Apple has thrown back the curtain on its latest batch of iPhones and a new model of the Apple Watch. We’ve taken a closer look at the new models and features to see what’s changed.
X Appeal: The New iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR
With these new iPhone releases Apple have opted to build on the huge success of last year’s iPhone X, continuing down the road set out by Tim Cook last year by dropping the Home button and Touch ID in favour of Face ID. There are three new models: the cutting edge iPhone XS (pronounced “Ten Ess”) and it’s bigger brother, the iPhone XS Max and the competitively priced iPhone XR.
The XS models were made available for pre-order on September 14th, with shipping starting on the 21st. Those who want an iPhone XR will have to wait until October 19th to pre-order, with shipping also starting a week later. Here’s how the pricing shakes out:
- iPhone XS: 64 GB for £999, 256 GB for £1149, 512 GB for £1349
- iPhone XS Max: 64 GB for £1099, 256 GB for £1249, 512 GB for £1499
- iPhone XR: 64 GB for £749, 128 GB for £799, 256 GB for £899
So, what do you get for your money?
All three new iPhones rely on Apple’s new A12 Bionic chip, an upgrade on last year’s A11 Bionic, which promises faster performance and reduced power consumption. Along with snappier overall responsiveness, the A12 Bionic enables new computational photography capabilities. Users of these iPhones will enjoy Smart HDR, which combines multiple images behind the scenes to produce better photos, and depth-of-field editing for adjusting the background behind a photo’s primary subject.
Apple also improved the camera hardware, enhancing the dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras in the iPhone XS and XS Max with larger, deeper pixels and an improved True Tone flash. The iPhone XR lacks 2x optical zoom as it only has one single rear-facing 12-megapixel camera, but thanks to the A12 Bionic’s processing power, it can still take photos in Portrait mode and do depth-of-field editing. The rear-facing cameras on all three models can capture up to 4K video at 60 fps—now with stereo sound. The front-facing camera on each iPhone is a 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera that can also capture 1080p video.
Another useful feature benefits those who carry separate work and personal phones, or travel abroad frequently. The new dual-SIM capability lets these iPhones support two phone numbers simultaneously, each with their own plan. Two for the price of one!
What differentiates these models of iPhone from one another?
The first major differences are between the screens.
The iPhone XS and XS Max both come equipped with OLED “Super Retina HD” displays,. The XR comes with an LCD “Liquid Retina” display. In terms of size, the XS measures up as the smallest, with a 5.8 inch display, with the XR coming in at 6.1 inches. The XS Max is the largest with a 6.5 inch screen. It also boasts the highest resolution at 2688-by-1242 at 458 ppi, closely followed by the XS.
Although the XR’s LCD screen has a lower resolution than the XR models Apple makes much of the LCD display, which is essentially a new and improved version of the screen in last year’s iPhone 8. It won’t look as good as the OLED screens in the iPhone XS models, but unless you’re watching a lot of video or playing photo-realistic games, you may not notice.
The models also differ in size. The iPhone XS is the smallest, clocking in at a few millimeters and grams under the iPhone XR. The iPhone XS Max is the largest, and has essentially the same dimensions as the previous iPhone Plus models.
Another difference between the iPhone XR and the iPhone XS models is the case material. The iPhone XS models have glass backs and are edged in stainless steel that comes in silver, space gray, and gold. In contrast, the iPhone XR features colorful aluminum casings in red, yellow, white, coral, black, and blue. Both are gorgeous, though we’d always recommend investing in a robust case as well.
Should you consider upgrading to one of these new models?
If your existing iPhone is on life support, absolutely. And, if you want to own the latest and greatest, the iPhone XS models look set to be the best iPhones ever. But Apple have pledged to speed up older devices as far back as the iPhone 5s with ios 12. With that in mind, those of us with functional iPhones from the past few years may opt to hang on a little while longer.
If you do decide to buy one, which model you choose will probably depend on your budget. The iPhone XR combines modern technology with a lower price than the other two models. The decision between the cutting edge iPhone XS and XS Max will come down to size and cost. And if you’re in the market for a new phone on a tighter budget, you can still pick up an iPhone 7 or 8 from Apple for a discounted price.
Apple Watch Series 4: Bigger Screens and Health Monitoring
In a first for the Apple Watch line, Apple announced a change in size and shape of the Series 4, boosting the vertical screen dimensions up to 40mm and 44mm, from 38mm and 42mm. The screens have been widened to retain the same proportions. The increase in screen size hasn’t affected volume either. In fact Apple have shaved 1.1mm off of the depth of the Series 4 in comparison to older models.
This new, wider “edge-to-edge” display extends into the corners of the screen and while there still is a black border, it’s smaller than before. These improvements have increased the overall viewing area by about 30%.
To show off the power of its new S4 chip and the larger screen, the Series 4 comes with some new, stunning, faces. The Infograph face can incorporate up to eight complications. The Breathe face moves in time with a deep breath, while Vapor, Fire, Water, and Liquid Metal faces animate behind virtual clock hands.
The Series 4, a lifesaver?
More practically, the Apple Watch Series 4 incorporates new and enhanced sensors. Later this year, the electrodes built into the Digital Crown and the back crystal let you record an electrocardiogram. After 30 seconds, you’ll receive a heart rhythm classification that can identify signs of atrial fibrillation. Recordings are stored securely in the Health app, where you can share them with doctors. The Series 4 can also analyse your heart rhythms in the background and alerts you if it detects irregularity.
Plus, the Series 4 can now also use its accelerometer and gyroscope to detect hard falls. If you fall, the Apple Watch initially sends you an alert. If you don’t move for 60 seconds after the notification, it calls emergency services. It also notifies your emergency contacts of your location. It’s no exaggeration to say this watch can save your life.
Other improvements include a speaker that is 50% louder. The relocated microphone makes calls clearer and a sapphire crystal and ceramic back make for better cellular reception. Bluetooth 5 also allows for faster data transfer over greater distances.
These significant improvements do come at a slight increase in cost. GPS-only models of the Apple Watch Series 4 cost £399. Cellular-capable models are £499 (you’ll also need to pay for a sim plan). The Series 4 will ship on September 21st. Once again for those on a tighter budget the Apple Watch Series 3 remains available at lower prices.
Should you upgrade?
Our take is that the new health-monitoring features of the Apple Watch Series 4 are unparalleled for anyone concerned about falls or heart monitoring. The increase in size is also an exciting step forward for the line. However, this new technology does come at an increase in cost. The Series 3 still offers a fantastic alternative for those interested in Apple Watch features, without this additional cost.