Apple unveils its priciest iPhone, new smartwatch

Pauline Obrien
September 14, 2018

At a special event Wednesday in Cupertino, California, Apple introduced the newest entrants to its smartphone lineup: the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR.

"Apple, once again, has shown their mastery of pricing tiers, which will extract more revenue per customer", analyst Gene Munster of Loup Ventures wrote in a note. However, battery life lasts a full 1 hour and 30 mins longer than the iPhone X, the same upgrade found on the Xs Max.

Apple's new iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS and iPhone XR smartphones support dual network connectivity option that has a combination of nanoSIM + eSIM. Apple is calling this "Super Retina".

The iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099 (or about R16,300 in the US), with 64 GB of storage, and goes all the way up to $1,499 (just on R22,300) with 512 GB of storage.

The removal of the headphone dongle listing on Apple's iPhone product pages was first spotted by The Verge. This means the phones can withstand up to 30 minutes underwater at a depth up to 2 meters without sustaining permanent damage. The iPhone XR comes with a 12 MP, single rear camera. On the front side, it features a 7 megapixel RGB camera as a well as an infrared camera used for Face ID.

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The real improvement, however, is how its Apple-designed image signal processor (ISP) works.

Apple also dropped the iPhone Xs Max, the company's biggest-yet smartphone. The company also plans to announce an updated version of its 5.8-inch OLED device with a faster processor for improved performance. The 7nm chip has 6.7 billion transistors and an 8-core dedicated machine-learning engine to analyze neural network data to figure out whether to run processes on the CPU, GPU, or neural engine. The A12 Bionic can process 5 trillion operations per second.

Chinese iPhone users will also have dual SIM capability. Prices for the South African market have not yet been released, but we do not that the the phone (and the iPhone XS) will be available from September 28.

The iPhone Xs Max will be available in gold, space gray and silver finishes and with 64GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage. The price of the XR will start at $749 in the United States and €849 ($987) in Germany.

The XR uses the LCD screens of Apple's past, and lacks the pressure-sensing 3D Touch feature that debuted on the iPhone 6S.

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As for the iPhoneXR, the price is €879 and it has a 6.1 inch display.

The XR will come in fancy colours like blue, yellow, project red, white, black and coral. Overall, its size is halfway between an iPhone 8 and an 8 Plus.

While boasting new levels of waterproof technology and a better camera, the reveal wasn't particularly shocking when compared to previous iterations of the iPhone.

The XS Max will have all those upgrades, but it's bigger. I can't help but think that, for many who want XS style but on a more affordable budget, the iPhone XR could end up being the smartest buy from Apple's 2018 line-up.

It starts at $749 in the United States, £749 in the UK for the 64GB version.

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