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Apple’s New Phones and Watch

After months of rumors, Apple released their new iPhone models. Here’s the rundown.

 

iPhone XS (pronounced “ten s”)

This is a replacement for the iPhone X, released last year, at the same prices ($999 and up). Externally, it appears identical, except for a new gold color option to augment the existing “space grey” and silver that were already available. Internally, it’s higher performing, and has a superior camera, plus offers new 512 GB storage option, which might be good for those with very large photo libraries or who like to download a lot of movies.

If you have an iPhone 6, 6s, or 7, and you were thinking about an iPhone X, this is a an excellent upgrade option. If you’ve already got an iPhone X, you probably won’t notice the difference if you switch to the XS — the X was already a very fast phone. (Note that carriers may be offering a better deal than Apple, particularly if you buy two phones.)

 

iPhone XS Max (“ten s max”)

If you were or are a “Plus” size iPhone owner, this might be the most exciting part of Apple’s announcements. The screen size of the iPhone X (and XS) was taller and narrower than the Plus models, which made it feel smaller despite technically having about the same screen real estate, so for some Plus owners, it felt like more of a “sidegrade.” With the new XS Max, Apple now has a huge “phablet” phone with the X design. It has a 6.5” screen, and it costs $100 more than the equivalent XS, but is otherwise the same. (I don’t know why this model is called “Max” rather than the widely understood “Plus,” especially when “Max” sounds a lot like “Macs.”)

 

iPhone XR (“ten r”)

This one is really a curio. It feels like a transitional product as Apple phases out its classic “home button” iPhone models. It’s kind of an “entry level” iPhone X, but with some unique attributes of its own. It’s a phone with the edge-to-edge screen design of an iPhone X, but in a physical size between the “regular” and “Max” models (meaning it’s fairly large), with various capabilities removed to lower the price point. Notably, it doesn’t offer the ultra-brilliant, super high-density screen of the XS (and X) models, and it doesn't have a second zoom camera lens. However, starting at $749, it’s still far from cheap, and makes for a confusing choice when compared with the still-available iPhone 8 Plus, which starts at $699, and offers a zoom camera lens. The XR is also available in six different colors, unlike the XS and XS Plus. It’s a perfectly good iPhone if you like the size, don’t require a state of the art display, and won’t miss the zoom lens.

 

As per usual, modern Apple retains a confusing product line. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus remain available, and still remain good phones if you want to pay less. (However, the iPhone 7 may have a shorter useful life, because at some point it will hit the “upgrade wall” where you can’t install new versions of iOS.) However, sadness will befall fans of the iPhone SE, the last small iPhone. Apple discontinued it, though carriers may still have it in the short term. Whether Apple introduces another small, cheap iPhone in the future is anyone’s guess — it seems like a need to be met, as the basic X-style phone is pretty big.

 

Apple Watch Series 4

Apple also introduced the Apple Watch Series 4. It’s the first release to offer a (modest) physical redesign, and it now provides EKG scanning. The idea of it being a device for third party apps hasn’t taken off — I haven’t heard about any new third party Watch apps in ages — so Apple is instead positioning the Watch as more of a health and fitness device, as well as a messaging device that can also act as a communicator. If you have an older model that you haven’t worn in a while because you found it too slow or limited, this new one might be worth a look.

(September 2018)

 

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