Three iPhones were launched at the Apple Special Event this year at Cupertino, California. From an early point, rumours had pointed toward the tech giant moving to discontinue one of the most revolutionary phones in recent memory, the iPhone X. It’s notched design, facial-recognition biometric security, gesture-based navigation system, and edge-to-edge display has defined the design and functions of smartphones over the past year.
This time, Apple’s tactic of segmenting the market, seen last year with the iPhone 8/8 Plus and iPhone X, has been pushed a notch higher. Both tiers feature an iPhone X styling, with all the aforementioned creature comforts users to come to appreciate. Two sizes of phones are now available for the premium tier: the 5.8-inch iPhone Xs (pronounced ten-ess), and the 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max.
While terrible non-Apple sounding names for its flagship phones, the Xs is the smallest model in the line-up (yes, that’s why it’s tempting to say “XS” like the shirt size, but it empathically is pronounced “ten-ess”) that almost exactly replicates the iPhone X in terms of visual style and function set. The display size, stainless steel chassis, glass back and vertically-arranged dual camera array with true-tone flash is retained, although several significant changes have been made without and within.
Both Xs phones feature an improved dual 12-megapixel camera system that is fully optically stabilised, offering 2x optical zoom. An improved Portrait mode with advanced depth sensing is enhanced with studies on bokeh rendering on professional camera systems, and the phones now allow adjusting of bokeh levels after snapping the photo.
Despite its similar outward appearance, a larger sensor and larger pixels allow for better low-light performance, a well-known chink in the indomitable iPhone’s armour. Smart HDR takes images with greater detail in the shadows and highlights in a snapshot.
Video looks better than ever with improved image stabilisation and a faster sensor. With recording up to 30 frames per second, stereo microphones allow users to capture immersive video and accompanying audio with just their phones.
For entertainment consumption, the iPhone Xs and Xs Max sport large 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch displays respectively, with the highest pixel density on iPhones yet. With a million-to-one contrast ratio and 60% greater dynamic range for HDR, compatible content will look better than ever on these large, high-resolution screens. At 3 million pixels, the iPhone Max offers the largest iPhone display yet in a footprint smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus.
Increased battery performance means the Xs lasts 30 minutes longer, and the Xs Max 90 minutes longer than their flagship predecessor the iPhone X.
Absolute performance is provided by an improved A12 Bionic processor, an upgrade from the A11 processor sported on the iPhone X from last year. The world’s first 7-nanometer chip on a smartphone, the A12 offers no compromise on efficiency and power. With six cores of processing power on the CPU, along with improved graphics and a next-generation Neural Engine, the A12 Bionic is able to support gaming effects that have only been possible on desktops thus far.
The Neural Engine is also compatible with CoreML, which allows developers to build applications that utilise the highly-efficient machine learning infrastructure on board. The A12 Bionic Neural Engine can perform 5 trillion operations per second, up from 600 billion on the A11 Bionic, with as little as 1/10 the power consumption.
With the improved Neural Engine, Face ID works even faster with TrueDepth camera for accurate 3D sensing to unlock or use Apple Pay on the fly with a simple glance.
Shipping with the new batch of iPhones is Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 12. Announced at WWDC earlier this year, iOS 12 will improve AR experiences on ARKit, organise and rediscover photos, and enjoy Animoji and Memoji. Holistic features like Screen Time help ensure users have a healthy relationship with their technology, and Siri Shortcuts allows applications to access Siri for greater utility. In the face of data breaches, Apple promises iOS 12 will safeguard users from tracking on the web.
The iPhone Xs and Xs Max bring for the first time dual SIM to iPhone users, available as a nanoSIM and digital eSIM pair. Users in China, who are unable to use eSIM by government regulation, will receive a special version allows two SIM cards to be fit back-to-back on the SIM tray.
The phones have also been improved in terms of dust and water resistance, with IP68 certification up from IP67. This effectively allows them to be stuck two metres underwater for 30 minutes, up from one metre. Apple boasts the glass is the strongest found on any smartphone on the market today.
The iPhone XR is the new mid-tier model, and can be readily distinguished by its single rear-facing camera, along with its matte anodised aluminium frame. Instead of the Super Retina OLED displays found on the other phones, the XR sports an LCD Liquid Retina panel Apple describes as the most advanced implemented on a smartphone.
For cameras, it has a single optically-stabilised wide-angle lens, the same 12-megapixel shooter found on the more expensive iPhone Xs phones. It will retain Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting functionality, along with Smart HDR and Depth Control in the Photos app.
With its 6.1-inch display, the iPhone XR will also launch with iOS 12 for the latest software and functionality. Lacking the Force Touch found on regular retina models, the iPhone XR supports tap to wake, swipe gestures, and a new haptic touch feature to launch the camera or flashlight from the lock screen. It will have IP67 water and dust resistance.
With its surgical stainless steel chassis and glass back, the iPhone Xs and Xs Max will be available in previously-seen space grey and silver, with an all-new gold finish. The iPhone Xs starts at SGD 1,649, and the iPhone Xs Max retails from SGD 1,799. They will come in 64GB, 128GB and 512GB capacities.
The iPhone XR is available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral and (PRODUCT)RED in a matte aluminium finish and glass back. It will retail starting from SGD 1,229.