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Apple Event Highlights: iPhone Xs, iPhone XR, And Apple Watch 4

Apple introduced a trio of new phones, including a larger flagship device and a new affordable iPhone, and a redesigned Apple Watch that improves on the already successful Series 3 in almost every discernible way

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Tim Cook and his band of merry men took to the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater just outside its sprawling Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California for their annual showing of the latest iPhones. Much of what was to be expected had leaked on rumor sites across the Internet, but here’s the big news from the event - Apple introduced a trio of new phones, including a larger flagship device and a new affordable iPhone, and a redesigned Apple Watch that improves on the already successful Series 3 in almost every discernible way. Here are the highlights and the biggest announcements from the show. 

Highlights

  • Apple announced the iPhone XR, Xs, and Xs Max, with all three sporting the same design as the iPhone X launched last year

  • Apple also announced the new Watch Series 4, with a revamped design and better fitness tracking and new health and safety features.

iPhone XS and XS Max: Go Big or Go Home

The flagships for 2018 that take the legacy of last year’s 10th Anniversary iPhone X forward are the XS and XS Max. Since this is an intermediate ‘S’ year, both phones speak the same design language as last year’s phone – so much so, it’s hard to tell them apart, save for the classy new gold color. The big news, quite literally, is the new 6.5-inch OLED display on the XS Max, the biggest ever on an iPhone. What this translates into is an expansive display, one that is bigger than the one on the Note 9, in a form factor no bigger than the previous Plus sized iPhone models. 

Powering the XS and the XS Max is the new A12 Bionic processor, which can lay claim to being the first 7-nanometer chip when the iPhone XS duo hit global markets on September 21. With two performance-oriented cores that are up to 15 percent faster, four high efficiency cores that are up to 50 percent more power efficient, a four-core GPU that is up to 50 percent faster for graphics, the A12 Bionic chip also sports a 5-trillion-operations per second Neural Engine which powers faster FaceID facial recognition and photo processing/ scene recognition. Battery life is expected to be north of the previous generation iPhone X, with a claimed 30 and 90 minutes extra juice on the XS and XS Max models.

On the camera front, the upgrades seem incremental, with improved dual 12-megapixel cameras and a 7-megapixel front camera with a TrueDepth sensor that's twice as fast as previous versions for quicker selfies. The phone's new Smart HDR feature promises zero shutter lag and well-preserved details and highlights, using a bunch of different algorithms to get you the best version of your subject pretty much the second you hit the shutter. Portrait mode shots now have adjustable background blurriness (bokeh) which you can tweak to great effect even after you’ve taken the shot. 

And here’s the good news – India will see the iPhone XS duo launch on 28th September in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations, with pre-orders starting September 21. The XS will start at Rs. 99,900 and the Max at Rs. 1,09,900. 

iPhone XR: (Relatively) Affordable and Colorful

Joining the XS and XS Max in the iPhone 2018 portfolio will be the iPhone XR, a comparatively lower-cost model that comes in a bunch of lively colors including yellow, coral, blue and red. Make no mistake about it, the XR is no pushover when it comes to performance – it’s powered by the same A12 Bionic chip as the pricier iPhone XS, along with the FaceID facial recognition capabilities and portrait mode capabilities, albeit from a single 12-MP wide-angle camera (instead of the dual lens setup on the XS duo. 

Thanks to its derivative ‘notched’ iPhone X design, the XR sports a 6.1-inch edge-to-edge LCD display which gives it more overall screen space than the significantly bigger iPhone 8 Plus from last year. And while it lacks the 3D Touch capabilities of the flagship models, it will support the fluid swipe gestures and a new haptic touch feature that will allow launching preset apps from the home screen. 

As with the XS series, the new XR will enable dual-SIM capabilities with compatible Indian carriers (Airtel, Jio) via the use of the same digital eSIM capabilities we saw in the Apple Watch Cellular. The iPhone XR will come in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB configurations, and will start at an affordable-in-comparison-to-the-XS Rs. 76,900 from October 26th.


Apple Watch Series 4: Bigger, better, healthier

With edge-to-edge displays across the iPhone lineup, the Apple Watch today made the natural progression to an all-screen near-bezel-less front with a screen that’s over 30 percent larger as compared to the super successful Series 3. Courtesy the bigger display, Apple Watch can now display richer, more customizable watch faces for more ‘glanceable’ information on the go. Other hardware upgrades include a speaker that is 50 percent louder as well as a better microphone, plus an improved accelerometer and gyroscope with twice the dynamic range, which allows the Series 4 to do things such as detect when you've fallen down…and place a call to medical services or your pre-designated emergency contacts if you can't get up.

On the medical tracking font, the Watch Series 4 can also send detect and notifications if your heart rate is too low, monitor your heart for atrial fibrillation, and even provide an electrocardiogram (ECG), though both of these are US-only for now, having just received US FDA approval. We’ll keep a close eye on when these two vital features are set to be rolled out globally, but you should expect the Watch to launch on or before the festive season in the coming months (India availability and pricing is yet to be announced).

Despite all these extra sensors and a slimmer profile, Apple claims that the Watch Series 4 will offer the same 18-hour battery life as the previous generation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Tags assigned to this article:
iPhone Xs iPhone Xr Apple Watch 4 apple apple iphone

Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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