With iPhone Xs Lineup, Apple's Phones Get Bigger, More Powerful

iPhone Xs and Xs Max

After weeks of leaks and rumors, Apple finally announced its new smartphone lineup: the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR.

The iPhone Xs starts at $ 999 and comes in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB configurations. The iPhone Xs Max starts at $ 1,099 and comes in the same storage models. Both phones will be available for pre-order this Friday, Sept. 14 and begin shipping on Sept. 21.

The iPhone XR starts at $ 749 and comes in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models. Pre-orders for the new entry-level device begin on Oct. 19, and the XR starts shipping on Oct. 26.

Inside the Xs and Xs Max

iPhone Xs and Xs Max

The 5.8-inch iPhone Xs is the same size as its predecessor, the iPhone X, with the same edge-to-edge OLED display. It comes with what Apple calls a “super Retina display” with 2.7 million pixels that pack 60 percent greater dynamic range for phones than the iPhone X display. The iPhone Xs comes in three colors—silver, space gray, and a new gold finish.

Then there’s the the super-sized 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max, which sets a new record for Apple’s largest smartphone. Apple touted the Xs Max’s 3.3 million pixel super Retina display for activities such as Split View, video editing, and gaming. Both Xs phones also come with improved color management, stereo sound, and IP68 waterproofing up to 2 meters deep and 30 minutes submerged.

One of the biggest draws of the Xs line is major improvements to the photo and video capabilities. Both Xs phones sport a 12MP wide-angle camera and a 12MP telephoto lens with improved true tone flash, optical image stabilization, and image quality improvements across auto exposure and focus, white balance, noise reduction, and more. Videos also include better stereo sound recording thanks to four built-in microphones.

On the software side, one impressive new feature is a depth slider. After you take a photo with one of the new iPhones, you can now tap and scroll to adjust depth of field. Another new feature is called Smart HDR, which uses the phone’s image signal processor and neural engine to combine multiple photos into one with techniques like zero shutter lag and highlight detail to take even better quality photos.

All of this is powered by the new A12 Bionic chip. Packing a four-core GPU, six-core CPU, and neural engine, the 7nm processor with 6.9 billion transistors analyzes neural network data in real time to figure out whether to run a process on the CPU, GPU, or neural engine. Apple says the A12 chip can process 5 trillion operations per second, up from 600 billion operations using the iPhone X’s A11 chip.

The iPhone Xs offers 30 minutes more battery life than the iPhone X, and the iPhone Xs Max packs a whopping hour and a half more battery life thanks to its massive battery, the largest ever in an iPhone.

For the first time ever, the iPhones also have dual-SIM technology so users can keep two phone numbers, two different plans, or travel with a local data plan. The Xs and Xs Max use what Apple calls Dual Sim Dual Standby (DSDS), combining one physical SIM card with one eSIM. Carriers will roll out dual SIM support throughout the fall.

The New ‘Affordable’ iPhone XR

iPhone XR

The 6.1-inch iPhone XR is the new entry-level model, packing a less expensive LCD in place of the OLED display. The phone has an aluminium build and comes in six colors: white, black, blue, coral, yellow, and red.

The display is edge-to-edge and sports what Apple calls a Liquid Retina display. It supports tap-to-wake and has the same 120Hz touch-sensitive layer as the Xs and Xs Max, but no 3D Touch capability. Instead, the XR has “haptic touch,” allowing users to press down from the home screen to navigate straight to the camera.

As with the other devices, there’s no home button. Swipe down from the top for notifications and the Control Center. The XR does include Face ID and inside has the same A12 Bionic chip for real-time machine learning. Battery life is an hour and a half more than the iPhone 8 Plus.

There’s only the one 12MP wide-angle camera (no telephoto), but the XR can still do portrait mode with advanced bokeh, and extended dynamic range in 1080p, 60fps video. All three new iPhones will ship with iOS 12, which will be released on Sept. 17.

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