By Adam Kerr
For anyone who has a nose for the news would have already seen the new iPhone XS, XS Max and XR after Apple accidentally leaked it on their own website just hours ahead of the Apple Special Event last night (13 September). There has also been a lot of speculation circulating various tech sites and forums on what to expect. And boy, did Tim Cook and co deliver. No updates on the iPad or a “One more thing…” moment though.
The presentation started out with an electrifying opening film showcasing Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, set to the theme song of Mission Impossible. It shows a woman carrying a suitcase of what everyone thought were the latest products. She meets with a lake, and asks Siri the fastest way to the Steve Jobs theatre – where the event is being held – but runs through it anyway. When she finally reaches backstage of the theatre, Tim Cook opens it and goes, “Ah, the clicker”. /facepalm
In case you don’t have it in you to watch the entire event, or if the 108-second video above didn’t really quite cut it for you, here’s a quick recap of what went down last night.
Watch Series 4
So the fourth iteration of the beloved Apple Watch has been completely redesigned. And yes, it follows the design ethos of last year’s Apple X. They’ve completely pushed the screen to the edges and curved the screen, making it more than 30% larger than the Series 3. Every part of the UI has also been redesigned, so you can expect to do much more with that bigger display.
While some of the features are pretty cool – like the vapour, fire and water motion faces, a new digital crown complete with haptic feedback for a mechanical feel and a watch back made using black ceramic and sapphire crystal – the biggest breakthrough for this iteration are the added electrodes on the back, which now allows you to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) within 30 seconds. It will help doctors diagnose your heart, especially since the data and detailed chart of your heart rhythm will be stored in a PDF file you can present to your doctors (most times, irregular heartbeats are absent when you visit a doctor).
It also comes with an advanced accelerometer and gyroscope, which can detect if you fall, trip and slip. Sounds like something that’s counter-intuitive, but get this: A notification will pop-up, allowing you to call your emergency contact straight away. But if it’s a serious fall, like if you’re immobile for a minute, it will call automatically and send a message with your location to your emergency contacts. The ECG app, however, will only be rolling out in the US later this year; no word on when it’ll hit Singapore.
The Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS) starts at $599 while the cellular version starts at $749, both ready to order from tomorrow (14 September), and will start shipping next Friday (21 September). Both are available in in silver, gold and space grey.
iPhone XS and XS Max
Last year’s iPhone redesign was mind-blowing, and probably sent some people in an anxious flurry to get the new edge-to-edge iPhone X. It probably made you feel like your then iPhone has become completely obsolete. Nonetheless, Apple claims that the iPhone has now become the #1 smartphone in the world, with “98% customer satisfaction”. As with all their landmark events, this iPhone is the “most advanced iPhone [they’ve] ever created.”
Both the 5.8-inch XS and the all-new (and Apple’s biggest yet) 6.5-inch XS Max (what a name) come with a dazzling Super Retina display, faster Face ID recognition, wider stereo sound, a drop dead gorgeous new gold finish, Dual Sim capabilities, a new 7-nanometre A12 Bionic chip and an advanced Neural Engine. The screens are the sharpest displays with the highest pixel density (458 ppi) of any Apple product. And for the clumsy, know that they’re now water resistant to a depth of 2 metres (a metre more than the iPhone X) for up to 30 minutes. However, the battery life isn’t really that much of an improvement – a mere 30 minutes or 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone X for the XS and XS Max respectively.
“What about the camera?” Well, if you’re comparing it to the iPhone X, it’s pretty much the same – 12-megapixel dual camera system on the back and a 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front – though both cameras come with a new sensor that’s “twice as fast”. What’s super cool though is the new Smart HDR function – which now captures secondary interframes on top of the four frame buffer to give photos more highlights and shadow details than before – and the ability to adjust the depth of field (bokeh!) after you’ve taken a photo (sure, other brands have done it before, but as our Editor-in-Chief says, “The iPhone always just makes it look so much better”); all thanks to the A12 Bionic chip.
The Apple iPhone XS and XS Max (both in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities) will be available in silver, gold and space grey, and will be priced from $1,649 and $1,799 respectively. Pre-order begins tomorrow (14 September), and will start shipping next Friday (21 September).
Of course they want to reach out as many people as they can. So if the price point for the XS and XS Max seems a little out of reach, there’s always the iPhone XR. Besides, it also comes in six colours that actually have a pretty good finish. Of course, with a lower price point, you have to do without a couple of features from the XS and XS Max.
It comes with a 6.1-inch LCD edge-to-edge liquid retina display, the same new A12 bionic chip and 7000 series Aerospace-grade aluminium finish and glass on the back in six different. It uses a single 12-megapixel camera system (specs above) for the back and a 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front, and also has the Smart HD and Depth Control features. The battery can last 1.5 hours longer than the iPhone 8 Plus. Honestly, it’s not too shabby if you want that edge-to-edge display experience without breaking the bank.
The Apple iPhone XR (64GB, 256GB and 512GB) will be available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral and (PRODUCT)RED, and will be priced from $1,299. Pre-order begins on 19 October, and will start shipping on 26 October.