch 4 series, which briefly stole the show. But first, here’s what the new iPhones look like.
IPHONE XS AND IPHONE XS MAX
As expected, Apple is releasing a larger size iPhone which takes the features and capabilities of last year’s iPhone X and puts them in a bigger looking device with longer battery life and better performance.
Apple will release an iPhone Xs with a 5.8 inch super retina OLED screen display and a 6.5 inch iPhone Xs Max, which is about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus but has a much larger display. The devices are essentially more powerful successors to last year’s 10th anniversary iPhone which ushered in a host of new features such as Face ID.
The 5.8 inch screen has 2.7 million pixels while the larger handset boasts a whopping 3.3 million pixels.
“This is the biggest display ever on an iPhone,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
The front of the two iPhones are completely covered in a glass finish that is “the most durable glass ever on a smartphone,” he said.
The iPhones come in three different colours: gold, silver and space grey and are the most dust and water resistant yet with an IP68 rating meaning the phones are resistant when submerged up to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.
“We even tested it in beer,” Mr Schiller said. “This is some of the most fun testing we get to do here at Apple.”
The company says if you drop your phone in a pool, for example, you will be able to jump in and grab it and be confident that it will not be harmed from the journey.
In what Apple called “the most advanced iPhone ever,” the biggest upgrade to the new smartphone range is the powerful A12 Bionic chip that will drive them. It might not be sexy, but the A12 chip was the unlikely star of the show.
“What the team has done is truly, truly a breakthrough,” Mr Schiller. “The A12 bionic is the industry’s first seven nanometre chip.”
Basically, the point is the chip can process five trillion operations per seconds. Apple didn’t quite detail what operations it was talking about but it’s clearly a pretty fast chip and will dramatically boost performance. For instance Apple says apps will launch about 30 per cent faster.
It also means great new camera and augmented reality capabilities powered by the sophisticated bionic chip like faster plane and surface detection in Apple’s augmented reality technology and it will allow developers to build new features that use more intelligent real-time machine learning.
One of the most interesting and cool new abilities is the fact that users will be able to change the depth of field in a photograph after it has been taken while editing in post production inside the camera app.
“This is done after you’ve taken it. This has not been possible in photography with any kind of camera,” Mr Schiller said. “This is a new era of photography.
Both phones come with a 12-megapixel dual camera system that features dual optical image stabilisation with 2x optical zoom and a slightly faster sensor.
For the first time ever Apple is bringing in dual-SIM support with the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. The long awaited feature will be welcomed by frequent international travellers, particularly in Europe and Asia where dual SIM capability is often standard in other popular phones.
Apple’s new SIM and eSIM capability means users will be able to swap between two different SIM cards without having to remove the SIM tray.
Storage also gets a significant boost with both phones able to pack 512GB of data on them at the top end, enough to store 200,000 photos. A 64 GB and 256 GB will also be available.
Apple says users can expect about 90 minutes of extra battery life compared to the iPhone 8.
The iPhones can be pre-ordered from Friday this week and become widely available on September 21. Both will ship with the new iOS 12 operating system.
The iPhone Xs will retail starting at $1629 in Australia for the 64GB and $1799 for the larger version. But to get your hands on the iPhone Xs Max you’ll need to shell out more than $2000, breaking last year’s record smartphone price for the iPhone X by hundreds of dollars. The 512 GB version will cost $2369 when it arrives late next week.
… ONE MORE IPHONE, THE IPHONE XR
The tech giant is also releasing a more affordable iPhone option with most of the bells and whistles called the iPhone Xr.
It uses cheaper materials and as such will be slightly more afforadable at $1229 in Australia.
The XR lacks the stainless steel frame of the Xs, but has an aluminium frame and glass sandwich design still making it quite robust.
It has a 6.1-inch LCD screen instead of an OLED panel meaning the display won’t be quite as vibrant but like the others, it stretches from the top of the phone to the bottom with the now familiar notch cutout for Apple’s Face ID login system.
It has a single camera 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and has the same True-Depth camera system as iPhone Xs.
The phone is notable for matching many of the specs of the new Xs, but one somewhat curious omission is 3D Touch. The 3D Touch feature debuted with the iPhone 6S and involves sensors integrated into the smartphone’s display to sense three degrees of pressure in a user’s touch and respond differently based on the amount of pressure exerted.
Like the other phones announced this morning, it has Apple’s new A12 Bionic processor meaning it will perform at a superior level compared to the cheaper iPhone 7 and iPhone 8.
The Xr has an IP67 water resistance level (slightly less than the iPhone Xs) and Apple says the battery will last 90 minutes longer than last year’s iPhone 8 Plus model.
It will come in six different colours: Blue, coral, yellow, white, black, and red and has a standard 64GB of storage. There will also be options for 128GB and 256GB of storage.
— Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie)
APPLE WATCH 4
Apple’s chief operating officer Jeff Williams started the event this morning by unveiling the huge redesign to the Apple Watch 4 series.
It’s the first major design overhaul of the watch since its debut more than three years ago. He highlighted the health benefits of such a device with features like it’s ability to automatically notify users if it detects they have an elevated heart rate.
“Apple Watch has become an intelligent guardian for your health,” he said. “In these areas of staying connected, exercising and monitoring your health, we’re taking Apple watch to the next level.”
Apple has made the screen bigger, pushing the glass display right to the edge, giving it a 30 per cent larger display while the body of the watch is actually thinner than the series 3 version.
The watch has a raft of new screen displays and hardware improvements. It has an improved speaker and microphone and is 50 per cent louder which will certainly help when engaging with Siri.
“You just won’t believe the sound you get out of such a small device,” Mr Williams said.
The guts of the device received an update that promises to produce two times faster performance. But it was the new health capabilities of the Watch 4 series that impressed, including a feature called Fall Detection.
“Identifying a fall may sounds like a trivial thing but it takes a lot of data,” Mr Williams said.
The watch uses an in-built accelerometer and gyroscope to determine when a fall occurs, which prompts an alert on the watch to make an emergency call.
If the device senses you are immobile for a minute after the fall it makes the emergency call for you. It also sends your location to the emergency contacts on your device.
The watch will also send you notifications if your heart rate is too low as, while usually a good thing, that could be a sign of something serious, Mr Williams said.
Apple Watch can now screen your heart rate in the background and detect if users are suffering from atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heart beat which could indicate certain health issues.
“We think this can detect a lot of people who otherwise didn’t know they had an issue,” Mr Williams said.
Rather amazingly, Apple has added electrodes to the back and side of the watch to allow users to take an electrocardiogram, or ECG, which records the electrical activity of the heart and can provide vital information to doctors.
“This is the first ECG product offered over the counter, direct to consumers,” Mr Williams said, adding that Apple received FDA approval for the capability.
Apple Watch already detected high heart rate, but can now also detect low heart rate and irregular rhythm to flag potential atrial fibrillation. And can now take an ECG on the digital crown. OK, that’s amazing. #AppleEvent— Seamus Byrne (@seamus)
Apple Watch Series 4 has a new sophisticated processor, heart rate sensor can now measure low heart rate, detect irregular heart rhythm & via the Apple Watch crown you can now do an ECG test & has FDA approval #AppleEvent Apple gunning for an older demographic. pic.twitter.com/ztOvnyeA1U— Aki Anastasiou (@AkiAnastasiou)
Series 4 has the same 18-hour battery life as previous models, Apple said. It will retail starting at $599 in Australia and $749 for the 4G capable version while the series 3 addition will drop to a starting price of $399.