It’s September, that can only mean two things.

  1. Fall is around the corner
  2. It’s time for a new iPhone launch

Right on cue, Apple have just hosted their annual iPhone launch at their new campus.  So, what was announced?   Well unusually, there are 3 new phones being announced this year; The iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and the iPhone Xr.

If you’re familiar with last year’s iPhone X (pronounced “ten”), then you’ll recognise the Xs and Xs Max.   Actually, the Xs looks identical to last year’s X, except that it’s available in gold tinted stainless steel.

Apple has a “tick-tock” approach to launching new phones.  In a “Tick” year, they’ll release a new design with new features.   Last year was a “Tick” year when they announced the revolutionary X with FaceID to replace TouchID.   A “Tock” year tends to be more of a “tweak” on the design.  For example, iphone 7 (Tick) and then iPhone 7s (Tock).

So, the iPhone Xs is a tweak of the iPhone X.  The major upgrade being the processor in the new phone, it is much faster at AI and Neural Network processing.   The processor is called the A12 Bionic and is capable of a staggering 5 trillion operations per second – all in the palm of your hand!  Now last year’s iPhone X is no slouch, but it’ll be interesting to see what developers can do to push this new processor!

Moving on to the iPhone Xs Max (quite a mouthful!), this new phone is a larger version of the iPhone Xs.  Instead of the 5.8” display of the Xs, the Max model has a larger 6.5” display.   This is to please those people who preferred the “Plus” sizes of the previous handsets such as the iPhone 7 and 8.   The larger display means you can get more on the screen, but it does mean a larger phone in your hand and pocket, so it’s really a personal preference.

Next is the iPhone Xr.   This phone is really interesting, and I think it’s going to sell really well.   It’s essentially a lower end phone at a cheaper price, but when you compare it to the Xs, there isn’t really that much of a difference.   Firstly, it uses aluminium instead of stainless steel, however most people put their phone in a case, so you won’t see this anyway.    Secondly it uses an LCD screen instead of an OLED.   An OLED display has slightly better blacks and colours, but unless you place the phones side by side, you’re unlikely to tell the difference.   The only major difference is that the Xr has one camera lens instead of the Xs’ two lens’.   The Xs has two lens’ a wide angle and a telephoto (zoom) lens.   This is handy if you need to zoom in on a subject when taking a photo, but most people use their phones as point and shoot cameras, grabbing quick off the cuff photos and not worrying about composing the shot.   The two lens’ were also used in “Portrait Mode”, a popular mode where the camera would blur the background and make portrait photos really “pop”.   However, Apple announced that the iPhone Xr is now able to do this with only one lens!

So now when you compare the iPhone Xs and Xr, there really isn’t much in it.   You’re essentially getting a high-end phone at a lower cost.

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max are shipping on the 21stof September.   The new Xr model is shipping a little later in October (the LCD screen is proving difficult to manufacture in an edge-to edge format).

Finally, Apple announced their new watch, the Series 4. To me this had to be the most exciting announcement of the day – overshadowing all of the phone announcements!

The new watch has a larger display (30% larger).   The watch itself isn’t much bigger – only a few millimeters, but the display covers more of the front of the watch.

There are the usual processor improvements, but by far the biggest new feature is related to heart rate monitoring.   The older apple watches were able to analyse your heart rate and give you a beats per minute reading.   The new watch is able to provide a full Electrocardiogram (ECG) reading.   These are the types of analysis you might get in a hospital.   The fact that you can now do this yourself at any time is pretty amazing.   The device has full FDA approval in the US and the backing of the American Heart Association so has a lot of support behind it.   Apple believe that it will help diagnose Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) and alert users to potential problems before they become life threatening.   This is huge, and the first step towards the Apple watch becoming a potentially life changing device.

There are lots of new features and changes coming to the Apple watch too, but I’ll save that for a later article.   Until next time, check out the new phones and Apple watch and let me know if you have any questions!