Apple’s big 2018 iPhone event just wrapped up after introducing us to the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, as well as the cheaper iPhone XR and the Apple Watch Series 4. Here’s a rundown of the most important bits to know about each.
iPhone XS and XS Max
Yes, it’s here, the new iPhone X. Meet the iPhone XS (pronounced ‘iPhone Ten S’). It has a stainless steel body and comes in three finishes (gold, silver, and space grey) and two sizes. It’s also waterproof for two meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
As for the sizes, the iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch screen that’s larger than the 5.5-inch screen of the iPhone 8 Plus but owing to the edge-to-edge design, it’s actually smaller than an iPhone 8 Plus.
The larger iPhone XS, dubbed the iPhone XS Max, has a 6.5-inch display that brings it up to the size of the entire iPhone 8 Plus, but it’s all screen. Those screens are also OLED displays, a technology from last year’s iPhone X that offers deeper blacks and brighter colours than the iPhone’s traditional backlight LCD display.
The iPhone XS’s brain is the Apple-made “A12 Bionic,” a 7nm chip that sports a 6-core CPU, a 4-core GPU, and an 8-core machine-learning subchip called the “neural engine.” The latter is designed to increase the performance of AI-heavy procedures like those required by Apple’s mug-scanning Face ID as well as camera features like Animojis and Portrait Mode.
The iPhone XS sports two new sensors on both its front-facing and its rear-facing cameras, but is pinning most of the advancements in the iPhone XS’s camera on its A12 chip. These features include things like Smart HDR, which allow the camera to take nearly a dozen photos with different settings and exposures at the press of a finger, and then stitch them together algorithmically into one picture. It’s not a novel feature, but the results all rely on the chip and software under the hood that’s doing the heavy lifting.
Apple is also updating the camera’s Portrait Mode feature, which uses software and image processing to emulate the results that traditional cameras achieve with lenses, to be able to edit a photo’s depth of field (i.e. how blurry its background is in comparison to the in-focus subject) after the photo has been taken.
The iPhone XS starts at $1000, and the XS Max starts at $1100.
The iPhone XR is the much-rumoured cheaper version of the iPhone X, made with aluminium instead of stainless steel and available in a handful of colours including red, blue, yellow, white, and black. The iPhone XR sports an edge-to-edge LCD display, a cheaper and less vibrant version of its more expensive brothers. With a 6.1-inch screen, it’s just under the size of an iPhone 8 Plus, but with a much larger screen. And because it doesn’t have a home button, XR sports the infrared, depth-sensing, front-facing camera as the iPhone XS, which is required for Face ID and Animoji.
The iPhone XR also sports the same rear-facing wide-angle camera as the iPhone XS and the same A12 chip that powers the bulk of the iPhone X family’s photo tricks, though it is missing the telephoto lens that the XS and XS Max have. Curiously, it is also missing 3D Touch, not that you’d necessarily miss it.
The iPhone XR starts at $750.
Apple Watch Series 4
The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest iteration of Apple’s smartwatch, and its main focus is health. The Series 4 includes, for the first time, an electrode that allows you to take an ECG by placing your finger on the watch’s digital crown. The procedure takes about 30 seconds, the Apple Watch can also monitor a wearer’s heartbeat for atrial fibrillation or a dangerously low pulse in the background.
Thanks to its updated gyroscope and accelerator, the new Apple Watch also has a slip-and-fall tracking feature. Using the motion of the watch, it can determine if the wearer has taken a hard fall and prompt with an option to alert emergency contacts or even call 911.
The Apple Watch also has some more cosmetic and basic upgrades, including a screen that’s larger and reaches out to its newly curved corners. it’s got a slightly larger face and thinner chassis than previous models. The speaker’s volume has been increased by 50 percent, for folks who like to make phone calls on their watch, and the digital crown has been updated to provide tactical feedback when you’re using it to scroll through options on an app.
Apple Watch Series 4 will be available with GPS starting at $400 and with cellular starting at $500 (not including the cost of data). If those are too rich for your blood. The Series 3 will continue to be available starting at $280.