iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr – everything you need to know

Apple’s latest iPhones have been officially unveiled today at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino. Just like last year, there’ s three new models. One big change is that the days of traditional iPhones are now over, as all three offerings pack tall, notch-toting displays.

See also: Apple Watch 4 announced

The new handsets are officially dubbed the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. So what’s new from last year? Let’s jump in and find out.

iPhone Xs and Xs Max

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max

iPhone Xs and Xs Max specs and features at a glance:

  • OLED HDR Display – iPhone Xs features a 5.8-inch display (458ppi), the Xs Max has a whopping 6.5-inch display (458ppi)
  • Better camera: rear dual-cam 12MP wide and telephoto lens, 7MP front camera
  • A12 Bionic is the latest chip – uses 7-nanometer process, has 6-Core CPU and 6-Core GPU
  • IP68 water resistance –  immersion in two meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
  • Stereo sound – wider stereo field than last year’s iPhone line-up
  • Face ID gets a bit better – optimizations will allow it to work faster for unlocking
  • AR Support – done via ARKit, A12 Bionic, and special camera calibration
  • 3D Touch returns – nothing really new here
  • iOS 12 out of the box – introduces new AR experiences, Siri shortcuts, and more
  • Dual SIM support – Apple will offer one physical SIM slot, and one e-Sim slot
  • Colors – Gold, Silver, and Space Grey

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max represent the top of the line offerings from Apple. Cosmetically there’s not a lot new here, though this time around you’ll have your choice between a 5.8-inch or 6.5-inch display.

Both of these phones sound massive, but the thin bezels and tall display make them smaller than you’d imagine. For example, the iPhone Xs is actually smaller than the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus. Yes, the Xs Max is the biggest iPhone ever produced but will feel familiar to those used to bigger Android devices.

The iPhone Xs and XsS Max are both powered by the new Apple A12 Bionic processor. Apple says the new processor will launch apps 30% faster than last year’s iPhone family. The graphics processor inside the A12 is also a major improvement, claiming 50% speed improvement over the A11.

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max

The camera is getting a major upgrade with the Xs series. Both the wide angle and telephoto rear cameras retain 12MP sensors with optical image stabilization, but the wide angle has a new sensor with wider pixels. The telephoto lens also offers a wider aperture. This means that despite on-paper similarities, the new setup should offer better low light performance.

Apple hopes to raise the bar in low light photography with its latest camera upgrade

Apple is also introducing a new method for taking photos. Basically, it takes many photos and stitches them together into one image. The new feature is called Smart HDR, and while Apple has done similar HDR methods in the past — this one is said to be a notable improvement. Bokeh fans will also find some welcome changes in the software, with Apple adding an option that will automatically isolate a subject and blur the background. You can even adjust how blurred the background is with the Xs, a pretty useful touch.

Apple says it has also increased the battery size on the iPhone Xs and Xs Max. While Apple is always coy with real spec details, it says the Xs will offer 30 minutes more battery life than the iPhone X. Meanwhile, the Max offers an additional 90 minutes over the Xs.

Apple iPhone Xs

That’s far from the only hardware improvements found on the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, as water resistance also gets a boost from IP67 to IP68. This change means the iPhone Xs and Xs Max can survive in two meters of water for up to 30 minutes. For those that regularly use your internal speaker instead of headphones, Apple also promises a wider stereo field and claims the experience is noticeably improved over past iPhones.

Last but not least, Apple is going all-in with dual SIM support. Kind of.

Technically the new iPhone Xs and Xs Max only offer one physical SIM port, but it can now be used in conjunction with an e-SIM card. That means you can use two networks on one phone, though one of the carriers will have to support e-sim for this magic to happen. Dual-Sim isn’t a hugely deserved feature in the west, but for frequent travelers and those outside western markets — it can be a very useful feature.

Apple will offer the iPhone Xs and Xs Max in three storage sizes: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Color choices are also universal with both Xs models, coming in gold, silver, and space grey.

iPhone XR – Apple’s new mid-range offering

iPhone Xr specs and features at a glance:

  • LCD Display – no AMOLED here, you get a 6.1-inch TFT-LCD
  • Better camera: single 12MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture wide lens, 7MP front camera
  • A12 Bionic is the latest chip – uses 7-nanometer process, has 6-Core CPU and 6-Core GPU
  • IP67 water resistance –  same water resistance rating as last year’s line-up
  • Face ID – optimizations will allow it to work faster for unlocking
  • iOS 12 out of the box – introduces new Siri shortcuts, and more
  • Dual SIM support – Apple will offer one physical SIM slot, and one e-Sim slot
  • Colors – White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral and Product Red

Apple generally uses its older models as mid-range and budget choices though we’ve seen a few exceptions over the years. The iPhone Xr marks the Cupertino giant’s latest attempt to jump into this budget-friendly market, but it’s not regurgitating an older phone. Instead, the new iPhone Xr packs the same high-end design used with its more expensive brethren. Of course, a few concessions were made in order to keep the phone’s price point at a more affordable, mainstream level.

The big cost reduction is the screen. Apple’s new iPhone Xr ditches the AMOLED display used with the older iPhone X and the new iPhone Xs models for a 6.1-inch TFT-LCD, dubbed a Liquid Retina Display. You can read more about the differences between AMOLED and LCD here, but ultimately what this means is that you’ll see richer colors, deeper black levels and longer battery life on phones using AMOLED screens. LCD screens are brighter and cheaper in price.

The iPhone Xr also switches out the dual-camera configuration found on the XS series for a single camera with a 12MP sensor and a f/1.8 aperture wide-angle lens. According to Apple, it’s backed by improvements to the image signal processor (ISP), the software algorithms and Apple’s Neural Engine. It even includes the Depth Control feature offered in the two new iPhone XS models to apply “smart” blurring in the background.

It’s made from 7000 series aerospace-grade aluminum partnered with an all-glass back design, an anodized band wrapping around the phone and an edge-to-edge screen protected by Apple’s most durable glass to date. The phone has an IP67 rating, meaning its dust-tight and can be submerged in three feet of water for around 30 minutes without damage.

Despite Apple’s slightly more budget-oriented audience, the iPhone XR will support Face ID via Apple’s TrueDepth camera, allowing you to unlock the phone and make quick payments using just your pretty face. The iPhone XR is powered by the latest Apple A12 processor as well, making it just as fast as its pricier siblings.

Shipping in White, Black, Blue, Yellow, Coral and Product Red, the new iPhone XR will only provide 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage capacities.

How much will the new iPhones cost you, and when will they ship?

The iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will start at $999 and $1099 respectively, though the price goes up considerably depending on storage choice. The iPhone XR is comparatively more affordable, though starting at $749, it’s far from cheap.

If you are really looking for more affordable iPhones, you’re better off going with an older model. The iPhone 8 will now start at $599, while the iPhone 7 will drop to $449.

As for when you can buy them? The iPhone Xs and Xs Max go up for pre-order on Friday, September 14th and will ship on the 21st. Those interested in the iPhone XR will have to wait a bit longer, as it won’t begin sales until October 19th and will ship on the 26th.

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